A trip to Nagoya is never complete without trying all of the delicious food available. This aesthetic food adventure takes us to many dessert cafes and restaurants that have just re-opened after the emergency state ended. We also drank at Meijo Park near Nagoya Castle which is one of the chillest spots I’ve found in this city with awesome scenery. All of the places I visited this weekend have a lovely atmosphere and I can’t recommend them enough!
I’ll be expanding this list as I find more places, but feel free to suggest any you recommend in the comments! Please see Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 for reference.
Around the time that Animal Crossing for Switch was released, these guys popped up in my recommended desserts feed on Instagram. Though I don’t play the game because I value my free time, who could pass up the chance to try tanuki cupcakes!? Holland is western-themed desserts and confectionery shop near Kanayama Station in Nagoya. They sell individual sweets and customized cakes for a pretty affordable price. The tanuki cupcakes come in strawberry and chocolate flavors. They had both a wafer and cake-like texture underneath the frosting. Honestly they hit the spot after traveling over 2 hours here from Tokyo. I am excited to see what other fun cupcakes they design in the future!
Cafe One in central Sakae delivers breakfast of the champions with it’s signature nekopan. Or should I say breakfast of the champio-nyans? Whatever you want to call it, it’s mouthwatering and delicious. I had ice cream milk coffee that was decorated to look like a cat with a mustache and a cookie tail on the side. I instantly felt energized after consuming all that ice cream and sugar. My boyfriend ordered neko melonpan that had no face but was thicc and tasted amazing. I ordered the nekopan with almond eyes that was covered in peanut butter and marshmallow toppings with chocolate whiskers. Honestly is was a bit overwhelming but was also some of the best bread I had ever tasted. There are many flavors of nekopan available here so I’d love to try more in the future!
Dean & Deluca Deli
After consuming all of that sugar, we walked around for a while and decided we should eat something healthy for lunch. Not too far from Cafe One is the Dean & Deluca Deli where you can order sandwiches and fresh salad for a healthy meal. They offer juices, desserts, and takeout options here as well. I decided to get the vegetable salad with avocado, grilled pumpkin, potato, lettuce, quinoa, and carrots. It was a good balance to what I ate for breakfast and gave me a lot of energy for the rest of the day. My boyfriend had the chicken sandwich and said it had his stamp of approval too. This place is win-win for both vegetarians and people who like meat because it has a number of options.
Poket is a Hawaiin restaurant that just moved to the bottom floor of ASTIR Hotel in Sakae. They are relatively new but have a really vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. Poke Bowls are the specialty here which you can order with salad or rice as your base. I customized my bowl to include sauteed octopus and vegetables. For dessert, I decided to try their one of a kind “banana soft” which is vanilla ice cream that is carefully placed inside of a fresh banana. The result is extremely photogenic and Instagrammable. Bananas sure have evolved a lot! The drink menu has Japanese drinks, Hawaiin beers, and pineapple sours. I definitely felt like we were in a tropical place even though we are currently in the middle of the rainy season in Japan. I would definitely come back here again to try more variety of of Poke and see what other crazy desserts they come up with!
For once I wasn’t the one that found this restaurant—full credit goes to my boyfriend for taking us here. 杏ZU specializes in vegan Chinese food but has a non-vegan menu too. I decided to ordered the vegetables boiled with yuba tofu (vegan option). I also tried some Chinese wine on the rocks. It was bitter but tasted just right paired with the food. My boyfriend got a chicken dish that was served in a delicious rice cracker. What makes this place stand out from other Chinese restaurants is the seasoning they use in their cooking. I tasted a hint of lemon in mine and it was very healthy because they didn’t use any butter in it. I would really like to come back here and try some shrimp dishes in the future. This place will be on my watch list.
Situated next to Nagoya Castle, Meijo Park is one of the ideal places to drink or have a picnic. Unlike other parks and gardens in Nagoya, it doesn’t have an entrance fee and is open 24 hours. It feels like something out of an RPG because it has a giant windmill that looks like it holds secrets, a sundial that could possibly turn back time, and comically huge sunflowers everywhere. Not to mention the adorable stray cats. You could definitely use this place in a game map. Anyway, my boyfriend and I spent 2 hours drinking here before Final Fantasy VII trivia night at Critical Hit. We also tried the new Blue Hawaii donut at Lyrical Coffee Donut which was better than their matcha series. I later came back here to watch the sunset and see the moon before I left for Tokyo. This place has a wonderful aesthetic because all of the trees block the city lights.
That’s all the aesthetic food finds for this week. I’ll have more to write about when I visit Nagoya again later this month! Thank you for reading.
Since I’ve finished my Jeju Island article series, I’m going to write about some of my favorite places to hang out in Seoul next. It’s hard to structure this article because there are literally so many cool areas of the city! My two favorite districts in Seoul are by far Itaewon and Gangnam. Both have extremely different vibes but are perfect for a night out depending on what my mood is. Itaewon is friendliest and most international while Gangnam is the fanciest district is Seoul. Even though I can’t speak Hangul, I never have trouble making friends in this city. Spontaneously getting invited to a bachelor’s party while staying here was one of the coolest things that have ever happened to me in a foreign country. I’ve been to Korea three times and hope to visit again when international travel is possible again.
Without further ado, here are the most fun places that I’ve discovered:
Common Ground is an urban mall that was built out of containers and is really fun to explore. Unlike other malls, there’s not a huge mob of annoying shoppers here because those type of people usually go to the fancier malls in the center of the city. Common Ground features small designer stores and also has restaurants and live music. A lot of stores here import brands too. No matter what your price range is, you can usually find something that fits your taste here. I actually didn’t buy much but I had fun doing photography with the winter illuminations outside. There was also a statue of an astronaut outside and some replicas of Roman statues inside the main building when I visited. How aesthetic!
While I was walking around here, a Korean student came up to me and interviewed me for a university project. Since I didn’t have a strict itinerary during my first trip, I happily participated. She asked me various questions about my country and also gave me some Korean snacks. Though it was a simple project, I was happy that I could help out. Common Ground is close to many universities so it’s great for socializing and meeting people!
