Saturday, November 22, 2014

Did we discover a cat cafe?

We saw this sign in Shinjuku. We should investigate this. I think it's a cafe where you pay to play with cats. My friend told me she went to a place like this when she was in Japan, and my mom saw one featured on a Sunday morning talk show. Themed restaurants are popular in Tokyo. My only concern is how the cats are cared for after business hours. They help the business make a profit, so they are being commodified. Making animals into commodities typically runs against vegan values, but I'd love to play with kitties since we are pet-free in our apartment.
I think this is a business where you can pet cats... #meow

Vegan Yogurt in Japan

The dude is a big yogurt eater. Finding dairy yogurt is so easy. However, for me, finding vegan yogurt has been tricky. After some Google-ing, I found a blog post stating Lima Macrobiotic cafe/grocery carries soy yogurt. I went to Shinjuku on a quest! The cashier told me that the plain yogurt in the square container is vegan, but the flavored ones in round containers have gelatin. They also had vegan ice cream (the rice milk ice cream we've tried before) and sorbet!
The cashier at Lima Macrobiotic grocery said this yogurt is vegan. It's plain and not sweet at all.This brand of soy yogurt contains gelatin. Be warned!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tim Burton Exhibit

I went to the Tim Burton exhibit at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills. The dude was at work, so I went during the day by myself. I saw another Tim Burton exhibit in LA several years ago. I like the way he mixes darker themes with his signature quirky style. It was so crowded! I thought I'd avoid a crowd by going mid-afternoon on a weekday, but nope! You can't take any photos inside the exhibit, but I saw a couple dressed in steampunk style. (Steampunk is the concept of today's technology being run on steam power, so the clothing is inspired by the early 18th century.) I'm pretty sure one of the people was a woman with a fake mustache. #onlyinjapan
Oh yes, I'm in the right place! Went to see the Tim Burton exhibit at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tsukiji Market - Ginza, Tokyo, Japan

We recently had dinner with an acquaintance from Houston. Her friends told us that we could find dried beans at the Tsukiji Market in Ginza. That was why we went to Ginza. There were a couple booths marked on the market map as selling dried beans, grains, etc. We found one of those booths was open for business. We bought white beans, red kidney beans, and chickpeas. A can of beans is almost $3 here, so buying these dried beans should save us half. I tried to cook the white beans in my Crockpot, but it doesn't heat up here. The electrical currents are different here, but I will use the stovetop method to cook the beans. The market mostly sells fish, but there is a wholesale fruit/veg area during the week. The wholesale areas are closed on Sundays, so we missed out on the wholesale fruit/veg area.
After detouring to see the Buddhist temple, we went to the Tsujiki market. We went to the Tsukiji market for dried beans. ~10 cups of dried beans for $25. Fingers crossed that my Crockpot works in Japan! This spice booth was across from the dried bean booth. It smelled incredible standing in front of all the spices.

Starbucks Friend Date

The dude has friends from work, so he recently introduced me to them. One of them is married, and his wife is also not currently working. We met up for Starbucks. The Starbucks by the Otemasando shopping area has a rooftop terrace. We walked around the area, including down a street with independent shops. Then, we went to the Ginza area on the train. She showed me the Target equivalent and helped me find a toaster at an electronics store. She bought a heated blanket for her house, so she needed to go to the electronics store too. It worked out quite well! Hopefully we can hang out once a week or so. It would be nice to have a friend! :)
Rooftop terrace at the Starbucks.Starbucks gave me this little card to say I wanted soymilk. How cute!$15 toaster oven!! Score! Electronics in Japan are usually very expensive, so I was elated to find a cheap toaster oven. The bread here is awesome!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sights from Our Walks

It's fall here - cool, crisp air and leaves are changing colors. We have bundled up and continued our weekend walks around town. We saw a couple small shrines recently. That is an interesting thing about Japan - shrines are intertwined with modern buildings.
Cool, crisp air and colorful leaves indicate that fall is here!Walking from Bon to the station, we saw this little temple next to an apartment building.Another little shrine along our walk.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Buddhist Temple in Ginza

We spend our weekends exploring. Last weekend, we went to Ginza. We saw some tents set up in the distance, so we walked over to check it out. A food truck festival was taking place outside a Buddhist temple. We went inside the temple, as it was open and a greeter told us that we could take photos. The level of detail in the edging was incredible. It was gorgeous in there. I'm glad we took this little detour.
Discovered a Buddhist temple in Ginza. The interior was gorgeous!! Buddhist temple in Ginza. Buddhist temple in Ginza. Buddhist temple in Ginza. Buddhist temple in Ginza. Buddhist temple in Ginza.

