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First of all, I want to say that I’m so excited to be going on another vacation at the end of this month. Although I have proclaimed many times in the past that I’m a lover of traveling, I am getting a little burnt out from all of this back-&-forth flying & packing/unpacking. I am extremely appreciative & grateful that I am able to travel (regardless if it’s near or far), I’d just like to say that here & now. I love what I do, & I want to express my sincerest & humblest of gratitude & appreciation.

During this past long weekend, when most Americans were celebrating Fourth of July/Independence Day (also jokingly referred to as #Amexit on the Internet), Jian surprised me with an impromptu road trip to Los Angeles. He was somehow itching to go on a long drive, & he was throwing out random ideas like driving to Portland, Oregon or perhaps Las Vegas, Nevada. While I was all for driving to Portland, I didn’t want to spend too much time driving & not enough time exploring the city. So, I threw out the random idea of driving to Los Angeles. It’s far without being too far. Jian absolutely loved the idea, & we pretty much pulled this hair-brained idea out of our derrièrs at the absolute last minute.

Once we had our weekend mapped out, we pretty much had one goal in mind, well, actually two goals: 1. to revisit all of our favorite hang-out spots from our college days, & 2. to visit the California location of Lady M Café. Yes, our minds were pretty much blown away when we found out Lady M Café opened a location in Los Angeles. Our minds were blown even more (if that’s even possible) when we found out that this shop was only 5 blocks down the street from our hotel. Needless to say, being a huge cake lover, I made several trips to this shop, & I do not feel one bit guilty for eating so much cake.

What makes Lady M so special? Well, they specialize in various delicate cakes, but their absolute specialty & signature cake is the infamous Mille Crêpe Cake…a cake so delicate & delicious that I would do just about anything for a slice of this creamy crêpe heaven. 

What is Mille Crêpe cake? Well, it’s a French invention, but has been popularized around the world by the Japanese. It’s basically a stack of thin crêpe sheets with thin layers of soft cream in between the sheets of crêpes. These cakes, in more recent years, have expanded from the traditional vanilla flavor to other flavors (i.e. matcha, coconut, chocolate, etc.). My favorite flavor will always be the classic vanilla flavor.

lady m los angeles

This is a sample of the various cakes we bought for our friends. From Top Left: coconut crêpe flavor, Courrone du Chocolat, matcha crêpe flavor, strawberry Mille Feuille. Bottom Right: signature flavor.

Over the years, Jian & I have tried various forms of this cake, but we could never find anything as comparable to the first place we ever experienced this golden unicorn of cakes.

la voie crepe cake

Café la Voie in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo is where we first encountered this cake. It is so beautiful & delicious, I nearly burst into tears every time I eat Mille Crêpe cake at this café.

harbs choco crepe cake

HARBS is also another famous high-end cake shop in Tokyo that has their own crêpe cake recipe. I tried this chocolate explosion just to compare the flavor to the original. This one is very, very sweet, so proceed with caution if you’re not a sweets fan. This cake was also particularly dense, which I was not used to.

We’ve had various crêpe cakes from here to there & everywhere in between. Some of the the chain coffee shops in Tokyo have Mille Crêpe cakes that are also as delicious as the high-end cake shops. Chain shops like DoutorExcelsior (which are like the Starbucks & Peet’s equivalent in Japan) have some of the best inexpensive crêpe cakes.

Back in the States, I’ve had my fair share of ups & downs with this elusive cake. Many years ago, there was a Japanese restaurant that had opened in Japantown. The pastry chef that worked at that place specialized in Mille Crêpe cake. Jian & I were so ecstatic that there was finally a place near us where we could eat this cake again. Sadly, after 2 years this restaurant closed & the pastry chef moved on. 

