Kiwi Kitchen: Delicious Salads in Tokyo?! CAN.

while tokyo’s perfected the juicy, tubby cheeseburger (blacows, brozers), the thin-crust italian pizza (savoy, seirinkan), and even debatably the BBQ (with options like hato’s in nakameguro, white smoke in juban and b&loin in shibuya), there’s one thing that remains perpetually difficult to find here: delicious AND healthy western-style options.

happily, this seems to be changing in recent years for the better – with the growing popularity of acai bowls, green smoothies stands popping up in train stations, and the opening of places like urth caffe in daikanyama and island veggie in hiroo.  but it wasn’t until we happened upon sweet, unassuming, new-zealander-owned little Kiwi Kitchen in shirokanedai that we discovered…
 
ALL THE SALADS AND SANDWICHES
 
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ooohhhh…
 
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ahhhhhhh….
 
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AND ALL OF THE DESSERTS (here we have coconut custard cream bars, “lolly cake” – whatever that is, but inevitably something as quaint and delightful as its name, banana chocolate cake, chocolate fudge cake, carrot cake…)
 
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in the most adorable little setting…
 
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… FOR 1000-SOMETHING YEN FOR A LUNCH SET. ON A WEEKEND. IN TOKYO.
 
i apologize for yelling.  it is an unusual find.
 
we ended up with the following:
 
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thai red chicken curry, some sort of chickpea-arugula-orangey-sundried-tomato-tasting salad, and a spinach soup, and:
 
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a steak pie, basil and edamame and rice and feta-ish salad, and beautiful little cappucino.
 
my dining partner (AND LIFE PARTNER) (ahaha… ha *waves to BF*) and i took bites of our respective salads, turned to each other with solemn, reverent eyes as round and saucerlike as the vessels which contained our holy manna, and mumbled some ecstatic and incoherent version of the following:
 
“best salad of LIFE… best salad in world… ALL of world!”
 
i will say that i would give the steak pie a miss next time, because it was a little bland for me (the BF liked it though). but the salads and the thai red curry were… best in world.  best in life.  and certainly the best salads i’ve had in tokyo, where a “salad” is often a sad little bundle of limp greens with some dubious-looking pale cream spattered over it and maybe (if the chef were feeling particularly thrill-seeking that day) a bunch of grated carrots shoved in somewhere.
 
also, despite being quite full, i could not resist:
 
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the coconut custard cream bar, with a bundle of EXTRA whipped cream on the side (my kind of place).  however, i wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one unless you could split it with someone, and both of you really, really enjoy large blocks of thick and jiggling custard cream (which i should’ve known from the name, but somehow thought it would be more mousse-like than a thicker custard).  i dutifully polished off the top icing layer and some of the crust, but left most of the custard jiggling ominously on the plate.  moushiwakegozaimasen, kiwi kitchen.
 
they even have an adorable little outdoor seating area for sunny days:
 
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goodbye, new favorite lunch spot in tokyo!!!  VE’LL BE BACK!!!
 
(note: but not on sundays, since they’re not open then. why, kiwi kitchen? you make my heart so full of sad… yet also, of happy.)
 
– sonsons
 

details / dokodesuka?

Kiwi Kitchen (map here, 12 minutes from Shirokanedai station, 16 minutes from Hiroo station)

6-16-22 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo

open: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., every day except sunday

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Bondi Cafe: Breezy brunch

Acai

Deliciously healthy acai bowl

Just a 3 minute walk from Hiroo station, Bondi Cafe is an easy breezy place to pop by for a lazy brunch on the weekend. The vibe is very relaxed and chilled out, with a cozy warm wooden feel about it. It’s very family and kids and doggie friendly too – there were a bunch of strollers with babies AND miniature doggies poppin’ out, taking in the sights and sounds of Hiroo’s side streets.

Bondi 1

Bondi serves bites which are light and come in dainty Japanese portions. I had a go at their healthy acai bowl, which came with a heapful of crunchy granolas, freshly cut banana and strawberry slices and acai berries slush. It was deliciously refreshing, like having a berry gelato with crunchy twist from the granolas.

Bondi 2

Jay had the French Toast, which came with a nicely caramelised crust and a dollop of cream with fresh fruits. It was done Japanese style, dense and moist, like an eggy bread pudding. It was good and not tooth-achingly sahweeet, but not quite my fav as I prefer mine done crisp and fluffylicious!