Lotte World is one of the most famous amusement parks in Korea. In fact, it’s the largest indoor theme park in the world—which is why I had to go! It’s located in the massive Lotte Mall that has hundreds of shops and food from all around the world. If you are looking for top tier shopping in Seoul, then this is the place. I came after the start of the new year so the park had a winter theme. Fortunately it wasn’t very crowded and I could ride all of the rides that I wanted! There are carousels, roller coasters, haunted houses, and my personal favorite: The Balloon Ride. You can see the entire indoor park and mall from the top which makes it an amazing experience.
Even though Lotte World is owned by Lotte Co. Ltd., there are actually a lot of parallels between it and Disney Land. For example, the outside of Lotte World resembles the Disney World Castle. It also has a beautiful lake that you can view by walking across a bridge that leads to the artificially created “Magic Island” which is a lot like Disney Sea. Despite these similarities, the attractions are quite different and the entrance to Lotte World is considerably cheaper. If you like one park, you’ll probably like the other too.
I would recommend checking out Lotte World as opposed to other amusement parks because you can come here in any kind of weather thanks to the indoor park area.
Entrance Fee: 32$ for adults (cheaper than most amusement parks in Japan so it’s overall worth it)
The Jogyesa Temple in Insadong, Seoul is probably my favorite temple of all time in Korea. I first came here during the Lotus Festival in April and many bright hand-crafted paper ornaments were hung around the entire complex. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was! Jogyesa is actually the center of Buddhism in Korea and many rituals and ceremonies are held here. There are private prayer rooms as well as places that you can make public offerings. The Chinese Scholar Tree was planted on the temple grounds because it is said to convert negative energy into positive energy and happiness. Though I’m not particularly religious, I definitely felt in high spirits here. Please check this place out if you ever get the chance. The monks are very friendly and welcoming.
I enjoyed seeing the English pack of M&Ms being used as an offering when I went:
Entrance Fee: Free
Myeongdong is essentially the Shibuya/Harajuku of Seoul. You can come here at any time of day and find something fun to do. It has street food, hilarious fashion (“say no to kids, drugs”), recreational parks, and cafes galore. The street and night markets have knock-off Gucci and Supreme which you can score for a low price. I enjoyed eating octopus and drinking sochu while I walked through all the streets and alleyways.
Some of my favorite places I found around Myeongdong Station were:
Artbox – An adorable mall with art supplies, cosmetics, and accessories. It reminded me of the LINE Friends store in Japan but had way more variety.
Stylenada 3CE – A pool-themed shopping mall and cafe with beautiful pink decor. It has amazing desserts!
Bbongsin – An amazing restaurant with cold noodles and calzones. Some of the best Korean food I’ve ever had!
Milky Bee – An ice cream shop with flower-shape gelato.
Myeongdong has bars that stay open late, but not much of a club scene. Continue reading to see my recommendations for clubs:
Ever since the song “Gangnam Style” became a hit song, I feel like this district doesn’t really need an introduction but I’ll give it a go anyway. Gangnam is the most upscale district in Seoul but you can enjoy the nightlife here with almost any budget. In addition to some of the most reputable clubs, it has secluded parks you can walk through by the river side and amazing cafes. Gangnam itself is pretty spread out so people don’t normally drink in the streets like in Itaewon. It’s classy and has a club area as well as a quiet upscale residential district as well.
My first memory of Gangnam was meeting up with some of my old college friends here and going to Octagon, where we got invited to VIP tables and drank champagne. If you’re a girl then it’s really easy to meet people that will buy you drinks here. The crowds and sound system are pretty insane too. I honestly got too lit my first time here so I’d really like to come back and just focus on the music next time.
Last year I decided to get my eye bags removed at JK Plastic in Gangnam. I had sunken eyelids that were caused by genetics so the veins under my skin would show and create permanent eye bags. I always looked tired and wanted to fix the issue so I opted for eye surgery. I chose JK Plastic because they are one of the highest-rated clinics in Korea and speak English. It took about a week of downtime in Korea and then six weeks of recovery at home, but the skin beneath my eyelids has been fully restored now! When I woke up from surgery I nearly cried because they did such an amazing job and I could already see the results despite having a swollen face. During my down time I played visual novels and also watched a lot of anime. It wasn’t so bad—just make sure you have enough time off to take care of yourself!
Plastic surgeons in Korea are the best in the world. The advantage of going here is that if you’re a tourist you can get a tax refund from the surgery when you go to the airport. I would not recommend plastic surgery in Japan because my friends have said the surgeons here are not as experienced or friendly. I would recommend doing research, scheduling an online consultation with a clinic you like, and seeing what options fit you best. I may write a full article on this at a later time!
Itaewon is my favorite place to start my night out in Seoul. I have so many fond memories here. It caters to the late-night international crowd and has small, condensed streets as well as beautiful murals that decorate the walls. You can sit at an outdoor bar or go drinking in the street and easily meet people (both tourists and Korean nationals). You can find pretty much any type of restaurant or dessert shop here too. It has the feel of a college town but is much more upscale and classy. Usually I spend my first night going to various clubs and bars then wake up and soak in Itaewon Land Spa.
My favorite club here is called Cakeshop because it features a lot of independent producers from both Seoul and other countries plus it has a great vibe. It originally caught my eye because Carpainter did a set here in 2015 (unfortunately I was in America at the time or I would have gone). The club is small enough with one DJ booth and bar that it’s easy to converse with people and enjoy the music. I have made a number of friends here that I still stay in touch with. The entry fee usually isn’t more than $25.
Besides Cakeshop, Fountain is a great place to check out. The first floor is huge dance floor that’s always usually packed and the upper floors have tables and arcades for bigger groups. The music here is usually western EDM which disinterests me, but the atmosphere of the club is impressive. I have never paid any entrance fee when I have gone in. What I remember of Club Awesome was awesome too!
Next time I’m here I really want to check out a club called Pumpkin. If it’s actually Halloween-themed like its outer decor implies then I’m in.
