Umeda Sky Building and Sakura Mille Crepe Cake

Umeda Sky Building and Sakura Mille Crepe Cake

After having Kitsune Udon at Umeda Station, I walked over to Umeda Sky Building. Instead of heading directly to the top of the building, I first tried to find a Doutor. The cafe advertised their sakura flavoured desserts in celebration of the cherry blossom season, and I wanted to taste the Sakura Mille Crepe Cake. At the time, I was still making exceptions for desserts that weren’t plant-based.

I had looked up the directions for Doutor back at the hotel, and was convinced I knew the exact building and level. Then when I didn’t spot the cafe, I started to panic. I had found myself in an underground market with no Doutor in sight. Although it was a wonderful recreation of an old Osaka street from the early 20th century, I couldn’t focus on exploring it. I darted from one area to another, desperate to stick to my schedule. I felt lost without any internet, and once again forgot to keep an open mind while travelling. I reminded myself that I wasn’t actually lost or even alone, and that it wasn’t the end of the world if things didn’t go according to plan. Maybe I’d even find a better sakura dessert later on.

Just as I had thought of skipping dessert and heading to the rooftop, Francois had found the cafe. I finally ordered the Sakura Mille Crepe Cake, and noticed that the dessert set came with coffee at a discounted price. I tried to order a decaf soy latte, but it wasn’t going well. The soy latte part was understood, but not the decaf part. When I tried to paraphrase, the barista tried to suggest hot chocolate. This seemed like a weird suggestion at first, but then I realized that technically it was a warm drink without any caffeine. It seems that the barista did understand me after all, but was trying to be polite.

After reading between the lines that decaf coffee wasn’t available at that location, I ordered the soy latte and figured that at least it was discounted. Then the total price was different from the discounted set price. There was no one in line behind me, so I casually asked about it. The server kindly explained that since soy milk was extra, the set was only available with a dairy milk latte. Even though this all happened much quicker than it sounds, I still felt bad about bothering him with my complicated order. I reassured him it wasn’t a problem, thanked him for all of his help, and quickly paid.

Umeda Sky Building and Sakura Mille Crepe Cake

The Sakura Mille Crepe Cake was adorable and tasted like strawberry jam. I was mostly just happy to finally relax and enjoy my dessert. When I was done, I calmly made my way to the entrance of the Umeda Sky Building. First, I walked around the indoor observatory taking in the beautiful views of Osaka. Then I went to the rooftop to experience the Floating Garden Observatory. The open air observatory was absolutely terrifying. There was no glass hiding the city views, which makes it ideal for taking good pictures but terrible for someone with a fear of heights. It was so windy, I was convinced I would fly right off the building.

Umeda Sky Building and Sakura Mille Crepe Cake

As I clutched my bag, I began to panic for the second time that day. While changing course had caused me stressed earlier, this time it brought me comfort to know that I could simply go back down. I knew my fear was irrational since other people were walking around happily. Not to mention that the rooftop wouldn’t be open if it was dangerous. However, I decided that I shouldn’t feel pressured to walk around if I wouldn’t enjoy it. I was brave enough to check out the top level, and didn’t need a picture to prove it. Besides, Francois would fill me in and show me his photos. I went back down to the enclosed observatory area, where I could enjoy the view more peacefully.

Umeda Sky Building and Sakura Mille Crepe Cake

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Ordering Ceremonial Matcha in Kyoto

Ordering ceremonial matcha in Kyoto

The good thing about arriving in a surprisingly busy area of Kyoto, was the amble choice of teahouses. In an attempt to be open to new experiences, I embraced under-planning and walked into the first teahouse I came across. After drinking matcha in Shinsaibashi in Osaka, I wanted to try a matcha flavoured food. The menu had a variety of matcha noodle dishes, and appetizing desserts. Since matcha is an acquired taste, flavoured ice cream, tiramisu, and parfaits are a great alternative for those who don’t yet appreciate ceremonial matcha.

There were many food items, but unfortunately no vegan options. Instead, I ordered a ceremonial matcha and hoped it would be served with a sweet treat. In Japanese teahouses, the most expensive matcha on the menu is the highest grade ceremonial matcha and is served with sencha and wagashi. Wagashi is a small Japanese confection, often made from sugar and rice flour. It is typically plant-based, even when it includes a filling.

The order did end up including a delicious pink wagashi. The matcha itself didn’t have that distinct umami flavour, however, it was still extremely fresh and skillfully prepared. I also ordered an iced matcha, which was smooth but much sweeter than expected as they added a generous amount of syrup.

Sometimes it’s nice to stroll around, and visit a place without looking at reviews. Though, I have extremely high expectations for my next matcha tasting as it would be in the highly regarded teahouses of Uji.