The fare they dish up at Bondi isn’t anything to go nuts over, but it’s a convenient go-to place for usual brunch pleasers such as pancakes, eggs, sandwiches, and light bites like soups and pastas. Oh, not forgetting a ton of healthy and colourful salad options for those on a health-kick or paying the price of a binge-fest :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou? Map here (they have another branch at Yoyogi as well!)

Bondi Cafe
5-15-9 Minamiazabu,
Minato, Tokyo 106-0047, Japan

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Delicious Daikanyama: The Ivy Place

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Situated right next to the amazing and maze-like Tsutaya bookstore at T-site in Daikanyama area, The Ivy Place is a picture-perfect place for brunch, lunch or tea amidst a lush green setting. On a nice day, sitting outdoors is perfect because nothing beats noshing while taking in the world with a cool breeze by your side. It’s a totally different story though come freezing winter or humid summer – retreat indoors even if you have to beg!

The real urban jungle

The real urban jungle

So, I was inevitably first drawn to The Ivy Place when fellow piglet Sonia excitedly informed me they serve grilled cheese kalbi kimchee sandwiches! I’m a big grilled cheese sandwich fan, and if you throw in kalbi and kimchee into the mix, I’ll be yours forever. Verdict for this grilled sandwich: satisfying in a healthy delicious way, but the kalbi wasn’t flavourful enough to pack a solid, tasty punch…

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The cheese-kalbi-kimchee sandwich, special effects courtesy of LINE camera app :)

So second time round, I settled for their Fresh Basil Pesto Risotto with Green Beans and Grana Padano. No idea what Grana Padano was, but I heart pesto and risotto, so this was a relatively easy green choice hurhur. The risotto was surprisingly light and fresh, and not heavy creamy like usual risottos. The fresh green beans provided the perfect nice green crunch to balance the richness of the cheese and pesto. I’d happily return and order this dish again ooo yeahhhh.

Risotto

Luscious cherry tomatoes and firm green beans…

In short, The Ivy Place is an easy breezy light brunch/ lunch option if you are thinking of checking out Daikanyama on the weekend. Be warned though, that the queue gets pretty ridiculous and you might easily have to wait for at least 1 hour during peak hours, and a relatively ok 15-30mins wait during non-peak hours (yup, even at weird times like late afternoon/ early evening). Give them a shout and book beforehand, it’s never too early to reserve and you might be lucky enough to get a sweet spot.

Oh! price-wise it veers towards the higher-scale for Japanese-sized portions (expect to fork out ~2,000 JPY ++ for brunch/ lunch meal + drink), but hey it’s a delicious and light option and worth checking it out when in the ‘hood. They also have a ton of other brunch offerings too, like buttermilk pancakes, smoked salmon, croque Madam…so why not? :)

-Sulsuls

Website here
Wherefore art thou? Map here

IVY PLACE,
16-15 Sarugakucho,
Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0033

Brunch at Beard

Some of the most delicious surprises I’ve stumbled across in Tokyo are usually off the beaten track – in the lower basement of a hidden alley, high up somewhere on a winding slope, or even just inside this nondescript building…which who would have thought housed one of the world’s most luscious fresh fruit cocktails?! *I’m looking at you These in Nishi-Azabu*

Beard, the latest open secret brunch sensation I discovered, has hidden itself pretty snugly in the residential area off the Meguro river. It’s a tiny little place which sits 4 at the counter of the tiny open kitchen, another 4 at a table by the window, and just a few more small tables scattered at the side and back. It’s squeezey with a laid-back hipster vibe, but totally unpretentious phewww. Oh, there’s that amazing open kitchen, like real open open because we were seated right in front of it and could see EVERYTHING the chef was doing from sizzling Tandoori chicken patties for the burgers on the skillet to assembling home-ground granolas with dollops of yoghurt and sliced bananas. Yay for open systems :)

Love seat by the window :)

Quaint little seat by the window

+1 for cozy open, open kitchens like this!

+1 for cozy open, open kitchens like this!

Whip it, grill it, smoke it!

Whip it, grill it, smoke it!

