Author: eatprayjade

Chocolate Decadence at Tokyo’s Bubó Cafe

The ‘World’s Best Chocolate Cake’ can now be found in the backstreets of Tokyo’s Omotesando area. Bubó is a Barcelona-based patisserie known for its beautifully designed cakes and artisanal chocolates. On my recent trip to Japan, I visited Bubó’s Tokyo outpost to try Xabina, the chocolate creation that received the ‘World’s Best Chocolate Cake’ mention at the 2005 World Pastry Cup in Lyon. Worth the trek? Absolutely. The Xabina cake is velvety, rich, and a chocolate masterpiece. I enjoyed the chocolate macaron on top and the chocolate mousse inside is a cloud. I’ll reserve judgment on whether it’s the world’s best chocolate cake because there are simply too many chocolate creations I haven’t tried yet. But to date, it is certainly the best and most gorgeous chocolate cake I’ve had. When you visit Bubó in Tokyo, try not to be too distracted by the amazing chocolate gallery on the first floor and head straight up to the Cafe. Once you’re seated, your server will bring you a beautifully detailed cake menu for you to peruse. Other than the award-winning Xabina we …

36 Hours in Kyoto (food+omiyage edition)

Many visit Kyoto with a lengthy list of temples and shrines, but that’s not all Kyoto has to offer. From kaiseki meals to trendy cafes, Kyoto blends tradition with modernity. I’ve always wanted to write a 36 hours itinerary so as the Japanese say when asked for a recommendation, here are my オススメ (o-su-su-me). Friday 8 a.m. Breakfast at 進々堂 Shinshindo Nothing is more comforting than the smell of melty butter and coffee brewing in the morning. Whipping up some of the freshest breads in town, Shinshindo Teramachi makes for a great breakfast stop. The original Shinshindo was founded in 1930 and is an iconic Kyoto institution located across from Kyoto University campus. Like many great cafes around the world, Shinshindo was a place for students and activists to congregate for political and social debates throughout the decades. The founder of Shinshindo, Hitoshi Tsuzuki, wanted to provide authentic French breads that were made fresh every day and his grandson operates the boulangerie chain in that spirit today. 11 a.m. Visit Ippodo Honten for some tea leaves and omiyage …

夏 in Kyoto: Hotel Anteroom and Cafe Hunting

Kyoto is charming because it’s both a place for traditional Japanese crafts, as well as trend-setting designs. I’ve visited Kyoto a couple times now, but every time I find myself discovering new cafes, traditional woodhouse machiya’s (町屋), and beautiful hideouts. This trip, I chose to not visit as many historical sites in Kyoto, mainly because I wanted to explore more of Kyoto’s growing cafe and creative scene where young Japanese artists are trying to blend modern touches with traditional craftsmanship in various fields. Japan Handmade is an example of this–you’ll see some of their creative aesthetics in the pictures of Kaikado Cafe below. FUN FACT: This time around, my dates coincided with the annual summer festival in Kyoto, the Gion Matsuri. While I didn’t participate in any festival events, a lot of restaurants I visited had special menus and tea sets for the matsuri. If you’re interested in watching the iconic float processions in honor of the festival for your visit, here’s a more comprehensive guide. There’s a 夏 in Kyoto Part II coming soon, which will …

A Brunch Affair at the Commune Social

The Commune Social is my current go-to spot in Shanghai. I love their beautifully-curated brunch menu and the restaurant’s desserts are simply to die for. Plus, it’s located in a stunning space designed by famed Shanghai-based architects Neri & Hu. Good food and a trendy vibe? Be still my heart. For brunch, the set menu is 188RMB for 3 dishes of your choice. Plates are brought out tapas style and great for sharing. I like that you can add additional plates for 68RMB, which is overall a steal for the quality of food you get. I’ve been wanting to share this restaurant for a while now because a lot of readers visiting Shanghai have asked me what are some of my favorite spots. The team behind Commune Social (led by Chef Jason Atherton with Kim+Scott Melvin) are incredibly talented and I genuinely love how well crafted each dish is. The Commune Social doesn’t take reservations, so queues on the weekend can be 1hour+. If you don’t like waiting, either go early on weekends or visit for their …

A Curated Food Guide to Tianzifang 田子坊

Tianzifang 田子坊 is Shanghai’s charming equivalent of New York’s Chelsea Market+Highline. Once a 市集 (traditional Chinese marketplace), Tianzifang was remodeled in 1998 to become an artsy retail complex. From small trinkets to independent art galleries, there’s no shortage of things to see and eat. The area’s biggest charm? The lines of clothes drying in random corners of the streets, reminding you that older Shanghainese locals still live in the traditional lane houses. Tianzifang is known to be very touristy but since making my official move this January I’ve discovered so many more unique storefronts. Like most places in Shanghai, Tianzifang is full of little alleyways that are incredibly fun to get lost in. As this area is always on my list of recommendations for visiting friends that only have a weekend layover in Shanghai, I’ve been wanting to consolidate a short list of food options in the area. The below is by no means a comprehensive list of things to eat in Tianzifang but these are a selection of my favorites that all have distinct shop styles of …

