Japan, Tokyo, Travels

Lattest, Omotesando

ashleigh-leech-someform-lattest-coffee-omotesando-tokyo-japanI must confess that I only discovered Lattest Omotesando thanks to a Japanese television show. One of the contestants on the show works here and after seeing her pour a coffee – I was determined to visit. As the sister of Streamer Coffee Company, Lattest was opened with an aim to promote female baristas. Set back off the main street, look for the sandwich board out front and you’ll find an inviting industrial space inside. The coffee is rich, with intricate latte art to boot. Located just down the road from Maisen Aoyama, it is the perfect stop after lunch. They also have another location Lattest Azabu Juban that’s next on my list.

Australia, Melbourne, Travels

Something More, Fitzroy

ashleigh-leech-someform-something-more-melbourne-australia-01Each time we visit Melbourne, every meal is precious and we’re overwhelmed by the staggering number of new cafes and restaurants to explore. I love to spend hours researching these new places, only to find we usually end up wandering (a little clueless) for new discoveries instead. This is precisely how we ended up at Something More, whose pale pink exterior caught my eye from a block away. Entering, we didn’t even know what cuisine was on offer, but our hunger wasn’t going to let that stop us.

ashleigh-leech-someform-something-more-melbourne-australia-02We were pleased to find it’s Asian and Korean-inspired with dishes full of chili and kimchi. We ordered the Shanghai Ball Sports (crunchy slow-roasted brisket balls, green chili and citrus slaw) and Ms Kims Euro Trip (crispy kimchi and pork waffle, topped with a pickled cucumber, spring onion salad and blue cheese mayo). Piled high, both dishes were incredibly tasty with surprising textures and strong flavors. The warehouse space is large and welcoming, filled with greenery and a regular rotation of featured art.

Japan, Nara, Travels

Minamo, Nara

ashleigh-leech-someform-minamo-nara-japan-01Whenever I travel, the one thing I will always hunt for is coffee. I love seeing how it’s treated and served in different cities and of course, I love to drink it too. On a recent trip to Nara, my considerable research led me to Minamo (ミナモ). On a lovely side street, my first visit was unlucky; I was disappointed to find the roller shutter closed with a note on the door. I returned the following day with more luck; the gorgeous storefront was open and overflowing with greenery.

ashleigh-leech-someform-minamo-nara-japan-02Inside they offer a simple set menu and pour-over coffee in a perfectly minimal interior. Small groups of locals were chatting and relaxing in this serene hideaway. After watching the care that went into artfully making my coffee, I wanted to spend the whole afternoon. The attention to detail was lovely. The staff were incredibly kind, gracious and obliging, even allowing a quick portrait!


Australia, Melbourne, Travels

Two Birds One Stone, South Yarra

ashleigh-leech-someform-two-birds-one-stone-melbourne-australiaHi Melbourne! We’ve been back visiting Australia for a week now, my first time outside of Japan in a year. While it’s overwhelming to be surrounded by English again, it’s nice to be back and making the most of the local coffee culture! Our first morning included a stop at Two Birds One Stone, a cafe in South Yarra.

In the chilly morning weather, we luckily scored the last two seats indoors despite the bustling crowd. Our social interactions have been a little awkward as we readjust to home (especially curbing the urge to bow at everyone) but the staff took it in their stride and were super friendly and warm. The lovely interior made me think of Loading Bay in Cape Town – the layout and styling are remarkably similar!

I was beside myself to see a menu full of smashed avocado and sautéed mushrooms on toast, so that’s exactly what we had. The avocado was served with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese; the mushrooms with pine nuts and poached eggs – both meals full of flavor and the perfect welcome back. The coffees hit the spot and were just the beginning of our Melbourne coffee mission. It’s good to be home!

Japan, Tokyo, Travels

The Roastery by Nozy Coffee

ashleigh-leech-someform-roastery-by-nozy-harajuku-tokyo-japanThe Roastery by Nozy Coffee is a single-origin coffee roaster, set back off the shopping thoroughfare Cat Street in Harajuku. Passing by the outdoor seating, you arrive at a dark interior with exposed wood and industrial fittings. A central counter handles coffee orders with the roasting equipment exposed out back. The menu changes daily, with beans from around the world available as delicious espressos, americanos and cafe lattes. They also have soft serve ice-cream in espresso and cafe latte flavors, along with pastries and donuts. Baristas are friendly and incredibly helpful, happy to guide you in choosing beans too!

