I have been abstaining from eating candy, chocolates and ice cream for weeks. I haven’t even touched added sugars in a long time – it’s always unsweetened coffee or Chinese tea when I eat out. This is an allocated Cheat Meal (TM) for being so good for so long. Haha. There’s toast, waffles, nuts, sauces, chocolate, fruits (strangest addition was grape tomatoes) in a huge platter. I had already eaten one savory meal prior to this (at the start of the video) so it was a challenge trying to finish this with just 2 pax. I think it’s meant for 4-6 people. Still, we tried! Turn on CC for English subtitles!
The thing I like about Japan is that most of their shops, regardless of whether they sell ramen or omurice, have a running popularity board. This allows the shops to display which item is #1 selling on their menu and the customers to know what the place is known for. We saw this Ice Cream Factory in Sapporo after buying toys for the kids and since my better half loves the ice cream in Hokkaido, we got a couple of cones to eat.
Ice Cream Factory is one of those cold plate/stone places e.g. your ice cream and condiments is mixed in sub zero temperatures before being served to you, in this case -30 Celsius. My dear wanted to get a simple swirl ice cream and I did pause to wonder why she’s ordering something that’s not their specialty but I know she just wants to save money. I did order their #1 bestseller though. Haha. I thought it’ll be nice to order an ice cream that’s mixed on the cold slab instead of just served.
Come to think of it, the wait staff have to put up with a lot nowadays. There are a lot of people taking photos of them working, and expecting them to serve up a picture perfect dish to boot. I can’t imagine being a waiter nowadays, although fun fact, I was one for a few months when I first went to Melbourne for my college.
My order is their Sweet Berries which came with an assorted local cranberries, blackberries, strawberries, redcurrants and blueberries mixed together with strawberry and vanilla ice cream. I love the use of winter berries and the cold stone places do it well coz the ice cream doesn’t melt on the super chilled slab, but incorporate tighter instead. It’s as if a machine made it in factory with the berries intact.
Sweet Berries is 750 yen (about RM 30) which is what you’ll expect to pay locally for an ice cream of this size and magnitude too. I love the creamy ice cream and the best part is that it’s not very sweet. The berries contrast nicely by giving off an acidic burst too. The crunchy cone is also fresh and nice and there’s a spoon to eat everything with.
My dear got the more pedestrian Mix Ice Cream (chocolate and vanilla swirl) for 230 JPY (about RM 10) which came out of a machine instead of being mixed like mine. Good stuff! We also bought a lot of random stuff in addition to toys for the kids. I went to the gachapon machines a few times and devoured the Love Live merchandise they had at Japan Post and my dear got some Doreamon stuff too since the movie came out at the time we were in Hokkaido.
LeTAO (ルタオ) is a famous bakery, café and sweet shop with branches all over Hokkaido. We saw one in New Chitose Airport when we landed in Sapporo and again when we went shopping in Daimaru but my better half wanted to eat at their head store in Otaru. Otaru is a quaint little town where they have a huge presence – it’s where their HQ is, as well as their chocolate shop (called LeTao le chocolat) and lab (LeTAO Cheese CakeLab).
There are at least six (6) different LeTAO shops in Otaru, all selling something unique. We saw one in Otaru Station when we arrived which is called Ekimo LeTAO and they sell roll cakes in addition to their regular product lines. My dear wanted to check out their sit-down café though so we walked over 30 minutes in search for LeTAO PATHOS – their largest store and café in Hokkaido.
LeTAO actually pioneered the “Japanese Cotton Cheesecake” craze. This is a soufflé-like cheese cake with a distinctive look. However, LeTAO doesn’t call it that themselves (no one in Japan does). It’s called the Double Fromage by LeTAO and it’s one of their most famous products. LeTAO also has a presence in Thailand but if you want to eat the real thing made with Hokkaido dairy, you better get your ass down to Otaru…and that’s what we did.
The café at LeTAO PATHOS is huge and you’ll be escorted to your seat by a nice Japanese girl who’ll take your order while kneeling down (!!!). This really surprised me and made me a little uncomfortable. However, it’s part of the renowned Japanese approach to service and they even make a point of stating that their tea is not ready made – it’s only brewed each time there’s an order so it’ll take a while for drinks to arrive.
