Snapshots from Hokkaido

15116151694_a751f362bc_cWords flow most easily when writing about something right after it happens (“it” being a trip, an unforgettable tea or moment). But there’s also something magical in reliving a memory by writing a post. So today, let’s head back to Hokkaido.

In October we flew to Tokyo and took the train south to Kyoto. Fom there we flew north to Hokkaido. Sapporo was our base, and we arrived with an appetite for uni.

15551296140_51b6799fa1_cStraight from the airport, we devoured Hokkaido uni by the tray…

15550674098_26ac5ee43c_c…followed by milk cream soft-serve and a late night snack of gyoza with plenty of beer.

15550926617_d6f5593819_cWe took a day trip to Otaru in search of more uni…

15550243889_cf81a2cb4b_c…including this uni and squid dish at Masazushi. The squid is sliced into super thin noodles…

15550932627_17f42fa592_c…mix with uni and dip into the shoyu/raw egg/sesame sauce. Bliss.

15737660432_07debd54a4_cThere was lots more uni…

15116160694_a4733901c3_c…lots and lots ^-^

15550235709_da4eb76672_c…followed by a break at LeTAO for brûléed custard tarts…

15550235269_45a183cbfc_c…and fluffy steamed cheesecakes.

15734185971_9dabf26c5e_cThen we found soft-serve at Patisserie Kitakaro. How could you say no?

15550920997_2c62b546eb_cFive minutes later we walked past another branch of LeTAO that offered camembert soft-serve. Yes, please.

15116151694_a751f362bc_cAnd ten minutes later we came across a SEVEN layer soft-serve cone. From the top down: grape, matcha, strawberry, melon, milk, lavender, and chocolate. After all those sweets, we craved something savory…

15736109835_8e7e48a9f0_c…like this bowl of uni and ikura over rice. It took just an hour to get back to Sapporo…

15551270260_8b0121b7f9_c…just in time for a nap and dinner. Hokkaido wagyu!

15712387426_7cc118536a_cAnd Hokkaido crab…

15551271020_d4549fe97f_c…and Hokkaido potato! Could it be that everything from Hokkaido is just that much more delicious?

15712386226_be3cbfebea_c (1)We had more Hokkaido crab for breakfast the next day…

15734175221_7f41a12e1d_c…alongside an uni, ikura, crab, and salmon bowl.

15551266930_0254deba10_cAnd then it was off to Plantation Cafe. Here’s what it looks on the outside…

15550908667_7757b49668_c (1)…and the inside.

15551262340_04cb47a8fb_cOrange and chocolate, a full menu of seasonal drinks and…

15736096035_da360f51f6_c…this boozy tiramisu.

15712375716_46916d9951_cAnd an affogato!

15737614502_f55063ec5d_cWe had half a dinner at one restaurant known for Hokkaido corn tempura with matcha salt…

15712358466_75bee6ced5_c…and there’s always room for saba.

15551233430_c694d4ebcf_cPicchu was just a block away…

15550878887_3986e138e5_c…so we stepped in for a dish garlic and anchovy laced-dressing over raw vegetables…

15550878487_4ff211bf9a_c…and then stayed for the uni pasta and champagne. Couldn’t ask for a sweeter evening.

15550186729_4a09be07b2_c (1)For lunch the following day…a Hokkaido specialty of spicy soup curry.

15550443089_6df9ec7a4d_cAnd Nana’s for matcha soft-serve with giant cubes of warabi mochi…

15734138801_a3a1368e45_c…iced hojicha with a scoop of hojicha ice cream…

15737606252_cef641c0df_c…and matcha. Next stop, Taipei!


Asiate | Mandarin Oriental, New York

15605687019_c02e45da83_cI visit Asiate because it’s calm and beautiful….and Chef Angie always incorporates surprising elements of tea into her menu.

15606671950_164f66eb29_cThe “tea dish” this season is turbot with jasmine tea and leek jam. Mushroom consommé is poured tableside (from a teapot). And don’t forget to add white truffles, heehee.