Japan, Tokyo, Travels

Maisen, Aoyama

ashleigh-leech-someform-maisen-tonkotsu-tokyo-japan-01Maisen is famous for having some of the best tonkatsu in Tokyo; breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet. They have many locations around Japan, but this flagship location is inside an old bath-house and still retains some of the original features and architecture today. There are many different spaces for dining, from the counter style seating downstairs to the traditional tatami floor seating upstairs. Menus are available in English, but are a compacted version of the Japanese one, so just point to order if you’re having trouble!

There are various grades of meat to choose from, along with different sides and set meals. The most classic order is a cutlet with sides shredded cabbage and rice, which have unlimited refills. The cutlets are simply incredible; crunchy and juicy at the same time. The accompanying sauce to be drizzled on top and is both sweet and salty, so tasty you can buy it bottled to take home. At peak hours, you can expect lines – so an outside a window also sells take out portions such as bentos and sandwiches to passers by. Not only my favorite tonkatsu in the city, but simply the best I’ve ever had.

Japan, Tokyo, Travels

Blue Bottle Coffee, Aoyama

ashleigh-leech-someform-blue-bottle-coffee-aoyama-tokyo-japan-01Hailing from California, Blue Bottle Coffee have locations around the world and have developed a cult following in Japan. Despite it’s secluded location on a back street in Aoyama, when this store first opened there were lines out the door! The coffee shop is a sprawling open space above a clothing boutique, with a long outdoor terrace that looks out onto greenery. The ordering system is efficient, with an incredible number of baristas working busily behind the counter; preparing drip coffee, espressos and a range of snacks.

Guides, Iceland, Reykjavik, Travels

A Quick Guide to Reykjavík, Iceland

ashleigh-leech-someform-a-quick-guide-to-reykjavik-iceland-01With a remote wilderness that is distinctly Scandinavian, it’s no wonder Iceland has become an incredibly popular destination in recent years. The capital Reykjavik is small (around 120,000 folks) yet one of the coolest cities on earth; full of creative souls, incredible food and world class design. I’m dying to return! For more photos of this wonderful place, see an overview of my trip and all my posts on the area.


Icelandair – national airline, with free stopovers in Iceland when flying between the US and Europe.
Keflavik Airport – the main airport in Iceland is outside of the city and has a pretty range of souvenirs.
Flybus – 45 minute airport transfers between Keflavik to Reykjavik with free wifi included.
Extreme Iceland – an excellent tour operator offering all kinds of amazing tours around the country.
Kexland – also offers airport transfers and trips around the local area (ran by Kex Hostel).
Strætó Bus – operates both local and long distance buses from the main bus terminal at Hlemmur.


Kex Hostel – hipster hostel in an old biscuit factory with private and dorm rooms overlooking the water.
Bus Hostel – another hip hostel full of vintage decor, with private and dorm rooms on offer.
Loft Hostel – contemporary hostel with amazing shared lounge space for working or relaxing.
Hlemmur Square – a luxury hotel and upscale hostel, located right across from the main bus station.
Centerhotel Thingholt – a chain of modern hotels owned by a local family, this one is in the city centre.
101 Hotel – this gorgeous luxury hotel has monochrome rooms and a collection of local art on display.
Hotel Borg – old time elegance in the heart of the city, located near the famous cathedral.
AirBNB – so many beautiful homes are available around the country, still my favorite way to travel.


The Blue Lagoon – outdoor geothermal spa, located close to Keflavik Airport. Perfect for watching a sunrise!
– the largest church in the country is an impressive piece of architecture, with great views.
Hafnarhús – the Reykjavik Art Musuem is spread across 3 buildings, showing local and international artists.
Harpa – this concert hall is another architectural icon, home to Iceland’s symphony orchestra and opera.
Imagine Peace Tower – tower of light created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon, open seasonally.
i8 Gallery – an excellent gallery featuring the work of both local and international contemporary artists.
Icelandic Phallological Museum – it’s a real thing, this museum has the worlds largest number of penises.
Bio Paradis – an independent cinema screening art house releases, documentaries and other specialty films.
Laugardalur Swimming Pool – this large pool complex is sprawling, with both indoor and outdoor pools.
Sundhollin Swimming Pool – this indoor heated pool feels like a museum as it hasn’t changed in decades.
Islenski Hesturinn – experience the tölt while riding beautiful Icelandic horses, gorgeous in the snow!


