Japan stores

H n M Tokyo Competition?

So…while I was downtown today, I passed by the H&M store and noticed a huge sale going on; I sent a memo to myself (via Twitter) about going back to the store ASAP to take advantage of the sale. I completely forgot about that memo until just now, when I went back to my Twitter page and saw the memo. Then, I decided I would check the H&M website to see if they would have information about the sale…

I clicked “US” and it led to this screencap I am presenting to you. Wait, what? A competition to represent H&M in Tokyo in September? HUH!? I thought at first I had clicked on the wrong country, but hm, I did indeed click on “US”. I didn’t even know about this; so I’m guessing the contest is one of those “submit your own video” and users vote on who will win. Fun! Perhaps I should send in a video….but I feel a little nervous about it. Then again, what do I have to lose?

Anyway, just passing along some information. =)

drink stores tea time

Another gem: a store of tea!

No thanks to my friend here in San Francisco, I find myself becoming obsessed with tea more and more. Today I tagged along with her to go to the Lupicia store in the mall downtown. When we first walked in, we were offered free samples of some iced teas they had. Delicious, just the right amount of flavor. Then, we proceeded to peruse through the store. My friend was trying to find a gift for her friends, so I just poked around and browsed the small store.

There were different displays for featured teas; I found the “Matcha” display with some information on the tea ceremony in Japan and different products featured. Apparently, if a customer purchased at least $10 worth of the green tea products, a free tea whisk was included in the order! I couldn’t pass this offer, so I bought three bags of green tea powder (in small packets, even!) and got my free tea whisk. I also went ahead and bought some tea bags of the “Sakuranbo”/Cherry flavored teas. Yum, yum.

I never thought I could feel so excited about tea before…

#foodie health My San Francisco Chronicles stores sweet treats

Penguino’s Gourtmet Yogurt

Found Penguino’s Gourmet Yogurt inside of the Metreon Building today while exploring the area with my siblings. The place intrigued me enough to lure me in to try some of their frozen yogurt.

I tried the soft-served frozen yogurt in the natural flavor with chocolate chip cookie dough on top. The other flavor option was mango, but I figured with the cookie dough topping that the mango would not go so well.

It was decent frozen yogurt, but I felt a little unfulfilled after eating it. I remember reading on Sparkpeople before that frozen yogurt is actually not too healthy for people. Sure, perhaps it’s lower in fat/calories than regular ice cream, but in terms of nutrients/probiotics/etc. it provides (as opposed to regular, non-frozen yogurt), the frozen yogurt doesn’t provide any of the bacteria cultures.

#foodie American Culture Japanese culture stores sweet treats

American sweets in Japan.

Well, well. Looks like Cold Stone Creamery and Krispy Kreme Donuts made their way over to Tokyo. Yeah, I realize I am a little behind on the news, but that’s okay; when I did live in Japan two years ago, I didn’t really pay attention to American foods since I wanted to eat more Japanese foods. However, during this trip, I came to Japan equipped with a little more knowledge about marketing/exporting products/services/etc. overseas thanks to my marketing classes from last year. I was curious to see–what did these companies adapt on their menus in terms of appealing to local tastes? What did they keep the same? How’s it different from in the US?

As you may have noticed in my blog posts from this trip, I have done a lot of comparisons between the American and Japanese cultures. It’s no doubt an interesting topic to talk about, think about–heck, I’ve been discussing differences with my Japanese friends since I’ve arrived here.

Anyway, I digress.

Since the Cold Stone Creamery shop opened downstairs in LUMINE at Tachikawa station, I decided to go check it out today. The line was decent; today’s a Friday, so it’s probably best that I came before the weekend rush. The set-up is different, of course; instead of just ordering at the counter, there’s a “waitress” standing around with menus and a scribble pad. We customers have to wave her down when we’re ready to order (as is customary in most Japanese restaurants). She fills out the sheet of paper with the type of ice cream, size, cone/cup, etc., and then hands the paper to me.

