Thursday, 23 December 2010

Hattifnatt, Kichijōji, Tokyo


iced coffee 

Tallulah having a stretch 

brown rice and plenty-of-mushroom doria 

avocado taco rice

Yesterday we headed off to the Ghibli Museum, known for Japanese animation films like My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away - cute! Keep an eye out on our Renosslah blog for some pics soon. The museum is located in an area called Kichijōji, which is one cute area! Our favourite Tokyo Guide, Hello Sandwich, helped us find us a spot to fill up before hitting the museum, with that spot being Hattifnatt!

The best way to describe the Kichijōji Hattifnatt is a children's cubbyhouse. The entry is through a tiny door, and the ceiling is so low it is impossible for us tall gaijin to stand up straight! There are elements of traditional Japan in there too, such as taking our shoes off and sitting on cushions with low tables. The walls and ceiling of the main eating area was completely painted in a mural full of animals (and children with guitars), and it was a child's dream! A kid's birthday party was under way when we arrived, and children were running about, finding types of animals as a game, ringing the bell for service and generally having a great time! Tallulah definitely fit in here.

Another benefit of sitting on the floor was that Tallulah could have some time out of the sling (knowing she couldn't fall anywhere), and she spent the whole time checking out the colourful room.

With Tallulah successfully distracted, we scoured the pictures in the menu. I found avocado taco rice and asked for that and Renee thought that the picture of the 'brown rice and plenty-of-mushroom doria' looked good. The doria came with a mini-salad. We chose iced coffees as the accompanying drinks.

The avocado taco rice was delicious! It was avocado, salsa and egg on top of lettuce on top of mince and rice, and it was delicious! The avocado was superb on this dish. Renee quickly found out that under the layer of white sauce (she had a craving for cheese) was her arch-nemesis, the mushroom; plentiful in quantity. No amount of pushing food around could get rid of that mushroom taste! The mini-salad, however, had no mushroom (yay!) and had a tasty dressing.

The ice coffee, once creamy milk and sugar syrup had been added, quenched our thirst.

Being time to head off to the museum, we put our shoes back on (which involved me putting my shoes on first, then taking Tallulah from Renee so that she could put her shoes on - babies make thing harder!) and headed back into the world where ceilings and door frames are at least 2m high. Note: this does not include our apartment where door frames are low; I have a few lumps on my head!

The Verdict
Coffee 3/5
Eggs (the meal!) 3/5
Service 3.5/5
Atmosphere 5/5
Total = 14.5/20

Tallulah's score = 4/5 (Tallulah loved this child-like café)

Would we go again? Yes, and they have another one in nearby Kōenji that we want to check out!

Website You must check out Hattifnatt's website, it is sooo good! It is located here.
Kichijōji station is located on the Chūō line, Sobu line, Tozai subway line and Inokashira line.

Café Wendy, Tokyo

bacon, egg & cheese tortilla 


One thing we have learnt about having a child overseas is that you can't just leave the hospital and be on the next flight home! So we found ourselves living in Tokyo in an area called Hasunuma. It is fair to say that Hasunuma doesn't quite appear on any list of cool Tokyo areas like Shimokitazawa or Kichijo-ji, but nevertheless we went on the hunt for some brunch spots.

Luckily, one such spot opened its doors just after we moved in, called Café Wendy, and it looks pretty cute with its pot plant garden and cute façade. So in we went for a bite, with Tallulah in tow! Café Wendy has a small breakfast menu that features a bacon, egg and cheese tortilla, as well as four different types of hotcakes (including banana, maple & cream) - the breakfast is available until 11:30. We arrived a bit late and asked for the tortilla, and they were happy to make one for us! I also ordered their lunch special, which had rice and pork topped with a fried egg, a salad and an onion broth. We also asked for cafe lattes each. Café Wendy also offers a cake and tea set, which we didn't have today but will definitely go back to try!

We have had a couple of breakfast burritos in Perth, so we were interested to see how the tortilla compared. A couple of bites later, and we both confirmed: the tortilla is better than the breakfast burritos back home! It had a good mix of flavours; the salsa had a bit of a kick to it (unusual for Japan) and the cheese was perfect. It was a winner. My lunch was also a winner - the whole lot was flavoursome and was polished off!

The coffee, unfortunately, was not as good as the food, being ground coffee with hot water and milk added to it, like how your mum likes it. If you come back here, our tip is have tea!

The interior was cute and seats 8-10 people, it's also open for diner and they have a selection of international beer available. Our favourite part was the large oval-shaped marble 'globe' table:

We didn't get very far on our RTW trip!

The owners were friendly, and tried to accommodate Tallulah by placing two chairs next to each other like a dangerous-looking cot. We declined and held onto her, but appreciated the thought. Otherwise, Tallulah enjoyed her quick brunch outing!