Double Plate with a drink (1,404 JPY or RM 58)
This is all of LeTAO’s favorites on a plate! It contains two of their most popular cheese cakes – Double Fromage and Chocolate Double together with a crème brulee tart called Venezia Rendezvous. I have no idea why this is called a “Double Plate” when it contains 3 items but I suspect the Japanese words mean something entirely different.
I really enjoyed LeTAO’s Double Fromage. It’s made with three (3) different cheeses – Italian mascarpone, Camembert and cream cheese. All the cheeses used here are produced in Hokkaido from a local dairy. The upper layer is a creamy and smooth no-bake cheesecake and the lower layer is rich and tasty baked cheesecake. Insanely good stuff…
The Venezia Rendezvous is a mascarpone crème brulee made using mascarpone from Lombardy, Italy. The cheese is added to LeTao’s original fresh cream in Hokkaido and flavored with natural vanilla beans from Madagascar. The light and crispy tart provides a nice texture to the 42% milk fat cream used in the filling and the natural sugar beets grown in Hokkaido. The dessert is not sweet at all, the only sugar used is from the locally grown sugar beets.
The Chocolat Double is the chocolate version of their bestselling Double Fromage. They combined the cheese cake with a chocolate cake to produce a two-layered chocolate cheesecake. The cocoa is from Europe but all other items are local and the bitterness of the cocoa makes the cheesecake more suitable for adults. It cuts down the mildly sweet Double Fromage with some bitterness to produce a slightly bitter dessert.
Strawberry Mille-feuille with a drink (1,816 JPY or around RM 72)
This beautiful dessert can only be ordered in LeTAO’s café. It’s made with LeTAO’s original custard and Hokkaido grown strawberries for a towering treat that looks almost too good to eat. My dear saw this highlighted in their menu and didn’t want to order it coz it was over RM 70 for a plate of pastry. We had just eaten sushi at the 1 Michelin Star Isezushi so this was primarily a dessert run but I insisted on ordering it coz I knew she wanted to try it.
The custard was very good – it was speckled with real vanilla beans from Madagascar and there are superbly tart red currants strewn throughout the plate. However, I thought the crispy sheets of pastry was slightly over-done and bitter. Granted, desserts in Japan are an order of magnitude less sweet than Western or local counterparts but we’ve had really good mille-feuille from 2 Michelin Star Le Relais LOUIS VIII in Paris, France so it can’t really measure up to that (especially when the mille-feuille was the star dessert that got them their two Michelin stars in the first place).
LeTAO is a great place to visit if you want to have a luxurious and warm sit-down dessert in Otaru. The café in LeTAO PATHOS also serves savory food like pasta – it’s the only one that does that so it’s something to think about if you’re heading here instead of the main store. It’s also larger than the head store or LeTAO Plus. The bill came up to 3,220 JPY (about RM 130) for the two of us, including drinks and the service was excellent. I would highly recommend eating at LeTAO if you’re ever in Otaru – after all, this was where LeTAO was born.
This is the biggest ice cream cone I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating! Hokkaido is the dairy capital of Japan and they produce extraordinarily creamy milk. There are many ice cream parlors in Otaru and this is our second or third one of the day. My better half told me about this ridiculously luxurious creation and we went searching for it.
It’s located at a really obscure heated inner pathway so it took us a while to find it. I had to ask a couple of restaurants before I saw the signs.
The 8-flavor ice cream is their best-seller and costs 580 JPY (about RM 23).
They even have instructions on how to hold it. This is probably so little children (and the young-at-heart) won’t attempt to hold the bottom of a cone (like how you’ll hold a regular ice cream) coz the top is way too heavy. You have to wrap your fingers around the base of the cone so it won’t topple over from sheer inertia.
The 8 flavors are (from bottom) matcha green tea, Yubari King melon, lavender, strawberry, milk, chocolate, grape, and Ramune. Ramune is a popular drink in Japan. I like the refreshing Yubari melon and grape too, they work very well with the sweeter chocolate and milk (one of the best flavors). The cone itself is quite salty, something unique that we noticed in Japan. All the ice cream cones in Hokkaido are slightly salty, which balances the mildly sweet ice cream well.
