When I was in 4th grade, my best friend Mari and I did everything together. We had sleepovers, shared inside jokes, gushed about boys and acted out scenes from our favorite TV shows. I was devastated when she and her family moved to Japan that summer. The following summer I had the opportunity to visit Mari in Yokohama. I went to her classes, explored Tokyo and visited nearby temples and shrines. During my two weeks in Japan I developed a deep appreciation of the Japanese culture and lifestyle, which I still have today.
While I was in Japan, Mari, her mom and I went to Takashimaya. I remember it being a huge department store, like Saks Fifth Avenue. A little while after I returned home to New York, Takashimaya opened a store on Fifth Avenue. The New York version is smaller and more posh, with clothes that are out of my price range. When I go there I head straight for the café downstairs. It’s a great place for tea and a light bite. I went there earlier this week with my mom.
There’s a great selection of black and herbal teas, and of course, green tea. I ordered Houjicha tea. It is brown in color with a great roasted aroma. It has a slightly smoky taste with flavors of toasted rice. The finish is smooth and clean. My mom ordered Gyokuro tea. It’s light green in color with a great fresh smell. It has a clean and grassy taste; it’s almost like you can taste the individual leaves used to brew the tea. It has a slightly bitter finish.
I ordered my tea with a Japanese version of tea sandwiches. They’re triangles of pressed rice with either thinly sliced salmon or cucumber on top. It’s like a large piece of sushi you eat with your hands instead of with chopsticks. They’re simple and yet so good, I order them almost every time I have tea at Takashimaya. My mom went for dessert, ordering a chocolate tart served with mascarpone cheese on top. The tart was dense with a great dark chocolate taste. It was so rich one bite was enough for me.
Takashimaya is located on 5th Avenue between 54th and 55th Streets.