Just remember to leave a trail of breadcrumbs.
Just remember to leave a trail of breadcrumbs.

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Enough of the Sweets Forest!
Enough of the Sweets Forest!

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The Notting Hills Cake spread
The Notting Hills Cake spread
Richard delivers his speech.  Wife Kaori stands by to correct him.
Richard delivers his speech. Wife Kaori stands by to correct him.
Lookit my cool new umbrella.  The guys at work are gonna be so jealous!
Lookit my cool new umbrella. The guys at work are gonna be so jealous!
Just another window display.
Just another window display.
HP Hevin display
HP Hevin display

Among the many fond memories I’ll bring back with me of my trip to Japan are the numerous meandering interludes I’ve spent with many a directionless cab driver over the course of my stay.  Like today, for instance, when a ride to the Jiyugaoka Sweets Forest turned into a seemingly endless cruise through the narrow side streets of Meguro.  There was point where my driver simply gave up on his dashboard nav system, double-parked and hurried into a nearby convenience store for directions.  He was gone for a good five minutes before stepping back outside – I assume to make sure I was still there waiting for him – then ducking back inside for another five minutes.  He returned to the car, drove around for a while, parked again, and this time popped into a retail store for a second opinion.  At this point, I really did think I’d be better of taking my chances on foot but he returned, seemingly buoyed by whatever information he’d received.  It was back in the car, a quick right turn, then a sharp left down an alleyway, then him making a sound like your mother used to make whenever she caught you being naughty.  He rolled to a stop and waved down a passing pedestrian, carefully reading out the address of the place.  “Sweets Forest?”she asked.  Yes!  YES!  For Godsake, YES!!!  She pointed to the building just across the street.  My driver looked like he was about burst into tears, he was so happy.

Relieved and more than a little weary, I headed up to the Jiyugaoka Sweets Forest where I was transformed into a modern-day Hansel eating my way through the wicked witch‘s house – and that of her neighbors‘ as well.  The dessert-theme park offers a variety of sweets at various stations, ranging from fresh fruit creations to time-consuming soufflés.  Our first stop was at a place called Emo-Café where we sampled two desserts: a chocolate mousse and a green tea cake.  I thought the chocolate mousse was very nice, smooth and bittersweet, but the center of the dessert contained some sort of glutinous rice paste that spoiled the whole.  The green tea cake was a far cry from Sadaharu Aoki’s matcha opera cake but, despite the fact that it was a bit heavy on the butter cream, I did enjoy it.  Next up was another dessert station whose name escapes me where we had a blah milk-chocolate banana mousse and a dry flourless dark chocolate cake.  Our next stop was Le Souffle where, after a twenty minute made-to-order wait, we were served up two soufflés – chestnut and cream cheese.  We were instructed to poke a hole in the soufflés, pour the creamy contents of some copper pots inside, mix, serve, and eat!  Despite the wait and the more labor-intensive process, this was, by far, the best of the Sweets Forest offerings.  Our next stop landed us at PastaHouse Awkitchen(?) where we ordered a baked sweet potato dessert and an orange crème  brulee prepared inside an actual orange.  The sweet potato was fine but I felt really pushed the definition of a dessert.  The orange brulee was a pulpy disaster.

Having had enough of the Sweets Forest, we ventured out and over to the neighboring Origines Cacao and split three very good desserts (a rich chocolate cake, a tasty Mont Blanc, and a golden delicious Savarin), and some not-so-hot macarons (Pierre Hermes has spoiled me!).  Then, we worked up an appetite walking two blocks over and dropped into Café Mozart where we had an alright pudding and a second pretty good Mont Blanc.

By this point, we were pretty stuffed – if not somewhat queasy.  However, we still had a lot of eating ahead of us.  And so, we hopped into a cab and headed to Nishi-Azabu’s Notting Hill Cakes.  We were there, along with about a dozen and half other people, for a very dignified afternoon tea hosted by owners Mark and Sayeh Peterson and organized by social butterfly Richard Mort and his lovely wife Kaori.  Mark kicked things off with an overview of the history of various cakes and the sweets market in Tokyo.  According to Mark, less than 10% of the shop’s customers are male.  Much like in France, dainty desserts are apparently the purview of women in Tokyo.  The numbers are this afternoon’s gathering seemed to bear this out as I was only one of two men in attendance – and I think the other guy was just there because his wife made him go.  Anyway, I chatted, ate (carrot cake, rum cake, four types of cupcakes, scones), and learned more than I could ever want to know about the tea-making process.

We wrapped up at around 3:30 and decided to work off the 12 000 calories we’d consumed by walking to Omotesando. Half an hour later, we were in the Omotesando Hills shopping complex.  With time to kill, we stopped by DelRey for butter truffles and HP Hevin for chocolates, then opted to unwind at a local café where we had two croissants (salt caramel and green tea) with homemade whipped cream.

By the time we were done, I was thoroughly exhausted and ready to head back to my hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Unfortunately for me, it was only 5:30 p.m. and I had dinner reservations at 7:00 p.m.

