Mori no Atorie 森のアトリエ, Kumamoto Japan

My mom found this place on Booking.com when we were planning our trip to Aso in Japan, after driving around Beppu, It took us about another 2 hour drive over beautiful landscapes to reach this very romantic and beautiful destination. I don’t think that there is any place quite like it. The hotel owner is a very big fan of stars and his french themed cottage even has a planetarium and an observatory. We were lucky that we were able to see so many stars that night even with the cloudy day.

We spent New Years eve here and we even had a countdown with all the guests of the hotel. This would be the perfect place for couples because the place is so romantic. Also for families who are looking for a quiet getaway out of the city. Its not very accessible unless you have a car. Everyone who comes here brought their own car, we just rented one out.

If you search it on trip advisor, you’ll hear nothing but “Charming” and “Rustic” about the place. They really made our stay there memorable. They even gave us a souvenir and they had photographers taking pictures of us which they posted up on their Facebook page. I really had an amazing time there despite the really cold weather. Next time you travel to Aso or Kumamoto this should be on your list, they also have an onsen that you could use and schedule. Its really on a very nice location and we had amazing memories here in Mori no Atorie.

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Picture credits to: Mori no Atorie Facebook page. Exactly 12 midnight after the countdown.

Around Tokyo: 鬼子母神 手作り (Kishibojin handmade market)

Every second sunday of the month is a craft market in the Kishibojin shrine in Zoshigaya. ( sometimes the day also varies but normally it happens during the second sunday of the month ) There are plenty of people who visit and even from 9am there are tons of people lining up to get into the craft market or to line up for the famous delicious bread that they sell here. The market starts at 9am and ends at 4pm and you can see tons of handmade crafts by locals around the area and you can also enjoy Japanese food while going around to look at the many things being sold.

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Small trinkets like gems and earrings

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Chimes and a famous omanju store behind with a very long line as well

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Handmade stamps! and you can even request them to make her to make stamps for you too!

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Glass made necklaces, brooches and rings

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Ceramics and more people

If you are into crafts heres a place that you would love, although it is a bit pricey. Nothing will be sold below ¥1000 except their postcards and the sort, but everything else will be very pricey even up to ¥20000.

How to get there: The easiest way is to ride the Tokyo Toden, or the streetcar in Tokyo and the only one left in service in Tokyo. Go down Kishibojinmae station and you will see a street full of big trees to the right as soon as you get down. Walk straight ahead as soon as you see this big white and black sign and you will not miss the big temple to the left.

There are so many interesting coffee shops around the area and a famous Melon Pan place, which I love. Since it is more “downtown” of Tokyo, not really but very quiet and one of the oldest towns around Tokyo. There are tons of places that you could visit such as one of the oldest sento (bath house) in Tokyo and the Zoshigaya Bochi (graveyard) where the famous graves of Lafcadio Hearn and Natsume Soseki are.

サンマルクカフェ (St. Marc Cafe) , SM megamall

The famous patisserie from Japan has finally opened here in the Philippines. I’ve been wanting to try this all week, but haven’t had the time to do so. The store serves a variety of parfaits, sandwiches, coffee, teas but it is best known for thier Chocolate croissants, hence the term チョコクロ ( ChocoCro ). Very rich in taste with its gooey chocolate inside. I bought a dozen ChocoCro for Php 499 since it was cheaper and it comes in a nice bag, One costs Php 55.

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Parfaits, Ice creams and sandwiches.

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Strawberry Daifuku and ChocoCro ❤ The strawberry Daifuku was AMAZING. A taste of Japan wrapped in the beautiful layers of the croissant.

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Other pastries, curry bread, bacon cheese croissant, butter danish and french toast.

According to my good friend Mari ( The Chunky Munchies, check out their blog about the place ) in Japan they would have different flavors every season. One summer they had the green tea, adzuki and mochi stuffed croissant. Here they have the イチゴ大福 (Ichigo Daifuku or Strawberry daifuku, sweet and bitter style croissant) I loved that it had an actual strawberry daifuku inside. My mom loved it! I also saw a lot of Japanese people here in the store getting take out for the ChocoCro. They must love it, just as my moms friend Megumi told me.

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Choco berry Celebration, Php 250

I was also able to try their Choco berry celebration parfait. I loved that it was not too sweet. The chocolate was bitter and the ice cream also carried a good amount of sweetness to it. It also came with pudding and dried strawberries on top.

