Following up with the 2nd half of Japan Day 3 –
After spending an amazing morning at Tsukiji Fish Market, I had time to kill before meeting up with a bunch of Couchsurfers where we were going to the Robot Restaurant.
Tokyo is known for its gastronomical desserts and as a lover of caffeine and anything sweet, I decided to spend the rest of the day cafe-hopping and visiting patisseries with raving reviews.
Hidemi Sugino is recognised as one of Asia’s best pastry chef. Famous for his French pastry, his shop is located at a nondescript location in the heart of Tokyo’s upmarket shopping district. Most of his creations are mousse-based and can only be eaten at his cafe.
I had some difficulty finding the store as its storefront was rather quiet and unassuming. I walked around the street at least 3 times before succumbing to fate and asking for help from a local security guard a couple blocks away. He was kind to direct me and I soon found myself in a boutique that was filled with an array of attractive desserts in vivid colours.
Hidemi Sugino’s unassuming storefront (Pic grabbed off Curiously Ravenous)
Display Case at Hidemi Sugino (Pic grabbed off Curiously Ravenous)
There were a number of cakes available and I had a hard time deciding what to try. I had wanted to try AMBROISIE but it was sold out, shucks! Finally, I settled on MARIE after the lady over the counter recommended this piece as one of their bestsellers. In my opinion, I probably could have grabbed any of the cakes and it would have been as delicious.
If you are a huge fan of cakes especially mousse-based cakes, this dessert boutique will not fail you! The texture was so soft and silky, and it all simply melted in my mouth – leaving a sweet aftertaste that was not overly sugary.
AMBROISIE, a rich chocolate and raspberry mousse cake (Pic grabbed off Lennardy)
I stayed in Hidemi Sugino for a while, simply savouring the relaxing atmosphere and observing the strangers chattering around me. It was a surreal moment as I thought about how I’d come to this decision to take on Japan on my own and it felt strangely reclusive and amazing at the same time.
Not many people understand my rational decision in travelling on my own but it still is, and probably will be one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The people I met and the conversations we shared were both uplifting and supportive, and I take it all back with a positive heart.
With Hidemi Sugino checked off my list, next was 76CAFE Omotesando.
As its cafe name, 76CAFE Omotesando is located at – tadah – Omotesando!
I read great reviews for 76CAFE but when I arrived it was a tad disappointing as there was nothing spectacular about the cafe. Maybe the food was really as good as some say but I was stuffed overdosed with sashimi and sugary sweets and did not order a main.
Instead, I opted for something fruity and it was still okay. The great thing about 76CAFE though is that the baristas were all male and tall and good-looking! What a bummer, wish I could speak Japanese.
With so much time to spare before meeting the Couchsurfers for dinner, I sat down again to jot down some thoughts.
I have always enjoyed writing but it was only in 2013 that I started taking it seriously. Being serious, I don’t mean taking it on as a career prospect but realising that I have a voice that could influence and thus am required to speak with responsibility.
Most times, we fail to realise how our words can spur other individuals in a positive or negative way. Our words can hurt, can anger, can disappoint; but our words can also heal, can forgive, can bring peace and happiness to others.
Sometimes I close my eyes and I can still recall the way light reflects off the trees in Japan. I know in time the memories will start fading and I will have trouble recalling those moments; yet I am not afraid because I can never forget those peaceful moments where time was mine, and mine alone to share and taste between myself and the earth.
My first Couchsurfing experience can be best described as – Space Oddity.
What does Space Oddity mean? Well basically it’s one of my favourite words in the universe and literally mean what it says – spacey and odd.
There were 9 of us and we all had such different backgrounds. Most were from the U.S., there was an Aussie, 2 were locals who worked in Tokyo, and then there’s me – the yellow Chinese girl from Singapore.
I think I stood around gaping for a while because everyone had such a strong westerned accent. Okay I’ll admit, I panicked and was starting to regret my insane decision in meeting up with a bunch of strangers in a strange land to watch a strange show. Whut.
BUT. Then Tony arrived.
