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By Steven Li on 2007-06-17

June 17, 2007

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The day after Mitsukoshi, we went to Takashimaya. We got there around 9am, and because the department store wasn’t yet opened, mom and I went to a nearby patisserie for breakfast.

Coffee is prohibitively expensive in this city, and after paying over $5 for my first cup, I decided to swear off coffee and drink tea for the next few days. But coffee aside, good pastry is always worthwhile in my books. Here’s the cherry log, a five-inch long puff pastry stick with tart cherries pressed in. Underneath each of the cherries was a little dip of custard, a very good surprise. In the back is the pistachio and matcha puff (I’m making these names up, they were all in Japanese, and I can barely read Chinese, let alone Japanese).

Croissant light dough, only lighter, as even the croissants here seem to contain a bare fraction of the butter compared to those back home. Chopped pistachios were whirled with matcha and folded into the dough at frequent intervals. I would have never thought to pair the two ingredients, but they went together just perfectly.

At promptly 10am Takashimaya opened and we walked in, giddy with excitement and headed straight for the basement. It’s all about being goal oriented, I tell you! The basement of Takashimaya is portioned into a supermarket, prepared savory foods section, and a dessert section, whereas Mitsukoshi has one basement level for desserts, and another level for prepared savory foods. There was enough eye candy in here to last for two hours, but by the time we walked out, it was well past noon.

The only difficult part is choosing…

“Crude Sugar and Soymilk Dessert”

On the right side are boiled eggs in little pouches of fried bean curd (and all this time I’ve been stuffing them with rice! Man, have I been missing out!)

And despite the crowds and the sheer abundance of food, the place was incredibly clean. Event these smoothie machines look polished!

And did I mention the samples? Everywhere! Every corner you turned there was someone offering something. The great majority of the time, something very good! My favorite sample of the day came in a set of three (the more the merrier!), from right to left is mochi, jelly with a sweet azuki syrup and this wonderful taro concoction hovering between the state of pudding and gelatin. Sigh, if only all the samples in the world were this decadent!

I was super happy when I spotted a Fauchon!

It’s been at least two years since I last visited the NYC location (which has now closed), and the only place to access their madelines and chocolates in Hawaii is at Neiman’s. Just as I set foot in, a man dressed in white swooshed past me carrying a warm batch of matcha and chocolate braids. The smell! I had to have one. So I did.

Unfortunately, looks were slightly deceiving in this case, and the braid was just good, but far from exceptional. A little too doughy, and not very exciting at all.

Craving for something savory, I walked back towards the supermarket side. But first I had to pass the prepared foods section, where a divine piece of butterfish called my name.

Mom and I each had a salmon musubi.

At the supermarket there were treasure troves of mushrooms,

Tomatoes

Carrots

Strawberries and Watermelons

…we had samples of young ginger dipped in mayo. I’ve never eaten ginger right off the stalk before!

Fish!

And the nicest set of sushi I’ve seen in a supermarket – the perfect size for lunch. The quality of sushi and prepared foods here put America to shame. Have you seen the neon green and fake orange color of the ‘sushi’ sold at Costco? There was such pride and preparation in everything from slicing meats to packaging baked goods – if they were faking enthusiasm, all the employees sure did an excellent job!



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