Easy Japanese and Korean Cafe Recipes to Make At Home

During quarantine, many of us couldn’t visit our local cafes. In fact, sitting at my favorite coffee shop with an iced coffee while working is probably the thing I have missed the most! As a result, lots of us decided to create our own at-home cafes with recipes inspired by our favorite coffee shops.

Of all the coffee shops in the world, Japan and Korea have some of the most ambitious food and drink combinations. From whipped coffee to onigiri with adventurous fillings, Asian cafes serve up some seriously tasty treats! If you’ve been missing traveling and going to your favorite coffee shop, then whipping up these recipes at home is a fun and COVID-safe alternative.

I first got the idea to have an at-home Korean-slash-Japanese cafe from watching this video from Marie’s Kawaii World. There’s something to be said for a good stay-cation, and making these Japanese and Korean recipes will totally transport you to a different continent. Make sure to watch her video for some tasty drink ideas, and keep scrolling for some of my own personal favorites!

Dalgona Coffee

Have you ever heard of dalgona, or whipped, coffee? I hadn’t until very recently, but I’m dying to try it! It’s a classic staple at Korean coffee shops that has since taken Instagram by storm. This coffee can be made at home by whipping instant coffee, sugar, and hot water and spooning the whip over your choice of hot or cold milk. Get the recipe from My Korean Kitchen.

Matcha Green Tea Latte

Unsurprisingly, Japanese matcha is a staple at cafes in Japan. Matcha is a type of concentrated green tea. The tea leaves are ground to make a bright green powder with an earthy taste and smell. You can make a latte with matcha similarly to the way you would with coffee, by steaming milk and pouring steamed milk into your brewed matcha. Get the how-to on making a matcha green tea latte at home from Japan Centre.

Strawberry Milk

Fresh strawberry milk is a beloved Korean drink enjoyed both in cafes and at home. Instead of adding artificial colors and flavors to a bottle (like we do), the Koreans blend strawberry puree with a sugar syrup and your choice of milk, dairy or non-dairy. This simple at-home version uses sweetened condensed milk in lieu of sugar syrup, meaning you don’t need to melt the sugar over the stove. Get the recipe at Cookerru.

Fruits Sando

For Americans, sandwiches are almost exclusively a savory affair. Not for the Japanese! At a Japanese cafe, it’s not unusual to find a fruits sando, or fruit sandwich. Layers of whipped cream and fruit are sandwiched between two slices of milk bread, a soft and sweet Japanese white bread. You can use any store-bought white bread in lieu of milk bread — but, of course, don’t forget to cut the crusts off in true Japanese fashion. Get the recipe from Sylvia Wakana.

Fruit Sandwich / フルーツサンド | For more description see here boh… | Flickr

Chapssaltteok (Red Bean Mochi)

Mochi are dumplings made from a sweet rice dough. They originated in Japan but are also popular in Korea, where this version — known as chapssaltteok — is from. These mochi are filled with red bean paste, a sweet filling made from adzuki beans. You can find red bean paste (or adzuki beans to make your own) at your local Asian grocery store, or perhaps in the international aisle of your regular supermarket. Get the recipe at My Korean Kitchen.

Onigiri

If you like sushi, then you’ll almost definitely love onigiri. These Japanese snacks, otherwise known as rice balls, are made from cooked sushi rice and a sweet or savory filling. Some traditional fillings include tuna and mayo, bonito flakes, or salted ume plums. However, you can make them without filling…or even fill them with leftovers, as the Japanese often do! Another version of onigiri, known as onigirazu, uses rice as a sandwich for layers of meat and veggies, wrapped in nori (seaweed paper). Get a basic onigiri recipe from Wandercooks, or follow this onigirazu recipe from Just One Cookbook.

Purin

Got more of a sweet tooth than a savory one? Then you’ll love purin, a Japanese caramel custard pudding often served in cafes. You’ll recognize it from the name of the Sanrio character Pompompurin, who is named and designed after purin, his favorite dessert! Surprisingly, purin is easy to make with just a few tasty ingredients. It’s the perfect dessert to impress guests with, since it looks fancy despite being delightfully simple. Get the recipe from Tiffy Cooks.

Homemade Creme Caramel with Sweet Syrup / Custard Pudding | Flickr

How to Celebrate Sakura Season (Hanami) in the U.S.

Each year in Japan, the cherry blossom, or sakura, trees bloom between late March and early April. It’s customary to celebrate sakura season, or Hanami, with an outdoor festival or a party beneath the sakura trees.

