Category Archive for Cute Yummy Time
I’ve been itching to return to the Middle East, and am excited to announce (Terminator style) that “I’ll be back!” From late January to February, my filmmakers and I will be in Israel and Jordan for the first time.
Can’t wait to explore Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, all thanks to the Israel Ministry of Tourism. Our friends at Ya’lla Tours are helping us get connected, and will also take us on a guided tour of Petra, the historical city and archaeological heaven.
My travel team and I will be shooting stories about the alternative nightlife in Tel Aviv — there’s a colorful LGBT scene here, including an Orthodox Jewish drag queen. We’ll also make travel videos, photos and blogs about the modern local fashion, Israeli wines, and even a hummus restaurant.
Maybe this time, I’ll get to ride a real camel? To get in the spirit, you can revisit last year’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai coverage in my Middle East category. And send us your travel tips; we’ll always keep them in mind.
Before we dive into tabbouleh and falafel, let’s hop back to Japan: the land of cute food.
At the Swimmer store in Shinjuku Alta, I spotted these “hitsuji” or kawaii lamb-faced cakes. Clever, how they use a coiled cookie for the horns.
The bakery also sells “kuma-chan” or little bear cupcakes. I’ve never eaten anything from Swimmer; the pastries look too sweet and cute to consume!
Mr Donut, the Japanese doughnut store chain, has seasonal collaborations with cute characters. Around Halloween, they offered spooky Hello Kitty donuts. For Christmas, they teamed up with Snoopy and Woodstock. Unfortunately, looks trump taste. I tried one, and gagged at the flaky icing and bready interior.
While “character bento” recipe books aren’t as popular as before, there are still kawaii food items everywhere. I found Rilakkuma bear cookie boxes in a convenience store.
Plus a bottle of white cat sake.
I grew up eating Pocky as snacks. Fun to see these panda versions, made with white chocolate over brown sticks.
Do ghost tomato Pretz taste extra scary?
In Japan, you’ll often see vans or trucks decorated to the nines. I stopped short when I saw this one, plastered with cute animals… made from flowers!
Similar to bento decoration, the flowers are arranged in clever ways to mimic figures like Santa Claus. Paper or felt cut-outs form the eyes, nose and details.
These panda bear flowers were my favorites. At first, I thought they were onigiri or rice balls.
Just when you think the Japanese have thought of every possible way to make things cute… a new idea comes along.
Perhaps these photos might inspire you to try “kawaii flower arrangements” of your own.
Back to food, minus the cuteness. Whenever I’m in Tokyo, I gorge myself on sushi since the quality is outstanding here. At “kaiten” conveyor sushi parlors like Hibari in Kabukicho, each plate is only about $1.40.
If you don’t know Japanese, there is usually a photo menu that you can point to. My favorites are unagi (eel), hamachi (yellowtail), bintoro (albacore tuna)…
… and if I’m lucky, toro salmon topped with ikura, (fish roe). It melts in your mouth like nothing else, and is only about $2. I once ate about eight of these!
While not so pretty-looking, okonomiyaki or savory pancakes are a must-try, especially in Osaka. Also visit an izakaya, or homestyle pub, and pop into Coco Ichiban for mouthwatering Japanese curry.
How about dessert? If it’s around October, you can find pumpkin flavored Haagen Dazs ice cream in convenience stores.
Basil and I hope you enjoyed this post about cute and yummy food in Japan. We urge you to step out of your comfort zone, and try new dishes whenever you are traveling. I’ll be doing that soon in Israel and Jordan.
What type of reports would you like to see from Tel Aviv and Jordan? Do you have suggestions for places to see, and things to eat?
Shinjuku Hello Kitty store: Sanrio clothes & Tokyo cute food! Hong Kong Express Airways magazine cover.
I know you love cute Japanese characters, so I captured tons of photos during my TV shoot in Tokyo earlier this year (hence the pink hair). I’m actually in Japan right now, for yet another TV filming, so there are many more photos on the way…
For now, enjoy these images of Totoro donuts, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu contact lenses and more kawaii — as well as another magazine cover, for a Hong Kong in-flight magazine!