Other Interesting Places:
Hongdae – Hongdae is a popular spot for college students and those who love K-pop music clubs. I came here to visit the ADERerror store and also to do some shopping. I didn’t like it as much as Itaewon or Gangnam due to my music taste, but I highly recommend you spend a night exploring here and see what you think.
I found an amazing “Magical Item Shop” called Creamy DD with tons of Sailor Moon and other magical girl accessories here. It’s easy to spot the sign if you walk down the main road:
Ihwa Mural Village – Since I went to Busan and saw Gamcheon I skipped this village, but if you are looking for beautiful murals and art to see then please check this place out! I want to go here in the future.
Secret Garden – A scenic area around Changdeokgung Palace that I recommend checking out if you have the time. It is one of the most beautiful gardens in Seoul!
Nami Island – A scenic island near Seoul where many K-dramas are filmed. Click the link to read my full article on it!
Places to Stay
As a backpacker, I favor cheap hostels but the majority of accommodations in Korea are less expensive than in Japan. You can likely find a nice hotel for $45 USD or less too.
Here are some of the places that I stayed at and enjoyed in Korea. I booked them close in proximity to the clubs I was interested in checking out:
Guesthouse Yacht (Itaewon) – A very inexpensive apartment-style dorm in the heart of Itaewon. This is my go-to place if I’m spending the night there because it’s safe, quiet, and conveniently located.
Kimchee Guesthouse (Gangnam) – A guest house near Gangnam City Office that has private and dorm rooms. I stayed here during my eye surgery recovery period and it was perfect because my room had a shower inside it. This is the cheapest you will get in the fanciest part of the city, I assure you.
Neo Seoul Guesthouse – I wanted to try staying in Hongdae for a night, so I chose this place because of the cool name. It was cheap and I could easily access the airport limousine the next day so I recommend it for its convenience (Itaewon and Gangnam are a bit further away).
This will be the last article about Korea that I write until my next trip! Since I live in Japan, I can sometimes find cheap round-trip flights for under $150 so I come here usually once a year for a week long vacation. Usually new restaurants and venues open, plus cosmetics and beauty clinics are really cheap here so I always have something to look forward to. Until next time, Seoul!
During Golden Week of 2018 I decided to venture to Korea for the 2nd time and explore its most famous beach resort island: Jeju. This island is extremely unique because not only does it have the best beaches in Korea, but it also has the Nexon Computer Museum with the world’s longest running MMO. There’s also the tallest mountain in Korea (Mt. Hallasan), a folk village with traditional houses, and a fairly famous sex museum. As you can see, Jeju has something for everybody because there is a huge diversity of attractions to see. A lot of people that live close to Korea come here to spend their honeymoons or school vacations, but there are many backpackers like me who travel here too. In this article series I will be detailing my 5 day stay in Jeju in hopes that other people will decide to come in the future.
Traveling to Jeju
The best way to travel to Jeju is to take a direct flight from Seoul. Jeju Air has the cheapest flights that range from $30 – $50 USD roundtrip. The flight only takes about an hour. Jeju is comparable in Okinawa in Japan, but is much smaller and doesn’t have as many islands you can travel to. However, traveling here is much cheaper than most islands in Japan and it has a different vibe. One of the best islands you can visit in Jeju is called Udo which is the very first place I went.
Udo Island Day Trip
Udo Island was my first destination once I reached Jeju Airport. Fortunately you don’t need to fly here and can instead take a relaxing 15 minute ferry. The reason I wanted to go to Udo is because it is the perfect cycling destination. The island was named for its somewhat rectangular shape that looks like cow lying down. I also chuckled because the name reminded me of U-DO in Xenosaga. You can see most of the attractions on Udo within 3 – 4 hours via electric bike. E-bikes can be rented for around $10 per day and are extremely worth it. This was my very first time riding an e-bike, but fortunately it wasn’t scary! You can see the ocean from any point in Udo making it a wonderful spot for photography. Everyone rides slow so they can stop to take pictures.
Since I was starving, I stopped at a local seafood restaurant near the bike rental shop. I couldn’t speak much Hangul but I was able to place an order. They whipped me up some spicy crab and muscle stew which tasted amazing. For dessert, I decided to try the peanut ice cream that Udo is famous for. They placed two adorable teddy bear crackers on it too. The salty and sweet combination makes it worthy of all the praise that it gets. You can find this food literally all over the island and it’s much cheaper than food in Seoul.
Finally feeling full, I decided to make my way down to the beaches. Gwakji Beach and Hamdeok Beach were my two personal favorites. Both can be reached via e-bike in less than 30 minutes and are found on the north side. Exploring these beaches can take up to an hour. I came here in late April so it was a bit cold to swim but the weather was near perfect. Korea’s weather is similar to Japan’s but is slightly more mild.
Besides the swimming and biking, there are many other exciting things to do on Udo. You can go horseback riding for a short time if you talk to someone near the stables. If you like art, most of the buildings are painted in bright colors and there are murals all over the island. The food here never disappoints. The octopus-shaped bread I tried was filled with cheese and absolutely amazing. Just the atmosphere of being on a small beach island is awesome too. I enjoyed walking inside the the giant shells that were near the pier and also petting the store owner’s dogs. Everyone here is extremely friendly so you don’t have to worry about the language barrier.
On my way back to return my e-bike, I stumbled upon one of the best DJ booth turned ice cream shop ever. The chef was spinning some fresh island beats as he was whipping up ice cream. This was an extremely rare vibe that I was not expecting:
The store Udo Prince Story (우도왕자이야기) has both phenomenal food and music. If you come all the way out here, be sure not to miss out. This was the best instant dance party I ran into here and was the perfect way to end my day trip.
After an exciting first day in Udo, I rode the ferry back to the main island where my accommodation “GreenDay” was. There are a few hotels on Udo, but there is much more selection and nightlife on the main island of Jeju.
I chose GreenDay because I thought the name was hilarious and the dorms are only $15 per night. I couldn’t pass up staying in this colorful little house:
GreenDay Address: 251-9 Samdoi-dong, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
I took a cheap taxi to Seongsan Port, then a 15 minute ferry to reach the island. The ferry ticket is only $10 one way. Please see the Udo Ferry Time Table for reference.
