Sunday, March 8, 2015

Manga-Inspired Gluttony

I love food manga. Last year I started reading a manga series called "It will be breakfast at Tiffany someday" (いつかティファニーで朝食を Itsuka Tiffany de Choushoku wo) by Maki Hirochi, published by Bunch Comics, Shinchosha. (Only five books in the picture, but there are currently 6 volumes of the manga out.)
It will be breakfast at Tiffany someday いつかティファニーで朝食を マキヒロチ
The protagonist, Mariko, grew up enjoying eating breakfast with her family as a child, but as a working adult living with a boyfriend working late hours, she finds that they sleep in late and  can't be bothered to eat a proper meal together in the morning. After going out for breakfast with a group of girl friends, she realizes that she is losing her sense of self in her efforts to accommodate her boyfriend's schedule/routine and that his lack of understanding of her desire to enjoy breakfast together is a sign of bigger problems with their relationship. She decides to move out of their apartment and break up with her boyfriend in order to start a new life of enjoying breakfasts.

Apart from enjoying the story, what I like about this manga is that it features a lot of different real cafes and restaurants where you can eat breakfast in Japan--mostly in Tokyo, although she does go on business trips to Nagoya, etc., so there are other places as well.

A spin-off manga series starring the boyfriend she broke up with also started recently; "Sotaro's lonely lunch of business trip" (創太郎の出張ぼっちめし Soutarou no Bocchi Meshi).
Sotaro's lonely lunch of business trip Maki Hirochi 創太郎の出張ぼっちめし マキヒロチ
Sotaro is not a gourmand by any means of the imagination. When he goes on business trips, he usually eats at chain restaurants because it's easy and he knows that the food/quality is generally the same wherever he goes. When a co-worker nags him into going out of his comfort zone and checking out a local restaurant (alone) on the last day of a business trip, he discovers the joy of trying out new places to eat. From there on, he decides to make the most of his business trips by trying out local restaurants instead of going to chain restaurants.
In the first (and so far only) volume of this manga, Sotaro actually goes on a business trip to Aomori City and goes to a cafe that neither my husband (who worked in Aomori City for a couple of years before moving to Towada) nor I had ever been to before. Obviously, I was very interested in checking the cafe out!  

My husband had a meeting in Aomori City from 10am-12pm this past Saturday morning, so I went with him to Aomori and spent most of the time while he was in the meeting at the cafe, Kissa Marron 喫茶マロン (also known as Marron Coffee/Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店).

It has a great retro look and feel, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly. It clearly appeals to a wide range of people, since in the slightly over two hours I was there, I saw single diners (male and female), couples, groups of friends, and families (mother and daughter, and mother and son) all come in.
Kissa Marron 喫茶マロンMarron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店
Kissa Marron 喫茶マロンMarron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店
Kissa Marron 喫茶マロンMarron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店
Kissa Marron 喫茶マロンMarron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店
Kissa Marron 喫茶マロンMarron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店
Kissa Marron 喫茶マロンMarron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店
Since we had skipped breakfast, I took advantage of their "morning service" (7am-11am)--you get free thick-cut toast and a boiled egg for free with the purchase of a drink. You can also pay a little extra to get add-ons like jam on the toast, or ham and cheese, etc. etc., but this time I stuck with the standard set. The hot chocolate ('cocoa") I ordered was dark and rich, and not overly sweet--definitely a good choice!
Morning Service with Cocoa ココアのモーニングサービス Kissa Marron 喫茶マロンMarron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店

While I was enjoying my "morning service," I heard a number of people ordering the kabocha purin (pumpkin pudding). Once I found out that it is a seasonal item, only available from fall to spring, of course, I naturally  had to try it as well. I expected it to be like something you could get in a grocery store--an orange coloured pudding served in a dish--so was quite surprised when it came out looking more like a rare cheese cake!
Pumpkin Pudding かぼちゃプリン Kissa Marron 喫茶マロン Marron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店
Although the pumpkin taste wasn't very strong--it only hit as a very subtle when I was mostly done eating it--and the pudding was not at all what I had expected, it was nonetheless very tasty.

I had the "morning service" around 10:00am and the pumpkin pudding around 10:30am. Since the manga had featured "Jamaican curry" (ジャマイカンカレー), I couldn't very well leave without trying that, so around 11:00am (the start of "lunch service"--a drink comes with the lunch), I ordered the Jamaican curry (comes with a "stick salad").
Jamaican Curry ジャマイカンカレー Kissa Marron 喫茶マロン Marron Coffee Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店
It was really delicious, but it was a loooooot of food. I  somehow managed to finish everything, but that was probably the first time I have ever eaten so much that my stomach actually hurt. I didn't linger after finishing eating but left so I could stand up and walk around--I felt like I would explode if I stayed seated. (Plus the cafe was pretty much full and I wanted to open up a table for more customers.)

My husband scolded me for being too greedy when I told him how much I had eaten, but I rather thought that it was his fault for not being there to share with me so I could try more food! :P (jokes) I did feel sheepish, though, when I remembered that I had heard people ordering take-out, so I probably could have just asked them to box up whatever I couldn't finish rather than forcing myself to eat everything! Since not all restaurants/cafes in Japan allow people to take doggy bags, I've gotten used to assuming that everything is strictly eat-in only.

Oh well, next time I plan to go with my husband so I can try out more of the menu: the "tuna curry toast" (comes with a side of fruit) sounded really tempting and there's also still the "Marron parfait" featured in the manga that I wasn't able to try since it is only served after 2:00pm.

(I probably won't have to wait long for my chance, since apparently my husband has a meeting in Aomori next Sunday afternoon...!)

Kissa Marron 喫茶マロン
(a.k.a. Marron Coffee/Coffee Marron マロン珈琲店)
Hours: 7:00-21:00 Daily (closed 1st & 3rd Wednesday each month)
"Morning Service" 7:00-11:00; "Lunch Service" 11:00-14:00
Phone: 017-722-4575
Parking: N/A (pay parking across the street)
*Take-Out Available*