The best part is that Japanese soft serve ice cream isn’t shockingly sweet, it’s just mildly appealing. It was winter when we were in Otaru and the snow covered paths didn’t make it conducive towards eating ice cream. However, despite the fact that we were actually quite cold and the weather was around -11 Celsius, the 8-flavor ice cream was really good! :)
“Tanoshii means enjoy, so this ice cream cafe literally means Enjoy Dessert in Japanese,” I proudly declared to my better half. It seems that my years of watching anime during college in university had paid off at last. I could only piece together the two words, hardly enough for our trip to Hokkaido in a month’s time but sufficient for our dessert pit stop.
We had come across Tanoshii Dezato in Tropicana City Mall, which offers the intriguing creation of a taiyaki (baked sea bream – the Japanese style fish cake) filled with custard, topped with ice cream and a fruit.
The Signature Taiyaki costs RM 12.80 and you can customize it with a stuffing, ice cream flavor and fruit of your choice. There’s everything from red bean to chocolate for the filling and several ice cream flavors in addition to peach, kiwi, strawberry and banana as the fruit option.
The interesting thing at Tanoshii Dezato is that the taiyaki is freshly baked on the spot! This mean it’ll be crunchy and warm and we were looking forward to eating the unusual Japanese themed ice cream “cone”.
The woman manning the counter had two small fans to cool the taiyaki cone so the ice cream won’t melt when it’s inserted. The custard is baked inside the fish cake (see previous pic) and the fruits are all fresh!
We went for a custard filled taiyaki with matcha ice cream and fresh peach. It tasted wonderful! The taiyaki is stuffed with the custard filling so there’s something for you to eat with the “cone” and the ice cream goes into the taiyaki cone too. I like how the fruits are fresh instead of canned.
My dear also wanted another scoop of black sesame ice cream by itself. The ice cream costs RM 7 per scoop if you want it a la carte. Tanoshii Dezato also sells taiyaki by itself for RM 9.90 but the combo of the two with fruits just cost RM 12.80 so that’s the better option unless you’re too full to eat the taiyaki.
Tanoshii Dezato just started serving soft-serve ice cream. The signature taiyaki ice cream dessert with the soft-serve ice cream will be only RM 10.80. I asked why that was cheaper and the friendly lady there told us that it’s coz the soft-serve ice cream is made in-house while the other ice cream is imported from Japan so it’s RM 12.80. It’s worth a trip if you’re into new and unusual ice cream concepts.
The majority of mooncakes here are from Taiwan. I was there before the Mid-Autumn Festival and bought all my mooncakes from I-Mei’s flagship shop in the middle of Taipei.
They’re mostly Taiwanese style mooncakes with flaky pastry shell but there are some of the classic mooncakes too, however all of them are made in Taiwan unless stated otherwise.
I had actually planned to get all the mooncakes from Taiwan. I thought it’ll be nice to give out mooncakes from Taiwan – it seemed like the ultimate souvenir, although I did buy other gifts too. It was a very busy trip and I couldn’t find time to get out, until my very last day, when Diana took me out at 10 am in the morning to a shop that sells mooncakes.
You can get mooncakes at 7-Eleven and the airport but for the former, you have to order in advance and the latter are commercialized stuff and I’ll rather go for a local producer and this place fit the bill perfectly!
The friendly people there even helped me pack everything and explained what each mooncake was (granted, I spent quite a lot) so that was good, considering I don’t read Chinese.
Pork Floss with Mung Bean Taiwanese Mooncakes (NTD 630)
This is really good! I would give this Best of 2015 due to its unusual savory-sweet mix. I love how the pork floss interacts with the sweet mung bean paste and I really enjoyed eating this gem. I had specifically gone looking for a savory mooncake after hearing about it from Diana (our Taiwanese liaison).
I was slightly taken aback when she asked me if I was looking for sweet or savory mooncakes. “Savory mooncakes? Whatever do you mean?” I asked. It turns out that pork floss mooncakes have been around for a while and the award winning combination with mung bean and the Taiwanese pastry skin is quite common here.
