Archive for February, 2009

Gallerie Vie: A cozy brunch nook in Omotesando

The weekend is upon us and one of the best things you can do for yourself is head to a brilliant brunch.

Gallerie Vie may be tucked right in the centre of Tokyo’s chic district in Omotesando but the café is located around the corner from Issey Miyake on a quiet lane. Part of a women’s boutique, Tomorrowland, the café sits on the second floor with a terrace.

I love Gallerie Vie because it’s convenient but yet you don’t really feel you are in Tokyo. I always feel I’m ready to languish in what looks like a lovely living and dining room located who-knows-where with excellent food.

Even though the set lunch is priced slightly above 1,500JPY, you get thoughtful little touches like delicious olives before your meal arrives.

olives

There is also a bread table where you can help yourself to parmesan cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and four different kinds of bread.

bread

Every visit to this café feels a little new because their menu changes fairly often. I’m an ardent fan of their seafood pilaf, but it has been struck off for other dishes like gratin (pictured below) and steak.

gratin

For something doused in cream, it wasn’t overly heavy with its reasonable serving and vegetable-only ingredients.

pasta

My companions had the tomato-based spaghetti and minced chicken. I didn’t try it but judging from the way they relished it, it was pretty damn good.

The set usually comes with a drink — tea, coffee, or juice and a small bowl of garden salad. In the summer they make a stupendous milky iced latte but the hot version will also make you sigh with gratitude as you wax and wane over what you plan to do over the weekend.

Address: 3-18-9 Minami-aoyama 2F
Tel: 03-3423-8431
Opening hours: Lunch – 1130 – 1530 daily; closes at 2000 (LO 1930)
Nearest station: Omotesando station Exit A4

How to be brave at karaoke

“I hate it!” is what a lot of people say about karaoke, but it’s one of the most popular things to do in Tokyo after dinner with friends.

Although it’s a predominantly Asian pastime, I think if you did a survey on who loves or hates karaoke, you could probably end up with a 50-50 result and it doesn’t matter where you come from.

But since you’re reading this, you are probably swaying on whether or not to grab that mike and let it rip. You’ve maybe even sat in on a couple of sessions but you’ve resisted singing at all costs.

It’s easier for me to embrace karaoke since I’m Asian and it’s everywhere, but I’ve had to climb over my own hurdles of fear and embarrassment in the beginning. Perhaps I’ve shed a lot of self-consciousness over such things since my awkward teenage years, but I’ve come a long way from being a shy lass to a thick-skinned woman.

So, here’s some advice on how to be brave at karaoke:

Choose familiar songs. It could be a really old tune by The Carpenters or The Beatles, but if you can remember the music and some of the words, you’ve won half the battle. Don’t select cool, new songs because they are really hard to sing. Would you rather look stupid over a rap song or go slightly off-key with an old classic? The choice is obvious.

Have a few drinks. I always hear these stories about people who used to be so reluctant to sing at karaoke, but once they down a few shots, they’re turn into a karaoke animal. Liquid courage is your friend.

Partner up. This will take your shyness away by at least 80 per cent because if you don’t know the words, you can hide your uncertainty behind someone else’s voice. Nobody really knows who flubbed which lines when two people take over the mike. It’s also fun to sing with a buddy.

Laugh at yourself. Though some people are truly good at carrying a tune, most folks are mediocre (like you), so don’t worry too much about not getting it completely right. Joking while you’re singing is fun, but like most things that make you laugh, you can’t plan the punch line. Just go with the flow and relax.

What are you waiting for? Just do it.

Photos: b-chan’s world, stuartbuchanan, Loop’s San

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