Category Archives: FOOD

Starbucks Japan’s New Sakura Milk Latte is Sweetness Overload

Source: Gaijin Pot
Starbucks Japan seasonal Sakura Milk Latte Drink 2020

Like clockwork, and ahead of the sakura (cherry blossom) season by nearly a month, Starbucks Japan has released this year’s sakura flavored latte to the cherry blossom craving masses. Not one above the sakura madness, I went out and tried these new pink concoctions and left with a budding feeling to make an appointment with my dentist.

Photo: Aaron Baggett
This year’s offering are a “Sakura Milk Latte” and “Sakura Milk Pudding Frappuccino.”

The sakura latte is Japan’s answer to the USA’s famous pumpkin spice latte, which is essentially melted ice cream in a cup that basic people say is their “favorite” when you ask them if they drink coffee. For 2020 Starbucks rolled out a new “Sakura Milk Latte” and a “Sakura Milk Pudding Frappuccino.”

What do cherry blossoms taste like?

If I had to describe the flavor of sakura, it would be cherries dipped in condensed milk and sprayed with floral fabric softener. It isn’t half bad, really. Starbucks’ sakura drinks, however, use strawberry juice. The flavor doesn’t really taste like sakura but go ahead and call me #basic because I like it. I also like all the overpriced, Japan-only, pink, sakura-themed tumblers and merch because I am a consumer zombie.

Photo: Aaron Baggett
Sakura tumblers and coffee for my fellow consumer zombies.
Photo: Aaron Baggett

The latte is rather good if you’re really into sweet drinks, and the cute pink flower petals—actually crunchy cereal—are a nice touch. It’s perfect for other basic people who enjoy watching The Office and list eating, drinking, and traveling as hobbies on their Tinder profile. While I wouldn’t call it coffee—its ingredients are listed as sakura flower powder and strawberry juice topped …continue reading


Dining Diary – Sungari: Shinjuku


Established in 1957, the main branch of Sungari has been serving caviar, Russian delicacies and vodka to several generations of Tokyo diners. This newer second branch (located in Shinjuku 3-chome since 2019) offers pretty much the same menu of both traditional and modern Russian cuisine, along with Russian beers, European wines and twenty types of vodka. The cozy dining room has a homey atmosphere, and service is friendly.

Meaty dinnertime fare includes dishes like Chicken Kiev, Beef Stroganoff, roast venison (in season), roast lamb, Georgian-style baked quail and kebabs of lamb and beef. Marinated salmon with blinis and sour cream is a popular appetizer. At lunchtime there’s a much more abbreviated (and somewhat less exciting) menu of borscht followed by simple mains like mushroom-cream stew, rather creamy cabbage rolls or beef stew.

The extensive vodka list includes home-made flavored vodkas like “Earl Grey Candy,” “Coffee Candy,” anise, coriander and lemon. Regular lunches are priced from Y1000-1800, and dinner with drinks averages around Y4500. …continue reading


90s Theme, Modern Ramen at Menson Rage


As soon as you walk in the door, it’s clear that Menson Rage (麺尊 Rage) is big on 90s music. But their game fowl ramen is contrastingly modern and even recognized by Michelin.

Game Fowl Ramen?

They base their ramen around various game fowl, or gamecock (“shamo” in Japanese). Basically, think of it as chicken with an attitude. That familiar chicken flavor is there in the broth, but it has a wilder flare from the shamo.

Shamo Soba: ¥900

The seasoning is multiple types of shoyu. It’s a tangy, salty shoyu but it isn’t overly intense. It helps the shamo flavor linger in your mouth. The broth also has kelp, niboshi dried fish, and other ingredients.

Menson Rage - Shamo Soba Noodles

The thin, wheaty noodles are supplied by Mikawaya Seimen.

Modern Maze Soba

In addition, they serve a niboshi ramen and a maze soba (soupless ramen). Instead of the standard egg, in the center of their maze soba is a dark red, smoked egg yolk.

Maze Soba, All Toppings: ¥1,200

This egg yolk provides a smoky creaminess to the bowl overall. But I wish there was something else alongside this creaminess.

…continue reading


Recipe: Healthy Ume-Shiso Syrup

Ume Shiso Syrup Recipe

I thought about giving you a Valentine’s Day recipe and decided, especially in light of the virus scare we’re all reading about, health would be the theme of the month!

I need to first offer a disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and as such cannot claim this syrup will prevent or cure a cold or flu. What I can say is both ume (pickled plums) and shiso (perilla leaf) are considered home-remedies to ward off colds in Japan. I simply added them together!

I’m a big fan of ume-shiso maki (Try it if you haven’t!). Most sushi restaurants I’ve been to are offering it and if they don’t, they’ll usually make it right away when asking. Hence, ume and shiso is a proven combination.

Shiso‘s taste is, in my opinion, part basil and part mint. It’s the green leaf you’ll see on your sashimi plate beneath the white fish, it has a bit of a kick to it which I find lovely. Very refreshing, a bit sharp. Add this to the pickled ume, the combination is absolutely delightful.

Umeboshi is the sour, pickled pink plum found in onigiri and bento box lunches. Friends insist I stock my refrigerator with loads of them in the summer — it evidently fights off natsu-bate (summer weariness due to heat and humidity) — the perfect multi-purpose plum!

Ume Shiso Syrup Recipe

I made a syrup out of both of these very healthy ingredients, boiling it down until it became a concentrated liquid. It will need diluting unless you’re up for a strong jolt and I might recommend mixing it with soda water or even just water! If you go with water, I recommend mixing …continue reading