Reykjavik Roasters – with a couple of locations and offering various classes, these baristas know their coffee.
The Laundromat Cafe – outpost of the Copenhagen original filled with a rainbow of books and nice brunches.
Mokka Kaffi – midcentury interiors with copper lights at the oldest coffee shop in the city, try the waffles!
Te og Kaffi – this chain of cafes can be found around the country; the translation is simple – tea and coffee.
Puffin Coffee (closed) – Sverrir Sander sells coffee to passers-by out of his kitchen window for charity.


Grillmarkaðurinn – works with local farmers to offer items such as lobster, whale and puffin mini burgers.
Sæmundur í Sparifötunum – inside the Kex Hostel, gastro pub with delicious burgers and Nordic craft beers.
Fiskmarkaðurinn (Fish Market) – has a popular 10-course tasting menu that includes lamb and sashimi.
Fiskfélagið (Fishcompany) – offers two distinct tasting menus, ‘Around Iceland’ and ‘Around the World’.
Pearlan (The Pearl) – this dome shaped building offers views of the city and has a revolving restaurant.


Tiu Dropar Café – Grandma-style cafe with soup during the day and is a cozy wine bar in the evenings.
Forréttabarinn – this gorgeous cafe specializes in a wide range of appetizers with a cocktail menu.
Snaps – this French bistro and bar is often packed and lively, offering everything from bar snacks to steaks.
Bergsson Mathús – vegetarian friendly with great breakfast plates; think rye bread, egg and sliced meats.
Café Loki – traditional home-style food such as open sandwiches, meat soup, mashed fish and herring.
Tapas Barinn – the Icelandic set menu (puffin, whale, salmon, prawn, char, lamb) has everything!


Hamborgarabúllan – order the ‘Offer of the Century’ at this quirky stand and enjoy a burger, fries and coke.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – famous for their hot dogs with crunchy onions; various stands around the city.
Sægreifinn (Sea Baron) – started by a retired fisherman Kjartan Halldorsson, serves delicious lobster soup.
Icelandic Fish and Chips – this British-inspired bistro offers fish of the day and hand cut potatoes.
Noodle Station – a menu with thai noodle soup in three flavors – beef, chicken and vegetable.
Vitabar – another burger bar; tucked away behind an unassuming exterior, try the blue-cheese burger.
Isbudin Haaleitisbraut – ice cream shop with a wide range of flavors and toppings such as licorice!


Mikkeller and Friends – from the Danish brewer, this circus-themed interior houses 20 beers on tap.
Kaldi Bar and Café – this Icelandic micro brewery serves their own beers on tap alongside light pub food.
Micro Bar – this bar offers a wide range of brews, check their website to see what’s currently on tap.
Slippbarinn – vintage styled space within the Icelandair Marina Hotel with a cocktail menu and pub grub.
Kaffibarinn – a long standing watering hole, full of candlelit tables, part-owned by Damon Albarn.
Prikið – this dollhouse-style building is a coffee shop by day and bustling bar by night with live music.


Geysir – my favorite store in the city; everything is absolutely beautiful from the clothing to the homewares.
Hrim Honnunar Hus – a totally gorgeous homewares store, where I pretty much want everything!
Spark Design Space – filled with all kinds of pretty design objects with a rolling exhibition program.
Kiosk – high end boutique featuring clothing by 8 local fashion designers, who take turns running the store.
Designer’s Pop Up Market – annual market with local designers goods, held at Harpa during Christmas.
Tiger – this Scandinavian chain can be found around the globe, full of all things cute and cheap.
12 Tónar – take a free espresso, settle in and listen to some records while you shop in this music store.
Rauði Krossinn – (The Red Cross Shop) – my favorite second hand treasure trove ran by the sweetest ladies.
Hertex (Salvation Army Shop) – fingers crossed and you might find an Icelandic sweater or lopapeysa.
Kolaporið (Flea Market) – this flea market is open on weekends; a mixture of vintage and handmade goods.
Spuutnik – second hand clothing store with selected pieces, think vintage kimonos and birks.
Bónus Supermarket – for all your essentials (and local candy) this is the main supermarket in town!