44 thoughts on “November 30, 2008: Tokyo Travel Day #8, My Driver Loses His Way, and a Dessert Blow-Out

  1. OMG! SWEETS OVERLOAD! Sounds like a wonderful adventure! As much as I LOVE sweets, I’m not sure I could pack as much of them in as you did with out a serious sugar crash, which is what it sounds like you wanted to do!!! I am in awe!

    Hope dinner was good!

  2. Coucou Joseph!! Me revoila!!

    J’ai passer 4 jours magnifique avec mon cheri, et je vient de le raccompagner à la gare Snif..Mais je suis aussi trés contente de retrouver votre blog, je vois que vous avez pris du bon temp!!

    Vous êtes trés beau sur cette photo!!!!

    a trés bientot!!
    Bisou =)

  3. Dude if I even ate 1/3643674 of those desserts in one day I’d be sicker than any dog.
    DD

  4. Who was your companion today? I am hoping that there was more than two of you attempting to eat ALL those desserts.

    @ dasNdanger emigrate to Scotland and you can have grey and chilly most of the year. It rains quite a bit too.

  5. Hey Joe!

    Wow, you must have a strong stomach, I may love desserts, but I could never eat as much as you did…and you still have dinner, nice. 😉 Still, the images of the dishes look really delicious, and I wish I could just reach through and try them. The baked potato? Eh…maybe a taste, seems like it would be a weird dessert.

    Thanks as always, and enjoy day 9! Don’t get lost! 😀

    – Enzo Aquarius

  6. There cannot possibly be enough hours in the day to treadmill off all those calories….and that’s before supper yet! I am soooooo jealous….. thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

  7. Who are these people you are hooking up with?
    If I was your wife I would be a little upset to see all these women, but maybe since you work in show biz she is used to it?
    And how did you meet them? I’d be hard put to just fly in to some country and find companions to hang with, but then I’m apparently nowhere near as outgoing or people-persony as you!
    Still enjoying the trip vicariously, I believe I have put on 15 pounds over the past week.

  8. Hi again Mr M!

    Am stuck here doing paperwork on a very chilly Sunday afternoon…..Those desserts look magnificent! I particularly like the Easter Island-esque chocolate statues!
    Hope the cholesterol is ok….even reading your adventures today has made mine shoot up!!!
    Best to you and your culinary company

    Shirt’n’Tie

  9. You just put my home made chocolate crispy cake (which was sitting in my hand up until a moment ago) to shame. It’s now hiding safely in stomach, avoiding the magnificent glow of the other desserts and cakes.

  10. Hi Joe,

    I’m enjoying the photojournal of your gastronomic delights in Japan. Thanks for sharing! The *penguin* umbrella is adorable.

    nell from Washington, D.C. Yep, it’s me!

  11. Oh my, and I thought I had a sweet tooth. Those sweets look delicious but I admire your strong constitution, did you manage to survive dinner? I can’t imagine what you could follow that sweets overload with …
    lol on the umbrella, you do realize the S/J shipper penguin connotation right?

  12. I’m jealous at your new umbrella, I love penguins ever since I had a dream about one called Kevin.

    Thanks for the interesting food read, now its back to my dissertation and to stop procrastinating.

  13. Mind boggling desserts – thanks for sharing your awesome photos. I haven’t been to Tokyo since 1988 — back then most of the desserts were of the more Japanese tradition, sweetened with rice.

    Just looked at the photos again… now I’m hungry!

    If you still have time over there, try and get to a good high-end Chinese restaurant. Talk about the Yen of Food!

  14. Who’s we, did you have a frog in your pocket?

    You should have given your driver your GPS system, it probably would of worked better than what he had.

    I don’t know how you can eat soooo much, but, hey, as long as you are having fun.

  15. When I saw ‘dessert blow-out’, I was really hoping you finally had to use the Imodium.

    I am…disappointed. 😉

    @ susanTTT – It’s grey, chilly AND raining today! Woo! I love ‘weather’. Sunny days, though lovely…are not ‘weather’ to me…weather is wind, rain, snow…ya know…when it’s actually doing something exciting outside. 😀

    das

  16. Hi,

    what du you mean with “homemade whipped cream” !?
    Do the have there own cow or does it mean that the don’t use canned whipped cream.

  17. *vomits all over your blog*

    Jeez, and I was flabbergasted by my flatmate eating 3 boreks for lunch. HOW THE HELL DO YOU EAT THAT MUCH? Let alone that much sweet stuff???

  18. Don’t worry about the calories…..when I went to Italy, I ate like you are, pastries, pastas, gelatos, cappuccino’s every day for 2 weeks….and amazingly I lost weight! Vacation food is Great!

  19. I can’t conceive of eating that much, never mind that it was all desserts! Wow. Can we assume you just taste each thing rather than cleaning your plate?

    Glad you’re having fun and that you’ve made so many new friends!