There have been other American restaurants all over the city that have attempted to serve their version of the Mille Crêpe cake (eg. Café des Amis, Cockscomb, & Hog&Rocks), but somehow they weren’t able to quite grasp the light, airy, soft texture of the cake. Some of the cakes were just too dense, too hard, too sweet, too dry, &/or too over-the-top in avant grade flavor for such a delicate cake recipe. I just cannot wait until I go back to Japan at the end of this month & will be able to try the original cake recipe once again. Yessssss!
In other news, like I’ve said in my previous blog, I’ve decided to decorate my new backpack, & I’ve already begun the process. So far, I’ve only added two things to my backpack, a keychain & a pin, but I’m in love with the progress.

hellolulu chain

I chose this Rilakkuma bird keychain because it fit with the yellow color scheme of my backpack. Also, I liked how it was a small discreet size without being too tiny to notice.

hellolulu pink

I chose this Victory V hand emoji pin because I using this emoji often on all of my social media accounts. It’s my favorite emoji icon to use.

Well that’s just about all I have to say for now. I’m sorting through all of my things to pack for my next trip. Three weeks will really sneak up on you fast. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” by Frank Sinatra

youre nobody til somebody loves you

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This is one of my secret guilty pleasures. I like to spend time alone at my local cafe/coffee shop. When I say “guilty pleasure” I know I make it sound like I’m hiding some illicit activity, but sitting in the coffee shop is not even the slightest bit naughty. In fact, it may even sound vanilla &/or mundane. Hey! This is MY pleasure, guilty or not. I call this a “guilty pleasure” because I do in fact feel slightly naughty/guilty for taking this time out of my day to sneak out of the house (I work from home) for a few short hours.

There is a big box coffee shop a few streets down from my house. A few times a week, I like to bring my noise-canceling headphones, my mobile phone (a.k.a. Alphonse), & my iPad (a.k.a. Richard) & just sit in a corner sipping my coffee drink & eat a pastry while listening to music &/or surf the Internet. Yeah, sure. I can do the exact same thing at home. I can brew my own pot of fresh coffee. I can sit in front of a larger computer & even surf the Internet in my slippers & house clothes. However, the coffee shop provides an escape, leaving the confines of an overly familiar place.

When I’m sitting in the coffee shop I feel like I’ve actually “gone out” even though I’m not that far away from home. I get the feeling as though I’m out of the house. I also like the feeling of being around an ever-changing environment full of strangers without having to interact with any of them. I love the smell of coffee & warm pastries, the dull buzzing sounds of machines, conversation, & cars passing through the bustling parking lot. From time-to-time a random stranger will approach me & ask a question or offer an unsolicited piece of advice (usually I get these advice from much older gentlemen), but mostly I am ignored. I don’t mind. I like being cocooned in my tiny little bubble, nestled in my “usual spot”, sipping my now lukewarm caffeinated beverage.

If the seats weren’t so uncomfortable, I could probably while away a couple of hours here at this coffee shop. I usually spend only 1 hour (at most 2 hours) here, then I pack up my belongings & head home to finish my work & chores. (I must say that I am extremely fortunate to be able to work from home.) Spending this private time at the coffee shop brings a little piece of relaxation in my daily routine of working at my desk job, doing household chores, & care taking for my shattered-and-put-back-together family. Then, when I get home I am refreshed & ready to get back to work. I don’t do this every day, just once or twice a week. It is my little escape.

Well, it’s time for me to go home. My time is up. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:
“I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & The Shondells
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I’m sitting in a cafe that’s got a little too much air conditioning. It’s just another typical Monday for me, but I’m trying to make the most of the day by running errands. I just stopped to grab a bite to eat & get my caffeine fix for the day.

It’s always good to slow down every once in a while & just take a break or a breather. Even taking five minutes to grab a coffee or walk outside to pick up your mail, just close your eyes, take a deep breath & let your shoulders fall. This will help you relax, if only for one fleeting moment. Doing this at least once a day I’m sure will help your spirits rise & bring you one step closer to that happy place. Enjoy!

Today’s song of the day
“All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers
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It’s raining again today, the first sign of Spring. Today I’m visiting one of the bustling neighborhoods of the city. I’m sitting at a small café among the quiet students, budding artists, & chatty businessmen heartily discussing work over a cup of coffee & a well-worn laptop.

It’s drizzling outside, not quite a shower or a mist, but just enough to make use of my orange umbrella. I am nestled cozily in the warmth of the small café, just casually gazing out of the lead (or whatever metal) framed window. It brings such joy to be enveloped in the comfort of a warm, dry bubble…all while the world outside of this bubble soaks up the dampness falling from the sky. “Ahhh, this is the good life,” I note to myself. This IS the good life indeed, with my toasted chocolate croissant & hot cup of French Roast coffee (add sugar & half-&-half).

