Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Tokyo 2013 : A Pilgrimage of Ramen, Patisseries & Depachikas! — A Sneak Preview

Hello everyone! Kindly excuse us for the long absence! Just realised that it had been 3 weeks since we last posted, only because we had been terribly busy trying to clear our work and run errands before we take a much deserved awaited break to Tokyo! The trip was planned to take place ahead of the hanami season as it was the only time when both of us could make it! Alas thanks literally to the freak weather, the cherry blossoms bloomed much earlier in Japan this year, allowing us to enjoy their beauty, amidst other spectacular floral displays along the way. The downside is, we had to cut back on several pastry joints which we had slated to visit. Nonetheless we had a really good time in Tokyo!

This trip to Tokyo is all about pastries, ramen and depachikas! We absolutely love depachikas in Japan, so they are surely a “must go” whenever we are in Japan! J lamented that we didn’t get to try any ramen joints during our last trip so I made sure that we had enough ramen this time round for J to remember by! And 5 years ago during our first trip to Tokyo, which incidentally marks the commencement of this blog, I wasn’t much into fine pastry making then. But I do remember being much in awe with what I saw at the display windows of dessert boutiques and patisserie sales counters at depachikas. The level of artistry and presentation in trhe Japanese patisseries then was already quite impeccable and very impressive. Over the years as I grew to appreciate and get involved myself in the French art of pastry making, the desire to return to Tokyo fueled on. So after a long wait of more than 4 years, we are finally back! I will be writing and sharing about the various patisseries and ramen joints we’d visited this time round over the next couple of months or so but here’s a sneak preview of what we’d tried and sampled in Tokyo 2013!

First day in Tokyo and the skies were already cloudy and grey. After settling our luggage and a quick ramen lunch (yes we wasted no time in beginning our pilgrimage!), it was already 3 pm and the sun is starting to set. We had planned to visit Shinjuku gyoen in the afternoon to shoot some sakura but looks like we’d already facing our first hiccup of the trip. This is one of the many we’d encountered anyway! So we spent the rest of the day shopping around Shinjuku area and got back to the hotel for an early night’s rest. But not without packing back some Pierre Herme and Sadaharu Aoki of course!

We got up early the next morning and it was raining! Urgh! Second hiccup already! We got down to Shinjuku Gyoen nonetheless and ironically, the feeling of admiring the cherry blossoms in the rain was quite magical. Of course we would have very much preferred it on a fair weather day but the experience of watching raindrops beating gently against those seemingly soft and fragile petals was quite memorable.
sakura 1
Over the next few days, we’d visited Ueno Koen and Yoyogi Koen as well, to soak in the festivities of the hanami and despite the unpredictable weather, the Japanese seemed undeterred to make the best of what they could while the sakuras bloomed in full glory during this short span of time.
sakura 2
ueno hanami
Hanami party of otokos at Ueno Park
sakura hichijoji
Most that came to bloom in the parks of of a Yoshinozakura variety, 吉野染井
ueno 1
Snowing sakura petals in Ueno Park
sakura kichijoji 1
yoyogi koen
Hanami picnics @ Yoyogi Koen on a weekday morning
yoyogi koen 1

Candid shot of some “gaijins” from the US
yoyogi koen 2
Trio of friends enjoying the hanami, basking in the gentle morning sun…
Apart from the sakuras, the soil is awakening to the calls of spring with floral displays of all sorts, subtly but surely…
poppies shinjuku gyoen
Poppies at the outskirts of Shinjuku Gyoen… sheer beauty that reminds me of the poetry of Flanders fields…
Irises in a shinto jinja in Kichijoji
Camelias also in bloom… subtle elegance in pink…
A single dandelion we found in Yoyogi Koen… one of my favorite shots of the whole trip, incidentally. 🙂

Lunches were usually ramen while the day always ends with a depachika dinner of katsus, croquettes, as well as sashimis and sushis at slashed prices during closing. It has become almost ritualistic that we walk into a depachika for a peekaboo whenever we pass by one amidst the labyrinth of metro and JR walkthroughs and tunnels, be it Tobu, Seibu, Isetan or Takashimaya!