In my next article, I will be talking about some of the quirky museums that I explored. Please stay tuned for more!
If you told us that we’d be dining at a rooftop bistro in the presence of shining suits of armor adorned with jewels, we wouldn’t have believed you. But since the burger place that we wanted to go to was sadly closed, this was where we ended up. Nagoya food and restaurants are seriously underrated, which is why I’m writing Aesthetic Food Finds Vol. 2 today. This is just the beginning of greater food adventures that are yet to come.
I’ll be expanding this list as I find more places, but feel free to suggest any you recommend in the comments! Please see Vol. 1 for reference.
Bis-Tria Gatsby is by far the fanciest restaurant I’ve been to in Nagoya, but it’s surprisingly welcoming and affordable. As we walked in we were amazed by the huge collection of wines on display and the rare Dark Souls DLC suits of armor. Despite us being in casual wear (because we were only planning on eating burgers before), we were politely seated and handed three different menu. After some careful thought, we decided to order the tomato and cabbage pasta, a platter of octopus and marinated vegetables, a fancy pineapple frozen cocktail, and some chocolate cake for dessert. This was the best meal I had in Nagoya and we only paid around 3000 yen when we split the bill.
I will never forget these aesthetic suits of armor:
This bistro is ideal for dates and birthday parties (we saw two Japanese girls celebrating their birthdays here). I would gladly come back again given the occasion.
I was going through food recommendations on Instagram when this giant glorious egg caught my eye. ANDY CURRY offers some of the most satisfying curry dishes in Nagoya with a selection of seafood, chicken, and vegetarian options too. I chose the seafood option and enjoyed the mussels in my curry sauce. The egg on top is perfectly prepared so it melts into the rice giving it a zesty flavor right as it is served to your table. You can customize the level of spiciness in your order as well. I was very impressed to see that they offered takeout options during the emergency state of Japan. We chose to eat in, but in the future I would love to grab a curry that I could take on the go or eat in a park!
THANK YOU, BAKE
THANK YOU, BAKE was yet another spot-on recommendation that came up in my feed. The cute crocodile mascot totally sold me on coming all the way out to Kanayama to try the delicious vanilla ice cream topped with strawberry sauce. They have delicious cookies, cakes, and pastries you can order to go as well! The crocodile on their packaging bears and uncanny resemblance to the popular Japanese web comic “The crocodile who dies in 100 days” that ended just as the COVID pandemic started. It’s definitely worth a read as it adds a layer of irony to this bake goods shop. All the more reason to come out here and try their food!
Menya Hanabi is a seriously amazing noodle joint that I had no idea existed until my boyfriend pointed it out. The store originated from Taiwan and specializes in mazesoba which consists of noodles mixed with soy sauce, vinegar, minced pork, and other toppings that you can choose. Since I don’t eat meat, I opted for raw egg and as many vegetables as they had on their menu. The flavor it packs is out of this world. The broth is extremely light so you can focus on the taste of the toppings. I would say that mazesoba tastes a lot better than ramen, but I would still recommend trying both!
Vegi Kitchen GuGu
Vegi Kitchen GuGu is a healthy vegan restaurant located on the outskirts of Nagoya. I had my very first meal in Nagoya here after World Cosplay Summit dressed as Futaba from Persona 5 so it was extremely on-point. Their star-shaped vegan curry is to die for! I still remember the taste even though it was nearly 3 years ago. Unfortunately due to the emergency state, the restaurant is only offering takeout options. Fortunately there is a Campfire Fund for small businesses in Nagoya that has already met its goal, so hopefully in the future this restaurant will offer its full menu again! When it does, I’ll be sure to go back and eat there again.
6/30/2020 EDIT: The full menu has returned to the restaurant and you can dine in now! The vegan curry I ordered with my boyfriend earlier this month looks even better than before:
Antico Caffeé is a modest cafe located in the Dai Nagoya building near the main station, but it never disappoints. Their spinach and mushroom sandwiches, coffee, and canolis are all very fulfilling. If you are looking to grab a quite bite to eat on your way out that’s affordable, then this is one of your best options. Though quite simple, this cafe will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first place that my boyfriend and I went on a date together. I think it will always be a place I come back to!
I saved the best for last—Critical*Hit is one of my favorite gaming bars in Japan and also the a place I always make my rounds to each time I’m in Nagoya. Whenever I’m here, I either make a new friend, discover a new game, or having extremely invigorating discussions with other people. There are a number of console games plus rare games (such as LSD and other classics) that you can choose to play, or you can sit and converse with others which I usually do. I still stay in contact with a lot of the people I’ve met here because Nagoya has a really close-knit community. There are a mix of foreigners and Japanese people as well that frequent here. I am really fortunate to have met my first boyfriend here on a night when he was playing Metal Gear Solid!
That’s all the aesthetic food finds for this week. As more places in Japan open up, I’ll hopefully have a lot more to write about!
Here is a collection of aesthetic food finds in Nagoya, Japan (Volume 1). ♥
This country has no shortage of of aesthetic foods so I will continue to share cafes that I stumble across in future posts! Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, most dessert cafes in Nagoya remain open as of March 2020.
On the very first day of my recent trip to Nagoya, my best friend and I decided to rise up to the challenge and order all 3 bears on the “Spring Fair” menu at Ai Cafe. This included sakura ice cream bear soda, strawberry bear toast, and a whopping king bear parfait. This challenge is not recommended for the weak due to the large amounts of aesthetic food you will receive—we were completely unprepared for the massive pink ice cream and extra thicc toast and waffle dishes all shaped like bears that stared back at us. But with careful strategy and pacing, we defeated them all and washed them down with a Kenshiro Coffee. The staff was super accommodating to take the time to make this for us.
A professionally Tweeted summary of the 3 bear challenge:
OKAY. TIME TO SEPERATE THE BOYS FROM THE MEN. IF YOU’RE NOT ON AT LEAST THREE BEARS BY LUNCH, GTFO OUT OF MY FACE SIMP. pic.twitter.com/KayVHVuPmC
Interestingly enough, Ai Cafe’s closest station is Gokiso Station, which I made a hilarious Japanese pun of: ごきそさまでした！
You may not think it’s funny, but I do.