It’s a dream of mine to one day visit Japan during sakura season (and get my hands on some of those limited-edition Starbucks goodies). But since that isn’t possible during the pandemic, I will be celebrating Hanami here in the U.S.

Cherry blossom season is fleeting, and comes just once a year. As the Japanese say, mono no aware (nothing lasts forever)! Make sure to make the most of it with these tips for celebrating from the comfort of your home.

Snacks & Drinks

In Japan, a lot of people celebrate Hanami with signature sweets and drinks that evoke the colors and flavors of the sakura tree.

Traditionally, sake, or rice wine, is the drink of choice during Hanami. In the modern era, however, some of the most famous Hanami drinks come from Starbucks, which releases a cherry blossom latte each year that comes in a beautiful pink color — just like a sakura flower!

You can make your own cherry blossom latte with ingredients you can easily find in the regular grocery store. This recipe from Food.com uses espresso, cherry syrup, vanilla syrup, and your favorite milk to make a sweet and steamy sakura drink.

Food is another way to ring in Hanami. The Japanese often make sakura versions of their favorite sweet treats, while other goodies only pop up during this special season. One such treat is dango, sweet rice dumplings served on a kabob stick. The dumplings are colored in shades of pink, green, and white to evoke the colors of the sakura tree.

You can make your own dango with this recipe from Japan Centre. The recipe does call for some specialty ingredients, like glutinous and non-glutinous rice flour, which can be found at an Asian grocery store. You probably have one in your area, so run a quick Google search to find the Asian grocery store nearest you!

Alternatively, if you’re not much of a chef, many sakura-flavored treats from Japan are available to be purchased here in the U.S. For example, look no further than Blippo to get the limited-edition Sakura Almond flavor of everyone’s favorite Pocky biscuit sticks.

Stationery

If you’re a Japanese stationery guru like I am, then you probably already know that one of the best parts of Hanami season is the limited-edition Japanese stationery that gets released every year. Brands like BGM and MT Tape release limited-edition washi tape; special pens are released that write in bright pink ink; and shelves fill with sheets upon sheets of sakura flower stickers.

So, where can you stock up on these limited-edition sakura goods in the United States? Here are some of my favorite picks for this year’s Hanami stationery.

Spring Limited Cherry Blossom Stickers - Shiba

Cute Things From Japan has many limited-edition sakura goods from Mind Wave, including this sheet of sweet shiba stickers. ($3.50)

Washi Tape - Cherry Blossom

They also have limited-edition BGM washi tape in three different sakura prints. This one, called Morning Cherry Blossom, is my favorite! ($2.90)

You can find this pretty Rilakkuma letter set from San-X at Blippo. The set comes with 4 envelopes and 8 blank and lined sheets with different sakura-inspired designs. ($9.90)

Delde Slide Pen Case - 2021 Sunny Spring Series

This Spring 2021 Delde pencil case from KawaiiPenShop comes in four designs, one of which is a pastel pink sakura theme. The unique shape collapses to form a standing pencil cup for all your writing utensils. ($24.99)

Character Goods

One of the most exciting parts of sakura season for kawaii fans is that all your favorite kawaii characters jump in on the trend! From Rilakkuma to Hello Kitty, you can keep an eye out for special limited-edition character goods this spring that are unique to Hanami in Japan.

Here are some of my picks for sakura-themed character goods that are available for order in the United States:

Rilakkuma Cherry Blossom 15

I was so excited to see this sakura Rilakkuma plushie at my local Barnes & Noble! Dressed in pink with sakura accents, Rilakkuma is celebrating Hanami with a stick of squishy, sweet dango. ($24.99)

Hello Kitty Pink Sakura Kimono 10" Plush

For fans of Hello Kitty, you can find this Sanrio sakura stuffed animal at Japan LA. Pale pink Hello Kitty is dressed in a Hanami-themed kimono with a matching obi, bow, and sandals. ($36.00)

More of a My Melody fan? Not to worry! This adorable limited-edition Sanrio sakura mochi plushie is available on Japan Haul. It’s called a “mochi” plushie because it’s extra-squishy, just like the sweet treat. ($19.10)

Or, if you stan Cinnamoroll, Japan Haul has also got you covered. This limited-edition Sanrio sakura plushie features Cinnamoroll with pink accents, a sakura flower on its ear, and a pretty blue and pink sakura-themed outfit. ($37.32)

Aesthetic J-Fashion and K-Fashion Picks

In case you haven’t noticed, I am obsessed with Asian pop culture. From anime to otome games, Pokemon to K-beauty, I just can’t get enough of all things Japanese and Korean.

