Sunday Bake Shop

I hit the gym early last week for the first time in 18 months. It felt awful.

It wasn’t the inability to lift any significant weight, the fact that I couldn’t sit without screaming for two days, or the sudden, crushing need to go to bed at 8pm. It wasn’t even the blow to my ego.

For reasons that still elude, I’ve always loved lifting at the gym. The strategic lighting that does the impossible – making invisible muscles suddenly pop and evening out sleepy skin tone without concealer, foundation, whatever – and the music of clanging plates had been a kind of sanctuary. Humming with adrenaline in the power rack, I couldn’t believe I’d left this place for so long, how fearful I’d been to crawl back.

Happy in a way I haven’t been here in Tokyo, I hit legs twice last week. “Noob move,” Josh said after I told him I did squats and deadlifts on my first day back, “I wish you were here so I could punch you in the quads.” He was right. I spent half of yesterday – my second heavy leg day in the same week – sprawled motionless on my bed, sweating and feeling clammy at the same time, tired but restless and nauseous. The stress of a few pathetic deadlifts had also touched an emotional nerve that felt intensely raw. I cried for no reason, then promptly passed out.

Through it all – the overloaded CNS manifested in utter exhaustion and a mini meltdown – I remembered a particular berry crumble cake. I remembered the chewy oats, the soft crumb of a sweet, cinnamon-scented cake contrasted against the tartness of berries, the shortbread-like bottom crust. I couldn’t move, but I would have walked to Sunday Bake Shop again if it had been open.

Open on Sunday and somewhat inexplicably on Wednesday, I’d trekked over there with my sister-in-law last week. An adorable space tucked away in Hatsudai, a long table greets customers, laden with brownies, pound cakes, carrot cupcakes, perfect cheesecakes, and small mountains of scones. The open kitchen in the back lends a view to the entire process, where trays of pastries come out of ovens and on that day, a focaccia was being prepared. Seating is limited, but the espresso machine entices lingering over baked goods with friends.

We headed home with two boxes of deliciousness. The carrot cupcakes disappeared before I got a taste, but I inhaled half of the berry crumble cake later that day. I’m still thinking about it.

“You should have tried that carrot cupcake,” my sister-in-law said a few days ago. I probably should have. Maybe after my next leg day.


Sunday Bake Shop

1-58-7 Honmachi

Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-00071

Map and website

Now, I know I'm pretty....

Inspired by this scene in a personal favorite...

Drexl: Sit down boy, grab yourself an egg roll. We got everything here from a diddley-eyed-Joe to damned-if-I-know.

Clarence: No thanks.

Drexl: No thanks? What does that mean? Means you ate before you came down here? All full, is that it? Nah, I don't think so. I think you're too scared to be eatin'. Now, see, we're sittin' down here, ready to negotiate, and you've already given up your shit. I'm still a mystery to you. But I know exactly where your white ass is coming from. See, if I asked you if you wanted some dinner and you grabbed an egg roll and started to show down, I'd say to myself, "This motherfucker's carrying on like he ain't got a care in the world...Who knows, maybe he don't. Maybe this fool's such a bad motherfucker, he don't got to worry about nothin'; he just sit down, eat my Chinese, watch my TV." See? You ain't even sat down yet. On that TV there, since you been in the room, is a woman with her breastses hangin' out, and you ain't even bothered to look. You just been clockin' me. Now, I know I'm pretty, but I ain't as pretty as a couple of titties. 

Film: True Romance (1993)

Subject: Gary Oldman as Drexl Spivey

Materials used: spring roll crumbs