10 Course Vegan Dinner at Bon

Yes, we had a 10 course vegan dinner at Bon. We walked from Ueno Park to Bon. The restaurant requires reservations. You get your own little room! I forgot to take a photograph of the 2nd course. Boo.

1st course - salty tea and sugar cube

Bon's 1st course - sugar cube and salty tea.

2nd course - gluten shaped like a scallop, fried rice, potatoes, a peanut-like lake plant, and gingko leaf

3rd course - buckwheat and mushroom soup with smoked tofu (my favorite item!)

Bon's 3rd course: soup made of buckwheat, mushrooms, and smokes tofu.

4th course - buckwheat, mushroom and mountain potato, turnip sushi over rice, agared soybean milk with winter vegetables, baked tofu, brown curry in Chinese style, baked tofu, mountain plants with miso, lotus root and fried millet, ginger shoot, maple leaves (inedible), and cognac potato starch squares

Bon's 4th course: buckwheat in the small pot, mushroom and mountain potato, turnip sushi over rice, agared soybean milk and winter vegetables, baked tofu, brown curry in Chinese style, mountain plants with miso, lotus root and fried millet, ginger shoot,

5th course - soup with gravy-like broth

Bon's 5th course: soup "umpe" with veggies and a gravy-like broth. They also brought us brown tea with this course.

6th course - rice and tofu fried ball, maitaki mushrooms, and gravy

Bon's 6th course: rice and tofu fried ball, turnip sauce, mutaki mushrooms

7th course - yam, gluten, and miso baked on leaf, topped with a fried soba noodle

Bon's 7th course: yam, gluten, miso, and fried soba noodle. The presentation is a leaf raft floating down a golden river.

8th course - tempura! yam, tofu, lotus root, leaf, and a noodle fan

Bon's 8th course: tempura! The noodle fan was so cool! There were fried pieces of tofu, potato, and lotus root.

9th course - soup, rice topped with green tea, and pickled veggies

Bon's 9th course: miso soup, rice with green tea, and pickled veggies.

10th course - fresh fruit, agared soymilk

Bon's 10th course: fresh fruit and agared soybean jelly.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Outside the Modern Art Museum

We did not go inside the modern art museum, but there are several sculptures outside.
Outside the modern art museum in Ueno.Outside the modern art museum in Ueno.Outside the modern art museum in Ueno.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Veggie Burgers in Tokyo

We are veggie burger addicts. The dude loves to make a bean and sweet potato recipe at home. We've been sampling some veggie burgers around town. We tried the burger at Hannada Rosso. The texture was great, but we wanted more fries. They also serve vegan desserts, so we got the daily special of peach sorbet. The sorbet was very icy. The Cori truck had a veggie burger as its special last week too. The soy nuggets kept slipping out of the bun, but the fries were well salted with big crystals of salt. I'm a sucker for salt crystals, so that made up for the super messy burger.
Walked to Hannada Rosso for lunch. We wanted twice as many fries, but the vegan burger was good. Peach sorbet at Hannada Rosso. Veggie burger at the Cori vegan food truck. The fries had giant salt crystals. Nom.

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National MuseumTokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tokyo National Museum

We went to the Tokyo National Museum. The property has 5 buildings - 4 museums and a research building. We went through the main building and the building attached to it. The main building housed Japanese art throughout the various eras (check it out here), but the attached building housed a special exhibit (check it out here). We paid extra to see the special exhibit of National Treasures of Japan. We did not walk through the museum housing art from all of Asia or the other building on the property. The regular tickets are only $5, so we will go back another day for the galleries we missed.
Tokyo National Museum! You can see the outside from Ueno Park. There are lots of museums in that area.Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum

Friday, November 14, 2014

VEGAN PANCAKES at Ain Soph - Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

A friend recently tagged me on a blogger's post on facebook. The blogger is on vacation in Asia. When she was in Japan, she posted a photo of vegan pancakes. Based on her other photos, she was in the Roppongi and Shinjuku areas. We're in Shibuya, which is fairly close to those areas. With some internet sleuthing, we discovered the vegan pancakes are at a restaurant called Ain Soph in Shinjuku. We went there for dinner one night. The pancakes are on the dessert menu, rightly so because they are very rich. We took a little bag of donuts to go.
The pancakes at Ain Soph are on the dessert menu. Nom. Ain Soph makes vegan donuts too! We need to try the vegan cheesecakes at Ain Soph next time.

Ueno Park

We walked around Ueno Park for an hour or so, because we arrived in Ueno much earlier than our dinner reservation. The park has multiple museums, a zoo, some restaurants, and a courtyard with a fountain. You can see the Tokyo National Museum behind the fountain.
Ueno ParkDon't feed the pigeons and cats in Ueno Park.Statue in Ueno Park.Fountains at Ueno Park.