Lately, the same goes for fashion: a lot of J-fashion and K-fashion outfits are popping up in my feed, and I’m obsessed! As someone who’s recovering from surgery, I admittedly haven’t ventured outside my leggings and sweatshirts in a while, but these fashion trends have got me itching to get back into my fancier clothing.

J-fashion (Japanese fashion) and K-fashion (Korean fashion) are distinct, but I lump them together for the purposes of this blog post. Again, both are different — but what they have in common is that they are both popular for being “aesthetic.”

“Aesthetic” is one of those words that I can’t define easily, but I know when I see it. And, if you have spent literally any time on social media, you probably know it when you see it, too. From stationery to bubble tea, Japanese and Korean culture dominate the aesthetic scene…. and fashion is no exception.

Log onto Pinterest and search for “aesthetic outfit ideas.” You may not realize it, but a lot of the outfits you see are either worn by Asian models or inspired by J-fashion and K-fashion trends.

So, how do you put together your own aesthetic outfit using these trends? First, you need to understand what J-fashion and K-fashion really are, and how to dress like a Japanese or Korean stylista.

What is J-Fashion?

J-fashion, short for Japanese fashion, is a term that lumps together a bunch of clothing styles that are unique to Japan. You may have heard of Lolita or fairy kei, two aesthetics that became popular in Japan’s Harajuku fashion scene. These are some of the more distinctive types of fashion, known for fluffy skirts, pastel wigs, and girly-girl accents. But there are other types of Japanese fashion that are less well-known, and more casual, than Lolita or fairy kei:

Mori kei is a type of Japanese fashion that’s inspired by vintage looks and the natural environment. If you want to dress mori kei, you should try to dress like “a girl who came from the forest.”

Natural kei is similar to mori kei, but draws most of its inspiration from the past. Think Little Women or Little House on the Prairie: the natural kei girl lives in a village, rather than the forest, and dresses like Anne of Green Gables.

Otome kei comes from the word “otome,” meaning “young lady” in Japanese. It’s a bit like Lolita, in that it is very feminine, but it is also viewed as more mature than Lolita. There are fewer petticoats and the rules are not as well-defined.

….and many more. I chose to define these three specifically because they have influenced my own style and the pieces that I have chosen to showcase in this blog post.

However, it’s important to recognize that Japanese fashion is as widely varied as American fashion. The word J-fashion doesn’t refer to one thing, but an amalgam of styles.

What is K-Fashion?

K-fashion is the Korean version of the term. Unlike J-fashion, K-fashion does not have many subsets. Instead, it’s a broader term referring to the trends that are most popular in Korea — many of which originate from Seoul.

In Korea, it’s popular to dress in oversized clothing, like chunky-knit cardigans or baggy tee shirts. It’s part of Korean culture to be modest, especially when it comes to revealing clothing. But, while Korean women tend to stay covered on top, they reveal their legs with cute dresses or mini skirts. For example, Korean woman might pair an oversized sweater with a pleated skirt, or a chunky cardigan with a cute sundress.

The school uniform is a staple in K-fashion as well as J-fashion. In both countries, children wear uniforms all throughout their school years — but elements of the school uniform, like pleated skirts or collared sailor shirts, have integrated themselves into popular adult fashion trends.

Aesthetic Clothing Picks (Inspired by J-Fashion and K-Fashion)

If you, like me, are interested in Japanese and Korean culture, you probably know that shopping on Asian sites can be overwhelming. The shipping fees are hefty, you need to deal with translation and currency exchange, and sometimes, you even need to hire a proxy (another person to shop for you and ship the items to your home).

Thankfully, J-fashion and K-fashion are starting to influence the trends we see here at home. These influences can be seen at mainstream Western stores like Forever 21 and H&M, but also at smaller boutiques and on social media. The good news about this is that you can often find Korean and Japanese styles at American stores, without paying $20 for shipping — see below for examples!

Ribbed Cardigan ($14, Nasty Gal)

Paired with a pleated skirt, a fitted cardigan is a classic look. Available in sizes 0 to 10.

Pleated Plaid Mini Skirt ($18, Forever 21)

Pleated Plaid Mini Skirt, image 1

The schoolgirl skirt is a must-have staple in Asian fashion. Available in sizes XS to L.

Tie-front Blouse ($25, H&M)

Tie-front Blouse - Light pink/black - Ladies | H&M US 1

The bow-tie on this blouse is reminiscent of the sailor styles popular in Japan. Available in sizes XS to XL.

Black Denim Overall Skirt ($65, Unique Vintage)

The youthful look is “in” in Asia, which is probably why overall skirts like these are so popular. Available in sizes XS to 4X.

