Desserts and cakes are always a welcome distraction, perhaps now more than ever. The New Otani Hotels group of hotels in Tokyo, Makuhari in Chiba Prefecture and Osaka is running an early summer sweets fair campaign until June 30, with matcha, melon and chocolate as the starring ingredients.

Items are available for takeout, but can also be eaten at each hotel.

Premium ingredients form the basis for dessert creation — vibrant and flavorsome Uji matcha from a Kyoto tea producer dating back to the 19th century; a spicy yet fruit forward, malty Columbian chocolate; and fragrant musk melon from Shizuoka Prefecture.

Of particular note are shortcakes devised by the hotels’ grand chef Shinsuke Nakajima that are as visually splendid as they are tasteful. One example is that the cross section of the verdant Edo matcha shortcake (¥1,200 per slice) resembles a kimono. Meanwhile, the super chocolate shortcake (¥1,550 per slice) features smatterings of hazelnuts. Two versions of the melon shortcake are available: the extra super melon shortcake, where a third of a musk melon is contained within each slice (¥3,800 per slice, 20 pieces available each day) and the super melon shortcake (¥1,500 per slice, 40 pieces available each day).

For more information about this campaign, visit https://www.newotani.co.jp/group/matcha-melon-chocolate/ or contact each of the hotels on either 03-3265-1111 (Tokyo), 043-297-7777 (Makuhari) or 06-6941-1111 (Osaka).

Drive-thru dining with an upscale twist

Italian restaurant Casita has earned a reputation for modern, quality dining. In response to COVID-19 circumstances, the Aoyama-based restaurant has adopted physical distancing policies as well as offering a drive-thru service from which customers can collect meals for recreating a special night at Casita at home.

A meal might start with a pate de campagne (¥1,000) or an organic cherry tomato salad (¥1,400) combined with fish carpaccio (¥2,400). Pescatarians will welcome the addition of a grilled red snapper main (¥2,600), the fish sourced from Ehime Prefecture and accompanied by grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes.

Carnivores are well catered for, with roast chicken from Iwate Prefecture (¥2,600) or a fillet steak from Australia (¥4,400) rounding out main course options.

Other items include caviar, pizza, pasta and extra virgin olive oil, but sweet tooths must supplement from home.

Orders are to be made at least three hours in advance with collection available from 2 to 7 p.m.

For more information on Casita, visit http://www.casita.jp/casita/ (Japanese only). Drive-through information and reservations can be made at http://sunnytable.bmetrack.com/c/v?e=10491A4&c=BEE09&t=0&l=1EDBF05&email=n1dd6VdhFG2WcO5%2FkdTCEgYMShjRzAyo (Japanese only) with English orders taken by phone: 03-5485-7353.

Calming spaces for work and reflection

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected companies large and small. Japan’s hotel sector is rising to the challenge of doing business in these uncertain times, offering telework or “staycation” packages for people who need appropriate workspaces or have a desire to practice social distancing away from home.

Hilton Osaka is no exception, presenting twin or double rooms for work or relaxation as part of its Day Use plan until Aug. 30.

Contemporary in style, the rooms display a wealth of Japanese touches. The rooms’ design incorporates sliding doors and shoji as well as an extensive use of wood. Pale, muted tones, usually found in kimono and traditional textiles, lend a gentle and calm influence that is ideal for working uninterrupted or for meditative moments.

Free Wi-Fi and two complimentary bottles of water form part of the plan; room service is also available.

Room reservation for one to two persons costs ¥9,500 plus tax and charges, with the plan operating from 12 to 6 p.m. Early check-in is available for an extra fee.

Hilton Osaka is a two-minute walk from Osaka Station. For more information about this offer visit https://www.hiltonosaka.com/plans/rooms/6828 (Japanese only) or email Osaka.Reservations@hilton.com for further information or to make a reservation.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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