Saturday, January 10, 2009

Little Indulgence in the Basement 1 of Japanese Shopping Malls .......... dessert is big in Japan

Hidden beneath the glitz of the latest designed stillettos, apparels, shimmering jewelleries, in the basement 1 of the Isetans, Takashimayas and Daimarus (Major Japanese departmental stores) were where I found treasures. Food of course! 

When you step on the escalator from the ground floor to basement 1, away from the glitz, you'll start hearing cries in appeal for your attention to the food that's in there. Only thing, it's all in Japanese. As you pass by the food counter, be it the sales girl at the pudding store or the Yamada farm milk man, you'll be greeted with an "Arigato" (in this context it means thanks for your interest) even if it means looking, checking and not buying. Even if the food behind the glass counter taste less than desired, they'll always look good and delicious. 

The only universal rule that has the highest probability to obtain truely good food is "Join the queue!". Right in the basement, spot the queue and it'll lead you to the indulgences that tantilise your taste buds. I can assure you that this simple rule has a 99% hit rate. 

This is one long queue for fresh custard cream puffs (chou la creme) from Giotto and is just one example of a popular food counter at the basement. 

Pudding d'or (Basement 1 of Isetan Shinjuku, Tokyo) gets you the best pudding from all over Japan. The only problem is whether you'll get the full selections at the time you reach the store.

Cream puffs (chou la creme) from Gramercy (basement 1 of Takashimaya, Kyoto near Gion). There's the pistachio nuts sprinkled over the puffs and the strong milky cream that oozes out witha bite. The other brand for good cream puff is Giotto (basement 1 of Daimaru in Kyoto Gion area and basement 1 of Mitsukoshi in Tokyo Ginza area). This one is likely to be snapped up if you find yourself at the end of the queue.

This bottle of fresh Yamada Milk at 110 yen a bottle is worth every milk drinkers fantasies. Its all rich, creamy and smooth.  This is one of the tastiest milk apart from the hot Hokkaido milk I had 3 years ago. I have to apologise that it sounded like a big deal. But, yes, it's a big deal to a Singaporean who's deprived of fresh produces that the rest of the world are blessed with. I bet I've forgotten to lick off my milked moustached after finishing this bottle of milk. 

Mochi filled with azuki and green tea paste. HY (my wife) and I received an overseas message from a close friend reminding us that it's, 东至, the coming of the winter. Us Chinese celebrate the coming of winter as a tradition. Ironically, there's no winter in Singapore. All we have is monsoon, plenty of sunshine and rain. We'll have this little rice flour ball dish where we dunk the flour balls into syrup and boil. Well the closest thing we have here in Japan is mochi and its HY's favourite.  The mochi we had comes from a more authentic traditional Kyoto dessert brand Kogetsu 鼓月.

Japan is mochi country. There's so many variety to choose from. The more creative mochi varietal, like the ones shown below is from a stall called Mochi Cream (basement 1 of Mitsukoshi, Shinjuku). The mochi has cuppucinno, caramel, strawberry, raspberry cream filling (and many other flavours). As this type of mochi is frozen, you'll have to defrost them for at least 30 minutes before consumption.

Strawberries are in season and so these yummy looking  Strawberry Shortcakes must be good!

It's a regret that I've a limited "fuel tank" else I would have tried more stuff and share with all my friends out there. Well if you happen to be in Japan, especially if its a lonely business trip with ample evening hours to burn, go to the basement 1 of the Japanese shopping malls to be surprised and indulged.

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