Fun with espresso

For me, making espresso is like creating art pieces - not the latte art, but more about my own art. I know what really matters in espresso is the bean, the taste, the aroma, etc. But just can't help it to play around.

These are my first attempts using cocoa powder/chocolate syrup to add some textures. Now I know how it works, we are going to have more fun next time:)
Yes, fun with food!


home made cafe - again

Last week, LC had made her pudding to a certain level - that we do not need to buy any from supermarket ever from now - but I am still having hard time with my espresso. Although she said that my cappuccino tastes like those in the cafe, I think there is still a long way toward successful crema. Luckily, I had some good news from my venture in bread baking.

Yesterday was my 2nd try in baking walnut bread with maple syrup. I failed again in creating the desired shape, but I managed to bake a softer one. And it tasted sweeter than my first attempt. Furthermore, I ate the bread this morning and it was still very soft and nice. I know it was just a very simple bread compare to those in the boulangerie, but I think I deserve some little compliment for making the bread in a very small kitchen with the space limited to no more than 20cm wide ( and yes, LC deserves it too:) ).

Anyway, I believe the failures in my bread baking will be the road to success, just like my espresso. Little but not less, finally I saw my crema coming out. From brewing an espresso too fast in a few seconds, I saw the light after changing the bean's grinding last week ( the first picture below ). And yesterday after I changed the tamping pressure, I got more crema ( the second picture ). It was not the latte art that I had wanted, but at least I think I am on the right path:)

Actually, I was thinking to make a mocha yesterday but it was a waste not to try the crema so I ended up with a cappuccino. So many to try and so interesting, with an artist ended up making art in brewing and baking... haha. I hope I can start drawing and painting with my food soon:)



There is a very small cafe in Kyodo, which can only fit a few customers. We went there yesterday in the cold & heavy rain, but it was worth it. The chocolate drinks using Valrhona ( a famous chocolate brand from France ) that I had made the day brighter. And the apple tart with the Uva tea that my wife had were great too. Although all the sizes of the food were really small ( especially for most Malaysian who prefer volume than quality that I assume ), we thought they are perfect.

Furthermore, we liked the design of the cafe too. It was calm and clean. The texture on the wall, the wooden parts, the various type of chairs to be chosen, they all helped to create a very homelike atmosphere. It was very comfortable. However, my wife had a complaint about the table that we were sitting. She said it was too small for a lady because it was hard to put her both legs under the table due to the small space between the table legs. We had some arguments about furniture sizes, but I thought she has a point too.

It is never easy to make everything perfect. I think we should just try for our best:)


cafe medewo

Ho, ho, ho... the season is here again :)

Last Sunday we went to cafe medewo in Jiyugaoka, Tokyo. Actually we wanted to visit cafe one that day but the place was full, so we made a quick decision on the spot - to medewo. They are totally different in style and service, but it was not a bad choice. Stylish and modern in design, cafe medewo has a taste just like the town Jiyugaoka.

I had a quiche myself, and my wife ordered a plate of grilled chicken and mushroom. Her was the special lunch set of cafe medewo, bread and desert included. There was nothing surprising, but we were satisfied with the meal.

One of the design uniqueness of medewo is that it is located on the 2nd floor of a fashion boutique, but it has its own facade on the entrance. The way the 2 different shops interacted reminds me of shimauma cafe. They really match the atmosphere of Jiyugaoka.



Before we go to the hill garden in Yamate, we went to this SLOW CAFE in Motomachi. At first I thought it is in a remote area or somewhere within the residential area, but it turned out that the place is quite crowded and there were a lot of shop houses around it. The atmosphere was so-so but at least the food is not bad.

We tried the deli plate and the curry made of nuts. They were all very healthy, but I was not so sure about the "slow" part. Anyway, it is a very standard cafe that you can find around Tokyo or Yokohama.


Chiki Chiki & Tan Tan

Yesterday, despite the cloudy mood we have decided to visit Chiki Chiki & Tan Tan. Maybe the sound of the name gave us something very, sunny? The cafe is located a bit far from Kannai, the station nearby China Town in Yokohama. I was not so sure about the menu even though I was interested in the interior design of it, but after some searching on the internet I felt we can give it a try.

