On my first day in Tokyo I went to Akihabara to visit my favourite sushi store, but sadly that branch has closed. To console myself, I picked up a snack from the delicious-smelling Jack in the Donuts store near the entrance to Yodabashi Camera. The doughnuts are baked fresh each day, and look gorgeous in the window too. There are plenty of flavour choices, including cronuts, but I couldn’t go past the simple Premium Strawberry donut (¥162), which was so perfectly iced it looked too good to eat! The doughnut was about the size of my hand, and was clearly a baked not fried style – there was no grease or oil, and the dough was nice and firm. The flavour wasn’t as rich as a fried doughnut, but certainly felt healthier at breakfast time. The strawberry icing had a sweet, familiar flavour without being overly artificial. Basically I just devoured this, and while the quality wasn’t on the same level as Dumbo, it was still a fresh, delicious doughnut snack. Yum.
Jack in the Donuts, Yodabashi Camra Akihabara, Chiyoda, Tokyo, http://www.jack-donuts.jp/#
Oh my. This cafe is joining the list of my must-visit recommendations for Tokyo. Hidden in the back of the Minami Aoyama branch of Aoyama Flower Market, the Tea House is definitely worth the queue (we waited around 45 mins). Full of live plants and the flower of the week (peonies, when we visited), the cafe offers brunch/lunch and dessert plus tea. I ordered the Flower Parfait (¥918) and the Kimono green tea with apricot, peach and rose (¥756). The tea came out in a beautiful clear pot, and was surprisingly strong (and a little bitter) for a green tea. I would have liked to be able to add some more hot water to dilute it a bit. But then came the parfait. Layered beautifully with rose jelly (not overpowering), cherry mousse (also nice and subtle but with a great texture), vanilla icecream (mmm, creamy) and cereal (yes, the perfect way to add crunch) it was tasty, pretty and quite filling. Oh and there were rose petals scattered on top too. Swoon. Just being in this space was a pleasure – it’s the perfect escape from the city bustle and a chance to be surrounded by beauty. Highly recommended.
Aoyama Flower Market Tea House, Minamiaoyama 5-1-2, Minato, Tokyo http://www.afm-teahouse.com/
I spent a lot more time exploring Ginza on this trip, and I’m glad I did, because in the basement of the Mitsukoshi department store I discovered the new Tokyo branch of New York’s Dominique Ansel Bakery. I arrived late in the day so there were no cronuts left, but I did snare this little guy – a strawberry and sake daruma cake (¥756), which was so Japanese I couldn’t resist. The cake was a reasonable size, and (being in Japan) packaged carefully to avoid any damage while being transported (no dine-in at this location). The daruma is traditionally designed to help with wishes – one eye is filled in when you make the wish, the other once it is fulfilled. Luckily I could just eat both. They were white chocolate discs, and a perfect start to the flavour festival of this cake. The majority of the inside is made up of a strawberry gel, plus sake lees and lime zest mousse, which was creamy, tangy and with a subtle sake flavour. The textures were soft and springy, and when I wanted something firmer, I could slice into the almond financier cake at the bottom for balance. Yum, yum, yum.
Dominique Ansel Bakery, Mitsukoshi, B2F, 4-6-16, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, http://dominiqueanseljapan.com/en
I have been crushing on the Dumbo Instagram account for a while, so made a point of visiting when in Tokyo. The little store (seats about 6 people along the window) also offers takeaway, and is clearly a popular spot. I ordered a raspberry doughnut, (¥350), although there were a great range of flavours on offer, including passionfruit, almond caramel, maple vanilla and plain glazed (there were 11 options when I visted). The doughnut itself is huge! It was approximately the size of my hand, and there was plenty of glaze to ensure enough raspberry flavour to cover it (plus two raspberries on top). The doughnut was really soft and springy, the kind of treat you sink your teeth into and it just crumples into compressed layers of deliciousness. Mmm. This actually made it possible to eat a whole one by myself, given how light the texture was. The raspberry glaze was incredibly tasty, with just the right balance between the sugary glaze and the sharp, tart raspberry taste. There was literally nothing about this experience I didn’t love, including the cozy atmosphere and friendly staff. Highly recommended – I can’t wait to go back.