The Verdict
Coffee 2/5
Eggs (the meal!) 4/5
Service 3.5/5
Total = 13/20

Tallulah's score = 3.5/5 (Tallulah appreciated the chairs/bed)

Would we go again? Yes, to try some cake and tea!

Website No, but here's a map showing the location! The nearest subway stop is Motohasunuma on the Mita line.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Kinder Surprise!

Our beautiful daughter Tallulah

So something a little unexpected happened to us the day after we ate that delicious breakfast at Parlor Ekoda....I was admitted to hospital with stomach cramps (no, it wasn't food poisoning!) and the next thing you know we have ourselves a beautiful little daughter called Tallulah!

Yes we know its quite unbelievable but it's true, we didn't even suspect we were pregnant! So our plans changed and our super round the world trip has been put on the back burner and we have been living in Tokyo for the past couple of months! I started a blog documenting this amazing mind boggling adventure we are on, so if you want to know more do check it out at

So we will be adding new section to our scoring system: Tallulah's Score= baby friendly! Watch this space!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Parlour Ekoda, Tokyo

Renee's mouthwatering vegetable sandwich 

Iced Latte and flat white 

Delicious selection of bread 

Pecan tart - yum!

Destination: Tōkyō! We have arrived, but not first without filling up on kaya toast at Singapore Airport (kaya is this weird green spread with a flavour that is indescribable, but sort of alluring; read more about it on Wikipedia).

Our only guide to Tokyo is Hello Sandwich, which takes us to places that you will not find in any other guide book. On this day it took us to the suburb of Ekoda, which is just outside the Yamanote rail line which loops around central Tokyo. And are we glad that we found Parlour Ekoda! (パーラー江古田, map)

A good coffee can be hard to find in Tokyo, but not as hard as finding a good breakfast. The traditional breakfast usually includes rice and dried fish; and the breakfast that you can find in one of the numerous American coffee chains is often an average sandwich or worse. The coffee is, on occasions, barely drinkable (the rest of the time it is left behind).

But this is not like us, talking all negative and stuff about such a great city, and so onto the good stuff! Being on the lookout for the best, we eagerly grabbed seats at the small table inside Parlour Ekoda (the other 4 seats are at the bar). We ordered a flat white (which is only possible as the owner trained in Melbourne) and an iced latte. We then settled into the menu, which is basically a choice of 4 or 5 fillings inside any of the Parlour's bread. And this is not just any bread, this is all out French-style bread which looked phenomenal! Renee had her vegetable roll on a rye sourdough roll, and I chose a walnut loaf with a mushroom and chicken filling. The owner warned me that mine would be difficult to eat due to the shape of the loaf (it was - all my filling fell out before I could take one bite)! But we both agreed, these rolls were reaaaaaally good - the bread was fresh and the fillings delicious!

Our coffees (iced latte and flat white) were both reaaaaaally good as well, and we both had to have more. I ordered a short macc, and Renee had another ice latte. And unlike many Perth establishments where the second round falls short of the standard set by the first round, the short macc and second iced latte were delicious!

We finished off with a pecan tart, which like the rest of the food was good. We left feeling very positive about Tokyo!

The Verdict

Coffee 4.5/5
The eggs (the meal!) 4/5
Service 4/5
Atmosphere 4/5
Overall 16.5/20

Would we go again? 
Yes, we would!

Website (maybe, maybe not!)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Artichoke, Singapore

Ross' sunny side up 

Renee's butter toasted chicken sandwich

House-blend breakfast cereal - now with Little Creatures Pale Ale!

We love Singapore - it seems that you cannot go wrong with the food lah! Today we joined our friends and our friends' friends at Artichoke Cafe and Bar, which is located in Sculpture Square. It has a large inside area, plus a delightful covered outside area with a long wooden table. We had gathered together enough people to fill the outside table! Artichoke has a great ambience - the owner told us that he had spent some time in Melbourne gathering inspiration. Artichoke officially claims that it is "inspired by the fascinating flavours and smells of Spain, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Morocco," and they are spot on in this respect!

The "November weekend brunch V1" menu contains a whole bunch of goodies that cost between S$14-18, that I can't resist going all out on:

  • House-blend breakfast cereal w dried apricots, freeze-dried strawberries, almonds & cold milk (S$7);
  • Creamy scrambled eggs w organic Kin Yan Farm mushrooms, parmesan & wild rocket, w Turkish bread;
  • Eggs baked in tomato sauce w country sausage balls, chorizo, Spanish onions & homemade lebneh;
  • Pan-fried haloumi on toast w organic mushrooms, crushed avocado & wild rocket;
  • Renee's choice - Butter roasted chicken sandwich, grilled onions, almond romesco sauce & aioli + salad leaves; and
  • My choice - Sunny side up w Moroccan mergues lamb nuggets, pistachio dukkah, babaganoush & fresh herbs.
The owner happily told me that my meal had made it into the top 100 dishes of 2010 (in Singapore Cosmo). And boy did it deserve to be in that list - it was meal perfection! It looked great on the plate, and had an array of different ingredients hidden under the egg to be found, like a treasure hunt! Renee found her sandwich to be tasty, but complete food envy!