Seasonal Vegetarian Fine Dining at Fu He Hui 福和慧

Michelin-starred 福和慧 Fu He Hui is a gem in Shanghai’s fine dining scene. For lunch and dinner, you can select from four different vegetarian prix fixe menus (ranging 380RMB-780RMB), including a seasonal special. For first timers, I would recommend trying the ‘classic’ Fu He Hui menu. From decor to food, Fu He Hui is a gourmand’s oasis in the center of Shanghai city. Come with the expectation that you’ll pay a premium for your meal and prepared to be impressed. *I dined with a party of 4 so the below pictures are a mix of the classic 780 RMB menu and the 580 RMB menu. My dream plate of amuse-bouches. Left is 百叶包, a tofu pouch full of 马兰头, a really fragrant vegetable known as Indian Kalimeris. In the middle is 糖醋“排骨”, classic sweet and sour “pork.” In this case, pork was substituted with king oyster mushrooms wrapped around burdock roots. Lastly, on the right is marinated tofu shaped into a traditional bottle gourd shape. I adored this soup, the consommé had really deep flavors and was an absolute feast for the eyes. Look at …

Sunshine Box Launch: La Maison 夜来香 x WUJIE 大蔬无界

I’m so excited to share with everybody a project I’ve been working on for the past couple of months! Sunshine Box is a box of seasonal, organic vegetables that is now available to all families in Shanghai. The idea behind Sunshine Box is bridging urban and rural communities through wholesome and sustainably grown natural produce. That is why we get our produce from Rainbow of Hope (ROH), a social enterprise dedicated to empowering farmers by providing them with reliable income via sustainable agricultural practices. Because we know you are what you eat, all Sunshine Box produce is grown without any insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, or chemical fertilizers. We kicked off the launch of Sunshine Box with a dinner launch party at La Maison 夜来香, a stunning restaurant in Shanghai’s French Concession area. In order to really feature the Sunshine Box, the entire dinner affair was made with ingredients directly shipped over from Sunshine Box’s farms in Western Hunan. Together, Chef Pol Garcia from La Maison & Chef Ivan Xu from WUJIE on the Bund, created a beautifully innovative vegetarian menu for the night. The resulting 6-course prix fixe menu showcased an …

Why Gyukatsu Motomura is a Tokyo must-eat

Gyukatsu Motomura is one of those raved about places in Tokyo that’s a must-try if you’re in town. Worth the hype wait? Absolutely. The Shibuya location has the bigger shop front but if you’re like me and always running off to the next city, Gyukatsu Tokyo Station (Yaesu entrance) is the perfect traveler spot. In case you haven’t had gyukatsu before, it’s like the older brother of popular Japanese comfort food tonkatsu. Instead of a fried pork cutlet, you get a beef cutlet. A beautifully marbled beef cutlet. Hence the first thing you’ll do when you visit Gyukatsu Motomura is choose the size of your beef cutlet (100g, 130g, or 260g). Keep in mind your gyukatsu comes in a set with rice, miso soup, potato salad, tsukemono pickles, and shredded cabbage! My friend Mizuha and I ordered the 130g Gyukatsu Set with Yam (tororo in Japanese) and were both very satisfied with the portion size. As you sit elbow-to-elbow other diners in the tiny L-shaped store, the simultaenous sound of gyukatsu sizzling on grills was Tokyo at its finest. Great food, small space, and light chatter doesn’t get better than …

Spirited Away to Miho Museum

Miho Museum is nestled in a beautiful forest complex designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, only a short trip away from Kyoto. Located in Shiga Prefecture, Miho Museum is meant to mirror Shangri-La–an earthly paradise described in Chinese poet Tao Yuanming’s poem, “The Tale of the Peach Blossom Spring.” Not only is the Museum itself stunning, the journey there is just as magical. Miho Museum has three exhibition sessions (Spring, Summer, and Autumn). I visited in Autumn so I saw stunning fall foliage throughout my trip. But since the Museum grounds are full of cherry blossom trees, Spring is a stunning time to visit as well. To visit the museum, you go on a Spirited-Away-like journey: there is a Miho Museum Bus from Ishiyama Station (a short ride from Kyoto Main Station), that takes you on a quiet ride up the mountain where Miho Museum is located. Directions: Take the JR Tokaido Line from Kyoto Station to Ishiyama Station. Once you exit the JR station, go to the bus stop (1F) and take Teisan Bus 150 (Miho Museum Bus) to the Miho Museum which should be the last stop. The …

Brunch in Style at Blackbird

Brunch is T H E trendy thing in Shanghai right now, and there is no place more chic than Blackbird. A cafe+bar serving fun Italian dishes, Blackbird is an Instagram heaven. The cafe exudes a really charming vibe, and I especially liked the floor to ceiling windows and sleek interior design. Good coffee was a plus, so I found myself spending the afternoon there working without being disturbed. I didn’t get to try out the extensive drink list, but I saw lots of hipster cocktails I can’t wait to go back for. By the way, happy Chinese New Year dear readers! May this (lunar) new year be full of delicious foods and auspicious adventures. This is the big holiday season in Shanghai so bundle up and brace the crowds. Located on Wulumuqi Road, Blackbird has a gorgeous view and some really tasty bites. I recommend the Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms for those who want a filling but healthy main. OH! But I saw all the tables around me ordering Thick Cut Fries so I suspect I missed out on a customer favorite. Other favorites include the Black Truffle …