Patent Platform Mary Janes ($68, Dolls Kill)

A nod to kawaii fashion, platforms like these can often be seen on the streets of Harajuku. Available in sizes 5 to 10.

10 Interesting DAISO Japan Products You Can Buy On Amazon

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I receive a small portion of proceeds from purchases made from my blog. This does not affect the price you pay for products or services. Thank you for supporting Heal with Haley!

Confession time: I desperately wish, more than anything, that I could go to DAISO Japan. If there wasn’t a global pandemic going on, I would seriously consider planning a trip to Japan just so I could bring home an enormous haul from DAISO.

If you have yet to be enlightened, then get ready for a life-changing experience, because DAISO Japan is going to blow your mind! DAISO puts American dollar stores to shame by offering high-quality home goods and stationery products, among other items. But best of all, you can find super unique and kawaii items you can’t find anywhere else.

DAISO does have an online store in the United States, but unfortunately you can only buy items there in bulk. As a household of two in a shoebox apartment, I definitely don’t need an abundance of kawaii stickers and home goods laying around (much to my dismay).

However, I recently discovered you can find a limited selection of items from DAISO on Amazon — and most of them are eligible for free Prime shipping. Given my exciting discovery, I thought I would take to my blog to share some of my latest DAISO finds with you all. I hope you find them as interesting and adorable as I do!

1. DAISO Gentle Children’s Sponge ($7)

Okay, so this kawaii panda sponge is supposedly for children, but I say do what you want. And I, a fully-grown adult woman, am a fan. Because everyone deserves an adorable way to exfoliate during the cold winter months!

2. DAISO Foaming Nets for Face Washing ($4)

Here is an interesting product I can honestly say that we don’t have an equivalent for here in the United States. These little nets house soap that suds when the net is run under water and squeezed. So, you can essentially carry face wash in your purse without worrying about getting everything wet. How clever is that?!

3. DAISO Separable Cutlery Set ($6)

If you’re looking for a way to cut down on plastic waste on-the-go, enter this separable cutlery set from DAISO. This handy little travel set comes with two handles and separate attachments for a spoon, fork, and chopsticks, meaning you don’t need to carry a bulky bag of utensils.

4. DAISO Hello Kitty Bag Hook ($9)

Ever worry about your purse getting stolen or dirty when you’re out to eat? Instead of leaving it on the floor or hanging on the back of your chair, get one of these kawaii table hooks from DAISO. Hello Kitty will protect your purse while you enjoy your meal in peace.

5. DAISO Compressed Towel ($7)

Something I learned from watching Marie’s Kawaii World on Youtube is that in Asia, they don’t offer paper towels in most restrooms. So, many people will carry a personal towel to use instead. How eco-friendly of them! These compressed towels are basically the adult version of those water-expanding washcloths you loved as a kid. To use, simply submerge it in water and watch it grow.

6. DAISO Bear-Shaped Measuring Tape ($10)

How cute is this pink bear-shaped measuring tape from DAISO? It even comes with a keychain for meeting your measuring needs on-the-go. Just make sure to brush up on the metric system before buying, since this measuring tape is in centimeters!

7. DAISO Perfect Pet Toothbrush ($8)

As a dog owner, I know firsthand that grooming can be a dangerous game. Once, I was literally sent to the emergency room when trying to clip my dog’s toenails. But that’s a tail (get it?) for another time! This toothbrush makes cleaning Fido’s teeth easier by slipping onto your finger, so your dog will feel more like they’re being pet than being groomed.

8. DAISO Turning Stapler ($7)

I first saw this product in one of Marie’s Kawaii World’s Japanese stationery hauls, and I was amazed that we don’t have anything like it (that I know of) in the U.S.! This product is a turning stapler, which lets you staple all those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies for your various crafting projects, such as creating booklets.

9. DAISO Sandwich Maker ($7)

This panda-shaped sandwich mold may not be the most practical item on the planet, but I still think it has a purpose: fun, of course! It’s the perfect tool for upleveling lunchtime. Turn your boring old sammie into a kawaii bento delight for yourself or your kids to bring to work or school.

10. DAISO Disposable Filter Bags ($6)

100pcs Disposable Filter Bags for Loose Tea

If you’re anything like my boyfriend, then you might be a bit of a tea snob! He likes to drink loose-leaf British tea whenever possible, which isn’t the most practical for making on-the-go. You can, of course, use an infuser — or, you could buy these disposable tea bags from DAISO, which can be filled with your favorite loose leaf tea. Now, instead of committing to a box of tea bags, you can bring a different flavor of loose leaf tea with you every day!