Amongst all that is happening around outside, it is very relaxing & therapeutic to take a well-deserved break every now & again just to recharge one’s soul. Just take a breather. How long? Five minutes? Ten minutes? One hour? Who cares! As long as you’re having fun while doing it. Just a bit of a caution: Contents may be delicious while served in a To-Go cup. Cheers!

Oh!!! Today’s song of the day:
More Today Than Yesterday
Artist: Charles Earland
Album: The Almighty Burner

Well everyone, our short trip to Tokyo has come to an end.  We are now in Guangzhou, China visiting my companion’s relatives.  Since pretty much everything Internet-related is banned here in China (even Word Press), I’m not sure I’ll have much opportunities to post regular entries.  So, I’ve decided to just wrap up my series of Tokyo travel entries with a photo highlight reel of our last days in the land of the rising sun.

We got to experience a lot of different architecture, like this Hotel Gracer with it’s amazing striped façade.

Stopped by the Nissan showroom in Ginza & got to see this custom-made GTR designed specially for Olympic Track & Field gold medalist Usain Bolt.

I made a trip to my favorite clothing brand’s flagship store in Ginza. 12 floors of shopping heaven! For me, it’s UNIQLO all the way…

A common ritual whenever I visit Tokyo is to have an afternoon cake set. In this picture, I had a tiramisu cake with a drip coffee.

My must-have food while in Tokyo is the famous Mille Crêpe cake. I can never get enough of this cake, & I never miss an opportunity to have a slice (or two, or three).

Speaking of cake, I finally got to try the very famous HARBS cafe. What a delight!! This picture was taken at the Lumine 2 shopping mall in Ginza.

I tried their Crêpe a La Carte cake with layers of chocolate, custard & whipped cream filling. The slices were huge…just the way I like it.

My companion ate the Mille Crêpe cake, with banana, cantaloupe, kiwi & apple fruit filling. This was an interesting mix of fruits & custard.

Oh & speaking of cafes, we stopped by Akiba on our last full day in Tokyo & just happened to pass by the official AKB48 cafe. For those of you who don’t know, AKB48 is an extremely popular female singing group from Japan who sing mostly anime-genre songs. They are considered an idol group, as each band member is a pop idol among all of their super fans.

We also stopped by the Gundam cafe, which was right next door to the AKB48 cafe. In case you don’t know this one either, Gundam is a very popular, very legendary, very long-running robot anime series. (This is like the equivalent to Robotech.) Not only are the various anime cartoons/movies popular, but the DIY plastic model hobby kits are also extremely popular all around the world. I have also made a plastic Gundam model kit myself.

Also got to experience some extravagant architecture all around Tokyo. Here is the Bvlgari (Bulgari) store in Ginza. It has a diamond-like snake wrapping around the storefront like a diamond necklace. The snake is one of the animal symbols of the Eastern zodiac. In the Asian community, 2013 will mark the Year of the Snake.

We also got to experience a lot of Christmas decorations being displayed all around town, like at this Cartier shop (also in Ginza), which looks like a wrapped gift. It seemed a bit odd to us Americanized folks to see Christmas decorations so early on, but I guess since the locals in Japan don’t celebrate a Thanksgiving type holiday, right after the Halloween decorations are being put away, the Christmas stuff goes up immediately.

Well, that’s it for now.  I’ll try to post some pictures of my stay here in China.  So far, there hasn’t been much things of interest to see…unless you like pictures of mega shopping malls & high-rise apartments that look like they came from a cheesy 1990s movie set.  Otherwise, cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Need an iced drink to cool down, but it’s gotta be caffeinated to perk me up. ☕️
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#Paloma #ElderflowerPaloma #cocktail #BlancoTequila #blanco #tequila #ElderflowerLiqueur #lemon #agave #garnish #CollinsGlass #EatDrinkAmericano #Americano #AmericanoLA #DTLA #ArtsDistrict #ArtistDistrict #LA #HumpDay #family #adventure #DrinksOfInstagram #FoodieApp #LineCamera @eatdrinkamericano Drown yourself in imagination & color. 🎨
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