Last spring, I had sakura-colored hair. Before the TV crew arrived, Naomiyaki took some street snaps of me in Shinjuku. The colorful energy of this entertainment district (which holds Christon Cafe, Marui One, host clubs and more) can’t be beat.
My Hello Kitty shoes are ridiculous: red and white, with a big plump bow! They are part of the KiLaRa Hello Kitty fashion collection in Hong Kong.
I’m hugging the iconic giant Hello Kitty statue, who sits in front of Shinjuku’s Sanrio Gift Gate shop. (Address: 1st Floor, Korakuen Ad Hoc Building, 3-15-11 Shinjuku). It’s one of the many Hello Kitty shops you’ll find in Tokyo.
However, probably the largest and scariest source of Sanrio goods is Puroland, the Hello Kitty theme park…
Glam Nail Studio Vancouver decorated me with pastel nail art, ringed with glitter and topped with a Keroppy. As always, I use Bio Sculpture Gel (the polish never chips, but also doesn’t damage the nail as acrylics do).
As you might expect, there are Hello Kitty products all over Tokyo. The products in the official Sanrio shops are often pricier, but you can find little souvenirs (like these My Melody bath balls) in Don Quixote, Tokyu Hands, and even 100 yen stores.
When you walk around the city, you’ll surely encounter cute decorated food! These Totoro pastries, from a Nakano North Exit bakery, were among the most adorable. I also found Anpanman and happy face buns nearby. (Offerings change constantly, so your best bet is to pop your head into bakeries and see what’s currently available.)
Mr. Donut’s Pon de Lion mascot brightens up this snack. They recently released a Halloween Hello Kitty donut, and currently offer Snoopy and Woodstock ones.
Even convenience stores like 7-Eleven have kawaii food. In Cantonese, this cat bun would be called a “maoo baoo”!
In a ramen shop, I spotted this white cat on a bottle of sake. It’s “Nigorin Sake with Lactic Bacterium” — a light, milky sour made from fermented rice alcohol. Even though the bottle is adorable, I didn’t dare try it.
Don Quixote is a “general store” with locations all around Tokyo. (The iconic location is on Yasakuni-doori near the Shinjuku Station east exit.) Here, you can pick up cosmetics, beauty products, homewares and even electronics for excellent prices.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is the present It Girl, and poster child for a line of circle colored contact lenses.
Even Japanese hair dyes have pretty packaging. The “Fresh Light” brand is modeled by Junie Moon dolls (remember my photos of the Junie Moon doll store in Daikanyama?)
There’s no better place to pick up a French maid or Japanese schoolgirl costume.
Turn into a living doll with the help of colored contacts (like the ones I wore here).
Rilakkuma fans, you may go a bit crazy…
This plush bear is a popular sight all over town. There must be hundreds in this crane game machine.
Who are your favorite Japanese kawaii characters? Have you tried making food in the shape of Hello Kitty and friends?
For recipes and tips on how to “cook cute,” I invite you to check out my book, Cute Yummy Time (Penguin Books USA). Perhaps it might be a good Christmas gift.
PS: In addition to Rebelicious, I’m on another cover this month: the very first issue of UO, the in-flight magazine of Hong Kong Express Airways. This is a newly-launched airline, with routes from Hong Kong to nearby destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka, Phuket, and Penang.
Thanks to this youth-focused, short-haul airline for making me their cover ambassador, and interviewing me about my favorite places in Tokyo. You can read UO Magazine online here, in both English and Chinese. (Photos by Said Karlsson, hair by Kukukachoo, more images from this shoot here.)
I’ll likely be doing more with HK Express soon, so stay tuned for that… and loads of Japan winter coverage!
Hong Kong is all about eating and shopping. I did a bit of both on my most recent trip.
Read on for a peek inside the Chinese city’s cutest stores, and my latest Business Insider article about kawaii food.
Sweet meets Gothic, in this Kowloon shopping mall.
Corset skirt: Atelier Pierrot, from Laforet Harajuku (see photos from inside this Tokyo department store)
Mary Jane shoes: Demonia
Hong Kong locals love to take photos with funny backdrops. Shopping centers often have displays, like this “Sweets Paradise” one in Kowloon, for that very purpose.
