An Inviting Coffee Shop in Nanjing, China

China is best known for its tea, but in recent years, a coffee culture has developed in cities both small and large. Most of the coffee that is consumed, is mainly by young professionals working and living in major cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing. However, some of the major stores, such as Starbucks, are viewed differently here than they are in the U.S. Starbucks is popular, but smaller shops owned by young entrepreneurs are paving the way for coffee shops.

Buying coffee in Eastern China can vary from drink stands to full-blown cafes. The major difference between them is the atmosphere and the convenience. A drink stand can run the same amount that you would pay in a regular coffee shop, and you receive the same quality, if not better, of coffee. These drink stands

One coffee shop that I frequent is called Shawn’s Coffee. The cafe is hidden beside a busy mall, but the bright yellow sign invites you as you pass by. When you enter through the black picket fence, you usually see Shawn making drinks or chatting with friends. There are always customers relaxing by themselves or with others. At night, candles flicker on the patio while conversation and laughter fill the air. Upon entering the cafe, you see Shawn’s certificates hanging on the wall, random pieces of coffee equipment and succulents placed throughout the shop.

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I had the opportunity to talk to Shawn and ask him why he opened his coffee shop and what inspires him to make his coffee. He told me that he wanted to create a cafe that made Western style coffee but was tailored to meet Chinese standards. To achieve this, he studied with the SCAE ( Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) for seven years and researched online. Through practice and education, he learned how to craft signature drinks, roast coffee beans and create latte art.

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Shawn’s coffee is very popular in the Longjiang district 龙江小区 of Nanjing. Due to his popularity, I wanted to know whether or not he could see his coffee shop becoming a chain. He informed me that if he ever decided to open other locations, he would want them to be in China. Shawn wants to keep the authenticity of his coffee shop and introduce coffee to other Chinese consumers.

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Coffee is becoming more popular in Eastern China. There are a variety of cafes, both franchised and not franchised, with different drinks to appeal to local tastes. Thanks to small business owners like Shawn, both Chinese and Western consumers are able to enjoy quality coffee.

If you are ever in Nanjing, check out Shawn’s Coffee. His shop is located at the intersection of 横六路 heng liu lu (6th Cross Rd.) and 龙园西路 longyuan xi lu.

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The Top Ten Songs on My Travel Playlist

If you know me, you know that I love music. Thanks to my parents, I’ve been exposed to all different types of music. Years of choir, musical theater and randomly learning how to play instruments have led me to enjoy the majority of different musical genres.

When I travel, I only like to listen to certain songs. I think it’s because I’m always thinking about what’s about to happen next and what I did to get there. I made a list of my top ten songs on my travel playlist. I listen to these songs whenever I travel. You can find all of these songs on Spotify.

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A Week in Japan

In June, I visited Japan. It’s taken me a while to write this post because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. I came in with very few expectations, not because I didn’t expect my trip to be great, I always try to keep an open mind when I travel. All of my expectations were exceeded and I absolutely loved that trip. It has to be one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.

Before I went to Japan, I created a list of foods that I wanted to try. I didn’t want to miss out on any good foods, even if it meant that I had to miss out on some attractions.For me, I understand a culture through it’s food. I’ve really been able to do this in China, since every city has a local dish that may be popular in one area but not the other. I think the food in Japan told a story. A story of it’s history and culture. Where it has come from and where it hopes to go.

Below are the foods I had while in Japan.

Taiyaki

This a  fish shaped cake with sweet fillings. I tried one that was filled with sweet potato. It reminded me of a semi-sweet sweet potato pie, but portable and crispier. This taiyaki place was located near my hostel, Guesthouse U-En.

Kobe Beef

The is the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. The cut of meat was handled with care while it was being cooked in front of me. The steak was savory and mouth-watering. If you have the chance, eat Kobe beef. Pay the money for it because it’s well worth it.

Yakitori

Yakitori are meat skewers topped with a sauce and grilled. The restaurant that I went to is called Torikizoku. The location that I went to was in Osaka, but you can find them in other big cities in Japan. They have a large menu of different types of skewers, both chicken and pork, and they have dishes that aren’t on skewers, such as tofu and fried fish.

Udon Noodles

Udon noodles are my favorite type of noodles. Usually, I enjoy them steaming hot in a bath of broth, but I wanted to try something new since I was in the birthplace of the noodle. I ate at  Tsurutontan Roppongi  in Tokyo. I really liked the restaurant and they served both hot and cold noodles. I tried a cold noodle salad served with warm chicken. The dish was layered with flavors, both sweet and savory.

Tsukiji Fish Market

This was a very bittersweet moment for me. As a person who considers themselves a foodie, I really like to see what happens to the food that I eat. I was able to visit the Tsukiji fish market before it’s historic closing on November 2nd of this year. Luckily, it will reopen on November 7th, but in a different area of Tokyo. You can read more about it here.

I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. I went to my hostel and slept for maybe two hours. I woke up at 2:30am and left for the fish market. I didn’t tour the market around 5:00am. During the tour, I was amazed at how fast-paced the market was and how passionate people were during the auction. I don’t know if there will be tours going on until the market closes, and after the new one opens, but if you are able to take the tour, I suggest you go there. It sucks to wake up early, and you may not appreciate it when your there, but I can honestly say that I have more of an appreciation for what goes into my sushi after that experience.

Sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Market

After my tour at the market, I went to a sushi restaurant. I don’t know the name of the restaurant, but I took a picture and it is the sign on the far left. I waited in line for an hour and a half, not because they were slow at making the sushi, it was because there were so many people waiting to eat at the restaurant.

The restaurant is set up omakase style, meaning that the selection is left up to the chef. There is no menu and all of the fish served was raw. The only thing I had to do was sit, eat and pay. The cuts of fish were incredible. I have never eaten fish, or sushi, that was so naked and had so much flavor.

Other foods and drinks I tried while in Japan

 

 

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A Photo Journal of Wuzhen

A couple of weekends ago, my friends and I took a trip to Wuzhen, China. Wuzhen is a historic water town in the Zhejiang province. I had no idea what to expect when I went to Wuzhen. I had done some research online and it seemed like a pretty cool place. However, I wouldn’t necessarily label Wuzhen as a water town. There is a river that runs through the town and you can take a boat tour to see the different parts of the town, but you can just walk around the town and not take a boat at all. We decided to walk through the town instead of taking a boat. Nonetheless, the town beautiful. It’s filled with many historic houses and even some exhibits.

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