Pon de Ring Nama / ポン・デ・リング生 from Mister Donut

Mister Donut, a donut chain owned by Duskin has launched new type of Pon de Ring to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Pon de Ring came out in 2003.
The maker copied famous Brazilian cheese bun called "pão de queijo (ポン・デ・ケージョ)," which is made with cassava (キャッサバ) and cheese and is a springy bite-size bread.
They wanted to use the interesting texture for Pon de Ring.

In 2013, it's been 10 years since the original Pon de Ring was sold, they made new type of Pon de Ring, and it's called "Pon de Ring Nama."
Technically "nama" means raw, but lately it's used for description of soft, like ganache.
The advertisement tends to say "Nama chocolate" which means ganache.

This new Pon de Ring Nama has much bouncier but softer texture than the original one.
They had a lot of commercials for announce this special donut with this person mainly and HIS name is Matsuko Deluxe, who is technically a guy but dresses up like a woman.
S/he's a columnist but these days s/he is on TV a lot.
This ad is from their official page.
Did you notice that s/he wears Pon de Ring shaped earring?

You can watch the commercial here on YouTube.

When we went to buy 4 flavors, the shop we went to only had 1 flavor...
And we saw an apology ad outside.
Closeup photo.
"We're so sorry to announce that Pon de Ring Nama series have been selling so well and we may not have enough stocks."

But, my fiance got the rest of the flavors other days and we could try all the 4 kinds!

Pon de Ring Nama (sugar glazed)
This was place in a special 10th anniversary paper tray.
Holding up the donut, I was so afraid it'd break apart as it's really soft, light, and fragile.
The dough is plain and sweet.

Pon de Ring Nama Choco Golden 
(covered with chocolate and crunchy yellow sugar bits are sprinkled)

Pon de Chocolat Nama (chocolate flavored dough with sugar glaze)

Pon de Chocolat Nama Chocolate Crunch
(chocolate flavored dough covered with chocolate crunch)
Inside of the donut, there's darker chocolate filling but it's not cream.
It's more like another layer of dough.
My favorite one was the Chocolate Crunch among these 4 flavors.
If you like the original Pon de Ring's soft but hard texture, this Nama is too light and weird for you.
The only way you can find it out is to try both.

Mister Donut has 100 JPY and 120 JPY sales often but this Nama series won't be on sale, according to the HP.
Yet the webpage doesn't say till when they'll sell this Nama series, but it could be limited time offer.


Afternoon Tea at Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel, NY

We've been trying several afternoon teas and as we're in NY over the New Year's holidays, we booked Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel, which you probably have seen in "Home Alone 2."

It could be the first time I came this close to the hotel ever...
Palm Court is located on the 1st floor and it's a separated space from the lobby.
Seeing a guard stopping visitors to ask if they're staying the hotel, I thought only hotel guests are allowed to go to the lobby or any specialized facility.

The space between the entrance and Palm Court, there're large and beautiful chandeliers.
As you can see, it looks taller than people and definitely can touch the tree on the right side.

In front of the Palm Court's windows, there's a tall Christmas/holiday tree with snowflake-shaped spinning ornaments around it (and blocked with red ropes and golden poles).
There're some displays and they all seemed expensive.
After getting into the Palm Court, there're more chandeliers again.
The ceiling was gorgeous.
According to some reviews, the ceiling color would change into red/orange in the evening but we didn't find any difference and I wonder if they still do that.

By the reception, there's a quite big sweets house.
On the wall, there're a lot of Hershey's chocolate.

Our table.
Afternoon tea menu.
On the first page, there's a story about Palm Court.
The Plaza opened in 1907 and since then, it's been an international icon of splendor and luxury.
Over 100 years, they've hosted a lot of celebrities.
The authentic Palm Court has been restored to its original grandeur with a 6.5 millions dollar renovation.
And in the end, it says, "Welcome to The Plaza Hotel, where dreams become memories."
It sounds like Disneyland.

My fiance decided to get Eloise Tea set, which is meant for kids but adults can also get with extra 20 bucks and chose pink lemonade.
I got Chocolate Tea, which pretty much everything would be chocolate.
As I've never heard anything like this, I had to get this one.
Soon after, jam, lemon curd, and clotted cream were served.
We saw this small jar of strawberry jam at Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, too.
And drinks were served; pink lemonade and tea.
I don't remember what kind of tea I ordered but it's one of the unique one like the Plaza's special blend.
My Chocolate Tea.
It came with chocolate fondu and on the bottom plate, there're pineapples, pretzels, marshmallows, bananas, strawberries, and cakes.
The waiter lit the fire and a pot of chocolate stayed warm till the end.