It turn out that we had made a good choice. The pasta were great. Personally I like the idea to bake the cauliflower and match it with the tomato base chicken pasta. Very nice. And the plate of fish with vegetables and beans was very special indeed. The way they decorated it showed that Chiki Chiki is not just any casual cafe, but something more. However, we were not sure about the desert - 2 type of Tiramisu with vanilla ice cream. The look was great (picture above), but it just did not feel like the Tiramisu. But overall we were satisfied.

Beside the delicious dishes, I also like the way they use the block of red wall in the interior. The separation of the main entrance with the kitchen beside it, some counter seats and the main room for dining was very successful. Even though the design approach seems quite modern, the touch of hand made furniture and decorations help to make it a very warm place indeed.

I think we are going there again sometime :)



Finally, I went to HAMA CAFE. I saw this cafe when I first visited Osanbashi in Yokohama a few years ago ( For info about Osanbashi, pls visit http://www.osanbashi.com/en/index.html ). The cafe felt interesting because of its location and the surrounding. But I had never have the chance to really step inside... until yesterday.

Just as I imagined, it is not spacious inside. Simple, easy. The compact kitchen and the room of 4-5 tables is separated by a decorative tile counter. There is nothing much, but it is enough for simple meals. And we had a nice Saturday's lunch - a plate of Keema curry, a cream spaghetti, and a Tiramisu.

Oh and one more thing, I like the idea to sell popcorn by the entrance. During our lunch, we saw a mother bought a pack of popcorn for her child. Ever had the memory that when you are small, the eagerly feeling to grasp that popcorn or the cotton candy when you passing by the shop, to be charmed by the sweet taste in the air.


This is not the type of cafe that we will usually go, but we had no choice last Friday's night after we had our dinner in Shinjuku, and thinking to find a place just to have a cup of coffee. It is almost impossible to find a space to fit 6 of us. After some unsuccessful searching, we finally decided to try this place - L'ambre.

It was really hard to imagine that the cafe has its main room underground with the height as shown in the picture above. As you can see, it is a really old cafe. Even the ice cream and the drinks felt so historic. But we had our good time here. And we even decided to come next time because it surely saves our time to wandering around Shinjuku at night for cafe.



After the disappointment at Suzu Cafe last week which was very shocking indeed, we finally found another nice cafe in a remote area of east Shinjuku yesterday. We took a long walk by the north side of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, where we discovered a lots of pleasant restaurants too. However Armwood Cottage is not located by the garden, but instead it is facing the busy main road of Shinjuku Street. As a contrast to that though, the interior is full of serenity - a very special place to spend a quiet afternoon in this giant metropolis.

The food was simple but delicious, no complaint about that. They were the usual dishes you will find in the average cafe. The way that seasoned cod roe served with the hot bread was very nice.

I know that Armwood Cottage is an affiliated cafe of atticroom, but I think that they did a good job in creating a totally different style of cafe. Although Starbucks or Tully's are the popular and profitable business model now, the affiliated cafe like these by attic planning could be the next step in the blue ocean (refer to the book "Blue Ocean Strategy"). There are a few attempts in Tokyo now, but whether it could be taken to the global stage (or was taken? or will be?), I do not know. But personally I think that the beauty of this kind of attempt stays as long as it is local and small.


SUZU cafe

Oh this is one of the worst cafe that I have ever visited in Tokyo. The atmosphere is so-so but the food is not good. I think my wife's Peperonchino is much more better than the one that I ordered. But anyway, the reason that I am posting this cafe is because I have a hypothetical proposition about the way Japanese acts toward cafe or, the food served in cafe. I think it is a well-known conception that Japanese cuisine is very good on the appearance. And truly the beauty of it can be considered an artistic approach. But I think that some might only taste on the food appearance, and do not really even understand the real taste of the dishes. To be honest, and fair, I like most of the Japanese food. There is no doubt about that. But the way their modern culture "evolved" make me start wondering about the true essence of the food served in some restaurants, etc.

If you need a place just simply to have a short rest, well SUZU cafe can be the place. I am not against it. It is just around the corner by OIOI building in the center of Shibuya - one of the best over-advertised-area of Tokyo.


Cafe d'Art

I was never so sure about the cafe of any art museum. We visited this Cafe d'Art of Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Shinagawa, Tokyo in July. The purpose was to take my wife to the art exhibition, and enjoy the cafe which I had never had the chance to pay a visit every time when I was there. The cafe provides special image cake according to each exhibition, but we had only the usual dishes. Honestly, they were just usual, nothing special. The environment is ok, but I think maybe they can try something better to make the cafe more as a piece of artwork too, since the place has the potential.