Lunch @ Naniwaya Cafe 浪花家総 (Tokyo, Japan)

December 17, 2016 in Japanese

Opened in 1909, Naniwaya came up top when I was doing my research for taiyaki (fish-shaped cake with red bean filling). And yes, I especially love it when the shop has a long history to it. Keke.

It was a Thursday morning I chose to explore Azabu-juban area. My original plan was to drop by Naniwaya for their taiyaki after my breakfast at another cafe. But, I got greedy. Ha. I ended having lunch just 10 minutes after finishing breakfast.

A 10 minutes walk from exit 7 of Azabu-juban metro station, I entered the shop and was greeted by a staff who took my order by scribbling on a piece of paper. Was told to wait by taking a seat at one of the many stools placed near the entrance. And it was during my wait that I saw newspaper clippings and magazine articles of their taiyaki and chow mein noodle proudly placed at the counter. I decided to dine in since my itinerary was heavy on sushi and tempura. And for dine in, I was led to the back.

And from the food menu (pages 1, 2), I ordered:-

1) Chow mein noodle, ¥500 (small) (above) – 2 sizes are available. But of course, I chose small over big (¥600). It being my first chow mein noodle, I didn’t really know what to expect. Cooked by who-I-suspect-is-the-daughter, this was a little burnt.

2) Taiyaki, ¥180 (above) – And for dine in, the taiyaki was served on a bamboo tray. And this was really good. Sweet (but not overwhelmingly sweet) red bean paste within warm and crispy dough. And I read that the red beans were cooked for eight hours. A must try.

3) Kakigori, ¥1000 (above) – Shaved ice with mochi (rice cake) and red bean filling. And one shouldn’t think there’s only 2 mochi. As I was dining alone, I held thought of just eating half of it. But just as I was about to stop, I found another layer of red bean in the middle with more mochi hidden at the bottom. A total of 6 mochi! So yes, I ended up finishing everything cause I really liked the mochi and red bean paste. Not surprising about the latter since Naniwaya is (more) famous for their taiyaki. Don’t expect much on the shaved ice; It wasn’t shaved as fine for the ice to melt immediately in the mouth.

I left the shop at 12.35pm after a 1-hour long lunch. And as I was making my exit, I overheard the staff telling a pair of tourists that they had to wait 1 hour for the taiyaki even though there wasn’t a visible long queue. Reason being, the shop took many orders through the phone too. So yes, they were really very busy. It was non-stop making of these taiyaki.

So I guess if one is coming for their taiyaki, try to come earlier. Or perhaps, call first? But one thing for sure is that I would definitely return for their taiyaki in my return trips to Tokyo!

1-8-14 Azabujuban, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 麻布十番 1-8-14)
+81 3 3583 4975, Tablelog
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Mon, Wed – Sun: 10:00 – 20:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 6
Service: 6
* Closed on Tues, 3rd Wed of every month

Sweets @ Sebastián セバスチャン (Tokyo, Japan)

November 15, 2016 in Japanese

While planning for my Japan trip, one of the must-try items on my list was shaved ice (kakigori). I had seen much of it on Instagram and was determined to satisfy my curiosity as it was something I didn’t try in my previous trip.

With much research, I decided on Sebastian because of their unique cake-shaped shaved ice. Everyone loves something unique. Right, right? =p But also because it was recommended by instagrammer @little_meg_siu_meg.

Armed with google map in my handphone, it was relatively straight forward locating Sebastian. And upon entry, the staff gestured to me the empty (high) table where I could sit.

I wasn’t able to order from the menu as it was written in Japanese. Instead, I ordered by showing pictures from Instagram! Hee:-

1) Kakigori #1, ¥950 (above) – To properly appreciate the shaved ice, I highly recommend ordering the traditional mountain-shaped. I was able to taste how light and fluffy the ice were, which was achievable because it was shaved very finely. Think needle-shaped ice! The larger surface area meant every mouthful was a delight as the shaved ice dissolved immediately in the mouth. And every mouthful was guaranteed with intense flavour as the shaved ice was made by alternating between ice and generous amount of sauce! This was seriously huge too, by the way.

2) Kakigori #2, ¥1200 (above) – Was intrigued when I saw this on every table. One of his signature dishes? How can I leave without trying! And this was a pure master piece. Called the ‘creme brulee’, the topmost layer of meringue frosting was torched such that I was greeted with a delightful cracking sound as I ‘broke’ the top with the spoon. And it remained crispy throughout the 12 to 15 minutes which I took to finish my dessert. Amazing! Although I did wish there was more strawberry jam in my strawberry-lemon flavoured ‘creme brulee’ shaved ice.

3) Kakigori #3, ¥1200 (above) – As mentioned, it was the cake-shaped shaved ice that I specially came to Sebastian for. And it was really interesting watching him put everything together. But because of the smaller shape, one gets more cream to shaved ice.

If one wishes to try shaved ice (kakigori), I highly recommend making a trip down to Sebastian! So while the shop seems pretty far from the main tourist attractions on the map, it’s only a 8 to 10 minutes walk from Yoyogikoen metro station. One could totally hop over after visiting Meiji Shrine or Yoyogi Park.

I would also recommend dropping by on weekdays. My first visit was on Friday. There was a constant stream of customers but orders were manageable as the shaved ice were all personally made by the kakigori master himself. My second visit was on a Saturday and the place was noticeably busier with people queuing outside. Yes, customers would wait patiently outside the shop for a table instead of standing inside the shop.

And it was during my second visit that I noticed not all orders went through the kakigori master. There were 2 other staff, and the young lady was handling half of the incoming orders. But I was fortunate to have my orders handled by him. Keke!

The only con about Sebastian was their varying operating hours. One has to check their Twitter the night before. On the 2 days I visited, his operating hours started at 11.30am and 2pm, and closed at 5pm on both days.

Will definitely make a trip to Sebastian when I’m next back in Japan to try his other flavours which changes with the seasons.

7-15 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 渋谷区 神山町 7-15)
+81 3 5738 5740, Twitter, Tablelog
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : Varies (Check twitter)
Ambience: 6
Value: 8
Service: 7