With each passing day, I strive to reduce the count of material goods embedded in my immediate surroundings, shifting preference of nominal presents from barely familiar faces to financial stability and adequate food supply. This is not to say that the fewer the friends, the better. Rather, it is a nod to new experiences free from unnecessary frills.
Of course, the go-to option has never veered from Kenzo - er, now Kamen. It is with remarkable regret that the re-branded restaurant offers no patio for in-store dining. Thus, the less preferable alternative was sought out.
We enlisted a member of the waitstaff for a wipedown of our sand-speckled table, who took to a damp cloth that brushed ours before immediately navigating to a different one. The utilization of a single cleansing cloth was common practice amongst waitstaff prior to COVID-19, however the scene induced a questionable eyebrow raise in today's times.
Guests were provided the options of individually packaged disposable utensils and plastic cups or the franchise's array of standard eating equipment, inclusive of a funky smelling ladle and Stainless steel water cups.
Four teensy pieces of very, very average Takoyaki set us back a whopping $5.50. Surrendering bonito flakes to the wind, the morsels were left with tonkatsu sauce and mayo as toppings. For the record, this was an instance where fat (deep frying) did not equate to flavour.
It seems that I never did learn my lesson: Convenience really oughtn't be prioritized over contentment.
Wrapping up the journey were quick stops to the nearby Pappa Roti and Starbucks, whose gag-worthy Golden Ginger Drink shall never be mentioned henceforth.
Whether it be by pure chance (luck?) that I, along with a handful of others, received the message on our exact date of birth, I am grateful for the gesture, which will now go down noted in history.
The Champ was my pick, and ever amazing was it! From the delicate crisp of puffed rice to ooey, gooey pockets of chocolate inside, the creation was every bit as extraordinary when consumed straight from the paper bag or the next day (shamelessly after breakfast).
Within a brown paper bag were two rectangular boxes, one paper and one plastic. The former housed a Cheese Tart and Matcha Choux Creme - officially termed "choux à la crème", or more widely known as a cookie cream puff. Encased in the feeble (read: already showing signs of crack propagation) Ferrero Rocher-esque container was a Soybean Mochi Cake. In addition to the three pastries was an order of Purple Milk, a duo-toned beverage that bore no description whatsoever, yet was assumed to be taro paste mixed with milk. (Spoiler: I was not wrong.)
The Cheese Tart, sporting a prominent crack along the centre, was approximately the same size as Uncle Tetsu BAKE. The butter tart foundation was solid: secure without being rigid. Unlike the many varieties of my past, its surface was of a relatively pale yellow, its contents smooth (unlike Love Me Sweet), and the presence of richness minimal. The specimen attempted in vain at leaving a lasting impression; there was but a single factor announcing its uniqueness to the world. On the bright side, the morsel did not leave one feeling satiated even after dinner.
Soybean aka kinako aka injeolmi has been an upward trending ingredient for some time now. Making frequent appearances in anything from lattes to bingsoo, its most recent adaptation takes the form of a layered dessert. Constituents of the Soybean Mochi Cake included a thick (nearly obnoxious) layer of sponge cake, whipped cream, sticky mochi, and plastic-y piped bulbs dusted with the nutty, beige powder. Enjoyed in a fashion similar to tiramisu, the layers were quite plush, albeit on the drier side with simple syrup-less sponge as its base. Tastefully executed, it was neither greasy nor gag-inducing. That said, I would gladly prioritize a moist, Kahlua-/rum-infused tiramisu over the composition in a heartbeat.
1. Layered Coconut Milk Jelly Rolls / 椰汁千層糕 (not mine)