This box cost NTD 630 (about RM 85).
I-Mei Specialty Mooncake Selection 2015 with Premium Gift Box (NTD 750)
I got this one for my better half. It has a nice painting on the front of the box showing the exact street where I bought this mooncake from in the early days. I-Mei has been around since 1934 and they came out with a commemoration box where they commissioned someone to paint the street scene of their flagship store in Taipei where I went to.
This has a mixture of Taiwanese style mooncakes, Hong Kong style mooncakes and a selection of Taiwanese pastries (pineapple cake etc). It also has a wonderful Taiwanese mooncake flavor – dates and walnuts! It also appears in the previous box above (I think) as well as the one below (in the Hong Kong skin) and it’s a wonderful flavor!
I Mei Hong Kong Style Mooncakes (NTD 900)
This is the most expensive selection in their shop and I got in for my dear’s parents. It’s all Hong Kong style baked skin mooncakes but they’re all made in Taiwan. There’s a HUGE mooncake (200 grams) in the middle which has a pineapple filling as a tribute to its Taiwanese heritage but the others come in a variety of flavors including chocolate, walnut and Medjool dates.
I got to taste the pineapple filling and it was really good.
I thought the walnut and date filling is really awesome too (but no one else did). In fact, I’ll say the single yolk date filling Taiwanese mooncake is my second favorite this year.
I also choose a very interesting pack which had dried scallops and XO in a mooncake but for some reason it wasn’t packed and I wasn’t charged for it. I suspect this happened when we switched from a longer box to a flatter one and before it was tabulated and sealed so I didn’t realize it. Oh well.
Teochew Pure Green Bean Mooncake (RM 9.50)
This lard filled mooncake is from Setapak Teochew Restaurant. It’s been around since 1912 and they’re using their time-tested recipe. It’s a lot of lard (can smell it as soon as you open it) and decidedly (and proudly?) non-halal and there’s a certain charm to old school mooncakes like this, much like the Foochow mooncakes.
It’s quite good, although the lard smell/taste is a bit overwhelming and the filling is a little too sweet for today’s standards.
Haagen-Dazs Handcrafted Ice Cream Mooncakes (RM 95)
My better half got this for me. She knows I love mooncakes (especially unusual ones) and thus brought this home one day. It’s the Petite Collection which contains 5 hand-crafted ice cream mooncakes. Each set has:
- White Chocolate Mooncake with Mango Ice Cream
- Strawberry Chocolate Mooncake with Summer Berries & Cream Ice Cream
- Milk Chocolate Mooncake with Chocolate Ice Cream
The first one is the best and the “rarest” e.g. each mooncake configuration will have 1:2:2 ratio with the White Chocolate with Mango Ice Cream being the smallest number. Their Deluxe Collection also has the same kind of ice cream mooncakes, but with 2:3:3 respectively.
The Strawberry Chocolate Mooncake with Summer Berries & Cream Ice Cream is very refreshing too but my dear liked the Milk Chocolate Mooncake with Chocolate Ice Cream, which tasted like the Mother’s Day ice cream cake from Haagen-Dazs I got earlier this year. This is also the same mooncake we featured in TumblingMinis. :D
Like I said, most of the mooncakes this year were purchased during my trip to Taiwan and are made in Taiwan. We both thought that the Taiwanese style pastry mooncakes were much better than their attempts to make a baked skin mooncake. I loved the pork floss with mung bean mooncake and the walnut and date mooncakes came in a close second.
1. Marmite Rice Cakes
Marmite is something you either love or hate. It’s a very divisive yeast extract meant to be spread on toast. I went to Christchurch, New Zealand when I was 15 for my high school and fell in love with it immediately. I’ve since tried the Australian and United Kingdom version and but I’ve never seen their rice cakes before. Naturally, a got a couple of packs to bring back to KL.
2. Cadbury Roses Strawberry Dream
This is a limited edition flavor of Cadbury Roses. I always make it a point to go to the local import specialty shop to get some snacks before I go back. They had a huge sale this time since lots of the items are close to expiry. I decided to grab a couple of packs since I can eat a lot of chocolate in a day, so it doesn’t matter to me if the use by date is next month.
