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Small Chicago Food Highlights: Avec, Heritage, Do-Rite

2 Sep


A few other notable small food stops in Chicago that I’d recommend based on this past weekend:

Heritage Coffee and Bicycle Shop — just a great atmosphere, good people, excellent espresso shots and sour cherry lemonade, some bike accessories to browse (and a full repair shop).IMG_20140831_171727937

Do-Rite Donuts — the meyer lemon / pistachio cake donut was delicious, and perfectly cooked (moist fully-cooked cake center, slightly crispy outside). There were also many people in line for their next batch of gluten-free donuts.IMG_20140830_103047813


Avec, one of the highlights of the Chicago food trip a few years ago, also does an excellent brunch and we didn’t even have to wait when arriving at 10AM on a Sunday. And their long wooden box-like space is especially pleasant when there’s natural light. Their take on a greens/egg/tuna salad (vaguely Niçoise but with more dressing) was excellent, as was a tomato and baked egg dish (especially combined with the chorizo-stuffed dates).


Coffee in Tokyo

29 Nov

Quick summary: If you’re in Tokyo and you like coffee, you should really go to Be A Good Neighbor in Sendagaya near Harajuku.



A cozy little kiosk with just a window counter, several different varieties of beans you can smell, moderately lightly roasted, and very friendly people. He asked what kind of flavors I like in my coffee and I said “citrus”, and he made me a great drip. I noted the Dandelion Chocolate from San Francisco and then we talked about Four Barrel, they gave me a free pin, and suggested which other coffeehouses (third-wave and traditional Japanese) to visit.

And the other extreme, if you’re an addict and need an early morning fix on your way to the train, piping hot canned coffee/milk drinks from a machine (and in steel cans, not aluminum– unexpected coming from the US) have your back:



In other noted coffeehouses, the just-opened Nozy Coffee / The Roastery in central Harajuku. They served espresso in a champagne flute and had a large Probat and all their coffee signs in English. Quite good espresso but a strangely-designed space I didn’t like– it felt like someone half-assing the concept of “industrial chic” — some galvanized chain link fences, some wooden tables that were plywood, not much attention to detail.


Streamers boasts a world champion(?) latte artist on staff. Nice designs but unfortunately bland drinks– I left mine half-full (though being on my forth coffee of the morning might have given me very high do-I-actually-want-to-drink-this standards).

IMG_20131110_154720_597 IMG_20131110_155220_659

Seriously, though. Be A Good Neighbor.

Rabbithole Coffee, Hong Kong

8 Apr

I was tired of the bland-coffee-plus-lots-of-sweetened-condensed-milk I’d had in Asia so far, so I looked up a more interesting cafe when in Hong Kong. Via a google search to this thread, I heard about Rabbithole Coffee & Roasters… and what a successful morning that was.

It’s part coffee equipment showroom, part roastery, part place to drink a coffee (with just a few seats along a shared table and a few more on a back patio).

They had a few kinds of coffee beans and a few roasts of each, available as coffee made with any of their machines (as an espresso, filter drip, press coffee, syphon, cold/ice drip, or so on). I thought I’d just look around and have an espresso, but I ended up chatting with the friendly owner and he insisted I try the same beans made into coffee four different ways, on the house (thanks!), to compare– and they were quite different. Stimulating science!

I’m no coffee expert (and don’t care if I’m using the ‘wrong’ flavor adjectives), but here’s what I thought:

Their Yirgacheffe (full roast), as espresso, a bit sides-of-the-tongue tart and lemony (but not otherwise fruity, and still a bold toasty flavor).

Syphon while I watched (fainter lemon, stronger roasted and nutty flavor):

Cloth drip (not as strongly toasted, still lemony, and a taste that reminded me a bit more of wood and stayed in my mouth for a while):

Funnel / paper drip (somewhat similar to the previous drip, but still different– lighter, it’s just the lemon that stayed with me after sipping):

The aftermath…

I also had a cold drip coffee, the “Ethiopian Operation Red Cherry”, it was strong, dark, intensely like cocoa (but not chocolate) and, indeed, cherries. One of the most memorable coffees I’ve ever had!

I found Rabbithole a bit difficult to find from the address, and had almost given up, but am glad I didn’t. It’s on an upper floor of a building in a dense area, hard to see from street level and no obvious external sign I noticed, but the stairs were marked:

There was also a good and cheap Macau-style noodle shop catercorner from it.