Lost in Translation Afternoon Tea @ The Park Hyatt Tokyo

Courtesy of the “Lost in Translation” movie The Park Hyatt in Tokyo has become a stomping ground for tourists to stop by for a cocktail @ The New York bar on the 52nd floor. The bar hosted the famous scenes between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansen and has admiring skyline views of Tokyo City – worthy for a tipple pit stop. 

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The New York Bar opens for the evening and gives an opportunity to see the sun set over the city. The food and drink is suitably New York inspired with great american cocktail options, I opted for a Pisco Sour which was fresh and frothy!


We took the opportunity to dine at the Park Hyatt’s Peak Lounge for Afternoon Tea in their Skylit Bamboo Garden so that we could indulge in great natural light views of the city. In our time in Tokyo the Park Hyatt’s views were the best we had seen – due to its location being a bit afar from the action it gave a wide city view.

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The atrium had a wonderful spaccey feel due to its large glassed windsows and high covex ceilings. The decor was a little underwelming but the views made up for it.

The Afternoon Tea menu provided a vast tea selection, ranging from the traditional to herbal and japanese varieties. There was also an option to have a completely “Sweet Afternoon Tea” however I have chose the Traditonal “Afternoon Tea” to sample their savoury bites. Both menus were priced the same at 3800Yen.

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After selecting our teas the finger sandwiches soon followed. The Japanese have a way of making things very cute and precise, and this tea was no different! The sandwiches were some of the smallest and cutest I have ever seen…..who knew you could make white sliced bread thumb size?!

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The tea settings were pretty and the cutlery – simple and white elegant.

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Scones came out warm with a variety of Praline & Plain. This was the first Praline scone i have ever tasted and I loved the caramelised flavour it added to the crumbly scone. The condiments were good but portions of the clotted cream required me to request for an encore.

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Just when I thought it was time to start on the sweet pastries we were surprised with a variety of savoury canapés….

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Once we had tasted all the little additions we started devouring our sweets. Favourites were the chocolate & cassis mousse and macaroons. Alike to the savoury round, additional sweet treats were presented and the sweet square jellies were moorish!

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All in all the Park Hyatt tea was a well executed afternoon tea service with fantastic views of the city. The wide variety of treats and extensive brew menu should find something to your fancy. A little refurb on the sofa and a few more flower displays would notch up the deco.

I would highly recommend a cocktail at the New York bar….its famous after afterall!


A Gastro Safari in Japan’s Foodie City – Osaka

Osaka is known as the foodie capital of Japan so do not miss the opportunity to sample its local street foods, most popular ones being Okonomiyaki (frittata) and the famous Takoyaki which literally translates into Octopus (Tako) Fried (Yaki). Takoyaki is basically little round dashi flavoured pancake balls stuffed with pieces of octopus, tempura, green onions and pickled red ginger, they are smothered with mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce (similar to worcester sauce) and sprinkled with fried seaweed & dried bonito flakes. You can expect the texture to be crispy on the outside and gooey in the inside, if you like seafood and have an adventurous tongue then you must try these! Best ones can be found at street vendors, we stumbled upon one under a bridge opposite the Umeda train station for a quick lunch snack. I was comforted when I saw later that evening a long queue of locals in line for a portion Takoyaki – hopefully a sign that is was aunthetic place!

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That said if you are unsure on where to haunt down some good octopus balls I would recommend going to Dottonbori and having a browse around its fluorescent lively streets for some canal side delights. Yes its touristy but if you have limited time and want to get a feeling of Osaka’s love affair with food then Dottonbori will give you a great gastronomic introduction.

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Now for my favourite local find in Osaka. A 7 hour flight. First night in Japan. 11pm. Heizo Chicken. gem.  Forget the questionable exterior, non english speaking staff and limited Japanese menu – my golly this place was so up my alley. Quirky, tasty and above all super friendly. I got a feeling within about 5 mins that we had stumbled upon a local hidden gem that is very popular with mid night cool folks.

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The pictorial menu was kind of helpful –  as in what you saw you got, but what you got was still unclear (in a good way).

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All items ordered were presented in cute disposable banana shaped bamboo ships. I guess this was Japanese Tapas?! Mi gusta! From what I could make out we had; a brie type cheese croquette, japanese keema, a yummy potato salad and a cheese/potato/bacon ball in a creamy tomato salsa. All were delicious and perfect for late munchies!

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The only item we could not eat as we were “dining in” was the Heizo Fried Chicken! Apparently its only for “take-away” – all quite bizarre but I like the odd bit of obscurity! Take-Away diners seemed very chuffed with their big boxes of fried goodness. I reckon its worth coming back for.

The Hunt for Gyoza Morsels

Who doesn’t like sizzling meaty dumplings!? We tried gyoza all over Japan and honestly we didn’t have one bad dumpling, but if I was to rank those dumplings I would in-doubtly give the number one spot to a little corner cafe on the 5th floor of the Umetika dining building.

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The cafe specialised in gyoza with beer – one could say a rather limited menu but I say genius!

We had encore portions and would again and again.

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Digital Lunch

Lunch hosted by an efficient digital member of staff who only spoke in Japanese scripture.