Tony Stewart and I corresponded via Couchsurfing prior to my arrival in Tokyo. We wanted to meet up and decided that attending the Robot Restaurant event would be a great time. Even though we have never met before, I felt strangely relieved to see someone whom I’d interacted with and at least knew by name.
Tony is born in Texas, U.S. but currently lives in Hawaii where he is serving the military as a U.S. Coast Guard. He is a real witty guy and our conversations flowed with fluidity and ease. We had a shared understanding and I think what made us click was our sincere and curious nature to learn more about the individual and his/her culture.
Tony recently invited me to join him on an Aussie roadtrip and I really wish I could go! But, not this time round. 😦
Even though we will not be able to meet up anytime soon, I believe we will be able to meet again one day. My first friend on Couchsurfing and I’m thankful that we still keep in contact despite the distance and differences in culture.
Obviously you can easily spot me and also Tony with his bushy beard. The rest are a little faded and I cannot remember their names by now. I beg your pardon as I am bad at remembering names…
But it’s okay because the highlight of the night is the Robot Restaurant!
Located at the heart of Tokyo’s red-light district, Robot Restaurant promises to serve up a high-energy, futuristic and out-of-this world show.
Truth be told, we were anticipating with excitement and were not really sure what to expect of our night. Just imagine this – a group of space oddities from all over the world who were together but yet very individual apart. Yep, that’s our group ‘fo sure.
We were shown into a waiting area that was decorated with flashy lights and mirrors all over. I think my favourite area was the toilet as it was decked in gold flashy reflective mirrors and it was so insane it got me so excited.
There were a number of people who were watching the show too and most of them were western tourists. It was interesting to be in a room filled with so many Caucasians in an Asian country where I was Asian but also felt like a minority.
And the show begins!
I don’t really know how to put across my experience at the Robot Restaurant but it was really – Space Oddity.
The show kicked off with girls on drums and then moved on to girls singing on robots and suddenly there were robot monsters appearing and girls were fighting against the monsters and there were lights flashing and more robots streaking across the floor and then scantily-clad girls were being introduced and they were dancing and they were making cute high-pitched noises that was annoying after some time and then more robots came out on wheels and the girls were in cabaret outfits dancing with the robots and we were given lightsticks and we were laughing and screaming and I think I said
“Oh my god”
at least 100 times during the entire show.
And that pretty much sums up my experience at the Robot Restaurant.
My favourite part was probably the segment where the girls danced with the robots because I was captivated by this beautiful girl in the above picture on the left and she kept smiling at me. Oh god.
Also, I kept wondering if it was possible that I could apply to be a dancer at the Robot Restaurant because I thought it would be fun to perform such a strange show every night.
But then reality strikes back hard.
Anyway! That wasn’t the most interesting thing that happened that night. Upon leaving the Robot Restaurant, we were approached by a guy who wanted to bring us to a strip show.
Honestly, I was pretty curious but felt that it was too dangerous as I was travelling alone. And in the end, we all decided to head home for a good rest.
We parted ways at Shinjuku station and yep what’s new?
I GOT LOST. AGAIN.
It was almost midnight and I was using googlemaps to map my route to the correct station when to my horror, the portable wifi died. I took out my portable charger and was shocked to realise that it too had ran out of battery.
By then, I was panicking and racing up and down streets trying to find my way. I had stopped to ask for directions twice but no matter where they pointed me to, I just kept going around in circles.
I swear at that moment I was so sure that I would miss my last train and would have to check myself into a comic cafe and wait for the first train out. “What made you think you were capable of travelling on your own?” – were the words swarming round in my head.
At this point in time, I was so close to giving up and finding a resting spot when I saw a group of Japanese saying their goodbyes outside an izakaya. Taking one last gamble, I approached with a hopeful heart.
AND WHAT LUCK.
Hidehiro Kobori, or Hide for short, could speak English and graciously offered to race me towards my station. He did not need to do it but because of his kindness, I was able to catch my train and make it back to my hostel safely.
I will share more on Hide in my subsequent post where Hide and I met up for dinner.
Thank you Hide and thank you Japan for the space oddity night!