Category Archives: Location

Singapore, Singapore – marché Mövenpick

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Food & Locations – We had never heard of the marché Mövenpick until we came across it in the 313@Sumerset mall the other day. On the main floor, it looks like a coffee shop and bakery (it has some very nice breads and rolls). If you go downstairs though you find a full, very large restaurant.

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This restaurant is one of 80 around the world (only two in North America, and unfortunately they are both in Toronto, Canada), though I have never come across them before. They seem to be very family friendly and even offer birthday packages for kids.  These packages start at $29.90 SD (Singapore Dollars) per child with a minimum of 10.

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When you enter the restaurant, you are given a card, much like a credit card. As you wander about the floor you choose the items you want to eat. You hand the cook/server your card and they electronically record your selection. You do have to be careful or you could easily run up a pretty hefty bill.

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When you are done eating, you exit through a cashier who scans your card and then prepares a bill based upon your selections. I was happy to find that Apple Pay was accepted here.

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We tried marché for dinner one night, then again for breakfast. The food was very good and, for the most part, prepared to your order. It is a little expensive, but then Singapore is an expensive city to live in. Shown above is the daily special of “White Asparagus Savory Crepe” at $19.90 SD or about $14.80 USD at today’s exchange rate. You do get a good meal for your money. That Crepe is about 14″ long and about 3″ in diameter and comes with a side salad.

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There is a station (shown above) where you can have a pasta dish prepared.

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There is also a salad station where you choose a small, medium or large plate, then fill it with your choice of salads and vegetables.

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There is a selection of meats and fish that you can have prepared to your taste. About the only difference we saw between the dinner and breakfast menu was the availability of omelets and waffles during breakfast. The omelet was good, but the ingredients were fixed – onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

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There is a dessert station where they have ice cream and baked goods. After our dinner, we tried a couple of their desserts. A Vanilla Marange and a piece of Praline Chocolate cake. They were both very good.

Would I come back to marché? – definitely, though I am not sure if I would come for breakfast again. If you are in the Somerset MRT (subway) Station area in Singapore, this is a place I would recommend.


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Japan, Tokyo – Akihabara Electric Town

I read about the Akihabar area of Tokyo in one of the tourist brochures. This area of Tokyo can be found near the Akihabara station on the JR rail line. The area established itself as the place to find electrical goods for the home in the years after World War II. Today the area is the shopping district for video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.

In addition to the electrical/electronics products that can be found there, the area is considered by many to be an otaku (a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly towards the anime and manga fandom) cultural center.  As you can see in the video clip above, icons for anime and manga are on the buildings throughout the area. Many cosplayers can be found on the streets handing out ads for area shops. Prominent of these are those advertising the ‘maid cafés’.

The area has several ‘maid cafés‘ and ‘cosplay cafés‘. We saw several young Japanese women in front of shops dressed up in the ‘maid’ costumes. I did not realize why they were dressed up like they were until I started researching for this blog post. As one might expect, the area was crowded and most of that crowd was made up of young men.

We just past quickly through the area looking. I could easily have spent hours looking through the shops.


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Japan, Tokyo – Cookie Time Cookie Bar Harajuku

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We were out exploring Tokyo a few days ago. We came out of the Harajuku subway station and started down the street. We unexpectedly came upon the Cookie Time Cookie Bar. The shop is located at 1-21-15 Jingumae | 1F Napole Harajuku Bldg., Shibuya 150-0011, Tokyo Prefecture. This was quite a different dessert place.

They had several different types of cookies, but we controlled ourselves and only ordered three. They were served warm, and they were all very good.

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We thought that the “freakshakes” (see the red sign to upper left) looked intriguing. As we sat discussing which one to try, an American couple sitting next to us overheard us talking about the shakes. They suggested the Nutella shake, which they had ordered. We took their advice and we were not disappointed.

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What can I say? This was an awesome shake. And yes, that is a chocolate cookie topping it off.

I chatted with some of the young women working at the shop. CookieTime got its start in 1983 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Two Cookie Bars are now open, one in Queensland and the other in Tokyo. My wife and I both believe one of these shops would do great in the Domain or Domain Northside areas back in Austin.

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I told the young ladies working at CookieTime I wrote a blog and asked them for a photo. They (two Americans and an Australian) gathered around their “cookie monster” and posed for the shot above.

If I am in Tokyo again and have the chance, I will be returning to CookieTime! If you are in Tokyo and near the Meiji Shrine or Takeshita Street, take a few minutes and drop by CookieTime. You will not be disappointed!

 


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Japan, Tokyo – Jimbocho, the Used-Bookstore District

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I wasn’t aware that the “Kanda Second-hand Books Area” existed until I happened across it on a “What to see in Tokyo” map. The formal name for the area is Kanda-Jimbocho. Jimbocho is named after the 17th-century samurai Jimbo Nagaharu who lived in the area.

After a fire destroyed much of the area in 1913, Shigeo Iwanami opened up a bookstore in the area. It later became a publishing house which is still located in the district. After that has followed many other bookstores. Somewhere between 150 and 180 bookstores can now be found in the area.

