Friday, August 30, 2019

Coisof, Tokyo

I have a new reason to visit Japan.  Not sushi.  Not high end Michelin star dining.  I've done those things before.  No my reason now is ice cream.  Soft serve ice cream to be exact.   Because like seemingly many things, it turns out, Japan has perfected this too.

Tokyo is home to some really incredible soft serve (although both my favorites from my last trip, Silkream and Mother Milk Farm, have closed), where the soft serve is just sooo perfectly creamy and rich.  On my visit in August 2019, I was determined to have as much incredible soft serve as possible.  I of course had some misses (Ministop, TP Tea), but I also had some major hits.  Like Coisof.

Coisof came to the top of my list after some pretty extensive research, and a lot of time spent drooling over Instagram photos.  I was very excited to check it out, although it had just moved across town.

It was among the best I've ever had.  Highly recommend.
Re:Dine Ginza.
Coisif is located (co-located?) with re:Dine Ginza, an actual restaurant.  The ice cream shop doesn't actually have any dedicated space, so I was seated just alongside diners.
Everyone else was there eating dinner, and enjoying the all you can drink wine buffet (fixed fee, you just get to get up and pour yourself wine all night from the selection in the front).  They all looked like they were having fun, but it was a bit distracting to have people getting up from their tables basically nonstop to go get more and more wine.

Anyway.  It is a large restaurant, quite open, casual.

I didn't get a photo, but there is also a coffee place on the side, also seeming to share the space.  When I asked for a drink menu, I was given a menu for the cofffee place as well.
Soft Serve Parfaits!
I already knew what I was there for, but, I was glad to see the signs clearly displayed at the front, letting me know I was in the right place.

The full menu lineup at Coisof is not large.  Two flavors of soft serve, milk or cocoa black sesame, both available in a cone.  Plus 3 different parfaits.  That is it.

The parfait options are lemon (with milk base, lemon components, and, um, cheesecake), strawberry (also milk base, fresh berries, berry compote, and cake), and a "rich rich black coi parfait (black sesame base, garnished with cookies and brownies).  The parfaits all come with an optional liquor pairing.

I knew the black sesame had cocoa powder (and activated charcoal) in it, otherwise I really would have gotten it, but alas, it was evening, and I was avoiding caffeine.

I had a hard time deciding between the lemon and strawberry versions, given that I don't usually care for lemon desserts, but, I wasn't in the mood for fruity berries or the cake base, so, lemon it was.

I thought I ordered the liquor pairing, but alas, I guess I didn't.
Chardonnay. 700yen.
The menu instructed me to ask for a wine list.  So I did.  I was told they didn't have one.  Hmm.

I had the English speaking server at this point, and he asked what kind of wine I liked.  I suggested white wine (wanting, something light to pair with my summery dessert), and then I said, "chardonnay"?

A screw cap from New Zealand was brought over.

It wasn't very good.  Harsh. Acidic.  I didn't finish it.  It cost ~$7.
Lemon cheese coi parfait. 1000yen.
"A coi parfait with a bright yellow color reminiscent of the summer sun. Concentrated rich milk with Setouchi lemon jelly and fresh sour cream for a rich but refreshing flavor. Accented with cinnamon crunch and white chocolate, it has an adult taste. Please enjoy a slightly different adult flavor by wearing a ginger liqueur as you like."

Ok, so that description clearly went through Google translate.  But that is what I had to work with, besides the numerous Instagram photos I had seen of course.

Speaking of Instagram photos, and menu photos ... yes, this parfait looked *exactly* like the picture perfect images I had seen.  I mean, really.  It was gorgeous.  Almost too pretty to eat.

But of course I ate it.  Devoured.  Tried to slow down and savor but had to really force myself to put my spoon down, stop, take a sip of not very good wine.  Because it was truly delicious.

