Coffee Prince コーヒープリンス– a lovely cafe in Shin-Okubo ♥

Are you a fan of Korean dramas? If the answer is YES then you’ll definitely know a drama about a girl who pretends to be a boy in order to get a job at an all-boy staff cafe — “Coffee Prince”. If the answer is NO then no worries, I admit I haven’t seen any Korean drama yet either. I kind of knew that a show like this existed, but that would be pretty much where my knowledge ended. Before writing this blog update I did some more reasearch and discovered that the cafe that I’m about to show you is not just a random coffee place. It is actually meant to be a replica of the real cafe used on the set of  the aforementioned drama! Let’s check and see if the Shin-Okubo replica conveys the atmosphere of the Hongdae original.

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The original “Coffee Prince”

I have been to Hongdae (Seoul) but most probably I just didn’t pay too much attention to cute cafes (there were hundreds of them! I think there’s a cafe on literally every corner of Seoul). I’ll be sure to visit the place next time I’m in the Land of the Morning Calm though. If you happen to be in Seoul or you’re planning to, check out this website (it’s in Korean though!):

Coffee Prince coffee shop: http://www.hongdaeya.com/?document_srl=7919

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image from: hongdaeya.com

 

 …and here’s the copy in Shin-Okubo!

Coffee Prince

コーヒープリンス  커피프린스

Tokyo, Shinjuku, Hyakunincho, 2 Chome−2−3, TRN新大久保ビル3

 

It has everything I like: good coffee, nice atmosphere, very charming staff and good music. And you can always enjoy karaoke on the 4th floor, after you finish your coffee! By the way, here’s one song I heard in the cafe and one of the waiters was kind enough to write down the title for me so I could find it later: Epitone Project – 오늘 (Today)

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According to some posters we can find on the wall outside the cafe, if you go there early enough you’ll get toast for free. Yay for free toast!

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What is the concept of “Coffee Prince”? Let me quote Wikipedia here: “In order to attract female customers, he [the owner] only hires good-looking male employees” (⇐about the drama series). That would explain why all staff members are male (and yes, they really are handsome) and why 99% of customers are female.

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 The original interior of the cafe in Hongdae

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image from: hongdaeya.com

 

…and Shin-Okubo’s (in my opinion successful) attempt to create a similar mood.

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 Hongdae

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image from: hongdaeya.com

Shin-Okubo (great job copying the sunflowers!)

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The menu!

A few words from myself: it is not a cheap cafe. You might actually be a little disappointed after you pay over ¥600 and get a coffee that would be called “short” at Starbucks. Their desserts are delicious though, and actually the “couple set” is a rather good deal! As it is in the case of most of the cafes in Shin-Okubo, it’s not only coffee and desserts you’re paying for — it’s the relaxing atmosphere, good music and lovely customer service too.

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Bubble tea with puffy cats. Waffles with kiwi, bananas, vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce. And the cutest of all the Ghibli creatures – chocolate Totoro as a bonus!

Too cute to eat them…but way too tempting not to.

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 ⇑(notice happy cutlery on the right…)

Naturally, we had a small photo session before drinking these lovely puffy cat bubble teas. Who wouldn’t?

Here’s my friend Madoka being cute ♥

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Some more of the lovely chocolate sauce art

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Frog Shin-chan! If you haven’t seen at least one episode of Shin-chan – a 5-year old who loves showing his bum – you’re missing out big time.

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 ⇑

That was actually a couple set — two drinks of your choice, waffles with ice cream and choux cream with sweet beans and Oreo cookies ♥

Boys do come to this cafe, but I guess they’re almost always accompanied by their girfriends, hence the couple set.

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The Hongdae shop has some cute window art going on…

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image from: wikipedia.org

…and so does the Shin-Okubo one. And it’s really adorable!

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If you’re a fan of Korean dramas and “Coffee Prince” in particular – check it out! If you like quiet cafes where you can spend a few hours sipping on your coffee, looking outside the window and enjoying good music – this is the place! If you’re a connoisseur of stylish, tall and handsome Korean men — they’re waiting for you right over here at this cafe! If you like waffles and like to instagram your food because it’s cute — it’s a must go! I feel like I should have some kind of a scale, like 1 to 10 so….I’d give this place a whopping 9! Let’s say it’s on the pricey side in Shin-Okubo, but you’ll most likely be back once you check it out!

(If you ever decide to try out any of the places I’ve recommended, please let me know in a comment!)

Thank you for reading! ♥

Miyomi 美楽味 — BIGBANG themed restaurant in Shin-Okubo!