I think that they do lack a bit of marketing for their store here as not much people know about this place yet, except for maybe some foreigners and Japanese people. It’s across Tim Ho Wan in SM Megamall. I would probably be passing by SM more often now that St. Marcs is here. Just to takeout, a dozen of their delicious ChocoCro.

St. Marc Cafe Megamall
GF Mega Fashion Hall
SM Megamall, EDSA, Mandaluyong City
Facebook: Saint Marc Cafe Philippines
Instagram: @ChocoCroPH

瞬 Toki, Bonifacio Global City

瞬 Toki, Has been awarded by Philippine Tatler as one of the best restaurants for 5 consecutive years. They opened in 2008, and are known for their authentic Japanese cuisine. We read about them in a Japanese food guide to Manila dining and decided to eat here for my brothers birthday.  The kanji 瞬 (syun) or what they call Toki, meaning “this moment” or “this instant” is what they named the restaurant because according to the manager. As the guests walk in they want the guests to remember the place Toki as this moment or this instant. My mom told me that in Japan they have this Japanese philosophy 一期一会 (ichigo ichie) meaning a once in a lifetime encounter, hence should be cherished as such. It’s a philosophy that says that you value every moment that you meet someone new or are brought to something new.

The food here I could compare to Tsukiji makati. The prices were also as expensive but the food really impressed me and it impressed my mom, and anything that my mom loves. Especially if it is Japanese food to me is good. I value her opinion a lot as a Japanese.

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House Sake, Php 250 for 180 ml , My dad ordered the house sake and so did my brother since it was his birthday.

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California Maki, the typical filipino favorite. My sister loves this.

My father wanted to try this Kaiseki chefs special course, but it was only available upon advanced reservation. Meaning you’d have to call a day before to order this, because they told us that they chef would like to have the food cooked fresh. So instead my mom and my dad both ordered different set meals. You could get a set meal such as they did here, since they serve them in courses. So you first get tons of different appetizers and end with the best dish. My brother got the Sukiyaki. This restaurant is actually really known for their Sukiyaki and their Wagyu beef to be one of the best in Manila. Really melts in your mouth and is incredibly soft.

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Appetizer of the Kaiseki course meal.

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Sukiyaki with egg, the beef was really soft and I loved that it was not salty like sukiyaki served in local Filipino restaurants. This sukiyaki was really good, the tofu was cooked beautifully and I loved the small mushrooms or Shimeji (シメジ) in it.

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This was the end to my dads set course meal. The wagyu beef with vegetables and the fried rice that came with it. Amazing the beef of this dish was the star and the vegetables were a great compliment to it. I really loved the cook on the vegetables.

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Udon, this was the last dish on my moms set course. She told me that the udon was surely made there. As it was a bit hard and squishy in texture. She told me that if you purchase udon at local stores they would easily crumble as you’d eat them and that really good udon is like the udon here. Where it is a bit hard and chewy. This was delicious.

I would come back here again and again if not for the price. Maybe for special occasions this would be a perfect place to come to with your family, business meetings and probably for small dates. They even have separate rooms for big gatherings and small ones. The location though of the place is quite inaccessible and they have free basement parking on first come first serve basis. Which can only be accessed from behind the building. We were just lucky that there was still space for parking.

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Finally the dessert of the meal. Pudding, green tea ice cream, fruits and angko at the bottom of the pudding. The dessert was not so sweet just as the Japanese would like it.

I would come back here again and again for their Wagyu beef. It is really something special. We also made a reservation before coming here. It seemed like we didn’t need to as the place is very big, but just in case I would make a reservation before coming here again.

Budget: We spent about Php 8000 for all 5 of us and we shared most of the meals. It really depends on what you would order but just in case be prepared to spend about Php 2000 per head.

Toki Japanese Fusion and Fine Dining
2nd floor 32nd and 5th Building corner
32nd St. and 5th Avenue Bonifacio Global City,
Taguig, Philippines
telephone: +63 2 856 7295
Facebook

Stacy’s, Capitol Greenstreet Commercial Center

Very cute and homey feel. Stacy’s looks like it just came out of a place from a storybook. I enjoyed our visit here, and the staff were very friendly too. I would love to come back here when I am no longer “fasting” and eating like a normal person. For the next few months however I will have to be basing my food critiques on my friends palettes.