The man behind Beard, Shin Harakawa, wants to bring a little of the French bistro in Cali vibe to the heart of this quaint little joint in the middle of nowhere in Meguro, and he pulls it off beautifully over the brunch we had. Everything was simple, homey, yet tasted wonderful – from the juicy chicken tandoori burgers (which came with crunchhhhy veggie pickles on the side) to home-ground and roasted crunchy granola bits mixed with fresh figs, bananas and passion fruit and thick velvety yoghurt (would have been even more scrumptious if we had more than a dollop of that creamy delicious yoghurt with our granolas…). We also had their banana milkshake – the real fresh deal which washed everything down so smoooothly.

Juicy little burger with one of  the most succulent and nicely spiced patties ever

Juicy little burger with one of the most succulent and nicely spiced patties ever

Brunch dream come true - home made granolas with fresh fruits!

Brunch dream come true – home made granolas with fresh fruits!

Guess we never learnt not to play with our spoons :p

Guess we never learnt not to play with our spoons :p

Ladies werkin' it post brunch!

Ladies werkin’ it post brunch!

Prices are pretty reasonable at Beard (we ended up paying less than 1,500 JPY per person), although be prepared for Japanese-sized portions :) Pretty bummed they ran out of their mascarpone-based sourdough pancakes, but that just means we need to come back for brunch Round 2, at a proper brunch time pre-noon (and also to avoid queueing in the cruel hot summer sun!).

They are open for dinner as well, and a review from the Japan Times sounds giddily delicious…“superb open-facedpiperade sandwich..He slices open a hearty bread roll and spreads it with a generous layer of the seared, marinated Mediterranean vegetables; on top of this he balances a thick slice of his excellent home-cured bacon and an egg fried sunny-side up, serving it with a small side salad and a garnish of basil leaves. It’s outstanding.” Ooo yea, sounds outstanding indeed…and we now have an outstanding dinner date with Beard very soon :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Beard (map)
1-17-22 Meguro,
Meguro-ku, Tokyo

Delicious Daikanyama: Urth Caffe…unearthed

Daikanyama – you are such a deliciously pretty neighbourhood! Today, we unearthed Urth Caffe in your ‘hood over a lazy 2pm brunch/lunch, and it won hands down as one of the best places for a yummy weekend brunch in Tokyo! *Moves it onto fav brunch list*  Thank you pro golfer Shigeki Maruyama for bringing this LA cafe institution to the heart of Tokyo!

Urth caffe is surprisingly spacious for a brunch place, with both an indoor (which has a weird jungle mural on the walls reminiscent of a Borneo rainforest) and outdoor seating (perfect when the sun is out to play!).

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The gorillas are watching you…

Wrought iron chairs which spell Urth Cafe on top :)

Wrought iron chairs which spell Urth Caffe on top :)

They’ve got a pretty eclectic brunch menu, with hints of Tokyo, NY and LA influences. Thank god there were 6 of us so it was pretty easy checking off stuff we wanted to try :) Final count: *drumroll* Chicken Curry sandwich, Pepper soup, Belgian Waffles with fresh fruit, NY-style pastrami sandwich, Veggie sandwich, grilled chicken pesto sandwich and a quesedilla bowl filled with amazing guacamole, chicken, salad and lots of other deliciousness I can’t quite decipher but don’t care because it tastes heavenly…

Creamy chicken curry sandwich - tastes like melt-in-your-mouth butter chicken mmm....

Creamy chicken curry sandwich – tastes like melt-in-your-mouth butter chicken mmm….

Quesadilla bowl - oh, muy bueno!

Quesadilla bowl – oh, muy bueno!

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Veggie sandwich – grilled to perfection. If I turn vegetarian, I’m turning to this

Daikanyamers! Happy sweet 16 Evan :)

Daikanyamers! Happy sweet 16 Evan :)

Because piglets have their chicken curry sandwiches served with a tiara :)

Because piglets have their chicken curry sandwiches served with a tiara :)

I need to arrange my fruits this beautifully, and symmetrically, on my waffles from now on

I need to arrange my fruits this beautifully, and symmetrically, on my waffles from now on

Piglets diving in for the pepper soup!

Piglets diving in for the pepper soup!

And oh boy, the drinks! I don’t usually get excited over drinks, but at Urth “exclusively organic coffee and fine tea” Caffe, they sure show you a fiiiine time with their drinks. My iced organic green tea latte boba was legit and Asian-approved: serious matcha latte and chewy pearls slushed together in icy organic deliciousness…They’ve fruit smoothies which you can mix and match, and so fresh that you can still taste the fruit bits through all the crushed ice mmm-mmm.

