Tokyo Food - Pariya Aoyama

Another great brunch / lunch find, just steps from Omotesando Station, is Pariya. Tucked down a fashionable side street off Aoyama-Dori, the small cafe feels like a comfy living room, with balcony seating in the sun perfect for a beautiful Spring day.

There are 3 things I love about Pariya:

1) They keep the food simple but delicious
On entry you make your way to the cafeteria style counter and pick your choice of rice, one main, one salad and a side. On the day I went to Pariya the choices included a delicious Korean pork salad, prawn spaghetti, hokkien style noodles, roast vegetables, and Mexican salad to name a few. 1200 yen later you take your tray with 4 little plates to the communal dining table where you can enjoy a meal with your friends (or if dining alone, you can still feel like you have friends).

2) Dessert is the star
You cannot help but notice the gorgeously decorated cup-cakes and colourful gelato as you enter Pariya. And trust me, it is as good as it looks. Ask the friendly staff if you can try a few flavours, and pick your favourite. At only 200 yen for a cup, it's almost criminal not to have desert. As they say in Japanese, there is always room in your 'betsu bara' (separate stomach). I opted for the Berry and Rose flavour, but dying to get back and try the Avocado gelato!

3) Self-service all you can drink
One thing which often bugs me about cafe's in Tokyo is that a cup of coffee can cost as much as the meal. Pariya let's you choose your choice of soft drink, coffee or tea, hot or cold and drink as much of it as you want!

The perfect weekend brunch time location.

Berry Rose Gelato - Top left

Pariya Aoyama
Kita-aoyama Bldg.1F 3-12-14 Kita-aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo


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Tokyo Brunch - On the Corner Cafe Shibuya

Tokyo is a city of convenience. You can generally find what you want, where ever you want it, at any time. The single exception to this is cafe's serving breakfast and brunch. Thankfully, after some serious internet searching I came across "On the Corner", a cafe in Shibuya which serves delicious coffee, various breakfast selections, and amazingly opens at 9am (compared to the standard Tokyo opening time of 11)!

The large cafe, which sits one street back from Meiji Dori, is filled with natural light and has a distinctive American diner feel with a more classy edge. The coffee itself is a sister store of the famous Bear Pond Coffee in Shimokitazawa (well known amongst Tokyo's espresso addicts), and the food includes breakfast basics like pancakes, eggs on toast (with a choice of sides), and BLT's. The menu extends in to lunch items, but I highly recommend going for the breakfast.

For those interested in trying out something new, On the Corner tweets it's specials daily!

As I sat early on a Sunday morning, eating my eggs and reading a new magazine, I very much appreciated my Tokyo breakfast find, and have no doubt it will become a frequent destination of mine.

Toast with scrambled eggs and side of bacon. Latte in background.

Click here for On the Corner Shibuya website.


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Tram Elixir and Absinthe Bar - Ebisu, Tokyo

In a city full of neon lights and red lanterns, with bars and the unknown hidden down side alleys, it seems to me that hallucinogenic drinks and Tokyo go hand in hand. And the place to find them is at Tokyo's Tram Bar in Ebisu. Serving absinthe ranging from the giggle-enducing-mild, to mind-altering-strong Tram Bar definitely offers a taste of something new in Tokyo.

My friends and I sat on comfy leather chairs in the dimly lit, living room style bar, and decided to share the 'drip style' absinthe option. The drip contraption looks like a mini-water tank, with even mini-er taps around it. Under each tap you place your goblet of absinthe, with a spoon of sugar on top, and let the water run over the sugar to get the desired amount of dilution.

The absinthe mixed with sugary water tastes like a delicious black licorice jelly bean. Placebo effect or not, I am sure when I exited the bar, things seemed brighter and I could see lights swirling in the distance.

For those unwilling to try the absinthe, there is also an extensive list of other cocktails. The waiters also spoke both English and Japanese.

Access from Ebisu station on JR or Hibiya Line.
TEL: 03-5489-5514

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Australian Red Cross for Japan Earthquake Relief - Some Thoughts on the Japanese Spirit

I found this video by the Australian Red Cross hauntingly beautiful and touching. It is true that since World War II Japan has been incredibly generous in not only their humanitarian aid, but also to those who have suffered from natural disasters.
This video highlights to me some of the key things I love about Japan and Japanese culture.

Firstly their humble, kind and giving spirit. Not only in terms of monetary aid, but any visitor to Japan can tell you how genuinely helpful Japanese people are in every day life. If you stand in one of the various crowded train stations for just one minute looking confused, no doubt there will be a Japanese person who comes up and asks if they can help you find your way. Often this is not even station staff, but just someone from the public who wants visitor's to Japan to appreciate the country, culture and make the most of their Japanese experience.

Japan is a country which has experienced the ravages of war, tsunami's and earthquakes, yet rarely will you hear the Japanese media or people discussing their experiences negatively, or being forlorn about the future.
What you do hear are voices of hope, co-operation and a desire to rebuild the country better than before.
There is no finger pointing, and little pessimism to be seen.

It is my hope that I can take some of this strength and help Japan rebuild from this disaster during my time in Tokyo. A colleague said to me just the other day, that we have to keep up our every day work, and working hard, because by doing so, we in turn are doing our small part in reinvigorating the Japanese landscape. 

As the sakura's begin to bloom in Japan, the government has cautioned the people to be 'cautious' in their celebrations. Yet as the Ohanami invitations roll in, many of which are using the opportunity to collect donations, us Tokyoites are reminded to rebuild the country by staying positive and taking life's natural gifts along with the bad.