3. White Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
I love Reese’s PB Cups but not everyone likes them. This is the white chocolate version. I wanted to bring some back for my better half to try since this variety isn’t very common. The stuff here is all made in the country of origin too – United States, UK, Australia etc etc. It’s a real blessing that we have such a bounty of imported chocolate and snacks in such a small town.
I love licorice and would buy a big pack of plain store-brand licorice twists when I was studying in Australia. I’m partial to the aniseed taste but I know a lot of people don’t like them. It’s another love-it-or-hate-it candy. I chose licorice as one of the flavors when we went to Ladurée at Champs-Élysées during our trip to France. I adore it and this is spiked with Hershey’s chocolate to boot. My dear doesn’t like it *at all* but I plan to proselytize to her.
OMG! This is quite rare in Malaysia. You always see Maltesers (made by Mars) instead of Whoppers (Hershey’s). The latter was invented first and is more common in Commonwealth (or ex-British colonies, like our country). Whoppers are a United States product and honestly, I prefer Maltesers since I grew up with them. However, it’s harder to find Whoppers so I got a two boxes to bring back. :)
We were at a mall over the weekend when we passed by this stall. The banner doesn’t exactly inspire confidence – it has a glaring typo of Seoul, Korea. I tried searching for Mini Melts on my phone but it didn’t have any ties to South Korea at all! This seems to be an obvious ploy to buy into the Korea-mania sweeping certain demographics in Malaysia right now.
As far as I can tell, MiniMelts is a US company, much like Dippin’ Dots. They make cryogenically frozen ice cream, which is a fancy way to say liquid nitrogen ice cream. However, this is a slightly different implementation than most LN2 places you’ve grown accustomed to (with custom mixes and all that). Mini Melts offers a classic range of ice cream flavors, served the regular way, except they’re in tiny spheres.
There are actually two options – MiniMelts and MiniMelts BIG. The latter is about eight times the size of the former – think of it as a marble. The regular MiniMelts are more like the tiny spheres you see in desiccant packets.
I asked my better half what she wanted and we decided to get a Banana Split (RM 7.90) to share. This is supposed to taste like a banana split and has different spheres of banana flavored ice cream, strawberry flavored ice cream, chocolate flavored ice cream etc.
My dear didn’t like the taste at all while I was pretty ambivalent about it. It has a rather interesting texture (all those small balls rolling inside your mouth) but there’s something inherently unsatisfying about the format. Despite claiming “100% butterfat” and “no added air”, you really can’t tell in the tiny spheres.
You don’t get the satisfaction of eating a creamy mouthful of ice cream here, no matter how many MiniMelts spheres you scoop into your mouth. It’s definitely worth a try but I won’t be coming back for seconds.
Milkcow is another Korean craze that seems to be taking the nation by storm. It’s like K-pop, everything Korean is in nowadays, and that includes Korean food. Milkcow is a Korean soft serve ice cream chain. The milk is supposed to be 100% from Italy and they only have 1 flavor – which is milk soft serve ice cream. They’re famous for topping it with 100% organic honeycomb from Australia, giving it a healthy twist.
I must say, I do love raw honeycomb.
To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Milkcow until my better half suggested we try it after having lunch at Sunway Pyramid. Milkcow is the undisputed king of soft serve in Korea, the McDonald’s of ice cream. Random fact, I have been to McDonald’s in Korea.
We tried the Milky Pop (RM 11.50) which contains salted caramel syrup and a topping of gourmet popcorn. I asked to see what brand of popcorn they’re using (thinking it was Garrett’s or something). I didn’t recognize the brand but it came in a small tin, about quarter the size of a pint. They import all their ingredients from South Korea.
We also got the signature Milky Cube (RM 13.50) which is a hybrid of sorts since it has BOTH organic honey and organic honeycomb. I had accidentally ordered Milky Honey which only has liquid honey and wanted the honeycomb. Thus, instead of changing my order, the nice servers just popped a chunk of organic honeycomb on. It was a nice big chunk too, very delicious. I loved it! There was a contest where they were giving out tickets to Avengers and we actually won. Haha.