The presentation was a winner - the dishes were fun, and we enjoyed the way that the cereal was served in a paper bag; cute! When we left, we were all given candy in small paper bags; such a great idea and certainly icing on a great cake!

We both ordered iced caffe lattes (i.e. iced coffee) that were delicious! Renee had another one, and I returned for a macchiato which was honestly one of the best maccs I have ever had.

The Verdict

Coffee 4.5/5
The Eggs (the meal!) 4.5/5
Service 4/5
Atmosphere 4.5/5
Overall 17.5/20
Would we go again?
I think we could easily live on Singapore's food - it really is good. Thanks Artichoke, for showing us how a breakfast place should be!

Friday, 10 December 2010

40 Hands, Singapore

First stop Singapore! Today the weather was a humid 32C, much like yesterday and tomorrow! Our fantastic friends live in Tiong Bahru, on the same block as this delightful cafe, 40 Hands, which was recently established by a couple of Perth expats. The cafe also features art by Creepy. Like many Perth cafes, 40 Hands is all about the coffee.

The interior is well-done. The wooden counter provides a perfect contrast to the concrete surroundings. The order number is a wooden block. In all, it's seriously cool (a nice contrast to humid, no?)

Renee was feeling humid, and thought that an iced coffee would go down nicely; i was quite happy to try the hot fare and ordered a flat white. And they were delicious - perfectly perfected coffees. I would be quite happy to live on the same block as this cafe!

On the food side of things, the menu was limited with just pastries and toasted sandwiches on offer. We started off sharing a ham and cheese croissant, which was average at best and not worth discussing. Luckily our friends suggested, no, implored, that we try their toasted sandwiches, and I ordered the Mediterranean lamb. Others on offer include Jamaican pork, vegetable stack, cheese and tomato, and truffle mushroom (i wish i had ordered the latter - yum!). The Mediterranean lamb toastie was delicious, and full of cucumber, mint, and other yummy fillings.

The Verdict

Coffee 4.5/5
The Eggs (the meal!) 3/5
Service 4/5
Atmosphere 4.5/5

Overall 16/20

Would we go again?
Oh how I wish we could have spent more time in Singapore so that we could have come here again!

Poached has gone international!

That's right! Us poached pair were sick of being overworked, and so threw off our employment shackles in an annual-leave-revolution and declared a state of holiday!

To celebrate, we will be introducing the world to our new way of living via Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, London, Paris, Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Cologne, Istanbul, Seville, Fez, Marrakech, Porto, Lisbon, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Antonio, Austin, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Melbourne! And hopefully we can find a brunch-spot or two on the way and report in on progress.

Keep an eye out for a surprise along the way!

The Suite, Shenton Park

Renee's eggs Benedict at the front, and Ross' eggs Florentine

Ok it was a while ago that we visited The Suite in Shenton Park (24 September to be precise!). Our memory, however, is sharp-as. And since we don't stray into the golden triangle often, we would not want to give this review a miss. The Suite is a small bar, and immediately feels cosy and intimate; it's dark and brooding and once inside it is easy to forget that there is a real world outside. This is good. Renee enjoyed the vintage-inspred aesthetic. The Suite is open 6 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it is only the breakfast that interests us.

The menu offers some simple fair, including field mushroom feta on toasted sourdough ($14), smoked salmon dill cream, roquette, brioche ($14) and pancakes maple syrup, berries, whipped cream ($15). We both went standard today with Renee choosing the eggs Benedict ($14) but substituting the muffin for sourdough, and I went for eggs Florentine ($12). Both meals were tasty, cooked and seasoned well. Renee was miffed that her sourdough toast was actually one piece cut into two- she reckons they could have given her two pieces, surely! (yes she notes that she likes carbs in the morning!)

We both ordered flat whites ($3.50) (yes i know that is not a surprise!) - they were quite delicious, well made and tasty-as. So good in fact that we ordered a second round of coffees; but they were nowhere near as good. Almost undrinkable! Which is a shame, because we were enjoying the atmosphere and had completely forgot about the outside world until those second coffees.

Should The Suite maintain its consistency (and maybe over the last 3 months it has?), it would certainly be a choice spot to escape the world.

The Verdict

Coffee 3/5
The Eggs (the meal!) 3.5/5
Service 4/5
Atmosphere 4/5

Overall 14.5/20

Would we go again?
When brooding, yes

Website: The Suite

The Suite on Urbanspoon

We've been bad!

Hi everyone, I guess you've all been wondering where we have been? Well, we have been pretty busy (you think that's a lame excuse, I know!) But don't worry, we're back, and with some surprises too!

More posts soon, ^_^ Ross & Renee