The soft serve was the star, no question.  Perfectly smooth, perfectly rich, fabulous milk flavor.  It was as good as any other top soft serve I've ever had.  Just, fabulous.  It would be fabulous just alone, but made into this parfait it became even more stunning.
On top was a crumble of some sort, seemed to be cookie biscuits.  I liked the crunch, but didn't necessarily love the crumble itself, the cinnamon flavor wasn't quite what I wanted.  But minor downside to an otherwise incredible creation.

The white chocolate was a bit of sweet against the sour found in the lemon drizzle.  It almost tasted more yuzu than lemon?  Which I mostly just mean it was fairly complex.

Lining the parfait glass were three slices of candied lemon as well, which was very tasty, and the sweet and sour flavors worked well with the soft serve.  I liked the texture these added too, chewy, yet soft.  Don't be afraid of eating the lemon peel!

There were a lot of good things going on here - perfect soft serve, crunch and chew, sweet and sour.

But then, there was more ...
Yes, it was garnished with a petite slice of cheesecake!!!

This may seem like an over the top Instagram move, but, realize this wasn't a huge parfait, and it wasn't a monster cake slice sticking out the side, like so many of those sorts of creations are (you know what I'm talking about, the elaborate milkshakes that are enough for 3 people just the shakes, and then they have mega slices of layer cake on the rim?  Freakshakes they call them?).  This was not that.  It really was not over the top, I promise.

The cake slice was mostly great.  The base was a thin layer of sponge cake, and that part I wasn't really into, but the cheesecake itself was smooth, rich, and tasted strongly of sour cream, which was another good balancing flavor to the soft serve.

A full slice of cheesecake would be quite pleasing on its own, and I bet it would be great just drizzled with the lemon stuffs too.

It did add to this dessert eating experience, even if it is a bit odd to have a cheesecake with your soft serve.  It works, trust me.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

TP Tea, Tokyo

When in Tokyo ... seek out Instagram worthy trendy items?  It appears so.

But I really wasn't intending that, exactly.
My destination: TP TEA in the Hillside mall in Roppongi.

TP TEA is a chain from Taiwan, founded way back in 1983, which, does sound old for bubble tea years.  They now have 250+ stores worldwide, including the one I visited, which was newly opened.

I didn't do any research really before visiting, but I now know that TP stands for "Taiwan Professional".  Ok.

Anyway, I was drawn in, amusingly, not for the bubble tea.

No, it was 93* out, and I wanted one thing: ice cream.  Soft serve ice cream to be exact.  In a cone, to be even more exact.  It didn't matter than I knew nothing about the soft serve at TP Tea, it just mattered that they had it.
English Menu.
I stepped up to order, and was quite pleased when the cashier flipped the menu over, revealing an English menu.  Phew.

I glanced quickly over the options, pausing slightly to consider a taro milk tea, or a bubble tea parfait, but I knew what I wanted.  Soft-serve ice cream.  The menu had two options: cup or waffle cone.  Single size.  It didn't say what flavor the soft serve was.  And both seemed to have tapioca on them.  Well, that then.

After ordering I was given a buzzer, and had a longer wait than I expected.  My cone I'm sure was fast, but, I had to wait for all the more elaborate teas and noodle dishes ahead of me to be prepared.  Eventually, my buzzer went off. 
Bubble Milk Soft Serve Ice Cream, Waffle Cone. 550yen.
"Original soft-serve ice cream with fragrant tea leaves and sticky tapioca."
I could tell just from looking at the soft serve that it was not the texture I was hoping for.

Tokyo is home to some really incredible soft serve (although both my favorites from my last trip, Silkream and Mother Milk Farm, have closed), where the soft serve is just sooo perfectly creamy and rich.  This, I could tell, was not.

But I still dug in.

The flavor was milk tea, which I guess I could have expected.  The tea flavor was indeed good.  But the ice cream was just not very smooth.  It melted nicely though, and got much better as it melted, basically turing into, um, milk tea.  Which perhaps I should have just gotten in the first place.

The cone was a waffle cone, large size, well made, but clearly not very fresh.  Meh on the cone too.

