Japan 2016: Enjoying the crisp Autumn air of Nakameguro in November

Meguro River, Nakameguro, Tokyo Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

Since we’d already been to all the essential must-visit spots around Tokyo over the last few years (y’know, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa, and all that), we made it our priority this time around to avoid the well-trodden areas and to hit up more obscure parts of the city. Cue Nakameguro, which is pretty famous for its cherry tree-lined river and tranquil streets.

The area around the Meguro River is enchanting in Autumn, when the hidden late morning sun shrouds the quiet walkways in silver light. While Nakameguro certainly is a bit of a ghost town on weekdays, James and I quite enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere, plus it was something we probably needed at the start of our week-long finally-some-time-away-from-work vacation in Japan.

Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

After a quick photowalk around the area to satisfy our wanderlust, we stopped for lunch at a ramen joint. Nogata Hope was a good choice, though I’m not so sure what their restaurant slogan means…? “Hope your good “Ramen” life” indeed. If you’re thinking of visiting the Nakameguro area and need a good meal, I recommend this place. They serve up some pretty good gyoza dumplings too! I don’t recall if they had an English menu (we deciphered the Japanese on our own), but you can probably just point to what you want or ask the staff if you aren’t sure what to order.

Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

Other blog posts about Japan you may like:

Hiking up Mount Takao (高尾山, Takaosan) will literally take your breath away

Dōtonbori (道頓堀) – A Food Lover’s Paradise in Osaka, Japan

Visiting Shirakawa-gō & Staying the Night in a Traditional Gasshō-Zukuri Farmhouse

Temple Hopping in Kamakura (Engaku-ji & Meigetsu-in)

First Impressions of Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture

Hitting up Wimbly Lu Chocolates for a matcha latte + an update about life

Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore

Celebrating the last chill weekend before everything gets all hectic again. In a couple of days, we’ll be heading to Kuching for an overseas wedding, then hopping straaaight into the Christmas fray back in Singapore right after that. The fam’s all coming to join us from Down Under on Christmas Eve and everything’s going to be loud – and James will no doubt want to host an ambitious Christmas dinner or something crazy. Looking forward to it all, but for now, I think I’m happy just having a laid-back Saturday. In other news, I’ve rekindled my fondness for matcha lattes.

Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore

I wrote a blog post about Wimbly Lu Chocolates back in February – have a look if you’re interested in knowing more about the cosy little cafe! ;)

Wimbly Lu Chocolates, Singapore

Hiking up Mount Takao (高尾山, Takaosan) will literally take your breath away

Takaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan Takaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, JapanTakaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan

If you’re in the mega-city of Tokyo for a week and need to get away from the concrete and crowds for a moment, there’s no better place to go than on a nature-filled hike up picturesque Takaosan 高尾山 (“Mount Takao”). Only 50 minutes by train from Shinjuku, it makes for a convenient and memorable day trip for anyone with a penchant for the outdoors. In fact, plenty of Tokyoites make the journey to Takaosan because of its accessibility (yes, believe it or not, the mountain is still actually considered part of metropolitan Tokyo), and because it’s just really, really pretty up there.

Takaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan Takaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan Takaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan

So, what exactly are the highlights of Takaosan? Well, apart from the stunning scenery (made especially glorious in autumn), there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, as well as a super snazzy cable car tram thingy (the steepest one in all of Japan, no less – slanting up to 31 degrees up the hillside) that brings you halfway to the top, to make your journey to the summit that much easier. Also, as a sort of bonus, you can see the glorious Mount Fuji from the top on a clear day (it has to be a very clear day because it’s still pretty far off). That said, James and I did actually manage to catch a glimpse of the hulking natural landmark in the distance, with the setting sun going down behind it. Pretty amazing.

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Oh, and if you’re ever up on Takaosan, make sure you try some of the famous cheese tarts, sold at the Tenguya Shop. They’re not overly sweet – in fact, they’ve got a hint of savouriness that washes down well with a cup of hot coffee or tea. Seriously, don’t leave the mountain without some! We bought a box of 6 and brought it back to the apartment to have for breakfast the next morning. SO WORTH THE CALORIES.

Takaosan Cheese Tarts Takaosan Cheese Tarts

Common Man Coffee Roasters @ Martin Road, Singapore // Hipsters of Robertson Quay

Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore

Overpriced perhaps, but home to a unique enough menu that stands out from the typical Eggs Bennys of today’s saturated cafe scene in Singapore. And really, those steep prices are probably to cover the cost of the cafe being in such an upmarket location. That said, Robertson Quay offers a handful of other decent cafes – Toby’s Estate and The Book Cafe come to mind. But I think Common Man has been on everyone’s radar for a while. Anyway, I chanced upon the cafe during a work thing, and because it looked so gosh darn pretty, I decided to go back to try the coffee and food that very same week with James.

Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore

I like the warmth and the buzzing atmosphere in the cafe, though it can get a little overwhelming at times. The tables aren’t really spaced too far apart, so it can get a little bit impersonal when you’re squished between two packed tables, but other than that, the establishment makes for a good breakfast and brunch spot. Plenty of natural light filters in through the large glass windows, making photography a real breeze. Service is efficient, and their baristas do up a mean brew. I can say with certainty that I enjoyed one of the best flat whites I’ve ever tasted here.

Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore

The Organic Eggs Benedict (S$24) was pretty much rocket leaves galore, with a sneaky bed of braised ox cheek hidden under two poached eggs, all sitting atop some sourdough. I couldn’t quite taste the “chive hollandaise”, which seemed to have been blow-torched, interestingly enough. But the lovely, tender, flavourful ox cheek more than made up for that. The plating is unique and would probably intrigue your Instagram followers, if you’re into posting your #foodporn.

Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore

Slightly less hearty than the Eggs Benny is the simple Croissant Croque Monsieur (S$16), which will probably still be enough to fill the bellies of anyone looking for a savoury breakfast. Served with provolone cheese, ham, and a rather penny-pinching amount of béchamel sauce, it might not be the most competitive item on the menu. They were obviously more heavy-handed with the rocket leaves, but that’s the least interesting thing on the plate. You can always just add a few sides to top up your tummy if you’re still hungry. An extra pork sausage will set you back S$5, and so will half an avocado, or some sautéed spinach. Not the most value-for-money cafe in the universe, but like I said, Common Man’s located in a rather upmarket district, so expect the exorbitant prices! The coffee’s worth every bit of moolah, though.

Common Man Coffee Roasters, Singapore

COMMON MAN COFFEE ROASTERS
22 Martin Road
Singapore 239058
Opening hours: 7:30am – 6pm (Monday to Sunday)
commonmancoffeeroasters.com

The Coffee Daily @ Brighton Crescent, Singapore // Nostalgic neighbourhood fix

The Coffee Daily, Singapore The Coffee Daily, Singapore The Coffee Daily, Singapore

Just over a decade ago, I lived in a house just a stone’s throw away from Brighton Crescent. The Coffee Daily wasn’t around then (they launched in 2012, I believe). Today, the row of shophouses there have evolved somewhat. While the area is still a quiet and sleepy one, despite its close proximity to Serangoon Gardens, there’s definitely a reason to make a trip down, if only to see what the cafes here have to offer. Continue reading “The Coffee Daily @ Brighton Crescent, Singapore // Nostalgic neighbourhood fix”

Atlas Coffeehouse @ Duke’s Road, Singapore // It’s not just the coffee that’s good

Atlas Coffeehouse, Singapore Atlas Coffeehouse, Singapore Atlas Coffeehouse, Singapore

ATLAS COFFEEHOUSE draws large crowds on weekends, and because it is located very close to the sprawling Botanic Gardens, expect plenty of people decked out in activewear on their post-morning run high. There is often a slew of bicycles parked out the front belonging to expats who live in the Bukit Timah area. As a breakfast spot that opens at 8am, Atlas caters to the early birds. Most other cafes of similar calibre throw open their doors at around 10. By noon on a Saturday or Sunday, you might have to wait in line for a table – this is one foodie spot with a strong following. Continue reading “Atlas Coffeehouse @ Duke’s Road, Singapore // It’s not just the coffee that’s good”

Brawn & Brains @ Guillemard Road, Singapore // Surprisingly busy brunch spot

Brawn and Brains, Singapore Brawn and Brains, Singapore Brawn and Brains, Singapore

Brawn & Brains – an interesting name for a cafe. Located along Guillemard Road (a few blocks from my workplace), I’d always wanted to have brunch here, and for the longest time it remained on my ever-growing list of foodie haunts to visit. It’s a bit of a walk from Mountbatten MRT, maybe 10 minutes or so. By the time we got there, it was brimming with brunch-goers. Seems like plenty of expats frequent this place, not sure if that’s because of its location or if this cafe is just really, really popular with the expat community. Continue reading “Brawn & Brains @ Guillemard Road, Singapore // Surprisingly busy brunch spot”