Top plate has fancy and colorful chocolate confectioneries.

And like other places, scones were set in the middle plate.
A lot of chocolate and it was more than I expected.

Eloise Tea
From the bottom, there're grilled cheese, PB&J, and 2 other sandwiches with strawberries.
Really colorful and everyone's favorites were there.
Second plate had 4 scones unlikely mine (2 scones) and each flavor had 2 scones here.
Top plate had two huge chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate mousse, etc.
Eloise Tea was also having a lot of sweets and foods.
We first thought it's for kids, it would have less but they might add some extra pieces for adults.

That day, we had late lunch but still there're enough time to walk around and recover some appetite.

Everything was sophisticated, even the PB&J sammies were so tasty and all the sandwiches were cut into same shape and same height.
All the confectioneries looked delicate, high-class, and all tasted really good.
Scones were nicely baked and had shiny golden brown top and the lemon curd was something new to try.

However, this afternoon tea was something we couldn't imagine...
These tea sets were obviously way too much for us. 
If we hadn't eaten anything that day, we might have been able to enjoy them more.
It was that much food on high tea set.
I actually didn't wanna eat or see any chocolate and said this line for the first time ever in my life.

We saw a family of 4 sitting next table and they ordered all the 4 different afternoon tea sets.
Little two girls pretty much left everything as there're more than plenty of foods on the plates.
I felt bad for the parents but also the servants and patissiers/chefs as they have to see a big amount of leftovers.

I got sick afterwards as I ate way too much...
To enjoy this afternoon tea, I high suggest you starve yourself and don't eat beforehand besides making reservation is a must.

Palm Court (The Plaza Hotel)
768 5th Ave
(between Grand Army Plz & West 58th St) 
New YorkNY 10019

6:30AM - 10:30AM for breakfast
11:30AM - 2:00PM for lunch
2:00PM - 5:00PM for afternoon tea

Dress code: business casual


McDonald's Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger /

McDonald's has added a new 1-dollar menu on December 31, 2012.
It's called "Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger" and sold through the end of January.

*Picture from official page.

As I was in the states over the New Year holidays, I could try this new menu.
Japanese McDonald's has nice varieties but sometimes we don't get the same menu or they come really late with strange name.
When I was a college student in 2006, they didn't have McFlurry and only place I could get it was military bases and a friend of mine from high school in the states happened to be in one of the bases so I could go and get McFlurry. 
We now have that here too but McDonald's Japan launched it in maybe 2007 or 2008.

I don't think this 1-dollar menu would ever come to Japan.
It has nothing to do with the ingredients but McD Japan has been struggling with marketing plans and trying to fix the situation, thus I don't think they'd gamble on imported menu for a while.

Anyways, the new 1-dollar menu was tasty enough for the cost, to be short.
Reading the reviews in advance, we knew white cheddar wouldn't be melted, which was a little bit new to me as I've always seen orange cheese was sticking on the wrap or the case when I opened the packages.

We ordered via drive-thru but as we only wanted to get this, we had to add, "Yes, only 1 burger."

Yay, we got the burger!

"100% pure beef grilled onion cheddar"
It's wrapped loosely but the name of the product is in the middle and the dot-line is covering the burger exactly, which is pretty neat as I don't expect that much of precise products from fast food chains.

Like we knew, cheese is so solid even though the web page says "melty cheddar."
And we don't see any onion hanging out of the buns...

We need more caramelized onions!!
The bun was same as other regular ones but no sesames.
Patty is of course beef 100% and tasted like McD.
Cheddar cheese, it's partially melted and it's underneath the onions only.
Caramelized onions, they're pretty good and we wanted more. 
We might need to ask extra onions in advance to get enough onions to have the official picture-looking burger in our hands.

Overall, it's only one dollar so I can't argue but for that price, we didn't get disappointed and even were happy to have tried this.


Hot Calpis ~ Hot & Relax ~ Roast Sugar Taste /
ほっとカルピス 【焦がし砂糖仕立て

A vending machine at the entrance in the office building I work at has a too-interesting-to-forget can of drink.
I noticed this weird can display on the first day I came back to work.
It's Calpis, but Hot Calpis.
I'm used to drinking cold one or Calpis soda, but I've never tried them warm before.

For those who have no idea what Calpis is, here's some information about the product and company.