Psychedelic Pattern Smoothies at Tuwl’s
While exploring the charming little shopping area of Osu Kannon, we stumbled upon a very small smoothie stand called Tuwl’s that sells psychedelic pattern smoothies. Unfortunately this place does not seem to be on a map yet, but it’s easy to find if you are walking towards the Taito Station. The smoothies are not only intricately designed, but they also taste out of this world. You can choose the fruit juice you want with a base of seeds, tapioca, or granola. I chose avocado juice with the seed base and was happy to find it was mixed with chopped strawberries too. My friend got the raspberry banana version which looks very similar to mine but has a different taste and pattern. All I can say was that the smoothie trip was worth it and it’s worth trying at least once.
Lyrical Coffee Donut
At one point during my trip to Nagoya, I thought I woke up in an alternate universe where coffee and donuts were “lyrical”, flowers grew from the ceiling, and it was snowing in Tokyo during sakura season but still sunny and pleasant in Aichi Prefecture. However, I learned that this was just every day life at Lyrical Coffee Donut (almost). This little cafe and flower workshop is tucked away near Kamejima Station making it still somewhat central to Nagoya. We ordered the sakura and coconut donuts (which we shared with our son, Waddle Dee), and also tried a floral jelly drink with the sandwich set. It tasted beyond delicious, and because it was sakura season the flower donuts were quite popular. I hope to come back here and try some more variety in the near future.
Not wanting to completely break our bear diet, we set off to Yama Coffee near Osu Kannon to try the infamous marshmallow coffee set. The marshmallows come in various shapes and sizes, but I had my heart set on the panda ones because they were the most aesthetic. I was delighted to see that they had added pink ones to the set to commemorate sakura season. I ordered a latte and they drew a macha leaf pattern on it which added to the panda theme. I feel like I can never drink coffee without marshmallows again because they add a perfect fluffy texture that packets of sugar can’t obtain. Yama Coffee is a coffee experience that I think everyone should have.
Queen’s Healthy Diner
Soy Chicken is Best Chicken.
After experiencing a sugar-induced coma from consuming all the bears, we realized we should eat something a little more healthy for dinner. My friend introduced me to Queen’s Healthy Diner which is not far from Sakae Station. This little diner is owned by a nice woman who prepares much of the food all by herself. I had a vegan salad and soy milk macha drink with alcohol, and my friend ordered the soy karaage (fried chicken) with homemade mayonnaise. I have to say that they karaage was by far the best thing on the menu. It tasted like like fried tofu and had the texture and appearance of karaage but was much healthier and easier to digest. In addition to this, there are vegan burritos, pizzas, and pastas available. This restaurant is every vegan in Nagoya’s dream come true.
Ogura Toast at Cafe Gentiane
I’m not sure who exactly came up with the strange idea to spread azuki bean paste on top of buttered French toast, but it somehow became a popular dish in this region after the first World War movement. Bean paste isn’t the first thing I’d think to add to my toast, but it surprisingly makes a delicious topping. The texture is a bit thicker than jam or jelly, but it’s just as sweet and usually comes with a side of butter or whipped cream as well. This dish is dubbed “Ogura Toast” and can be found all over Nagoya and other places in Aichi Prefecture. Since we were short on time, we settled for a place called Cafe Gentiane in Nagoya Station, but you can find Ogura Toast in a lot of other cafes here. You really can’t go wrong with French toast in Japan because it has a lot of rich variety.
Now Closed: Little Baby Dogs
When I first attended World Cosplay Summit dressed as Futaba from Persona 5 in 2017, I stumbled upon a small ice cream place in Sakae called “Little Baby Dogs“. The beautiful chocolate-dipped ice cream cones and heart-shaped toppings made this place a real charm (not to mention the name). Unfortunately this shop is now closed, but my memories of cosplaying and eating ice cream here will last forever.
Have you ever had a craving for Balllls? Though most tapioca places in Japan seem to be closing due to the trend dying off, Balllls Tapitera in Osu is actually just moving to a new location. I look forward to its grand re-opening and seeing more strange places like this in the future.
Thank you for reading Volume 1 of my aesthetic food journeys in Nagoya. If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments! I will be writing more volumes in the future.
Here is a collection of recent aesthetic food finds in the Kansai region of Japan focusing on Kyoto and Osaka (Volume 1). ♥
This country has no shortage of of aesthetic foods so I will continue to share cafes that I stumble across in future posts!
While wearing a butterfly-patterned dress, I managed to find butterfly ice cream at AKICHI in Namba (Osaka) that perfectly matched my drip. This colorful little alley functions as both a photo space covered in murals and a nook full of bakeries and cafes. I tried the strawberry and vanilla milk-flavored ice cream from Deglab; the “soft cream laboratory”. Not only was it topped with an elegant white chocolate butterfly and edible pearls, but it was also mouthwatering delicious! It felt like a dream come true. There is also a tapioca shop and bakery upstairs if you are looking for other desserts, but the ice cream is some of the best in town.
There’s nothing like eating a bowl of noodles in Kyoto. Or a Mont Blanc ice cream dessert disguised as noodles, because that makes perfect sense. At Wagurisenmon Saori in downtown Kyoto, you can confuse your taste buds by digging into these dessert noodles with a spoon and tasting a thick layer of cake and ice cream below. Kansai cooking is nothing short of amazing:
The taste of this dessert was average due to the “noodles” being somewhat tasteless, but as an aesthetic food enthusiast I could not pass this opportunity up. Definitely try it if you like the concept, but regular Mont Blanc sold in French bakeries throughout Japan taste a lot better and are cheaper. I will never forget this experience though.
All of my Japanese friends that travel to Osaka continually talk about butter unagi (eel) sushi, so I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I’ve eaten eel many times and think that it’s tasty and a good source of protein, but the downside is it’s considerably expensive compared to other foods. However, Jinen Sushi offers a pretty good deal on their nigiri and sushi rolls and you can order them individually. I eagerly ordered the unagi butter and confirmed that it was worth the hype. Eel normally has somewhat of a tough texture, but the sticks of butter add a softness to it that you normally wouldn’t expect. Because you can only get this in Osaka, I ordered another round. In America butter is a normal topping found in mass quantities, but here it’s far less common so you really treasure moments like this.