And finally, the tapioca, which I expected to be stars given the venue, I really did not like at all.  They were a smaller style ball than is more standard, but they were kinda hard, and had a flavor I didn't care for.

So overall, this really wasn't much of a winner.  The tea flavor was good, but the rest of it ... not so much.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Peroni Bar, Sydney International Airport

Another day, another few hours spent in an airport, this time in Sydney.  I don't often buy much at airport concessions, as the prices are high and quality generally low, but Peroni drew me in, as it looked like a classier place.  Or maybe I was just bored.
Peroni is located in a food court near the Air New Zealand gates, with a fairly nice exterior.  Bar and table seating is available on the side, but you order everything at the register.

Peroni Bar has a fairly boring food menu, with pizza, pasta, burgers and salad for lunch/dinner, a couple starters (fried calamari, olives, pretzels, chips).  I didn't try any of that, opting only to get items to go.


Peroni is a bar, but, since I was there at 10am, I didn't opt to try any of their wine or cocktails, although these seemed to be a main attraction.
Beverage Menu.
The beverage menu strangely doesn't list any of their morning drinks, only the beer, wine, and cocktails.
Beer, Mini Bottles.
I almost did get a mini bottle of wine to go, but I realized I'd need to drink it right then, since I couldn't bring through security at my next transit point (Auckland).
Decaf Long Black, Large.  $4.
I did order a decaf long black, with no expectations of it being very good, but I don't really care for the coffee in the Air New Zealand lounge (my next stop).

I was pleasantly surprised.  It was not harsh, no funk, and better than most of the decaf I had at fancy places all over Sydney.

I'd gladly get this again, and likely will, en route to the lounge.

Update: I did get this again, and got two in fact, stashing one in my travel coffee mug to enjoy on my flight.  #protip.  It isn't the best coffee ever, but, it really wasn't bad at all.

Baked Goods

A small variety of baked goods was available, morning appropriate, none looked awesome, and this place is clearly not a bakery.  Still, you know me and baked goods.
Danishes, Banana Bread.
I skipped the danishes as they looked pretty bad, and banana bread since I don't care for it.
Muffins were all large size, wrapped in plastic wrap.  None looked great, but I tried them all.

They were ... clearly not fresh items made with care.  Certainly mass produced, probably purchased wholesale as frozen items.  Or at least made with extended shelf life.
Double Chocolate.
The double chocolate was shockingly boring.  The chocolate base had no real flavor to it at all.  The cake was not moist nor dry exactly, it just was what it was.  So commercial, processed. I did like the chocolate chips on top for some crunch, and there were bits that were kinda gummy, like they were underbaked, that were slightly better than the fully cooked parts.

But really, this just was not a good muffin.  If you were expecting chocolatey goodness, you would not find it here.
Orange Poppyseed.
I liked the orange poppyseed even less.

The base was again this strange not moist-not dry, kinda commercial, chemical taste, sweet.  It had an essence of orange, not something I'd ever pick.

I do sometimes adore muffins of this pedigree, like Costco muffins, particularly the almond poppyseed, but this just wasn't worth a second bite.
The blueberry was definitely the best, but it was also certainly a very generic, convinience store quality, muffin.  The kind that clearly isn't fresh, is loaded with preservatives, has a slightly gummy top, is very sweet, and yet, you kinda like it?  That's exactly what this was.

The blueberries were reasonably well distributed, but weren't fresh juicy berries, rather, they were more like dried berries.

This was very similar to the one from Better Burger.


They also have bags of Red Rock potato chips (assorted flavors), Nobby's packaged snacks (cashews, peanuts, and pork crackle).  I grabbed some Nobby's to munch on later.
Pork Crackle.
I thought pork crackle sounded awesome, but alas, I didn't care for this.  It just tasted greasy and fried, in a stale old oil sort of way, and it stuck to my mouth.  It made me sad how much I didn't like it, and kept trying more and more of it, but alas, not good. 

I shared with a couple others, and they too were excited by the prospect, but didn't like it at all.