Most of the bookstores sell used books, but there are quite a few with new publications on sale.

While some English language books can be found, most as you would expect, are in Japanese.

I took photos of just a few of the places that we walked by.

As you can see there is a wide variety of shops.

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You walk by some of these shops that lean towards older works being resold and you can smell the old paper and ink. That is not something you find in modern bookstores. It is more likely what you would find in the stacks in older libraries.

If you like books you may want to visit this area of Tokyo, even if you can’t read Japanese.


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Japan, Tokyo – Sony Archives

When looking for someplace within walking distance of my hotel I came across the Sony Archives. The small museum is located at 6-6-39 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo. The archive collection is managed by Sony, is free and is open to the public, but it does require a reservation ( +81 (0) 3-5448-4455 ).

Sony was founded in the wake of world War II in the fall of 1946. The Sony Archives is not large. You can easily browse through it in about an hour. Many products are on display, including the prototype electric rice cooker that was their first product.

If you are interested in more history of Sony, the Podcast Tech Stuff had a series of three episodes (November 2, 9, & 16 of 2017) that give a good background story. You can find them on the iTunes site.

I would not recommend going out of your way to visit the Archives, but if you are in the area and have a little free time it is an interesting walk through elecronics history.


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Japan, Tokyo – Grand Prince Hotel and Garden

This is the first time I have been to Japan. We stayed at the Grand Prince Hotel.

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This is one of three Prince Hotels (Takanawa, New Takanawa Prince, and Sakura Tower) all located in a 10-acre garden which formerly belonged to the Takeda Palace of Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda. The hotel is modern and very nice.

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We were fortunate to have a view from our 6th story room onto the garden area. It is very well maintained and I saw a steady stream of visitors while we were staying there, including more than one wedding party.

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The garden is well laid out and marked. We were visiting Japan in May so we missed most of the flowers identified on the chart. I had the opportunity to go down and walk around through the garden. It is a very tranquil place in busy Tokyo.Â


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Henderson and the Valley

Most who visit Las Vegas just see the lights of the city. Las Vegas and neighboring Henderson are part of a desert valley. While the area is very developed with the 600 square mile basin now home to more than 2 million, it is a very arid desert.

This is a look around part of Henderson and down into the valley where the skyline of Las Vegas can be seen.


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USA, New York, New York – Zabar’s

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While in New York, I unexpectedly ran into a friend from when I worked at IBM in Austin, TX. While we were looking for a place to eat dinner, he introduced me to Zabar’s. Zabar’s is located right on Broadway at 2245 Broadway (at 80th Street), New York, NY 10024. Zabar’s Store Hours: Monday-Friday: 8am – 7:30pm, Saturday: 8am – 8pm, and Sunday: 9am – 6pm.

Zabar’s was opened in 1934 at their current location. The beginning found Zabar’s with a modest 22-foot wide storefront, today it nearly spans the entire block. As they say on their website:

The principles and practices of our founder and father continue to guide us: Respect the customer. Never, ever stint on quality. Offer fair value. And last but not least, keep searching for the new and wonderful.

Without question, this last point has accounted for some memorable moments. Back in the 1960’s, we introduced New York to Brie, in the ‘70’s we brought them sun-dried tomatoes and gnocchi, and in the ‘80’s, we got so excited about caviar – and wanted everyone to taste it – that our prices set off a so-called “Caviar War”. (Incidentally, we won.)

Over the years, the business kept growing, and today we span practically the entire block front. With our sons, daughters and their cousins, we’re still at it – hand-slicing meltingly delicious smoked fish behind our deli counter…offering tastes of the latest artisanal cheeses…setting out fresh-baked batches of rugelach (it’s our Bubbe’s recipe)…overseeing the roasting of our special coffee blends (we sell 400,000 pounds a year!)

You can find all sorts of things to eat at Zabar’s. They have a large bakery with all sort of goodies. They also have a wide range of fish, meat, and cheese. There is also a small cafe attached to Zabar’s and the second floor is filled with various housewares. In addition to what you can walk in and buy, they do a brisk online business, particularly at holidays. They have nice catalogs of both their food and housewares offerings.

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For those who want to pick up something pre-cooked to take home, they have a great selection. I took my wife and granddaughter into Zabar’s the night after I was introduced to it and they loved it. We each were able to pick something appealing out of the ready-made counter (photo above) to take home for dinner.

We liked it so much we returned the next night for dinner again. We would have made three nights in a row, but it closed (it was a Sunday) before we could get there the third night.

Should I find myself in New York, hungry and near Broadway and 80th, Zabar’s will be where I go.


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France, Paris – Variantes

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I certainly was not looking for this store, but simple stumbled upon it as I was wondering around Paris. Variantes is a small store that overflows with games of all kinds. It can be found at 29 Rue St André des Arts.

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What really caught my eye was the spectacular chess sets and pieces. There are some very well done, and expensive, pieces available. A set made with these would be quite a work of art to put on display. I play chess, but my style is more in line with the cheep plastic sets than something this magnificent.

If you are into board games in general, or chess in particular, you will want to stop in at this shop if you are in Paris.


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