Then, when it’s my turn to approach the counter, I hand the worker behind the counter my piece of paper. She repeats the order back to me to confirm it; then, the ice cream is made. This part is pretty much the same as in the US.

The menu is slightly modified as well; the seasonal special right now is “Green Tea Party”, which is a mix of fluffy yellow cake, green tea ice cream, and some cream. Really Japanese, if you ask me. I looked through the menu carefully and looks like there is no “Birthday Cake Remix,” which is my favorite one in the US. Well, that creation is very American, if you ask me: after all, what’s more All-American than a Birthday Cake? Japanese have birthday cakes, too, but they’re not the same as what Americans eat. Plus, their cakes are not as iconic I guess; I can say that “Green Tea Party” is the Japanese equivalent of the “Birthday Cake Remix”, albeit this creation is probably only available in the spring.

Oh yes, and the portions were smaller (as expected).

Now, my interesting story about Krispy Kreme Donuts.

Well, I was walking down the steps of LUMINE, on my way to Cold Stone for my ice cream; suddenly, I saw some young teenage girls running up the steps with Krispy Kreme boxes and bags, and I felt confused; I had thought that the Krispy Kreme store in Tachikawa was not set to open for another week! So, I felt like I needed to figure out what was going on.

It didn’t take me long to figure out this mystery–I walked outside briefly, and was bombarded with several Krispy Kreme workers shouting out “Free Krispy Kreme donuts!” and directing people to a long line. Well, actually, I wasn’t sure what the women were saying, but people around me were growing really excited and running to the line (!!), so I decided I would follow suit. Got into line, approached the front, and voila–they handed me a large bag with a box of donuts. At first I was skeptical of what exactly was in the box, but after I came home, I found that the box contained a dozen Original Glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. A DOZEN. The regular price for one dozen in Japan is roughly 1600 yen (around $16)!

It’s insane that they were giving out these boxes for free. And what amused me more was just watching the frenzy–why do Japanese love Krispy Kreme so much? When I tried the donuts out, I was expecting the flavor to be slightly altered, but no–these are THE Original Glazed donuts. All-American flavor. This discovery made me feel even more confused–I thought maybe Japanese did not like overly sweet things? I guess my assumption was wrong–I asked a few of my Japanese friends, and they couldn’t explain the phenomenon either. They did mention, however, that the Krispy Kreme store in Shinjuku is always packed–minimum 2-hour wait in line. All for American donuts!

I don’t think I will understand this for awhile; maybe I need to do a little more research. I’m still in shock over the free dozen of donuts….

drink friends stores

Quickly USA

(Source: Quickly USA website)

I quite like Quickly, even if their drinks are a bit on the sweet side. On a beautiful spring-like Sunday afternoon, I spent a couple hours at Quickly with my friend, chatting about various topics. I like the atmosphere inside–relaxing yet also lively. The particular location that we went to had a lot of seating, so it was set up more like a cafe. They had some armchairs there that looked like big gloves, which was fun to look at.

I was studying the menu and was trying hard to figure out what I wanted to drink and whether or not I wanted something to eat, too. I’ve tried several of their milk teas before, and even their avocado snow (smoothies) with tapioca; however, I was not sure if I should go for the “tried and true” or experiment a little with different flavors. I decided I should go out of my comfort zone and buy something different. After all, I rarely get tapioca drinks these days (high in calories, I’m sure)…might as well experiment a little and see what I like.

I ended up choosing the Almond Milk Tea with large tapioca. Sweet and delicious; my friend and I were studying the food menu as well, but I wasn’t sure if I should waste my appetite on fried snack foods or not. Maybe next time, I guess.

I think I could have stayed at Quickly the whole day if it were up to me; I just really liked sitting there enjoying my drink and chatting with my friend. I also liked how they had some magazines that people could flip through at the store; pretty much like a salon or a library. Ah, relaxation on a Sunday afternoon: nothing quite like it.