Chocolate Ramen for Valentines

Happy February! As you can see, Containment is well on its way to publication now, and I’m so excited to share the second part of Kenzie’s story with everyone. You can check it out on Goodreads, preorder on Amazon, or find it at a local indie store!

I’ve been so hard at work on other writing projects, and I hope I’ll be able to share some of them with you very soon. In the meantime, let’s take a look at Japan in February.

Shinjuku and the Wizarding World Cafe

Shinjuku’s MyLord Cafe had a temporary makeover in honor of the new Harry Potter movie, and the result was the Wizarding World Cafe. My husband and I checked it out in late January. It was pretty spectacular, featuring ridiculously overpriced souvenirs, actual props from the movies, and, of course, themed food.

This pancake has a puff of cotton candy on top of it, so when you pour the syrup over it, it writhes and dances like magic. I wish I’d managed to snag a video because it really was cool. We loved watching it move, and the pancake was pretty darn good too (note that pancakes in Japan are more dessert than breakfast — as you can see, this one is more cake than anything).

Taiko: Doko Doko Don!

Remember in elementary school, when you learned TA – TA – TITI – TA to denote quarter and eighth notes? Well the Japanese equivalent is DON – DON – DOKO – DON, and it’s used not only with children but extensively in Taiko drumming. Not only have I been fortunate enough to take classes with Taiko Lab here in Tokyo, I got to see my teacher and his incredibly talented band perform at a local bar. Half the show was some of the best drumming I’d ever seen, and the rest was a Wakgakki Band-esque fusion of contemporary and traditional music that was equally incredible. Side note — if you haven’t checked out the Wagakki Band yet, here’s a video. You’re welcome.

Chocolate Ramen, Oishikatta!

Yes, that is ramen with a square of chocolate floating in it. The Japanese ramen chain Korakuen decided to have a two week chocolate ramen special leading up to Valentine’s Day.

I realize this sounds and maybe even looks disgusting. I was a little wary myself, but I couldn’t resist trying it. And actually, it was pretty good. It’s not a sweet dish: they simply add some cacao oil to the ramen and then a single square of milk chocolate gets melted as well. The result is a salty broth with a slightly sweet aftertaste and a distinctive chocolate smell that was really pretty appealing. The only negative moment came when I got a mouthful of actual melted chocolate that had stuck to my spoon. Normally I do NOT complain about melted chocolate, but that quantity of it didn’t compliment the soup particularly well. It’s not something I would eat all the time, but I had no regrets about trying it out.

Harajuku Kawaii Zoo

Okay, so that is absolutely me with a meerkat at Harajuku’s Kawaii Zoo, an animal cafe unique even by Tokyo’s standards. It has ferrets, hamsters, a fennec fox who just wanted to be left alone to sleep in the sun, a capybara who would only eat if hand fed and liked bum scratches almost as much as my dog, the aforementioned meerkats, and a very angry small monkey (although the staff assured us that the “small monkey” just wanted to be fed and wasn’t really unhappy, even though it was screeching a lot). I’m always a bit nervous about animals in captivity but these ones seemed pretty happy. The meerkat pictured above fell asleep on me and then threw the world’s loudest temper tantrum when I tried to return it.

This is the fennec fox, aka the world’s softest animal (I assume). It had very little interest in doing anything but snoozing in a sunbeam, but it seemed cool with people petting it as long as they didn’t block the sun. Then it opened its eyes and growled a bit until you moved. If you’re in the Harajuku area, I totally recommend this place. They were far less busy than many animal cafes (maybe because they’re pretty new?) but the animals were interesting, unique, and seemed well cared for, and I got to pet a capybara (pictured in my newsletter if you want to see him — subtle plug!)

That’s all for this month. If you do want to see the capybara, you can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here. And as always, if you liked this post, please feel free to share!