My green tea boba claiming its throne in the middle of the food parade!

My green tea boba claiming its throne in the middle of the food parade

Urth lattes give you 2 hearts :)

Urth lattes give you 2 hearts :)

Everything we ordered was unbelievably delicious (I still can’t get over how light, airy and delightfully crusty their sourdough bread is), freshly-made, and left a nice healthy after-meal taste, thanks to the heaps of salad served as sides on each sandwich order *thank you LA, motherland of Urth Caffe, for being a fitness junkie*. Ehmmm that said, I want to return for a less healthy reason though, because I spied with my little eye and chanced upon this – decadent rows of desserts calling my name so sweetly *waves excitedly to the creamy layers of Tiramisu. And crumbly Caramel Cake. And rich, chunky Oreo Cheese Cake. And all those other sweet, sweet babies…”

How do I resist thee? I refuse to even try

How do I resist thee? I refuse to even try

At 2,000 ish JPY per person (food + drinks), it was a little pricier than the average brunch munch. But the portions here are hearty American style, which will leave you all full albeit with a skinnier wallet :) Now that fellow piglet Sonsons is moving closer (woohoo!), we will definitely be dropping by Urth for regular, delish brunches on weekends. Maybe it’s time to call it lunch if it’s at 2pm…

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Urth Caffe (map)
8-9, Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku,
Tokyo

Let’s go Lauderdale!

Wishlist #1253232361: I wish I went to Lauderdale for brunch on the weekends way more often! It’s right in the Roppongi ‘hood and they do a pretty decent brunch. Scratch decent if you are a pancake aficionado. They do bloody amazing buttermilk pancakes. So soft and fluffy that I want to roll around and cuddle with it…

Situated in the heart of Roppongi Hills, Lauderdale is a cozy and rustic little place with wooden floors, an outdoor patio to check out Roppongi Hill’s people traffic (it’s also PRIME location for adorable toy-size doggy spotting), and a cute communal dining table indoors. On weekends, their brunch fare includes standard pleasers like eggs Benny, pancakes, omelettes, hamburgers; and not-so-standards like souffles in an array of sweet and savoury choices. Think Mushroom & Cheese souffle sharing the same menu spot as Banana and Pepper souffle!

Hello comfy and cozy wooden interior!

Hello comfy and cozy wooden interior!

Cute and quirky hats adorn the back walls. Argh. Want!

Cute and quirky hats adorn the back walls. Argh. Want!

During the last visit here with the Sis, we grabbed a super quick brunch of Eggs Benedict and Buttermilk pancakes before rushing to grab the airport shuttle. Brunch set we chose comes with a choice of 2 sides. We had drinks (yessir drinks fall under sides here!), sauteed potatoes and cream corn soup. Hers was obviously the cream corn soup as cream soup and I are sworn enemies. My sauteed potatoes were nicely seasoned (the chef was not salt trigger happy yay!) and served soft with buttery and herb-y onions.

Tatters, you make my day always

Tatters, you make my day always

Eggs Benny

Eggs Benedict: The Sis gave it a thumbs up for decent effort. Her verdict: Bernaise sauce was creamy and flavourful without overpowering the English muffin it sat on, and the yolk was runny and wobbled nicely when poked. An added plus: it comes with a side of garden vegetables!!! (v.important as fresh veggies don’t get much love in local meals)

Pancakes

Buttermilk pancakes with fruit compote: THIS. IS. PANCAKE. PERFECTION. The buttermilk used gave it a wonderfully soft and fluffy texture and crisp edge, so that you had the most delicious combination with every mouthful. When I first saw the butter slices sitting atop the pancakes, my head was going IMMA TAKE YOU OFF YOU BUTTER DEVIL. But the heart commanded me to lovingly spread the butter all over the soft fluffy pancakes to make it even softer and more delicious.  Truly one of the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten. If fruit compote ain’t your thang, fret not as you can choose bacon or bananas or walnuts instead!

So yep, Lauderdale is a nice brunch option for the weekend if you are wandering around Roppongi and looking for pancakes/eggs/ souffles in a cozy chilled out environment away from the crazy shenanigans at Roppongi crossing on Fri/Sat nights :) They offer the same brunch options too during the weekday at lower prices (1,000 JPY gets you a nice hearty weekday breakfast), so wait no more.

