Tea at the Mandarin Oriental

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Last Saturday I went for fancy afternoon tea at the Oriental Lounge in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in central Tokyo (link here). A lolita friend was visiting from overseas and wanted to go have tea there which was perfect since it had been on my list of places to try.

The lounge website had a PDF menu of the tea snacks, but they didn’t match what we got so we were slightly disappointed there. The menu has changed again – now it’s very cherry and sakura (cherry blossom) heavy. I wonder if it’s accurate now? Another odd thing was the price – online it said ¥‎4200 but the actual price was ¥4500, plus a service charge which made it ¥‎5085 :s

Another thing that was slightly disappointing was that I had always seen images of the afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental being served in a cool Asianesque display like this (pic not mine):

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This is a pic of the same lounge we went to, but I guess they got broken too often or took up too much space? I’m not sure but our tea was served on normal tea trays.

Anyway, let me not get ahead of myself. We arrived at the lounge and were seated. We were all wearing very gothy outfits that day so we were an interesting sight in a fancy hotel like that! The Oriental Lounge is on the 38th floor, so there were really great views out the windows. When I made the reservation I asked for window seats but they had already been taken, too bad! So we sat at a couch-table (two couches with a table in the middle). While that is supposed to be luxurious, it just kind of hurts my back after a while because I have to sit up to eat anyway!

When we arrived, they took our coats and gave us the tea menu. They had a nice selection of teas. I was a little warm in all the velvet I was wearing so I started with the iced muscat tea. It was really refreshing with a nice mellow white grape flavor.

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More tea! The nice thing was that the teas were given by the cup and you could change them after each one. They also had some coffee drinks as well. A lot of places give you a whole pot so you’re kind of stuck drinking it all until you finish and then can ask for a new tea. I think we might’ve asked for too many teas because the staff seemed a little annoyed by the end! They also didn’t have bowls of sugar, just rock candy swizzle sticks which are cute but aren’t that practical and tend to melt and plop into your teacup at random.

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So the theme of the Mandarin Oriental is obviously ~Asia~, but I found the decor to be kind of silly. Here are some highlights. Hairy lamp:

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Ornamental ceiling thing

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And some sakura

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After a bit, the food came! This was a two person portion.

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In more detail, I’ll go over the savory section. Clockwise from the right are: lobster pieces on a cookie-like thing with saffron(?) gel on top, onion-anchovy-olive topping on bread, roasted veggies on a egg frittata, little tuna open faced sandwiches with egg and veggies, couscous stuffed red peppers and cucumbers with a creamy topping. I thought the food was all really good and liked all the vegetables!

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Now for the middle plate. We got clotted cream, strawberry jam and apricot marmalade which I forgot to picture, but only one mini scone to put it on! I was sad to see the extra jam and clotted cream go to waste so I was temped to just eat it with a spoon anyway, haha. The scones had dates in them – yummy but I wish there was more! There was also an amusingly-shaped cookie and a little herb roll too. Again, everything was really tasty.

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Then finally to the dessert plate! They did a great job with these. None of them were grossly sweet which is often a problem at afternoon tea. After I’ve had a bunch of sugar in my tea and in the jam and stuff, I really want the dessert section to be light and airy so I don’t hit sugar overload and feel like going straight home to nap and/or brush my teeth. We all laughed about Fred there – he was actually one of the best desserts on the plate! I will never doubt you again, Fred. It was like a mini lemon meringue pie on a biscuit, mmm ❤ Clockwise from Fred was a pear flavored confectionery with some gel inside, the texture was very spongy, like a soft marshmallow. Next were some macarons – they were purple so we thought they’d be blueberry or grape flavor but they actually tasted like nothing and were one of my least favorite things on the dessert plate. The pyramids had some slightly bitter caramel on the outside and chocolate mousse inside, the candy in the middle of the plate was a very soft gummy, and the basket type things were little tarts with gelled fruit on top. Everything was so good! I want to eat it again!

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We lingered for a while until we felt like we had been there long enough. It was nice that we didn’t have a time limit like some other afternoon tea services I’ve been to. The bathrooms were really amazing because they had some of the best views on that floor! Izzy stole this shot of the men’s room.

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You could see a nice view of Tokyo Skytree!

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We took some silly shot of our outfits in the lobby~ I wore a wig for the first time! I wanted to wear an old Triple Fortune headdress to complete my old school look but I think they look best with heavy bangs, plus I wanted to be a mysterious gothic lady with long hair so I went with a wig. My dress is Victorian Maiden, the jacket and necklace Excentrique, and the bag is Meta (nurse series).

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I had a really good time with everyone! Despite the food, price and presentation not being exactly what I expected, I was still happy with the quality of everything. Unusually though, I felt like I could still eat more at the end. Most of the time when I have afternoon tea I’m stuffed but I think because the scone was just one mini one and not two full sized ones like I’m used to, I felt less full than usual. The price was pretty high but I felt like the attention to detail in the food and the many tea options made it worth the price. The service was very good but they did make me feel a little guilty about ordering more cups of tea. I’m not sure if everyone who goes there orders that much or if we were being super demanding? I guess I’ll never know!

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear more afternoon tea recommendations from you if you have any! One of my goals is to find the “perfect” afternoon tea in Tokyo. I have a favorite place in Japan but it’s in Kyoto at Chorakukan. It’s a place that I think is a great combination of atmosphere, food quality, and value for the price – I wish it was closer!

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Goats and Dolls

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I had an interesting day last Friday! I went to a doll exhibit and then a goat cafe!

I really love creepy dolls, especially the uncanny valley, nearly full sized ball jointed type. One of the most famous artists making that type of doll is Koitsukihime (恋月姫). I’ve assumed it’s a woman, but I actually don’t know for sure! Here is her website and facebook page.

