Rokkatei (六花亭), Obihiro, Hokkaido, Japan

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Category: Japanese – Desserts

Rokkatei 2F, S9 W2 Obihiro-shi MAP. Tel, 0120-012-66

Rokkatei (六花亭) is well known for its desserts, especially its butter cream sandwich (マルセイバターサンド). They have a few branches around Hokkaido, including in Sapporo and Otaru. Rokkatei‘s branch in Obihiro was a little difficult to find – the entrance was through a little zen Japanese-style garden with slate-like stepping stones amongst the otherwise pebbled garden, a wooden bench and wispy trees. It was wedged deep between two low-rise buildings. We happened to be early so it was still awfully quiet, and we almost thought we’d mistakenly walked into someone’s house if not for the only thing that gave it away – a Japanese garden lamp along the pavement, bearing the words “六花亭”.

Damage: $

Compared to Singapore, the quality of the confectionery was higher and more affordable as well, which I thought surprising. I must say the Japanese are extremely devoted to their crafts, and desserts-making is no exception. While they tend to come in bite-sized packages (i.e. quite small), I’m pretty sure the same item would have costed about 2 – 3X more back home. On average, the snacks averaged around $1.50/pc and around $4/slice for the cakes, and especially when compared to cakes which cost $6 and up per slice back in Singapore, I thought I’d struck the lottery.

Biscuits, wafers, snacks galore Cutest cakesTo go: Yes! When in Japan! 😀

They have an amazing selection of desserts from mochi, to chocolates, to cakes. I personally recommend for you to try the butter biscuit (why, of course), and have a slice of cake or two while you’re there. Even if you can’t read Japanese and would like to delight your eyes with Rokkatei’s wide selection, you can view their catalogue here.


A MORE DETAILED RECOUNT

Rokkatei was the first of several renowned dessert shops which I made a point to visit while in Hokkaido, and while I came to realize that the standards are high across all of them and the packaging is always phenomenal, more often than not, each of the dessert houses hold their own.

We tried two slices of cakes (feature picture) when we were there – one being a coffee cake with chestnut cream, and the other was a matcha cake with azuki beans. The cream on both cakes was extremely light and flavorful, and for someone who doesn’t really like chestnuts (except when toasted in a wok like on the streets in Seoul), I found the coffee-chestnut cake to be a great choice for the morning. I am a hardcore matcha lover, so my eyes lit up once I saw that on display and I just had to try it. It didn’t blow me away (which is the problem with matcha cakes because they are everywhere and mostly made in a similar way), but it was good. The azuki beans were interspersed in the layers of cream, and in a dollop on the top.

Definitely, the butter cream sandwich would be the pick for Rokkatei – White chocolate, raisins and hokkaido butter (nope, it’s no ordinary butter) sandwiched between two biscuits. It is creamy and melts in your mouth, with the sweetness of the raisins coming through every now and then.

Rokkatei Butter Cream Sandwich, Hokkaido

The Lime Tree Cafe, Dubai, UAE

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Category: Arabic/Western – Breakfast/Brunch

Jumeirah 1, Jumeirah Road, Dubai 

We had our best brunch in Dubai at The Lime Tree Cafe which I’d read about ahead of the trip. We got a little lost trying to find this place and the taxi driver had no idea where it was. Turns out it was along a row of little single-story buildings which can be spotted if you looked hard enough past the open carpark.

The entrance to Lime Tree Cafe was enshrouded in lush green leaves, and stepping in, I felt like I’d chanced upon Eden. Wood featured heavily in the decor which gives it a homey feel (which I personally have a soft spot for), further augmented by the many families who bring along their dogs to brunch in the little garden. The cafe seemed to be especially popular with expats.

Damage: $

I wouldn’t say it was cheap, but it is around the same cost as a typical brunch at one of the independent cafes in Singapore, which is about 25 bucks – still, I’d say there was more bang for the buck at Lime Tree.

To go: Whenever we go to Dubai 😀

I really liked the middle eastern influences in the menu, and when I walked to the counter, I was delighted to find an entire shelf of all kinds of wraps, sandwiches and the like, which featured lots of colour and greens.