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Free Popcorn, Pretzels and Marshmallows

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Mr. Miyagis Beef Bowl ( Php 235 )

I love that they have an all day breakfast menu. I’m a sucker for breakfast foods. My friend ordered the Mr. Miyagi’s beef bowl. I couldn’t help but notice that there were a lot of Japanese inspired food on the menu but it was kind of a 1/3 Filipino, Japanese and an American menu. No common theme on the food except that everything was just very sunshiny or cutesy. They give free popcorn and pretzels before you eat the food which I bet kids would like. They even have a playground for your kids, so for parents it would be a wonderful place to bring your small children to not bother you so much as you have your meals.

The food was not bad and the serving was big so it was okay for the price that my friend had paid for her food. Like I said, I would have to try this place out for myself. After I finish my fast. However for everyone out there who likes eating out, this is a nice place to come to try out. A nice place to spend with your friends and family.

Budget per person: 300-500 Php

Stacy’s Capitol Hills

Capitol Greenstreet Commercial Center, 1 Capitol Hills Drive Matandang Balara, Quezon City (0927) 326-2244

Tsukiji Restaurant, Makati

Tsukiji Restaurant is a Japanese restaurant located beside Greenbelt along Arnaiz Avenue where most of the good Japanese restaurants I know are located. I have eaten here once before with my family, this time we came here to eat as a whole family for Mothers day. So we were about 24 people. My mom being a Japanese loves good Japanese food and she is very hard to please, but the Japanese food here is one she really loves. They get their ingredients here fresh from Japan which is what my mom loves about this place. Plus their chef is Japanese and a friend of hers.

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Ume Ochazuke – Pickled plum (Php 450)

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Ikura Don – Salmon Roe (Php 990)

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Taco vinegared dishes with Wakame seaweed (Php 550)

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Kaiso Salad (Php 680)

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Sushi plate set

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Tuna

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Takenoko sweet bamboo shoot (php 220)

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Wagyu Sashimi (php 1200)

We tried this place last year as well and my mom and I agree that though the food here is pricey as compared to the food we eat in Japan. It is the closest you can get to good Japanese food here in the Philippines. It is very hard to find good Japanese restaurants here in Manila. If you’re looking for a place, this is it. However be prepared to spend. A LOT.

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Address:900 A Arnaiz Avenue Corner Paseo De Roxas Street San Lorenzo Village, Makati, Makati 1200
Phone:(02) 812 2913

RECOMMENDATIONS: Sushi and Sashimi, Wagyu Sashimi (This is amazing and very soft)

BUDGET: We spent about 40,000 Pesos all in all for 24 people, and we even shared for some of the meals. I suggest that you allot about 1500-2000 per person. Just in case you would like to order and share different dishes.

Side trips from Tokyo: Hakone Park (富士箱根伊豆国立公園)

Early this year we went to 富士箱根伊豆国立公園 (Fuji Hakone Izu Kokuritsu Koen) Fuji Hakone Izu National park. It is absolutely beautiful here and If you are looking for a very short but good side trip from Tokyo, Hakone is the place to go to!

58995_10202794795021877_71131521_n.jpgWe left at 9am and we took the Romance car from Shibuya which cost us about 22000 Yen together with the Hakone Free Pass. I would suggest that you buy the free pass at Shibuya as I heard that it is cheaper to buy it here. It is only a 2 hour train ride away from Tokyo and on the way to Hakone we saw Mt. Fuji from the train. Hakone is very cold. So if you are weak to the cold I suggest that you bring your gloves and mufflers for extra protection.

1525021_10202794798141955_1577550600_n When we got there we followed the route going around Hakone. We took the trail going to the Jinja shrine, The Kaizokuban River cruise and then we took the ropeway up the mountain where the famous Onsen Tamago is made in Owakudani. Take long stops on top of the mountain because there are many things to do such as eat the Onsen Tamago and you could see Mt. Fuji too from the mountain. Although we only stayed for a day, we hope to come back again so that we could tour some more. Since we lacked so much time in going around Hakone.

On the way down the mountain we were already rushing since our train was at 545pm. If you are to go to Hakone I noticed what people do here is stay at a hotel 1555387_10202794797021927_110126407_nnear the mountain so that they stop there and then on the next day they go back down the mountain and tour the sites on the way down. A day is enough to go around Hakone, however if we did have 2 days I would think that we would have seen more things. We were really in a rush and most of the time i was looking at my watch for the time, Its a good thing that everything in Japan is on time so we had no problem even if we were running late. But if you would like to enjoy the whole of Hakone then I would suggest that you stay here overnight to better appreciate this beautiful small town.