Happy Labo Popcorn
While I was going to a show in Osaka one day, I noticed mysterious steam coming from a street vendor. Curious to see what it was, I was surprised to find that it was actually frozen rainbow popcorn that turns your breath white! Happy Labo Popcorn definitely has a unique theme going for it and sells some interesting ice cream too. Usually I’m not a fan of flavored popcorn, but when frozen it actually has a sweet but still mild taste. It’s definitely attention-grabbing and fun to walk around with.
I was browsing Instagram one day when I came across an orange on my feed, but it wasn’t just an ordinary orange. It was an orange (wait for it)… WITH A FACE. Not just any face, but it had googly eyes and mustache. Truly blessed with poise and perfect symmetry. Whatever it was, I had to order it. My aesthetic food journey took me to Cocochi Cafe in Kyoto which is a cozy dessert place near the Imperial Palace. I can proudly say that drinking orange juice out of an orange with a handsome face is one of my biggest life accomplishments. There is also a cute dog at this cafe that is happy to greet you!
JTRRD Cafe started out as a small restaurant in Osaka that eventually became so popular that it opened branches in Kyoto and Nagoya mainly due to its patterned rainbow smoothies. Unfortunately the day I went they were out of ingredients for the smoothies, but I still enjoyed the paprika curry and omelet rice (which I shared with a friend because the serving size was so big). It was probably some of the best curry I have ever tasted due to the way it was seasoned. Paprika is truly an underrated ingredient. Next time I come back to this area, I will make an effort to try the famed smoothies too!
By this point I’ve experienced a lot of unique desserts in Japan, but pancake skewers are a new thing to me. At Panbo Osaka, you can choose the size of skewer you want (which consists of mini pancakes and fruits on a stick) then add chocolate, sprinkles, and other toppings to flavor it. The mini pancakes are surprisingly filling, and the marshmallow at the top makes me feel like I’m at a campfire. Speaking of camping…
Picture a hammock cafe where you can relax and drink with your friends in hammocks. Now picture that same cafe with all you can drink alcohol. Welcome to Revarti Osaka, maybe one of the best watering holes in all of Japan. I’ve been to hammock cafes in Tokyo before, but they sure didn’t have the all you can drink option (maybe they will in the future, but this place was way more relaxed). I was brought here with my bartender friend from Space Station, and with a group of 4 people I’m pretty sure we only paid around 1500 yen each. They had everything from wine to high balls to vodka cocktails too so I indulged in everything. We also tried dunking crackers into chocolate fondue with huge marshmallows baked into it. This was by far one of my best drinking experiences in Osaka that was followed by a 12 hour party at club dapnia. A night I will never forget!
The Longest Softcream in Japan
At Long Softcream on American Street in Osaka, you can eat the longest soft-serve ice cream in Japan standing at a whopping 40cm. But be quick~ It will melt fast if you try to eat it during the summer. The irony is perhaps compared to the average size of American desserts, it’s not so long after all. The taste is pretty ordinary, but I bought it mainly for the meme factor. I will be writing more in detail about the wacky things you can find on American Street in the future because this is just the beginning!
BONUS: Individually Sealed Sliced Pieces of Bread
I can’t remember exactly where this place was, but the fact that it sells individually sealed sliced pieces of bread is simply amazing. All it needs is a side of unagi butter!
Thank you for reading Volume 1 of my aesthetic food journeys in Kansai. If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments! I will be writing Volume 2 focused on Nagoya in the near future.
After seeing the capybara zoo and the capybara illuminations of Izu, I decided to make my way to the coastal city of Atami and do some exploring around the beach and local area. I chose to stay at this district during my backpacking trip through Shizuoka because it is centrally located and has a lot of nice seafood restaurants and floral parks you can visit. My accommodation was at Megumi Guesthouse because it has an onsen and was only 3500 yen per night when I booked it. Not bad at all!
Here are some of my favorite discoveries that I found during my two-day stay in Atami:
Idematsu Sun Beach
One of the best things about Atami is that the beach is only 5 minutes walking from the station! When I woke up and went for my morning run, this was the very first place that I visited. It was very serene and quiet, which is rare for a beach near the city. Despite it being February, the temperature was extremely mild too. It almost felt like a private beach to me. In the summer, Atami holds a fireworks festival that many people attend. I would like to come back during that time and see how the atmosphere changes!
BonBon Berry House & Maruya Terrace
If you love strawberries… well you’re absolutely going to love BonBon Berry! This confectionery is full of fruits and desserts of high quality. I first tried the original strawberry stick with manjuu and a small piece of strawberry cake. It was so delicious, I came back the following day to try more~ I next ordered the strawberry shu cream that looks like a giant glazed strawberry but is actually a giant creampuff. I traveled here in February, yet the strawberries were so fresh I felt like it was summer!
For lunch I decided to stop at Maruya Terrace near the central shopping street. This restaurant will let you choose your favorite fish from the seafood store across the street and grill it for you on a seasoned sandwich. I chose their famous mackerel sandwhich:
I couldn’t believe this sandwich was only 700 yen! Seafood in Hokkaido and Kanazawa are much more expensive. Atami is definitely one of the cheapest places to eat quality fish and I would like to try many kinds in the future!
Atami Ropeway & Kinomiya Shrine
Atami Ropeway definitely gives you access to one of the best views in the city! For only 600 yen (roundtrip), you can take a cable car to the top of a mountain and see the city and surrounding seaside area. As expected, the view was breathtaking~ I was happy that I brought my GoPro here.
Next I walked to the nearby Kinomiya Shrine because it’s one of the most famous in Atami. I loved the green foilage and the leaves that were made into the shape of a heart:
If you’re looking for a hotspring, I recommend going to the nearby Nikkoutei Ooyu. It is only around 1000 yen to go for the day and has a beautiful view of the surrounding nature.
