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Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family

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Coffee

Tokyo – Day 1 Omiya

Waking early I headed down stairs for a Japanese style breakfast buffet, checked the weather forecast, partly cloudy, high of 33 Celsius with high humidity expected. Back in the room I made sure my cameras were in order(empty memory card and fully charged) then it was out in to the wilds of Ginza and a short walk to Shimbashi Station via Doutor Coffee Shop. Even though I had a coffee at breakfast I really needed a cappucino…oh and a Mont Blanc while I was at it.

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Cappucino and Mont Blanc – Cafe Doutor

Over breakfast I had decided I really wanted to revisit Omiya to see the Bonsai Village again. Platform 6 at Shimbashi is the one required for the JR Keihin Tohoku line. Takes close to an hour, but it is fascinating watching the city go by and then before you know it you have left Tokyo Prefecture and crossed in to Saitama Prefecture. At Omiya you need to change trains for the Tohoku Main Line and go two stops to Toro station. When changing at Omiya you can go to the information booth for a map and guide pamphlets before getting onto the next train.

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The red line is my route starting at Toro Station and working down to Omiya Koen Station

First stop was the Omiya Bonsai Museum.

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Exterior Omiya Bonsai Museum
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Exterior Omiya Bonsai Museum

Each season sees a change of displays inside and out. This time I saw a fascinating display of Bonseki, the art of creating landscapes on black enamel trays using sand, pebbles and small rocks. Unfortunately unable to take photographs but here is a link (Wiki Bonseki ) for more information. Suffice to say for me it was something new to discover. Out side the display had changed from my last visit and I was able to get photos and video of the whole outside display from the up stairs viewing balcony.

Some of these bonsai are very old and a lot larger than what we generally expect bonsai to be.

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Bonsai viewing at Omiya Bonsai Museum
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Bonsai viewing at Omiya Bonsai Museum

Then it was off to the bonsai nurseries, fairly easy to find when you have the guide map. there are 5 all up and none allow photographs when you visit. Below are the entrances to two that I visited.

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Mansei-en
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Mansei-en
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Seiko-en

Seiko-en, Shoto-en, Fuyo-en all sell bonsai supplies as well as bonsai of all different sizes. I was looking for some planters this year and even though there was a great range of new and used planters nothing really grabbed my eye.

I also stopped in to the second hand shop I found last year and had lunch at the little restaurant across from it, having the same meal as last year, kari raisu (カレーライス). Delicious lunch again. I also bought some more tea related items: wooden natsume (tea caddy), chawan (tea bowl) and a futaoki which has dual purpose, to rest a lid on or to rest the hishaku (bamboo water ladle) on.

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Kari Raisu, miso soup, pickles, salad, fermented fish
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Natsume, chawan and Futaoki

Then it was a short walk to Omiya Koen Station and the journey back to Tokyo. I decided to pop in to Kappabashi Dōgugai and do a little kitchen ware shopping. On my list were some plates to add to ones I bought last year, some glasses to match one I bought last year and what ever else caught my eye. I have been to Kappabashi Dōgugai many times now but some how managed to miss this statue of a Kappa.

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Kappa Statue
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Kappa Statue

Then it was back to the hotel via a noodle shop and an early night after all that walking.

Stay tuned for day two where I visit (quelle surprise!) two historic gardens, Koishikawa Kōrakuen and Rikugien.

 

Tokyo Coffee Culture

Generally you think of Japan as being a big tea drinking country, but on our first trip to Japan in 2008 we were quite surprised at the sophistication of the Japanese coffee culture. Prior to our trip we had only been exposed to the traditional coffees here in Australia, drip, cappuccinos, espresso, flat white, flat black, bad instant etc. Then along came the Nespresso style pod machines. So, seeing some new ways of brewing coffee was an eye opener.

When we have a holiday in Tokyo, we have a little tradition of visiting three of our favourite cafes, one located behind Ginza Alley in Ginza (brick building very European looking), Ko’hikan in Asakusa and Miyama in Nakano

Our very first coffee in Tokyo in 2008 was in Ginza, on a very cold and damp spring afternoon. We stumbled upon a very European looking coffee shop (wooden door and window surrounds, exposed brick, brass revolving door, elegant frosted windows, baby grand piano, you get the picture?). A menu was presented to us in English with pictures so we decided on a cointreau coffee (it was COLD, we needed the warmth from the cointreau). The waitress bought our order along with a rich slice of chocolate cake.