Another day, another food adventure! I don’t have any sort of real ranking of my favourite restaurants, but if I had one, this place would be sitting nicely on first place. I love everything about it.  A BIGBANG themed restaurant in Shinokubo serving amazing Korean food. What else could you ask for? Not a big fan of  BIGBANG? Absolutely no problem! You’ll find photos, posters and maybe even autographs of many other k-pop idols here too. Not a fan of k-pop at all? Enjoy the delicious and authentic Korean food they serve… and they have a pretty wide selection of amazing dishes!

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It’s just a 2 minutes walk from Shin-Okubo station. You can’t miss the gorgeous pink-haired G Dragon (I’m sure that this poster itself brings in a lot of customers…female customers).

美楽味 Miyomi

〒169-0073 Tokyo, Shinjuku, Hyakunincho, 1 Chome−6−15
ヤナギヤビル1F (Yanagiya Building 1F)

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 You can take a look at everything they offer even before you actually go inside. So as we can see (and as I mentioned before), there’s a special BIGBANG room — unfortunately I have never had a chance to sit there because it’s almost always occupied when I’m there.

Apparently, Haruna Ai has visited the place and left them her autograph. Who is Haruna Ai? When I first came to Japan, I saw her in lots of variety shows and thought she was a pretty cute lady with an interesting husky voice. Well, she turned out to be a ニューハーフ (‘new half‘) – a transgendered woman who won the “Miss International Queen 2009”  held in Thailand (according to Wikipedia, she is the first Japanese to get that title). Well, I still think she’s a really lovely lady. There’s also a pic and a signature of a famous Korean actor Lee Min-ho, so I assume he’s been there too.

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  Inside we have tons and tons of photos and posters of hallyu stars and BIGBANG of course. They play mainly BIGBANG’s music which is one of the reasons why this place is my favourite. Every so often they play music videos of other YG artists, but you won’t hear SM Entertainment or other agencies’ artists here.  I should probably write about another restaurant in Shin-Okubo, where they play only SM Entertainment music for a change (and it was also much cheaper…). Someday I’ll be sure to get to that, so stay tuned.

 

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 I managed to get a rather unflattering shot of CL…

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If you’re a big fan of k-pop, you might recognize these handsome young men. Unfortunately I couldn’t, so please let me know in a comment if you can identify them for me.

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*JYJ ordering drinks*

Yoochun: I should get that refreshing sour as always… (サワー sawaa = sake cocktail)

Jaejoong: There are many kinds of sours. (very insightful)

Junsu: I guess I’ll go for a sour,  too.

What a natural conversation! /s

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 ↑

 Kim Nam Gil is not as indecisive as JYJ boys and he knows that what he wants is chamisul (Korean vodka).

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♥The BIGBANG room! Posters, CDs, photos, pillows…A paradise for fans of the fantastic 5. And if you add delicious Korean food to it…HEAVEN!♥

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Big thanks to my friend Misato for posing in such a lovely way with their menu. You may think that their prices are a bit high, but keep in mind that dishes from this menu are supposed to be shared among 2-3 people.

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 Here’s their lunch menu (10:30 – 16:00). Prices vary from 850 yen (which is super cheap) to even 3000 yen (which is not cheap at all). I have tried their japchae, their fried squid rice, kimchi jjigae, kimchi fried rice, bulgogi and probably some others but my absolute favourite is their cold noodles – naengmyon! Sooo good!

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  Cheers! 乾杯! 건배! Bon appetit! いただきます! 잘 먹겠습니다!

⇓                                                     ⇓

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 To make noodles easier to eat, waiters actually cut them. I distinctly remember the first time I ate Korean noodles, I was kind of surprised when I saw a waiter approaching with huge scissors and cutting my food.

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Bibim naengmyon, delicious appetizers — kimchi, yeolmu kimchi,  mechurial jorim (quail eggs in soy sauce) an mul naengmyon

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 This has to be my favourite Korean food restaurant so far. I might be biased because of BIGBANG’s music and posters everywhere, but I would lie if I said I go there only because of them. I love the food, the drinks (awesome makgeolli cocktails!) and the neighbourhood. A great place for lunch – 10/10!

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 Bonus!

My friend Misato is a total babe and I like her simple and cool fashion. I asked her about the items she was wearing that day, so here’s the list:

top: MUJI 無印良品

shorts: moussy

shoes&bag: another edition (www.another-edition.jp)

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  Thank you for reading!♥ (and be sure to visit this place the next time you find yourself in Shin-Okubo!)

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Shin-Okubo / Korean Town — one of a kind! ♥♥♥

If you check through my last few updates, you might get the impression that Shibuya is my favourite spot.

But actually, no, it’s not.