I had the Halloumi cheese and pomodoro toastie (feature picture), accompanied by a middle eastern banana and fig smoothie which was so delicious, I made sure I got out every single drop. My friend ordered an Eggs Benedict which looked pretty good (and I’m told tastes pretty good) as well. The food was delicious – we got greedy and added a triple berry parfait to split between the three of us. The cafe also featured lots of juices and smoothies for the health-buffs/conscious.

Yum – I’m definitely going back if I’m in the area.
Eggs Benedict and Berry Parfait with Granola

Mashrabiya Lounge, Fairmont the Palm, Dubai, UAE

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Category: Arabic/Western – Afternoon Tea

Mashrabiya Lounge, Fairmont the Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

The Afternoon Tea at Mashrabiya Lounge was nothing short of amazing – they offered both a Western style Afternoon tea as well as a more traditional Arabic Inspired High tea for the more adventurous, which was really unique. The Fairmont hostesses were exceptional in making us feel relaxed, making sure everything was just right for a perfect Saturday afternoon.

Damage: $$

For the extensive range of cakes, tarts, scones and tea offered, and not to mention the wonderful staff and amazing view of the gulf, I would say it was well worth 135AED.

To go: Whenever we go to Dubai 😀

We sat Al fresco and the view of the gulf from the Mashrabiya Lounge was just fab. We went at a time of the year when it was relatively comfortable in the shade (none of that 40 degrees in other months like August), so we enjoyed the sun and breeze whilst sipping our tea. Our hostesses Lea and Eunny took such great care of us – their warmness really made the experience even more special. At the end of tea, we all became friends, offering to show each other around should they ever visit our hometown of Singapore, and them, us, around Kenya.

Arabic High Tea

Arabic High Tea

A lot of tea for us three!

Travel Diary: Shiekh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE (Gallery)

After a long afternoon’s journey, there it stood. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: A white magnificence rising out of the ground in the glowing trail of the setting sun. We got lost a few times trying to find our way from Dubai, but when we saw its minarets standing tall against the blue sky, our long walk was made well worth it.

The curves of the domes, intricacy of the workmanship, the grain of the marble and mother of pearl carefully inlaid into the columns, and the endless carpet in the main prayer hall – Truly, a sight to behold and a must-see even for the ones wary of all things touristy.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Travel Diary: Dubai, UAE

I made a short trip to Dubai, March 2014, with two of my closest friends. It was the first of a few things: my first visit to Dubai, my first trip into the UAE, and the first time the three of us were going travelling together.

Dubai is known for many things; from opulence (think Burj Khalifa and the massive Dubai Mall), to the beauty of the Palm Islands. Being in Dubai, you could feel the city’s pulse – skyscrapers towering on either side, a bustling CBD, and on the other hand, there is a rich culture, amazing architecture, people who have come from all over the world to both work and play, as well as delicious local cuisine.

We made a visit to the Souks which are located near the mouth of the Dubai Creek. These marketplaces are just seated right next to each other, so it’s easy to walk from one to another without actually knowing exactly where one ends and the other begins. We found ourselves walking past shopfronts laden with gold jewellery (including a gigantic gold ring possibly 20cm across, which was apparently featured in the Guinness Book of World Records), looking at handcrafted sandals in a little lane slightly off the main street the next, and then strolling along an entire street of spice shops selling sacks of spices of every variety, finding ourselves being draped over with scarves by shopkeepers trying to sell their wares every few steps or so. I stopped by a spice shop a while, and the shopkeeper was friendly enough to entertain my questions about the wide variety of spices, including Myrrh which is common to the Arabic region but a rarer sight everywhere else.

Dubai's Spice Souk

The Dubai Creek is lined with little boats that sail across for just 1 Dirham, and it was such an authentic experience riding amongst the locals, I’ll be sure to do it again when I next get the chance. The boatmen would wave people on as they readied to sail across, and everyone would just head down from the docks, hand them a Dirham when boarding and find a comfortable spot before the boat filled up. We took a quick polaroid and my friend penned in a note to capture the moment.

One dirham boat ride across Dubai Creek

We also spent half a day out in the dunes – pretty touristy stuff, but we enjoyed ourselves plenty. Dune bashing was awesome fun, and we were squealing in the backseat as the driver took us up the dunes and crashing down on the other side again and again, making sharp bends as we went over the top of the golden waves which stretched out as far as the eye could see. We spent the evening dining under the stars in the dessert, watching traditional performances and checking out the different activities from henna to traditional apparel.

Dubai Dune Bashing

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