Cooffee and cake in Ginza
Coffee and cake in Ginza

The cups and saucers were a very elegant surprise and of course I had to peak and see who they were made by, naturally Noritake. Just so you know I am slightly (ok, extremely) partial to Noritake crockery, having been bought up with my Nan’s set that came out every special occasion.

Interior of our favourite Ginza coffee shop
Interior of our favourite Ginza coffee shop

Our next visit we ordered milk coffees. Wow talk about a bit of theatre for service. Our cups came out first, then, the waitress bought over two silver coffee pots. We thought there was one for each of us, but one had coffee and the other was hot milk. Starting low to the cups, the waitress poured equal quantities of milk and coffee, raising the pot as she did so which created a little froth on top. Of course we needed a little sweet thing to go with our coffee, a light and fluffy cheesecake.

Coffee with cheesecake Ginza
Coffee with cheesecake Ginza

Mr CA4G snuck in a visit by himself when he went for a solo visit between jobs in 2010 and had a black coffee with milk and his favourite dessert Mont Blanc.

Coffe and Mont Blanc, Ginza
Coffe and Mont Blanc, Ginza

In Asakusa we discovered Ko’hikan while walking over to Kappabashi Dori from Senso-Ji Temple. It was the first place we ever tried Syphon filter coffee. The first time we visited the water for the coffee was heated using a methylated spirit flame and this year when we went we discovered they no longer use a flame but a really high heat lamp. The coffee is placed in the upper portion of the syphon, the water is heated in the bottom globe section until it goes up the central tube into the upper section, the heat is removed and the coffee brews. As it cools the brewed coffee flows back down the tube in to the lower half of the unit and is then poured into cups and served with little glass jugs of milk. Very scientific looking.

Ko Hi Kan, Asakusa
Ko Hi Kan, Asakusa
Interior, Ko Hi Kan, Asakusa
Interior, Ko Hi Kan, Asakusa

We go to Nakano for some very specific shops for Mr CA4G, but we find we need a coffee for some fortitude. Miyama is located in the shopping centre and what caught our eye on our first visit was the cold water filter system that they use ( another very scientific looking contraption). Water slowly drips through the ground beans into a carafe underneath. The coffee is then warmed as needed. This form of filtering provides a smoother coffee without the bitterness that is often present in hot brewed coffee.

Cold filtered coffee, Miyama, Nakano
Cold filtered coffee, Miyama, Nakano
Coffee, Miyama, Nakano
Coffee, Miyama, Nakano

It is great to be amongst the locals, I can’t recall seeing any foreigners when we have been. This year we also had lunch which comes as a set (sandwich with coffee). Mr. CA4G had a burger and I had a sandwich. Very tasty and that fluffy white bread they make in Japan is so light.

And of course on Kappabashi Dori amongst all the kitchenware shops is a specialist coffee shop along with a several specialist roasters and providores of coffee beans/ground coffee. They seem to be really in to their single origins and fair trade coffees in Japan.

Union coffee supplies, Kappabashi Dori, Asakusa
Union coffee supplies, Kappabashi Dori, Asakusa
Cold filters
Cold filters
Interior Union Coffee supplies
Interior Union Coffee supplies
Syphon filters
Syphon filters
Cold filter close up
Cold filter close up
Coffee roaster, Kappabashi Dori
Coffee roaster, Kappabashi Dori

I think the only time we have had a cappuccino or latte in Tokyo was when we have breakfast in the Park Hyatt, The Conrad, or at our favourite little cafe/bakery Vie de France. When we stay at the Park Hotel Shiodome we love the over cup drip filter they have in the rooms, from Key Coffee.

Key Coffee,
Key Coffee,
Drip On by Key Coffee
Drip On by Key Coffee

Have you had a great coffee somewhere other than here in Australia? I would love to here about it!

 

 

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