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Again I was very unsure on the ingredients of my order but the digitised diagrams really helped make a decision on what to order. Once I paid the machine and received my token order slip I took a seat at the communal dining table. It had large green furry balls as an interesting centrepiece…..first time for everything….it actually looked quite cool!










Now what did I order?! I think it was cold soba noodles in a white milky broth with a heaping of some kind of mince meat (maybe pork?) and a sprinkle of sprouts. Light, refreshing and oh so tasty! It came with a pourer of chilli oil which brought out the flavours of the milkly broth. Yum!

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I left Osaka with very flavourful memories. Not enough time to try all its delights but a great insight into its vibrant and fun eating scene. Sweetoothers look out for my dessert safari in Japan coming soon!

Beyond Temples & Geishas – Real Ramen in Kyoto

First visit to Japan, two days in Kyoto, one quest. Authentic Ramen.

Thanks to the travel tips of long term Kyoto resident and Lonely Planet writer Chris Rowthorn we enjoyed some real delights of Kyoto cuisine. Kaiseki being a local haute cuisine his online guide provides some wonderful dining options across Kyoto. For first time visitors I highly recommend checking out his experiences @ http://www.insidekyoto.com

Being a spicy soup fan and having tried Ramen on multiple occasions in Singapore and London I felt a quest to find the best Ramen in Kyoto. I secretly hoped they would be far tastier in Japan. In conclusion, they were. Favourites were the Ramen at Ippudo and Karako.


Ippudo having had many positive reviews on tripadvisor it took my fancy first in the thirst for spicetastic soup.  Once you manage to find Ippudo on the back streets of Nishiki Market you will enter to a communal table embedded with attractive condiments and pickles to spice up your Ramen.

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A great perk in most eateries in Japan is the visual menus full of pictures of what you might potentially eat. Fear not non-speaking Japanese folks I promise you will leave Japan full in the stomach, we most certainly did!

Ippudo had the plus of an english menu which enabled us to understand where the Ramen’s originated from in Japan which was great.

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Feeling the need for heat I opted for the Ippudo Karaka Ramen which had 5 levels of spiciness to choose from. If you can take the heat I recommend experimenting at level 4 or 5, I didn’t find it overly hot! The Ippudo Karaka Ramen has a classic Shiromaru Pork Soup as its base with a spicy Miso topping mixed with several herbs and spices. It was apparently created in 1989 and has gained a lot of popularity with Spice lovers. Till date I have not slurped on more tender noodles….

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The reviews were worthy and the Ramen really were sublime as were the accompanying gyoza which we ordered double portions of! We also had a side of Hakata Chikara Meshi (The most tender Braised Pork with Rice & Illuminos Pickled Ginger) which went down so fast with my husband that I only got about two bites. If I was to have the privilege of dining again at Ippudo Kyoto I would reorder everything we had plus an additional item of the Shiromuru Special Ramen which is the Ippudo Original a speciality of tonkotso broth served with pork belly and black fungus.

Do note that Ippudo has chains in other countries however I hear they are not all quite as great as the Kyoto joint.


Being well located in the Temple district north east of Central Kyoto (Okazaki) was one of my favourite finds on our entire trip. Totally understated in its location and decor but so heart-warmingly tasty and welcoming in service I would shoot back to Kyoto just for a luncheon encore.

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As we sat down with about 6 other Japanese men on the busy lunch hour we ordered what they all seemed to be eating, the “Kotteri Noodles Ramen“. We opted for the “meal deal” a bowl of ramen, two pieces of fried chicken and some nibbles from the communal bar!

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The chashu pork slices were super tender and moist with a crumbly texture due to the patient slow cooking of the roast pork. The flavoursome ramen broth and vegetables had quite a refreshing taste to them, quite light to eat which enables you to snack on the mind blowing “Karaage” (boneless fried chicken). Though being on a hunt for the best Ramen this Karaage was an amazing discovery, it was and is the best fried chicken I have ever gnawed on. Crispy, crunchy, spicy, tender, moist and boneless but with all the flavour of what meat on the bone normally brings. I don’t know how they do it but I like it immensely. Amazing.


Aside from the tips on where to grab a bowl of great Ramen I think its helpful to know that timing is key when planning a meal. Living in Asia has taught me well to avoid the midday rush. Get there 15mins before or you can expect to wait a heck of a time for a table at both these joints and many close at 2pm so don’t be late either. Below are some patient queuers’.


Aside great Ramen, Kyoto packs a punch of cultural treats – full of beautiful hill risen temples, shrines and the most highly statute Geisha District in Japan. The history of Geisha’s is magnificent and you cannot help but be immersed into the gentle yet complex world that is hidden out of plain sight. Make sure you spend quality time in Gion to take in the atmosphere regardless of whether you spot a Geisha or not its a quaint and beautiful part of Kyoto.

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Other recommendations:

Nishiki Market – a huge buzzing local market know as ‘Kyoto’s Pantry”

Temple Tours – there are tons so pace yourself and do some research ahead to shortlist

Gion – Geisha District and high end Kyoto haute cuisine

Museum of Modern Art is a worthy morning spent and if you are really into art there is the Municipal Museum of Art across the road

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