Category Archive for Cute Yummy Time

Off to Israel & Jordan: Travel video press trip! Cute Japan flower arrangements & Snoopy donuts.

scottish fold cat with crossed paws

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.

camel statue, dubai mall

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.

lamb cute face cakes, hitsuji

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.

kawaii cupcakes, swimmer japan

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 japan, snoppy woodstock donuts

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.

rilakkuma christmas snacks

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.

white cat sake bottle

Plus a bottle of white cat sake.

panda bear pocky cookies

I grew up eating Pocky as snacks. Fun to see these panda versions, made with white chocolate over brown sticks.

ghost tomato pretz

Do ghost tomato Pretz taste extra scary?

kawaii cute japanese van

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!

cute decorated flowers van

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.

panda bear flower arrangement

These panda bear flowers were my favorites. At first, I thought they were onigiri or rice balls.

Dekotora japanese decoration trucks

Just when you think the Japanese have thought of every possible way to make things cute… a new idea comes along.

panda van, japan car decor

Perhaps these photos might inspire you to try “kawaii flower arrangements” of your own.

shinjuku conveyor belt sushi

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.

tokyo sushi parlor, kaiten

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)…

toro salmon sushi, ikura eggs

… 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!

shinjuku subnade okonomiyaki

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.

haagen dazs pumpkin ice cream

How about dessert? If it’s around October, you can find pumpkin flavored Haagen Dazs ice cream in convenience stores.

cutest smartest cat breed

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.

cat with christmas bokeh

For more cat-ness, I just posted more photos of Basil Farrow on his Scottish Fold blog, and Facebook.

best travel instagram, instagrammers

Also add us on Instagram and Twitter — @lacarmina — for previews of my Middle Eastern journey. Above are some snaps from Tokyo.

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.

hello kitty dress, shinjuku fashion, tokyo street snap

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!

shinjuku street, buildings, tokyo kabukicho

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.

Miffy the bunny cape: from the TwoPercent x Miffy store in Hong Kong
White dress: gifted by Gloomth, my dark fashion friends in Toronto
Lolita lace purse: Spider, Hong Kong

hello kitty statue, sanrio store shinjuku, Sanrio Gift Gate

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

hello kitty nail art, keroppy nails, japanese cute gel nail art

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).

my melody megane, bath balls, hello kitty products

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.

totoro cakes, totoro pastries, cute donuts

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 lion, cute face donuts

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.

anman, cat bun, cat face bread

Even convenience stores like 7-Eleven have kawaii food. In Cantonese, this cat bun would be called a “maoo baoo”!

white cat sake, japanese kitty rice wine

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 japan, japanese kawaii cosmetics

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.

kyaru pamyu pamyu makeup, hairstyle, kyary contact lens, eyelashes

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is the present It Girl, and poster child for a line of circle colored contact lenses.

japanese hair dye, junie moon doll, palty, fresh light

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?)

french maid costumes, tokyo cosplay outfits, maid cafe costume

There’s no better place to pick up a French maid or Japanese schoolgirl costume.

japanese circle contacts, contact lens, novelty lenses

Turn into a living doll with the help of colored contacts (like the ones I wore here).

rilakkuma slippers, kawaii bear

Rilakkuma fans, you may go a bit crazy…

rilakkuma crane game, shinjuku game center

This plush bear is a popular sight all over town. There must be hundreds in this crane game machine.

rilakkuma stuffed toys,japanese teddy bear

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.

hong kong express airways, uo magazine

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.

chinese airline magazine, hong kong airlines

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 shopping guide & travel tips! Cute panda cookies, Hello Kitty fashion, Uniqlo, Sogo.

hong kong shopping mall, giant cake

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.

japanese goth street style, atelier pierrot skirt

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

demonia shoes, goth girl hair, modeling

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.

giant tea cup, tea party backdrop

Remember when my friends and I posed in the “Magician’s Liar” last year in Mongkok?

sushi art, big sushi backdrop

Japanese pop culture is extremely popular here, hence the “Sushi Oishii.”

hong kong shopping malls, hung hom

What do you think I’ll find on my plate?