It’s Shin-Okubo, which I love more than Omotesando, more than Harajuku and definitely more than Shibuya.

Why…?

I went there for the first time in August 2012, just a few weeks after I came to Japan. At that time I had no interest in k-pop or even Korean food whatsoever, but there was one reason I would go there every week, and her name is Akane. She’s my lovely friend who at that time was staying in Kokuritsu International Medical Research Center Hospital which just so happens to be located in Okubo. Every week, until the end of March 2013 when she went back to her hometown, I visited her there, and that’s how it all started. Akane battled leukemia, but she’s a happy, healthy girl now. It’s a long long story, and I hope to write about it more one day. Today I want to show you the town that gave me more happy memories than any other place I have been to so far.

As I came here every week, I started checking out the shops, eating delicious japchae in the lunchtime, SoundHounding awesome k-pop songs I heard for the first time…and before I realized it, I was totally in love with everything about this town.

Shin-Okubo, Korean Town.

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Now that I’m k-pop / Korean food / Korean cosmetics obsessed, Shin-Okubo is like heaven to me. It’s like Little Korea in Tokyo. When you get off at Shin-Okubo station, you see posters advertising new Korean dramas or makgeolli rather than Asahi or some  TBS drama with Kimura Takuya.

With all the idol shops, it’s a k-pop fan paradise. Whoever your bias is, whichever CD you’re looking for – everything is here.

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 ♥   I swear this place will make me go bankrupt one day   ♥

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Last time I went there, each store was full of Tohoshinki. As it turned out, it was the day their Japan Live Tour began. Can’t complain, before the YG Family Concert it was full of BIGBANG accessories, so I guess it’s just what store owners do to keep each fandom group happy.

Besides, the guys from Tohoshinki are drop-dead gorgeous so it’s all good.

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 Countless cosmetics & k-pop accessories shops↓

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I really recommend this store. They have a supermarket on the first floor with cosmetics, super spicy  instant ramen, kimchi, seaweed, makgeolli, kimbap, all the yummy stuff and some handsome store assistants… Second floor: more cosmetics, brands like Missha, Etude House, 3 Concept Eyes, Skin Food, cute hair accessories and more handsome store assistants. Third floor: Korean fashion, shoes, watches, accessories, stationery and pretty female store assistants for a change. Everyone can find something here that appeals to them.

KーPLAZA2

〒169-0073 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Hyakuninchō, 2 Chome−1−2

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If you’re used to Japanese customer service style, Shin-Okubo might surprise you. Japanese store assistants must smile all the time, they keep distance from you, don’t really talk to you until you seem interested in an item. It’s completely different here…store asisstants will follow you around the store putting you under pressure to buy something, they will grab your hand and put some cream on it, asking you to smell it “Smells beautiful? Yeah? You like it? Buy it then”. When I wear clothes showing my tattoos, most of shop staff members ask me about them, they touch them (without asking me first actually, but it’s friendly — not creepy), one woman just grabbed my arm with both her hands and was rubbing my arm tattoo for like 2 minutes saying “oh so cuuuute” *rub rub*. I don’t mind. Also, unlike Japanese store assistants who will smile and compliment you no matter what, Korean shop staff is more likely to show what they really think.

That reminds me of one conversation I had with a female store assistant:

Store Assistant: What cosmetics brand do you use?

Me: Mainly Missha.

SA: Missha….ಠ_ಠ

/5 minutes later/

Me: *talking with my friend, commenting on a BIGBANG poster*

SA: Do you like BIGBANG?

Me: Like? We love them!

SA: Oh…..ಠ_ಠ 

***

This guy though! My friend and I passed his little stall with some sweets a few times, and each time he tried to get our attention, so I thought it could be fun to talk to him and ask him for a photo. I really wish I could buy one box of that thing, but unfortunately I don’t really eat sweet stuff (yes, my friends already called me a freak a million times).

He was a super funny guy though, so if you see this little stall with cute looking pastel cookies or whatever that is, get some of that sweet goodness

 😀

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 If you love Korean food as much as I do, you will never want to leave… Supermarkets with delicious stuff straight from Korea, and lots of awesome restaurants playing awesome music.

↓My lovely friend Madoka buying a corn tea supply for a few months

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I have so many good memories connected to this place , it will always have a sincerely special place in my heart. It’s a must go if you love k-pop, Korean food, Korean cosmetics, Korean anything. And well, if you don’t…it’s a fun place to hang out anyway!

Thanks for reading! ♥

***

That funny guy: Let’s take one more photo, c’mon

Me: Sure!

TFG: Love love moooooode!!!♥ (ラブラブモード!!!)

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