Golden Circle – popular tourist trail that includes a national park, waterfall and the original geysir.
Jökulsárlón – large glacial lake, where chunks of ice float out to sea and are washed up again on the shore.
Vatnajökull (Vatna) – covers 8% of Iceland and is incredible; hike across or explore the crystal caves beneath.
Vik – picturesque town famous for its black sand beaches and iconic white church on the hill.
– an inhabited island close to the city with a Richard Serra installation, take the Elding ferry.
Sólheimasandur – this abandoned airplane wreckage on a black sand beach has become iconic.
Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) – elusive but dazzling display of light that can be found during winter.
Midnight Sun – during summer the sun can set after midnight, meaning there is very little darkness!


Reykjavik Grapevine – this lifestyle magazine covers news, culture, events and travel better than anyone!
Visit Reykjavik – official tourist site for the city; includes accommodation listings, attractions and activities.
Visit Iceland – official tourist site for the country; a great reference for planning travel outside of the city.

view-guide-google-mapsQuick guides are condensed city guides that outline my favorite places in a city. I love to spend hours researching for incredible places to visit, so this is a way to share my finds. Happy travels!

Japan, Tokyo, Travels

Café Kitsuné, Omotesando

ashleigh-leech-someform-cafe-kitsune-omotesando-tokyo-japan-001Located in Omotesando, Café Kitsuné is one of my favorite coffee spots in Tokyo. Created by Paris-based fashion and music label Maison Kitsuné, it’s set back off a quiet street where you pass a courtyard of bamboo and palms before entering a space that is both dark and traditional. Lots of exposed wood and mirrors are mixed with an eclectic selection of wallpapers to create a cozy interior in this former Japanese home.

ashleigh-leech-someform-cafe-kitsune-omotesando-tokyo-japan-02ashleigh-leech-someform-cafe-kitsune-omotesando-tokyo-japan-03Espresso shots are poured from a Slayer machine by friendly baristas who certainly know their coffee. The menu also includes pour-over drinks, matcha lattes, simple baguettes and sweet snacks such as fox-shaped butter cookies, a nice touch as kitsune translates to fox. The atmosphere is always warm; from calm during the week to bustling on weekends, with a changing crowd of locals and tourists alike.


Japan, Miyagi, Travels

Zao Fox Village, Shiroishi

ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-01There are all kinds of ways to meet the local animals in Japan, including cafes such as Owl Village, parks like Jigokudani Monkey Park and islands such as Okunoshima and Tashirojima, famous for their populations of bunnies and cats. One of my recent trips started with a visit to such a place; Zao Fox Village in Shiroishi, a sanctuary famous for it’s population of over 100 foxes roaming around.

ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-02ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-03Foxes (kitsune) are revered in Japanese folklore, where they are often considered both intelligent and magical. In yokai culture (dealing with supernatural beings) they can even shapeshift into human form. They’re also a special figure in religion and kitsune statues are often be found protecting Shinto shrines.

ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-04ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-05 The village is home to six breeds of this adored animal in all their various colors. After paying the ¥1,000 admission fee and purchasing optional pellets to feed them for ¥100, you enter a petting zoo area which includes other animals such as goats and bunnies. From there you enter the sanctuary, a large open area where you walk around freely among the foxes and can feed them from a raised platform.

ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-06ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-07I loved being able to watch the foxes so closely, despite my nerves as they’re wild animals after all. Many of them were sleepy and lazy, curled up in the sun or piled together in huts around the park. The park has mixed reviews for obvious reasons, but from what I saw they seemed well cared for. They showed their true colors when it came to food, but otherwise were relatively uninterested in the visitors around them.

ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-08 ashleigh-leech-someform-shiroishi-zao-fox-kisune-village-japan-09Located in Miyagi prefecture, the fastest way to get to Zao Fox Village from Tokyo is via the Yamabiko Shinkansen to Shiroishizao, which takes 109 minutes at ¥10,350 per adult, one way. From there it’s a 20 minute cab drive through the mountains to the village, around ¥4,000 each way. I’d love to return some day and see these cute little guys when the park is blanketed in snow!