  20. Joe,
    You must have an amazing metabolism! I am enjoying your adventures and even showed my children your Tokyo toilet tour which they all throughly enjoyed. Have we missed the tub tour? We are looking forward to that one as well.
    Tracy

  21. G’day Joe
    That is way to much dessert, I would be so sick. I can eat a few desserts but not that much. Congratulations.

    Is that a shippy brolly (umbrella) you have there, Joe? mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  22. I know I’m late to comment on S5 (I’ve been DVRing and dowloading form iTunes) and have just now caught up. The season is amazing–certainly one of the best season of Stargate I’ve seen.

    The mid-seaosn two parter was excellent and I thought “Remnants” was quite good. It really revealed more about Sheppard and you really had me going with the hand removal bit! I was at first, shocked, then disgusted, then I started to think of ways he might get it replaced lol.

    Question (this has probably been asked), Will we see Kolya again? Even if the answer is no, just say yes 😉

    Thanks for a wonderful season,
    Royal

  23. That’s horrible your cab driver got lost. I thought their nav systems were supposed to prevent that!

  24. I find it somewhat ironic that the food they make look so good (aka those desserts) you don’t find as tasty, but food I would probably never touch in a million years, you exclaim over. Hmm, they should make raw fish look prettier. I might eat it then.

    I did love the fish on your plate from yesterday. Very artistic.

    Hope dinner went well! And while I haven’t been able to comment a lot, your trip looks and sounds like an amazing time!!

  25. Your timing is appropriate–I’m still feeling full from Thanksgiving and the leftovers! Any other time your dessert-fest would make me jealous, but now, not so much. We only have a little bit of turkey and stuffing left, though, so we should be getting hungry again before too long…

  26. Ouch. My stomach. All your fault.

    I add my voice to the migrainers that all this sugar and chocolate intake is causing many of us great pain.

    So yes, the sensible option would be to not read your blog, however, we don’t have chocolate, red wine, caffeine, rich cheeses in our lives, so just remove your blog and we might as well end it all.

    If a Sat Nav doesn’t tell you where how to get somewhere then it’s just a blind spot on your windshield and a reason for someone to break into your car.

  27. SWEETS FOREST!!! Now that’s my kind of restaurant!!! Glad you enjoyed it… was it worth the strange taxi drive? I think I would walk places if I had more than one such experience… but I’m just like that.

  28. Emo-Café

    So… service with a grimace and moan??? So Emo hahaha..

    Ok peoples let’s take a bet on how much our Joe has gained. This is after the trip has finished. I’m going for 2.5 kg (5.5lb)

    Any other takers??

  29. Oh, bleurgh. I feel kinda queasy just from reading all that.

    Those souffles sound pretty damn awesome though.

  30. Wow! The Sweets Forest sounds like the only reason needed to go to Tokyo! I can’t imagine how awesome that was. Enjoying the trip pics and looking forward to hearing more about it as it continues. Hope you’re having fun!

  31. Wow you are hardcore. Careful, you don’t want to get diabetes.

    Your trip sounds awesome.

  32. I admit to being envious of your experience at Nishi-Azabu’s Notting Hill Cakes, where you learned more about the tea making process than you ever wanted to know. Now, if only there was only some way you could telepathically transport all that excess knowledge to me, I’d be all beside myself with tea giddiness. ; )

  33. @ Narelle from Aus
    The next generation of kids will only think in keywords.
    It will be called Generation Google.

    Ma’dear, I do believe ya’ve minted (aye, sweets on the brain!) the proverbial phrase. Truer wairds…

    So yes, the sensible option would be to not read your blog, however, we don’t have chocolate, red wine, caffeine, rich cheeses in our lives, so just remove your blog and we might as well end it all.

    Someone knows how it t’is, then! Can’t have the lot of them, either. They do a number on me, though the migraines are usually caused by other things. Looking at all Joe’s delectable desairts near drove me mad. Had to have something sweet, yet even that t’weren’t good enough. Had to go watch a certain yummy Scottish doctor. Sigh… And now I feel all bett-r.

    @ Ganymede
    Did you remember to pack your extra “test strips”?

    Oh, aye, Sweets Forrest, indeed. “Miss, could I have one o’ those with an insulin drip on the side?” LOL.

    Cap’n Mallozzi, ya know we luv ya ta smithereens, truly we do. Ya spoil us fair rotten with daily travelogues, teasers, blogs, books, and dogs. Heaven knows we swoon for sweet stuff, and savory perfection as well. But over the long haul, though you run it off, t’is still heavy traffic on the arteries.

    If ya keel over prematurely, who’ll write the comedy and action for our Atlantis team, and the love interludes with Alison for our Carson/Pauly McGillion? I’m sure yer writing partner, the camera-shy Monsieur Mullie, would do an admirable job, but we’re partial to our own Cap’n M.

    And who would the Pugsies welcome home? On whose hand would the lovely Fondy slip a brand-new wedding band she crafted herself? Well, I promise to “shut it” after this. Take care of yourself, please? You’re the only Cap’n Mallozzi there is.

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