Remember when my friends and I posed in the “Magician’s Liar” last year in Mongkok?
Japanese pop culture is extremely popular here, hence the “Sushi Oishii.”
What do you think I’ll find on my plate?
Hopefully not these “Black or White” burgers from McDonalds (dyed with squid ink, they look inedible). I prefer the cute Rilakkuma buns from 7-Eleven.
Better yet: these panda bear cookies from Kee Wah Bakery! I gave a box to Seby and to Naomi.
I’ve taken you inside many of Hong Kong’s malls, but here are photos from a not-so-known area, Whampoa. It’s home to a boat-shaped department store and Treasure World.
Hong Kong’s my favorite place to pick up cute accessories (I just got a fat-cat bag and wallet). Characters such as Rilakkuma are plentiful, but prices are much cheaper than in Japan.
I always stop by the cosmetics chain, SaSa. You can get Japanese makeup brands and gyaru eyelashes for half the Tokyo price.
You know Hello Kitty is popular when she has her own store, a collaboration with KiLaRa.
In addition to casual wear, the shop has red-bowed purses, shoes…
…and tons of kawaii accessories.
Monchichi monkey jewelry is sold in the Japanese department store, Sogo (it has locations in Causeway Bay and Tsum Sha Tsui).
Also in Sogo: the girly-lace-romantic-pop brand, Liz Lisa.
Clear purses and scalloped fabric are currently in. (Compare these Liz Lisa photos to the ones I took last year.)
The crochet garments are great for layering (I bought the white one on the middle mannequin).
Often, I find bizarre-cute items (like this Wario shirt) simply by wandering around. In Causeway Bay, there’s a “squish-faced cat store” — a pet store that specializes in Exotic Shorthair kitties!
It’s a Hello Kitty world. We only live in it.
Sanrio teamed up with Uniqlo for a tshirt and tank tops line.
I leave you with these panda bear bags. For more details about the various malls and brands, read my Hong Kong shopping posts.
What do you think of Hong Kong’s clothing selection? Would you gobble up these panda biscuits?
Speaking of – I have a new article in Business Insider, with 30 photo of kawaii food! Snoopy cakes, Hello Kitty bentos, mouse lattes and more.
Hawaiian Paradise! Beautiful Maui, Hawaii hotel: Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. Chef Pang of Ko restaurant, plantation cuisine.
La Carmina in Hula-Land! I love how my Nanette Lepore dress flows; she’s an incredible designer.
Red Malibu silk dress: gifted by Nanette Lepore. Get the same one here, or try the strapless version.
Wedge sandals: Kenneth Cole (available here.)
Black cat on my purse: by BlaBlaHospital, stolen from Seby
For the last two days of the Maui press trip, I stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. I had a large one-bedroom suite to myself, with a balcony overlooking the pools and gardens.
My filmmaker Melissa and I felt like we’d tripped into Kubla Khan’s Xanadu.
The Fairmont Kea Lani has several swimming pools (including adult-only), private beach access, and a koi fish pond that my cat would love.
I turned the flowers around me into a hair fascinator. My skull-tastic bracelet, gifted by Good Art, matches my nail art.
We filmed at the new open-air restaurant Ko.
I adored Chef Tylun Pang. His menu is lovingly inspired by plantation cuisine (a harmony of influences from the workers’ home countries of Japan, China, Philippines and Korea). As he put it, “The folks in my kitchen are cooking their grandparents’ recipes.”
Ingredients are sourced locally, from relationships of trust. We said “cheers” on camera and tried his ahi tuna on a stick, grilled on hot stone. Phenomenal.
Everything we tried was clean, simple, fresh. I ended up drinking three pomegranate cucumber mojitos (right).
Examples of his Asia-Hawaii dishes: shrimp and soba, poke (raw fish salad), calamari.
The macrobiotic bento box was perfectly balanced. Ko’s menu has entire categories for raw, vegan, gluten-free, and heart-healthy.
Eating sushi with Chef Pang, overlooking the pool… one of the most heartfelt dining experiences in my life. I interviewed him for my travel video, so you’ll see more of our interactions soon.
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve had recently, and why? What would you most like to eat from Ko’s menu?
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