I first paid attention to Koitsukihime when BTSSB did a collaboration print with her in 2006 – the much loved Koitsukihime Stained Glass series. I had seen her dolls in the GLB before that (the GLB was much more of a mish-mash of all kinds of artsy and gothy stuff back then), but I really started to like her and buy her books after that.

I do have to say I prefer the first edition of this series because of the more muted color palette. Pic credit here.

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So when I heard there was going to be a Koitsukihime exhibit in Tokyo, I couldn’t wait to go! I went with two other friends and Izzy.

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The building itself was very interesting to look at.

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My friend took one pic but we found out they were not allowed, so we couldn’t take anymore. Creepy bed doll chans!

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Here are some more pics from Koitsukihime’s facebook page. I really liked the religious themes and stained glass, of course. A lot of the dolls were displayed in cool wooden pyramid stands as you can see in the pictures. The prices were listed and you could buy the dolls but they started at $10,000… maybe next time! There were quite a few creepy siamese doll twins, too.

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The basement was devoted to Koitsukihime, and the 2nd floor had some more things to see like the gift shop, some rooms with antique dolls and their clothes, plus a room about antique lace and other period items. There was a workshop where you could make crafts for your French style dolls, and there was a room for doll clothing artists to buy and sell their wares. The women selling were all interested in bisque dolls, particularly Jumeau dolls from the late 1800s. Their dolls were new, but they carefully crafted outfits made of authentic materials to replicate the original style. Some of the outfits were really impressive! One characteristic of the dolls is very heavy eyebrows which makes them look perma-mad in my opinion, haha.

After we were done with the exhibit, we went to Shibuya to find the goat cafe! It’s Sakuragaoka Cafe out of the South Exit of Shibuya station (official website, English review). I’ve been to cat and rabbit cafes, but goats are pretty unusual! Apparently, this cafe is popular with businessmen on weekdays but they wanted a way to attract customers on weekends so they decided goats were the way to go! There are two goats, a white one named Sakura and a brown one called Chocolat. They live outside in a pen so you can’t really interact with them while you eat. You can take them for walks on certain weekdays (I think Monday and Wednesday?) but unfortunately we couldn’t do that.

Waiting to see goat chans! I love rubbing up on other people’s dresses.

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I ordered the lunch set – chicken with honey mustard sauce – and a kinako kuromitsu milk (きなこ黒みつミルク). The chicken was pretty good but I really loved the drink. It came in a tea bowl and the kinako was nutty and yummy with the brown sugary kuromitsu flavor ❤

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We sat next to the window where we could watch the goats… eat everything in sight, including their wood enclosure.

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When we finished eating we went outside to play with the goats! You can’t interact with them too much because they’re behind a fence, but Sakura likes to stick her head out and get head scratches! I wore an otome type outfit that day because I knew I was going to wear lolita more that weekend and I find it tiring to wear lolita many days in a row. Everything is offbrand except for the dress (Jane Marple) and bag (Metamorphose). I was wearing a black velvet jacket and scarf on top for most of the day because it was still pretty cold.

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Come to me Sakura chan!

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I thought the food was good and reasonably priced + goats = win-win for everyone! Although I did feel kind of bad for the goats being outside because it was really cold and windy that day so maybe they’re the losing party in this equation. I hope they have a heat lamp or something for them at night.

Thanks for reading! ❤

 

Peach Fiesta!

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It’s March and in Japan that means… peaches! Well, not really, more like peach blossoms. Actual peaches don’t fruit until the summer, so I’m not exactly sure why all this peach flavored stuff is coming out now, but it’s great for me as a peach lover! I suppose peach flavor is just cute and refreshing and reminds people of spring.

I decided to do a taste test of three different peach drinks! None of them are 100% juice so they are more like peach-ades.

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Let’s go from left to right. Tropicana (owned by Kirin in Japan) makes Sparkling Time, limited edition carbonated peach drink. It has 12% juice and is 48 calories per 100ml. I pay attention to the total calories so I can tell how sweet the drink is or if there’s any evil fake sugars lurking! Japanese food labels aren’t quite as clear as American ones in showing exactly how much sugar content something has.

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Compared to the other two drinks, the label looks a little more aimed at adults and accordingly the flavor is more mature. When I first opened it, the carbonation was really strong and almost sharp, but after it sat in the fridge for a few days it mellowed out and tasted much better. I’d give this a 5/10 when first opened, 7/10 after some of the carbonation left.

Next is the natchan! ふんわり白桃 (funwari hakutou, literally “fluffy white peach” but more like “soft and gentle white peach”). Natchan comes in a lot of different flavors and is produced by Suntory. This one has 10% juice and is 45 calories per 100ml. The label says it’s made with pure water and no preservatives or artificial colors.

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I really loved this one! It has no bitterness that peach flavored things can have – it’s just sweet and peachy! I would give it a 9/10 – the only thing I didn’t like about it was that it tasted slightly like candy. Maybe it would’ve been better if they made it a little less sweet.

Next up is the Qoo わくわくピーチ (wakuwaku pi-chi, “fun and exciting peach”). Qoo is another series of fruit drinks made by Minute Maid, which is owned by Coca Cola in Japan. It has 20% juice and 40 calories per 100ml. It also has added vitamin C. This one too says it has no artificial colors or preservatives.

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As you can tell by the packaging, this one is very much aimed at children. The flavor too was a little too childish – they went hard on the peach candy flavors so it tastes pretty artificial. There is also a bitterness in the aftertaste which might be due to the added vitamin C, not sure. I give this one 5/10. It’s drinkable but I wouldn’t get it again.

So all in all my favorite peach drink so far is the second one – natchan! I think it’s funny that my favorite had the lowest percentage of actual juice in it, hah! Thanks for reading and I hope you are having a nice spring ❤