Calpis is a first lactic acid bacilli beverage in Japan and was brought to the market on July 7th, 1919.
The company name at that time was different but in 1923, they changed it to Calpis.
In 1902, founder Mr. Mishima visited Mongolia region (current Inner Mongol, China) and found the local dairy product, which was similar to cheese. 
He developed Calpis using the Mongolian dairy product as a model and launched it in 1919.
The distinctive flavor of Calpis is from lactic acid produced by lactobacilli bacteria and this had been an industrial secret for a long time but they disclosed that mid 1990s.

FYI, Calpis sounds like "cow piss" in English, so in the states, they change the name and sell it as Calpico.

It says "hot and tasty" on the can, but I'm not sure yet.

It says their persistence for the taste and quality.

[Selected lactic acid]
Calpis' one of a kind and inherited for 90 years lactic acid is used.

[Hot and tasty]
The unique sweet-sour flavor of Calpis remains in this hot drink.

[Roasted sugar flavor]
Added roasted sugar to create sweet and soft taste.

[Nutrition] *per 100ml
Calories: 22kcal
Protein: 0.30g
Fat: 0g
Carbohydrate: 6.0g
Natrium: 17mg
I'm surprised 0g of fat in it and low calories for the amount even though it says they added sugar.
Total calories: 61.6kcal as the amount of this can is 280g.

What I see is "sugar, sugar, and sugar" besides lactic acid.
According to a little alert, the allergic substances are milk and soy beans.
And one of the ingredients, reduced sugar syrup is is hard to digest and might cause diarrhea by physical condition and constitution.

Opened the can and smelled like the same Calpis that I know but sweeter than the regular (cold) one.

I wanted to see the color, so I poured into a cup and found the color is slightly darker/stronger the cold Calpis.
I had a sip.
It's sweet. Really sweet.
I might have been able to finish this can, but I didn't.
Instead of drinking it hot, I put it in fridge and made it cold.
But, it's still too sweet and I've never even made this sugary sweet Calpis by myself.

I'm not gonna buy unless I really need sugar in my body...


Knave in Le Parker Meridien New York

After having gurgers at Burger Joint, we had time to spare in the afternoon but it was snowing hard and really cold.
Lucky enough, there's some table available at Knave, which is a cafe & bar in Le Parker Meridien New York and it's part of the entrance.
Last year when I came in and look at the line of people for the Burger Joint after visiting MOMA, I remember I've seen this bar with red curtains with high ceiling and indistinct lights of the chandeliers and it was still the same.

On both sides of the bar, big mirrors were set on the walls.
I think the designer's intention was to make the space look bigger than the actual by reflecting the area.
If you look at the photo above, you might think this place is large, but it's actually a narrow rectangle shape and people can walk from the door to get to the lobby or the Burger Joint, as the bar waiters and waitresses were often asked where the burger place was.

I love the color and details of the ceiling a lot here.
Where we sat was closer to the lobby, that means farther from the entrance and we kept ourselves warm, and the sofa and couch were more than enough for 2 of us.
Long and low table in front of us, long couch with classic patterns, one-person sized sofa without backrest (little bench sofas) were set by the table.

As we're still full from burger and fries, we ordered 2 hot chocolates.

The hot chocolate was NOT something I was expecting.
It was thick chocolate and came with 2 marshmallows with skewer.
The marshmallows resembled the ones of Trader Joe's' and not only the looks, the texture was similar, too. 
I wonder if they buy it from Trader Joe's.

The chocolate was so thick that marshmallows could easily catch on each surface.
It was like Spanish churro y chocolate's chocolate, not drinkable chocolate.

Yet, soon a waitress brought us foamy hot milk.
After enjoying chocolate covered marshmallow, now it's time to make a smooth and easy to swallow hot chocolate on our own.

I poured the warm and bubbly milk into the cup and mixed with the gooey chocolate paste.
And now it looks like cappuccino... with a suspicious skewer on the side...
I wanted to have fun with this interesting hot chocolate and drew smiley face on the foam.

We saw ginger cookies on the counter and ordered one.
The ones we could see was human shaped but what we got was bear with cute red ribbon.
I'm not big fun of ginger cookies but it was quite good and tasted different from grocery shops' snacks.

We're there for about an hour and saw it's pretty busy.
It's not technically busy as people kept ordering, but it's always occupied with some groups and hard to find a vacant spot.

I learned Le Parker Meridien NY has not only Burger Joint but also interesting cafe and bar called Knave.

Knave (in Le Parker Meridien New York)
119 West 56th street, 
New York, NY 10019