15120630291_814627f28b_cThis was the turbot + teapot dish from summer…all those herbs! Paired with heirloom tomatoes, capers, and baby squid.

14798942308_8306c9d9c8_cAnd remember tea-roasted beets from the lunch menu? Orange and yellow beets roasted on a bed of chai tea and plated with labne and crispy maitakes. Super smokey.

15064489770_9fceaa1b3d_cP.S. Not a tea-related dish, but one I wish would stay permanently on the menu: uni, ahi, and ikura ^-^

Snapshots from Tokyo

15371002298_a494654d1a_cA quick recap of moments, memories, and meals from Tokyo ^-^

14936406804_82167081f2_cStraight from Narita airport to Kohaku for turtle soup and taro with truffles…

15533420366_526f211d30_c…and six hours later…waking up for a Japanese breakfast at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo.

15505445479_d074d4de63_cWe met Mihoko (so happy to meet!) for lunch (wish you were there, Hanya ^-^) and spent the afternoon exploring…

15371492130_6572c25093_c…before afternoon tea back at the Mandarin

15371465020_5e245e5edf_c…and dinner at Sushisho Masa.

15371238730_e0030891a1_cMidnight cocktails at Bar High Five (my first time trying a Bloody Mary o_O)

15533147896_a3d7d29969_cThe next day we visited Omotesando Koffee for granitas, shakeratos and this…

15533145006_c4cfb83f53_c…hot baked custard (imagine an extra custard-y canelé in cube form).

15370838857_6c629dd833_cWe also came across a location of Doughnut Plant, so had to try an Uji matcha doughnut.

15554160091_5567448421_cEarly evening at New York Bar at the Park Hyatt…

15667508386_13dfa1c574_c…what a magical place ^-^

15557664482_5e89ed4a3c_cDinner at Sushi Shin…

14936051614_afb625e790_c…and more cocktails at Star Bar.

Next stop, Kyoto ^-^

Los Angeles | Q Sushi

Edomae-style omakase for two at Q Sushi ^_^

Hirame from South Korea

Kampachi from Japan

Kushi oyster from Vancouver 

Seared toro and shishito paste

Akami from Spain with miso paste

A very thick, blended miso soup



Black snapper from New Zealand

Orange clam from Boston

Baby abalone

Marinated bluefin tuna



Cured salmon and kelp



Santa Barbara uni


And a very special treat! This is uni cured for a month in sake lees…

…the texture is super custardy and the flavor is akin to dulce de leche. Most magical ^_^

Hong Kong | Dinner at Joanne’s

It was Joanne who introduced me to this incredible combination of uni and steak. A tongue and slice of each, all wrapped in shiso and nori, then topped with a sprinkle of Maldon. 

Remember this Niku-Uni dish at Takashi? Uni, raw chuck flap, and nori. It was good but not perfect because the raw meat required too much chewing effort to enjoy. The goal is to create an effortless bite.

Joanne was like, why not sear the meat? So there we have it.

We had that for dinner at her place in Hong Kong one night. But that was not all! I finally met Emmi the Chow Chow in real life and

…her aunt cooked up a feast for five. We devoured gobo chicken soup…

…and smoked dried tofu skin sautéed with Chinese celery.

There was sautéed cabbage with lard and garlic…

…alongside her grandma’s sugarcane smoked pork belly with cilantro roots and Yilan scallions.

Fresh baby bamboo! With kurobuta pork belly. So much pork belly ^_^

And kurobuta pork from Taiwan steamed with cabbage (from her aunt’s garden in Yilan) and a sprinkle of shichi-mi.

Then we took a break and snacked on century eggs from Taiwan with sweet soy and cilantro.

And for dessert, a million Pierre Hermé macarons (he has two Hong Kong locations)…

…and ispahan chocolates…

…paired with more oolong than I can remember ^_^