Shinjuku Gyoen Kiku and Roses 新宿御苑 菊とバラ

28 01 2011

Ogiku Chrysanthemums

Ogiku Chrysanthemums

Kiku 菊 (Chrysanthemum) are another symbol of Japan, particularly the Imperial Family, and the Imperial Family’s Chrysanthemum crest can found all over Japan on buildings, and even on the Japanese passport. Fittingly, the Imperial Family Household holds a Kiku Exhibition in Shinjuku Gyoen from November 1st to 15th.

The exhibition not only gives you a chance to see some beautiful and unusual varieties of Kiku and traditional ways to display them, but also coincides with autumn roses (‘bara’ バラ in Japanese) flowering in the French garden, and the start of leaves turning to their autumn colours all over the park. Entrance to the park is 200 yen, and it can be accessed from Shinjuku-gyoenmae Station (1-2 minute walk), Shinjuku-sanchome Station (3-5 minute walk), Shinjuku Station South Exit (10 minute walk), Sendagaya Station (5 minute walk), and Kokuritsu-kyogijo Station (5 minute walk).

Here are a few photos I took on November 13th.

A traditional Ozukuri bed of Kiku

A traditional Ozukuri bed of Kiku

Edo Variety of Kiku, which changes in appearance as it opens

Edo Variety of Kiku, which changes in appearance as it opens

Ichimonji variety of Kiku, from which the Imperial Family crest is inspired

Ichimonji variety of Kiku, from which the Imperial Family crest is inspired

Fallen autumn leaves

Fallen autumn leaves

Cream Delight Rose

Cream Delight Rose

More photos can be seen in my flickr set.

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Tokyo Tea Party

19 05 2010

I am so excited to be blogging about this!  I am far too obsessed with food (^-^)v

and with Tim Burton’s Alice, but that’s something completely different… (Mad Hatter… Tea party… get it???)

Tea

Tea!

The Park Hyatt in Shinjuku is by far most famous for its New York Bar, which was featured in the movie Lost in Translation.  However, the hotel has another gem in the Peak Lounge, where you can enjoy the view of the Tokyo skyline, and dine on a fantastic English Afternoon tea.

The menu doesn’t have a vast array of eating options, but more teas than you can poke a tea strainer at.  The best option on the menu is one of the two Afternoon tea sets they offer, either desserts only, or sandwiches and desserts.  Each feature seasonal treats and unlimited tea, coffee, petits fours, and finger foods.

On the day we went we chose the sandwich and desserts option.  Firstly you will be served your beverage.  To begin with I had an English tea.  Shortly after that, they will bring a three-tiered stand (pictured below).  On the top are the sandwiches, in the middle the scones, and on the bottom some cakes.

the setting

the setting

The sandwiches of the day were ham, lettuce and radish, a sun-dried tomato based sandwich , and another one that I have completely forgotten… , all lightly toasted.  I have to admit, I was a little surprised with the ham, lettuce and radish, as it’s a combination I wouldn’t have thought of, but it was quite tasty with the radish giving the sandwich a bit of a tang.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches

The scones were a real treat. Being the start of April and cherry blossom season, one of the scones was sakura flavoured.  The other scone was plain, but the clotted cream and fresh berry compote that accompanied it was divine.

Sakura Scone

Sakura Scone

Scone with clotted cream and berry compote

Scone with clotted cream and berry compote

The cakes that came on the tiered stand were strawberry profiteroles, pistachio tarts, and almond cake.  The profiteroles were quite nice, the filling wasn’t overly strawberry flavoured and was made with real vanilla beans.  The tart base for the pistachio tarts was a little hard, but it’s possible we ate them after they had cooled down a little too much.  The almond cake is something you don’t see too often in Japan, so it was nice to have an old favourite for me.

Strawberry Profiterole

Strawberry Profiterole

Pistacio tart

Pistachio tart

Almond cake

Almond cake

While you are eating from the stand, the staff also come around and offer other petits fours and finger foods.  The petits fours offered were a cherry jelly, chocolate profiteroles, and the best berry panna cotta that I have ever had (I think I even had seconds of this).

Cherry Jelly

Cherry Jelly

Chocolate Profiterole

Chocolate Profiterole

Fresh Berry Panna Cotta

Fresh Berry Panna Cotta

And for finger foods, there were mini quiches, caramelized onion on french bread, pesto penne, and chilli mixed nuts.  Both the caramelized onion on french bread and the pesto penne were my favourite, and a lovely savoury counterpoint to all the sweet dishes.

Mini Quiche

Mini Quiche

Caramelized Onion on French bread

Caramelized Onion on French bread

Pesto Penne

Pesto Penne

Chilli mixed nuts

Chilli mixed nuts

By now we had finished our first cup of tea, and were sampling some of the green teas.  I had the green tea with orange peel (pictured), and Lauren had the green tea with lemongrass.

Green tea with orange peel

Green tea with orange peel

And all the while we were enjoying the changing colors of the sunset over Tokyo!

Sunset

Sunset

Details: Afternoon tea is available at the Peak Lounge on the 41st floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo from 1400 to 1700 on weekdays, and from 1200 to 1700 on weekends and public holidays.  The price is 3,000 yen, inclusive of tax and a 10% service charge.

edit may 19: woops, who forgot to spellcheck…