Dumbo Doughnuts and Coffee, 2-17-6 Azabujuban, Tokyo, Japan, http://www.dumbodc.com/
I’d never been to the Torrens shops before, but my friend booked us in for their first high tea and I will certainly be back. We were greeted with a glass of sparkling on arrival, and then the food began to flow. One of the highlights of this high tea was the fresh serving of each savoury piece, rather than all being lumped together to go stale/cold on a tray. Classy. First up were two mini sausage rolls, pork and lamb, served with a tomato relish. The pastry was crisp and buttery, and both had great flavour. This was followed up by the ‘Caesar salad in a pastry shell’ (refreshing) and finger sandwiches, which were perfectly fresh (no stale bread here!). The savoury highlight was a haloumi, preserved lemon and mint pastry roll – I could have eaten fifty of them! So good. There was a nice break between servings, and then came dessert. The tiered tray held 3 different goodies – scones with jam and cream already applied, mini raspberry and Oreo cheesecakes and mini chocolate brownies. Small portions turned out to be essential, as both mini desserts were super tasty and rich! The scones were also lovely, and went nicely with the tea, coffee or hot chocolates we picked. For $40, this is certainly one of the best value, high quality (although casual) high teas in town.
Smogue, 2/24 Torrens Pl, Torrens ACT
Those who know me know I’m partial to a G&T, so when I heard icecream genius Mr Frugii was doing a G&T sorbet, I put it on my Canberra foodie ‘must-try’ list. That was more than 12 months ago, and I FINALLY managed to visit when it was on offer! Unlike the usual Frugii fare, this sorbet is more like a jelly version and comes in a tube kind of like an icypole for grown ups. Firstly, let me say, the flavour is excellent. Made with local The Canberra Distillery Gin, the rich juniper flavour leaves you in no doubt this is a G&T. Secondly, the texture is an absolute delight. Because it’s hand-held, it does melt a little quicker than the usual icecream or sorbet, but the slightly jelly-like smoothness keeps the sorbet together to be eaten from the tube. The portion is smaller than a standard flavour serve, but given the alcohol content, maybe that’s a good thing! I also found that by the end it was a little tricky to get out of the tube, but other than that, it exceeded my (high) expectations. Go team Frugii! Champagne sorbet is my next boozy bucket-list flavour goal!
Frugii Dessert Laboratory, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, http://www.frugii.com/
Ok, so technically it’s autumn (bummer), but luckily I have a solution to this tragic summer-ending season. It’s called #icecreamthurs – let’s eat icecream every Thursday until it’s summer again! Back in January I visited Fridays After Five at Aldinga in Adelaide’s south, and fell completely in love with Sunshine Iceblocks, one of the stallholders. Selling iceblocks, gelato and shaved ice (perfect on a 40 degree day), they use only fresh, seasonal, local ingredients, and boy does it show. I ordered a Nectarine and Orange iceblock ($4.50) and opened it up with joy – the pieces of nectarine with the skin still on were clearly visible in the iceblock. Yay! Given the heat I was worried it would melt too quickly, but it actually lasted really well, allowing me to fully enjoy the beautiful flavour. First, nectarine and orange are meant to be together. There’s sweetness, there’s citrus, there’s a bit of tartness from the skin – the overall taste is pretty much perfect, without being sugary or too sweet. Dad tried the dark Belgian chocolate gelato, which was equally delicious (although more melty) in its own way – rich, decadent and not bitter, I basically cannot wait until my next visit to try more (raspberry lemonade is top of the list for next time!).
Sunshine Iceblocks, various locations, SA http://sunshineiceblocks.com.au