Atami Plum Garden & Akao Herb and Rose Garden
Though February is usually not the prime season for flowers, I decided to check these gardens out anyway since I was in the area. I was surprised to find beautiful buds when I first went running through the Atami Plum Garden. According to the official website, this area has the fastest blooming plums in Japan:
This garden is divided into several areas; they have a Japanese garden, a Korean garden, an art museum, and dozens of plum trees that you can photograph pretty much year round. I was surprised to find a miniature cave and waterfall here too. This is much prettier than a lot of gardens that I’ve been to so I’m happy I came. The entrance fee is only 300 yen.
Finally, I went to Akao Herb and Rose Garden, which actually is a garden up in the mountains! From the bus stop, a free van will take you to the top (or you can choose to walk to the entrance). When this garden is in full bloom, it truly looks like heaven. Unfortunately I could not capture many flowers in bloom, but I got an awesome picture of me in my Orient T-Shirt on the swing. I did manage to capture the photo below:
What I liked about this garden is that there were hammocks and benches where you could relax and see the seaside. In addition to the swing, they also had a trampoline! There were many fragrances you could try for free as well. This was one of the best views I have ever seen from a flower park, and I regret that I could not take more pictures of the roses. All the more reason to come back here in the summer!
Entrance here is only 1000 yen.
I love Atami because everything you need is either walking distance or just a short bus ride away: the ocean, mountain, hotsprings, restaurants, and beautiful gardens. It’s very easy to relax and find inner peace here. In addition to the capybaras, I loved the nature and food. I’m so glad I discovered yet another floral beach paradise in Asia and I recommend that everyone else come and experience it for themselves.
Getting to Atami
From Tokyo Station, take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen towards Shin Osaka. Atami Station is only 37 minutes away, which is closer than getting from one end of Tokyo to the other! The cost is 4300 yen which is about the same as going to Nikko or Hakone. It’s definitely worth the cost.
One of the best perks of living in Japan and being a gamer is having the ability to attend the amazing pop-up cafes that are available here for a limited time only. During my stay here, I have been fortunate enough to been able to dine at both the Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal Cafes held at two different locations. Making a reservation for these cafes can sometimes be a bit difficult as they are quite popular, but I will be sharing my experience in this post to hopefully help and inspire other people to come and visit!
The Original Persona 5 Cafe at Pasela Resorts (Shibuya)
If you’ve played the game, you’ve probably seen a building called “Pasela Resorts” located on the map. That is because ATLUS had a collaboration with the popular karaoke chain Pasela Resorts in Shibuya from 10/14/2016 – 11/23/2016 with the series. The original Persona 5 Cafe was located on the 2nd floor of this location and required winning an in-person lottery to attend (meaning it was so popular at the time that you could not make a reservation online).
This was quite a heart-racing lottery, but I was determined to win! I remember arriving at 10am, lining up with around 100 or so other people on a 6 floor spiral staircase in front of the cafe, and drawing a ticket from a box. Fortunately, I drew a winning ticket! However, many people were unable to win. I went on a Saturday morning due to my hectic work schedule at the time, but perhaps if you went on a weekday you would have a better chance.
Even though I went alone, I had a ton of fun! I ordered the Ann and Joker drinks as well as the Leblanc curry and dessert pizza. Being in a room surrounded by other Persona fans filled my heart with joy. This was one of the first themed cafes I had been to, so it really left a good impression on me.
Persona 5 Royal Cafe at SEGA Collab Cafe (Akihabara)
3 years later I made it to the Persona 5 Royal Cafe in Akihabara–but this time with friends! Since this was a collaboration held at the SEGA Cafe, the reservation process was much easier. Online reservation in advance was possible, but you could also look at the cafe’s available seats and walk in on the day you wanted to go if there was space. That is what we did as a group of six, and we all managed to sit together! Between all of us, we were able to order almost every item on the menu and swap coasters. This time they had coasters of both the new P5 art and chibi versions of the characters given randomly with every purchase of a drink or food item. This cafe lasted from 11/2/2018 – 12/1/2018. Though I have not played the game yet, I am super excited to now!
If you have missed the dates for these cafes, fear not! Whenever a new game, movie, or even musical are announced, usually these cafes pop up and you can always search for the special merchandise online. I hope to attend many more Persona Cafes and events in the future, as it is one of my favorite series that has taught me much about how social relationships can affect you and the world around you!
Laugh of the Day
On our way up to the SEGA Cafe, we noticed a very special claw machine game filled with dozens of Anns… and one sole Ryuji! What a lucky fellow–if only it were Morgana instead!
Here is a collection of desserts that will make your heart melt in Tokyo (Volume 2). ♥ For reference, please see Volume 1 here.
Sweets Paradise (Akihabara Branch)
Sweets Paradise is an extremely popular buffet-style dessert restaurant with multiple branches in Tokyo. You can choose from an unlimited selection of multi-colored pastries for 70 – 90 mins. However, the branch in Akihabara offers a take-out option with cake that looks like actual ramen! Even the toppings are edible and have an extremely sweet flavor. The “noodles” are actually just thick layers of frosting. This is probably one of the most unreal sweets I have ever eaten (appearance-wise), but the taste was definitely worth it!
New New York Club
New New York Club became a meme because of its rainbow bagels stuffed with delicious cream cheese. These bagels sell out fast so sadly I wasn’t able to get one, but they do have multi-colored bagels you can purchase too! They still taste the same as a regular bagel despite their strange color, and I prefer them to most Japanese bagels because they are larger and softer in texture. Ikumimama Animal Doughnuts is another cute bakery that is right around the corner from here! Be sure to pick up some cute cat donuts if you still have an appetite.
Aoyama Flower Market Teahouse
Aoyama Flower Market is a popular florist chain that is often found in Tokyo train stations. Stopping here is convenient if you want to pick up flowers for a special occasion, but certain locations also have cafes with extremely aesthetic food too! I ordered this delicious parfait with pink jelly and fruit that looks like a work of art at the Kichijyoji location. They have a seasonal menu that rotates frequently, so be sure to check online to see what they are serving. All of the food here has an extremely appetizing look and taste.
