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Off we go from Tokyo on a six hour red eye bus to Kyoto, and for some (laura) to go from sakura chasing to matcha overdrive.
This is the bus we took- kinda hilarious.
Above is the #1 spot to see cherry blossoms which we dubbed the ‘devil tree’. I don’t understand how this even made it to the top ten. The ravens perched on its crooked branches just adds to the Halloween-ness. Okay I’ll stop talking about the pink stuff, on to the green stuff!!!
I would like to introduce you all to my favourite green tea snack/dessert/baked good. It’s only available in Kyoto at department stores such as Daimaru and Takashimaya (although I did spot the store’s cafe at Kyoto Station when I was taking a bus back to Tokyo). The store is called Malebranche and is responsible for this delectable cookie which is composed of two wafer thin biscuits loaded with bitter matcha (they call it ‘OKOICHA langue de chat’)with a slick layer of white chocolate in between. A collaboration between three connoisseurs of tea (Kakuji Kojima), appraiser (Haruhide Morita) and patissier (Yasuhiko Ezaki) gave birth to CHA no KA and one of the reasons why I would trek back to Kyoto. There are three different characters sealed on the surface of the biscuits, I guess, a different signature for each of the collaborators.
Last time my biggest regret was only getting myself a bag of five and a box of ten for relatives (it was sold out in Daimaru this time around! It’s ALWAYS sold out at Daimaru). This time around I purchased a box of 16 for myself, one for my cousin, a box of 10 for other relatives and a bag of 5 for colleagues. I know it was quite selfish but you have to take a look at the packaging which punch suckered me into getting myself a 16-piece box:
Mine all mine…
We were wandering the streets and was SUPPOSED to head to this other matcha sundae place when we got sidetracked by the look of this one (sorry, Laura, next time!). Oku Gallery and Cafe is discreet in its appearance from the outside, resembling a typical house there with only a yellow to pink overhang at the door and a lightbox sign:
I really love the first floor dining area where the back wall is sliced in half to let in natural light and to allow customers to enjoy the beautiful mini garden. Lo and behold the interiors of Oku resembles a streamlined, modern cafe of the present. It reminds me of NYC’s MOMA cafeteria and St Mark’s Cha An rolled into one. We had to sit upstairs which was equally as nice with high ceilings and a view of the street:
Oku predominantly serves numerous tea sets that like the architecture/interior, reflects a blend of modern and traditional sweets. The roll comes with traditional Japanese jelly (ok I am in no way an expert on Asian desserts so I won’t hazard a guess). We ended up getting a cheesecake set, a matcha sundae set and a roll cake set. Everything was beautifully presented. I was a little hesitant about the cheesecake at first because the texture in the menu looked dry and crumbly however it yielded a soft, creaminess and definitely was my favourite (not a fan of Azuki or mochi as much). Definitely order a glass of apple juice- it’s delightfully refreshing:
One of these doesn’t belong….
Nakamura Tokichi is known for seasoning its food, drinks and desserts with green tea. We never got to go to the original cafe however we stopped by a Nakamura stand every night for matcha ice cream prior to taking the train back to Moriyama. Amazing ice cream and if I were to go again, I’d get the hojicha like Agnes!
We also stopped by Lipton’s to get some green tea cake to go….
Many many many thanks to Yuri, our host in Kyoto. I would love to post up pictures of your adorable apartment but that might be a little creepy so I’ll just say to everyone: Yuri has the cutest apartment ever which feels like home! Man there’s such a big difference when you stay in a hotel versus a real home. Everything feels more personal and therefore more warm and inviting. Somehow sleep is better.
Ok so some of the photos aren’t showing again when I preview this page.. I want to kill myself then again trying to upload 35 photos into one entry must be killing WordPress. I can’t be bothered to tweak it now.