black white burger, mcdonalds hong kong, rilakkuma buns

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.

kee wah bakery, panda bear cookies, panda box

Better yet: these panda bear cookies from Kee Wah Bakery! I gave a box to Seby and to Naomi.

hong kong kawaii, sala store, accessories

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.

cute rilakkuma toys, sanrio shop hong kong

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.

majolica majorca makeup, sasa, japanese cosmetic brands

I always stop by the cosmetics chain, SaSa. You can get Japanese makeup brands and gyaru eyelashes for half the Tokyo price.

hello kitty kilara shop, sanrio hong kong

You know Hello Kitty is popular when she has her own store, a collaboration with KiLaRa.

hello kitty purse, clothing, red bow shoes

In addition to casual wear, the shop has red-bowed purses, shoes…

hello kitty hair clips, bow headbands

…and tons of kawaii accessories.

monchichi monkey jewelry, sogo department store

Monchichi monkey jewelry is sold in the Japanese department store, Sogo (it has locations in Causeway Bay and Tsum Sha Tsui).

liz lisa pink floral skirts

Also in Sogo: the girly-lace-romantic-pop brand, Liz Lisa.

gyaru purse, magazines

Clear purses and scalloped fabric are currently in. (Compare these Liz Lisa photos to the ones I took last year.)

hong kong liz liza boutique

The crochet garments are great for layering (I bought the white one on the middle mannequin).

wario tshirt, exotic shorthair cats pet store

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!

sanrio and uniqlo collaboration, hello kitty tshirts

It’s a Hello Kitty world. We only live in it.

my melody tshirts, sanrio fashion uniqlo

Sanrio teamed up with Uniqlo for a tshirt and tank tops line.

panda bear purses, backpacks

I leave you with these panda bear bags. For more details about the various malls and brands, read my Hong Kong shopping posts.

china cute souvenirs, panda cookies

What do you think of Hong Kong’s clothing selection? Would you gobble up these panda biscuits?

cute bento box, hello kitty food

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.

cute cooking, kawaii food, charaben

In your opinion, who does cute cooking better, Hong Kong or Tokyo? If you’re intrigued by this food trend, I wrote a book about it that includes recipes: Cute Yummy Time. Bon appetit!

Hawaiian Paradise! Beautiful Maui, Hawaii hotel: Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. Chef Pang of Ko restaurant, plantation cuisine.


best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

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

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

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.

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

My filmmaker Melissa and I felt like we’d tripped into Kubla Khan’s Xanadu.

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

The Fairmont Kea Lani has several swimming pools (including adult-only), private beach access, and a koi fish pond that my cat would love.

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

I turned the flowers around me into a hair fascinator. My skull-tastic bracelet, gifted by Good Art, matches my nail art.

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

We filmed at the new open-air restaurant Ko.

Tylun pang, chef pang, what maui likes to eat, maui cookbook, ahi tuna grilled on hot stone, best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

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.

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

Everything we tried was clean, simple, fresh. I ended up drinking three pomegranate cucumber mojitos (right).

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

Examples of his Asia-Hawaii dishes: shrimp and soba, poke (raw fish salad), calamari.

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

The macrobiotic bento box was perfectly balanced. Ko’s menu has entire categories for raw, vegan, gluten-free, and heart-healthy.

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

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.

best maui hotels, maui hotel, top HAWAII HOTEL, FAIRMONT KEA LANI, WAILEA resorts, CHEF PANG OF KO, PLANTATION CUISINE RESTAURANT, ko restaurant review, maui travel tips, best restaurants maui, japanese food maui, private hawaii suites, hawaii beach villas, luxury travel, hawaii vacations, honeymoon getaways, hawaiian garden, nanette lepore, Hawaii fashion, nanette lepore dress, floral print dresses, sundress, flower hair crowns, flower hairpiece, flowers in hair, hawaii scenery, landscape, macrobiotic bento box, raw food, vegan food, hawaii vegetarian restaurants

What’s the most memorable meal you’ve had recently, and why? What would you most like to eat from Ko’s menu?

❤ If you enjoyed, bestow a Like/Share (below)…

SHARE & COMMENT