I can’t wait to rendez-vous soon with my buttermilk pancakes loverrrr.

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Lauderdale
1F Roppongi Hills,
Keyakizaka Dori
6-15-1 Roppongi Minato-ku

Two Rooms: the weekend is yours

After a very satisfying 2-hour brunch at Two Rooms in Aoyama today, and nearly passing out from food coma right at the table (I blame the hot sun), I’ve found my new brunch bebe oh yeahhhhhh!

Two Rooms is situated on the 5th floor of the AO building, and the closest subway stop is Omotesando. Don’t make the same mistake as I did and get off at Aoyama-Itchome stop, thinking that AO building is located along Aoyama Dori…so OF COURSE Aoyama-itchome station makes perfect sense to get off at duh. It does not. Google Maps told me I suck at directions sigh.

Anyhoo, when we finally got to there, the nice people at Two Rooms ushered my sis and I to an outdoor table which has a pretty awesome view overlooking Omotesando. It was a perfect day – the sun and breeze were out to play, so grab an outdoor seat if you can when you swing by during Spring/Summer!

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Konnichiwa Omotesando, you lookin’ real fine gurlll

They do brunch sets for 2,950 JPY – you get a starter, a mains and coffee/ tea. They also show lots of love to the a la carters too, so don’t worry! The choices were a-plenty, ranging from usual staples like eggs benny, scrambled eggs, play with your eggs thang (basically having your eggs done 3 ways), sandwiches, pastas, and even steak frites oh hello!

Overwhelmed by delish choices!

Overwhelmed by delish choices!

Complimentary hot and crusty ciabatta speckled with olive bits were served to tide hungry porkers (i.e. us) over. Hot damn, these hot buns were gone in 5mins.

Fresh and chewy and heavenly

Fresh and chewy and heavenly

*Alert: walking down the brunch red carpet now

Muesli which converted me

Muesli which converted me

Bircher muesli with steel cut oats, raspberry passion crumble and cashew dust – Oh god typing this out makes me lust for THIS muesli all over again, and I was anything but a muesli lover just 12 hours ago! I decided to be all good and healthy and go for muesli (the hot sun was messing with my mind). It came in such pretty colors – I’m a sucker for pretty presentations- that I immediately shoved a spoonful into my mouth and OH MY GOD IT WAS LIKE HAVING SWIRLS OF THICK VELVETY CREAM LACED WITH TART FRUIT BITS AND SWEET CRUNCHY CRUMBLE AND CRISP NUTS all mixed together in the most delightful combination ever. I like it. No, I love it.

Food PDA tsk tsk

Food PDA tsk tsk

Citrus cured petuna ocean trout tartare – Ignore the blatant food PDA tsk tsk. The sis had the ocean trout tartare which was really fresh, seasoned well, and had a special tangy sauce poured over when it arrived at the table. Incredibly fresh and crisp ice plant accompanied it, with specks of black vinegar dressing yum!

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Tortilla wrapped crabcakes with avocado mash – Crabcakes were done just right (but then again, anything fried always wings it), and stayed crispy even though the salad leaves were spooning it real tight in the tortilla wrap. The avocado mash gave this the extra zing. Drop a dollop of it into the crabcakes, and you’ve got a cripsy winner in your hands.

Hello world, it's me tortilla crabcakes!

Hello world, it’s me tortilla crabcakes!

Gone green

Gone green

Pasta tossed with greens, wasabi and lightly seared scallops – An incredibly green dish, but hulking with lots of flavour especially from the wasabi hidden stealthily between the greens. The cappelini pasta used was the perfect accomplishment to hold up the sauce and grated mozzarella sprinkles. Add the baby scallops on top, and it’s a lean green tasty morsel.

Sunday people chillin' and overlooking Omotesando

Sunday people chillin’ and overlooking Omotesando

It's a wrap! Drink your tea and go home.

It’s a wrap! Drink your tea and go home.

‘Twas truly a wonderfully delish chilled out brunch, and we nearly dropped into a blissful food-coma induced nap. At the table heh. It’s a little steep for brunch, but the quality, the variety and the amazing chilled out view is a nice weekend treat. Perfect for families, dates, friends, and basically everybodyyyy. So yes, Two Rooms is your bebe for the weekend :)

-Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Two Rooms
AO Building, 5F
3-11-7 Kitaaoyama
Minato, Tokyo 107-0061