The cotton candy machine was broken that day, or I’ll have loved to try the (decidedly less healthy) Snow Drop (RM 11.50) which has Jelly Beans, salt, and organic cotton candy.
Milkcow has seen a lot of copycats like Honey Creme after its success and it’s good to have the authentic one here. I rather enjoyed their signature ice cream with raw honeycomb. It has quality ingredients and I guess its Korean origin helps in marketing, but if you take away all the branding, it’s still an amazing soft serve ice cream with no added sugar and premium organic honeycomb.
I recommend you try it at least once. It’s good.
“Don’t you want to go to some other place?” I asked my better half. She’s been eating at the exact same two places last time she was here – Aloha Cafe for lunch and Payung Cafe for dinner, so I suggested Baba & Siam but she really liked the durian ice cream we had last time at Payung Cafe so we ended up here for dinner, three days after we had another huge dinner with my sister and her family (who also loves Payung).
This is my birthday dinner – my dear had flown down from KL to celebrate slightly less than 24 hours with me and we had:
Guava Salad (RM 8)
This is our starter. Payung Cafe has a range of salads and most of them are great. I especially recommend the Herbs Salad (RM 8) but since it was a hot day, we went for the Guava Salad. It’s a lovely dish of guava with calamansi lime, crushed nuts and other herbs. It’s extremely refreshing!
Mushroom Roll (RM 8)
This is a dish that has gone through many, many recipe tweaks since it was first introduced 8 years ago. I was among the first people in Sibu who first came when Payung Cafe opened in 2008 and spread the word that it was a great al fresco dining place offering the best of South East Asian (and a couple of Western) dishes.
Starfruit Prawns (RM 16)
I love this stuff – it’s starfruit (carambola) cooked with large prawns. There are three inside and the rest is cut up starfruits and other vegetables. It makes for a good combination. My dad ordered this one.
Thai Green Curry Chicken (RM 19)
My better half’s order – she didn’t even have to think twice. Thai green curry is usually very spicy (at least if you eat the original from Thailand) but this is a much more muted interpretation meant for sensitive local palates.
Otak-Otak Fish (RM 12)
This is a Payung Cafe staple that we all ordered to share. It’s homemade and all of their dishes comes with rice (RM 2) and we also wanted to have otak otak so the owners were kind enough to deduct RM 1 from our fourth dish – we ordered four in total for a party of 3 so we didn’t need the extra. It’s usually RM 13.
Sour Chicken (RM 18)
This is one of their daily specials. I’ve had the duck version and I like how they use Cambodian spices and herbs to make this dish – it’s quite nice. Payung Cafe also uses chicken legs only in their dishes so you’ll get cuts of drums and thighs.
Mulu Ice Cream (RM 10)
We ordered one dessert for each person – this is mine, the ever-changing Mulu Ice Cream. This too has gone through several revisions, it used to be round, then a square slice, then a rectangular slice. It’s not cake – this is a sandwich of two chocolate ice cream layers with muesli in between, which is then topped with vanilla ice cream. I really like this coz of the textural aspects, there’s muesli sprinkled on top too.
Durian Ice Cream (RM 8)
This is a delicious concoction of homemade vanilla ice cream with durian paste. It’s delicious when they’ve just made it and it tastes like real durians instead of dodol (a local confection made with durians). It’s the reason my better half loves this place.
Jelly Pisang (RM 8)
This is a classic Sibu dessert – it used to be served with shaved ice and bananas and Jello. Nowadays, it’s almost extinct. To the best of my knowledge, there’s only two places who still serves this – Peppers Cafe @ Tanahmas Hotel and here. This is the higher end version with homemade ice cream. It’s pictured next to Roselle Juice (RM 6) – a refreshing drink made from the roselle plant. It’s misspelled as Roxelle Juice in the menu.
It’s a wonderful dinner, made even better with the awesome company – my dad and my better half. My dad insisted of picking up the bill and treating us to the meal since it’s my birthday. The total for the three of us came up to RM 132 which is very reasonable for the amount we ordered and true to this word, the owner took RM 1 off the bill. :)