Salon Ginza Sabou
This upscale restaurant exploded with popularity when they released their infamous green tea boxes. Under a thin layer of green tea-flavored chocolate topped with green tea powder that you break apart with your spoon, you will find the goldmine of all green tea desserts. Watch my video and see Sabou’s website for more information. Other restaurants are starting to copy this style of dessert, but this was the original place that invented it.
Liquid Nitrogen Kit-Kats
It’s no secret that Japan is infatuated with Kit-Kats. Walk into any souvenir store and the first thing you will besides the obvious Hachiko-shaped sweets is corn, sweet potato, green tea, and other strange flavors of Kit-Kats. The Kit Kat Chocolatory and Café offers a whole different level of strangeness with its liquid nitrogen Kit-Kats. It was surreal to watch the Japanese waiter pour liquid nitrogen onto a platter where it would perfectly chill a sweet commonly found in the US, but it was definitely worth the experience. You can customize your own Kit-Kats at this cafe as well! There are a variety of unique toppings you can choose from and the menu changes its featured items each season.
Doubutsuen Ice Cream/The Zoo
Doubutsuen was another dessert place that exploded with popularity in Harajuku due to its cute animal cones. I opted for the tripple scoop piggy the first time I came here. Originally you would buy a ticket from the front of the shop that looked like a vending machine and they would make your cone for you behind the curtain, but due to the mass amount of people waiting in line on the street, they moved their shop to the end of Takeshita Street under the name “The Zoo” so they could serve more customers. The ice cream here is not only cute but also delicious, so I highly recommend it!
Other Ice Cream Recommendations
Other ice cream spots I highly recommend trying are Edy’s Ice Cream for their cute customizable cones with unicorn and heart-shaped toppings, Milkcow for their rich and creamy soft-serve ice cream, Coisof for their black ice cream with crunchy colored toppings, and Godiva simply for their unmatched rich flavor of chocolate ice cream. It’s hard to find bad ice cream in Tokyo, it really is!
Bonus: Rainbow Sweets Harajuku
Last but not least, if you are looking for brightly-colored photogenic food then I would recommend coming to Rainbow Sweets Harajuku! This is right off Takeshita Street and attracts a lot of customers, but the food is all take-out so it doesn’t take much time to receive your order. I ordered the rainbow grilled cheese and the rainbow ice cream. These were fun to take pictures of, but the taste was so-so. Instead I recommend trying the ice cream places I mentioned above because they have a way better taste.
Thank you for reading Volume 2 of my dessert cafe expedition in Tokyo. If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments! I will be make more volumes in the future!
Here is a collection of desserts that will make your heart melt in Tokyo (Volume 1). ♥
This city has no shortage of of aesthetic foods so I will continue to share cafes that I stumble across in future posts!
Roll Ice Cream Factory
Roll Ice Cream Factory opened just 2 years ago in central Harajuku and has a colorful array of flavors and toppings that you can mix together to form quite beautiful creations. Similar to the New York style of roll ice cream, you choose the base flavor you want and watch them craft it into tiny little rolls. I chose the “American Dream” combo and added a taiyaki to the top of it for fun. This is patriotism at its finest! Roll ice cream isn’t quite the same as soft serve ice cream, but it still is worth trying at least once in your lifetime. They also have matcha and delicious chocolate rolls that you can try as well.
For some of the most monstrous milkshakes in Tokyo, stop by Harebare Pecori in Shinjuku! Here you will find colossal shakes with ice cream, cotton candy, lollipops, cookies, whipped cream, and many toppings to completely satisfy your craving for sweets. Finishing one shake by myself proved to be a challenging quest, so I suggest you share one of these with a friend. I enjoyed the massive amounts of whipped cream and the creative placement of all of the toppings.
Milky Way Cafe
Now this place is classic. Likely if you’ve researched desserts in Tokyo, you’ve come across Milky Way Cafe in Ikebukero. This cafe has a different parfait for each sign of the Zodiac, and the quality of the food is really amazing too. You really can’t go wrong with anything you choose here because the presentation is amazing. I loved the mini chocolate cake on top of my parfait! It definitely made my day worth the trip.
Micasadeco & Cafe
This place became a meme due to its wiggly jiggly fluffy stacks of pancakes. You can wobble the plate and the pancakes will still stick together as if they are compelled by a magic force. I highly recommend taking a trip to Micasadeco & Cafe in Shibuya if the opportunity arises. I think these are some of the fluffiest pancakes I’ve seen in a while.
If you are looking for cakes with interesting flavor combinations, look no further than Patisserie Potager! Here I found tomato cake and avocado pudding as well as other unlikely French-Japanese fusion cuisines that tasted amazing. Most of these desserts are lighter on calories than regular cakes so they are a healthier option.
Sakura Cafe Mukojima’s Tokyo Skytree Parfait
Like Tokyo’s infamous landmark, this Tokyo Skytree parfait at Sakura Cafe Mukojima mimics the real thing standing at 63.4 cm high, as the actual tower is 634 meters tall. Loaded with jelly, ice cream, fruit, mochi, and a giant soft-served ice cream cone, this dessert does not disappoint! I ordered the matcha flavor, but there are other fruity flavors available for purchase. I was very impressed with how they balanced all the ingredients to make it stand up.
On the subject of green tea and ice cream, Nanaya is another store that should not be missed because it has 7 different intensities of green tea ice cream and other flavors. I ordered three scoops and tried #1 (the weakest flavor), #7 (the strongest flavor), and the green tea rum raisin flavor. In my opinion, the less intense and lighter flavors tasted the best. The store name “Nanaya” means “Shop of 7 (flavors)”, so be sure to choose wisely!
Dominique Ansel Bakery (Now Closed)
Previously I wrote an article on Dominique Ansel Bakery in Omotesando praising their delicious pastries, but I am very sad to see that they have closed their Tokyo branches as of summer 2019. I will never forget the delicious hedgehog cake I had for my birthday last year, as well as the Zero Gravity Chiffon Cake that was light enough to float in a balloon. I am hoping that they open a similar cafe in the future!
Thank you for reading Volume 1 of my dessert cafe expedition in Tokyo. If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments! I will be writing Volume 2 very soon!