And here are some collages of the food we’d be writing about over the next couple of months! So bear with us while we roll out the posts!
ramen collage
Various ramen joints we sampled… yes we ate a lot of ramen!
aoki collage
Given the choices available, we only sampled two pieces from Sadaharu Aoki
PH collage
Lots of Pierre Herme, the closest place we have to sample his creations outside France.
Laduree Ginza
We also stopped by Laduree @ Ginza for tea. 🙂
mikimoto pearl
As well as some creations by Patissier Yokota Hideo @ Mikimoto Lounge, Ginza.
souhaits montage
Our day trip to Kichijoji, to visit Patissier Kawamura Hideki of Patisserie a tes Souhaits!
mont blanc
And yet another trip to Jiyugaoka to discover the origins of the Japanese Mont Blanc.
kimuraya anpan
Yet another “discovery” experience at Kimuraya in Ginza… the origins of the famous “anpan”…
Sugino collage
Last but definitely not the least, multiple trips to Patisserie Hideki Sugino to sample the amazing creations from this Japanese patissier and winner of the prestigious Coupe du Monde in Lyon more than 20 years back.

So here’s a really quick review of what we would be presenting over the next couple of months or so. Are you ready to embark on the journey with us? 🙂


30 responses

  1. Wow! The flowers, the food, the desserts… Wow!

    April 5, 2013 at 11:58 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yes! I was really overwhelmed myself too when I was there, Alice!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:35 am

  2. Chrisc

    wonderful shots! love it! Feast with eyes wide open …visually appetizing!

    April 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hahaha Chris, plan another trip when your gals are older!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:34 am

  3. Such beautiful photos ! Can’t wait for the rest of the post.

    April 5, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Thanks Elaine!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:34 am

  4. my oh my! out goes the calorie counting.. what the heck.. hehe I’m not a pastry fan, but can’t help drooling! hope to visit japan soon..

    April 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha trust me Shannon, you will be a convert once you sample some Sugino for yourself!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:34 am

  5. teo ai li

    Wow! The food, people and scenery!! They are all AMAZING!

    April 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Thanks Ai Li! It was a good trip indeed!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:33 am

  6. siglet

    wow, I have always wanted to visit Japan- looks like you had so much good food, I can’t wait for the next post (the ramen has made me feel particularly hungry now!)

    April 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yup yup, it was quite a fulfilling trip! will do the ramen posts soon1`!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:32 am

  7. Hody Loh

    I love the flowers…………

    April 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha I love them too!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:32 am

  8. gorgeous sakuras! love the dandelion shot the most actually 🙂 and OMG the cakes!!! i absolutely am green with envy haha. cant wait to see ur posts on hidemi and pierre…that’s a lot of cakes sampled indeed. ^^

    April 5, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Hi Michelle! yes the dandelion shot was my favorite too! definitely an overkill on the cakes but yes, I would do it again if another opportunity arises!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:32 am

  9. very very beautiful sakura, i must visit one day…and all pastries are so beautiful too..

    April 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yes, the sakuras were a bonus as they were not part of the original plan 🙂

      April 10, 2013 at 1:31 am

  10. Wish I was in your shoes!!! Eating all those famed desserts… Ahhh..

    April 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      You could! just be adventurous and book a flight to Tokyo! 🙂

      April 10, 2013 at 1:30 am

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  12. Wow at all your photos. They r amazing

    April 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Thanks Henry! 🙂

      April 10, 2013 at 1:26 am

  13. Drooling! Lovely photos! especially love the flowers!

    April 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha thanks Jeannie! I only wish the weather had been more forgiving!

      April 10, 2013 at 1:26 am

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