I’ll have the yellow and blue

Sweet Hart Kitchen

No trip to Kensington Market is complete without a visit to Sweet Hart Kitchen. After originally tasting their delicious desserts at Veg Food Fest, I was delighted when I found out they had opened a physical shop.

blue lemonade and yellow lemon bar

The last time I stopped by Sweet Hart Kitchen, I got their blue lemonade and yellow lemon bar. The bright colours made for a perfect summer treat, especially knowing they weren’t full of artificial colours and flavours. They both tasted even better than they looked.

Every time I enter the shop, I spot a new and temping item. Here’s a few of their creative vegan and gluten-free creations I’ve had in the past.

Matcha Vanilla Cream
Matcha Vanilla Cream

This cake requires patience and precision. I know because I’ve tried to replicate it. After soaking cashews for hours on end, you’ve got to blend them until the texture is silky smooth. After avoiding cashew bits, you need to worry about matcha clumps. Too much matcha may also affect the delicate balance of flavours. Sweet Hart Kitchen’s Matcha Vanilla Cream cheesecake has the perfect combination of matcha, vanilla, and natural sweeteners.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake
Cookie Dough Cheesecake
Vanilla Earl Grey Bundt Cake
Vanilla Earl Grey Bundt Cake

This beautiful cake appears simple, but since it’s gluten-free I’m betting it took several attempts to perfect. As a London Fog fan, I loved this flavour.

Tiramisu Square
Tiramisu Square

If you’re running short on time, you can always grab Sweet Hart Kitchen to go. Warning: some treats won’t make it all the way home.

Hibiscus + Goji Berry Kombucha and Apple Berry Heart Pop-tart
Hibiscus + Goji Berry Kombucha and Apple Berry Heart Pop-tart
Matcha Ice Cream Sandwich
Matcha Ice Cream Sandwich

Baked Goods Breakfast

Baked Goods Breakfast

Baked Goods Breakfast

After months of planning my trip to Japan, the cherry blossom season started 9 days early. Instead of sleeping in after 30 hours of travel, I rushed out towards the O River on my first day in Osaka. Luckily, the beautiful Sakura trees were still in bloom. Even though the cherry blossoms were the priority, there was no way I’d be able to fully enjoy them on an empty stomach. I stopped worrying about missing out, and started to think about breakfast.

Baked Goods Breakfast

Since I still wanted to make the most of it, I tried to find something to eat by the river. I spotted a bakery called Pompadour, and was drawn by the sweet scent. The bakery had trays and tongs at the entrance, which meant I could wander around and take my time deciding which treats to get. I loved not feeling rushed and pressured to place my order. The bakery also had enough variety to satisfy my needs, but wasn’t overwhelming. 

Baked Goods Breakfast

This place was heaven for someone with a sweet tooth, even if it was far from ideal for someone used to eating mainly vegan food.

Baked Goods Breakfast

When it was time to pay, I was delighted by the level of care taken into packaging my custard filled bun, cheddar and onion bun, and the cutest strawberry shaped bun. Since the strawberry bun was pretty fragile, it was placed in it’s own perfectly fitted container. While people were taking pictures of the cherry blossoms, I couldn’t resist taking pictures of my yummy breakfast.

Baked Goods Breakfast

The strawberry shaped bun did not only look adorable, but it also tasted magical. It had incredibly fluffy cream inside that tasted exactly like a strawberry milkshake. It wasn’t the healthiest breakfast, but sometimes you just need to indulge.



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Sweet Endings

Sweet Endings Danielle Geva

Mantra Raw Danielle Geva

Last October, I travelled to France and Italy with Francois to celebrate our birthdays. While in Milan, I planned to dine at Mantra Raw. Even though I’m not usually a fan of raw gluten-free food, the plant based restaurant seemed like the perfect treat for Francois. Mantra Raw’s reviews were all extremely positive, and best of all they served Matcha. Another selling point was their grab-and-go market. That way if we were running short on time, we could pick up some snacks for the way.

Mantra Raw Danielle Geva

Three days flew by, and after our last dinner in Milan we were ready to call it a night. Since Mantra Raw was a couple of blocks away from our hotel, I insisted we at least stop by. As soon as we entered, we decided to stay longer. The restaurant decor was gorgeous, and it had a wonderful vibe. We ordered tea while looking over the many appetizing dessert options on the menu. Seeing as we were in Italy, tasting the Tiramisu was a given. Then we narrowed it down to the Tiramisu and Lime & Ginger Cheesecake.

Mantra Raw Danielle Geva

When the dessert was served, it threw me off that the cheesecake was deconstructed. I find that overly fancy foods usually have much better presentation than flavour. However, I was quickly proved wrong. Every bite of the cheesecake was more heavenly than the next. The Tiramisu didn’t disappoint either.

Mantra Raw Danielle Geva

After devouring both of the delicious cakes, we couldn’t resist ordering another. We chose the bold Persimmon, Orange, & Pistachio Cheesecake. Right before the trip, I watched a video about persimmons. Weirdly, it has been years since I’ve heard about the fruit, but suddenly it was everywhere. Especially in Italy. The adventurous choice paid off, as it was the perfect sweet ending for our final day in Milan.


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