With all the time spent self-isolating during the pandemic, many people are trying to find ways to occupy themselves at home. For those who enjoy it, this can also mean trying out new recipes and adding more variety to your menu and to your dining table.

In Japan, now that most trendy cafes and restaurants are closed, some of those who frequent them are using this opportunity to try おうちカフェ ouchi cafe or "cafe at home," making their own cafe-style fare, with sometimes very photogenic results, creating cute or beautifully arranged compositions complete with table settings and decorations.

Snaplace's "cafe at home" top 10 list

If you're looking for some ideas to try your own "cafe at home" dishes, you might be interested in this top 10 list from Snaplace, a Japanese website that analyzes and compiles the most popular Instagram posts categorized by location and genre:

#1: Arranged toast

"Arranged toast" is toast decorated with various spreads and topping. It uses cream cheese, yogurt (drained of water with a cheesecloth), sliced cheese, etc. as the base, sometimes spread in different colorful patterns, and toppings of fresh or dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.

For example, this strawberry on cream cheese toast:

This cute Winnie the Pooh arranged toast made of egg salad and nori seaweed cut into shapes for the eyes, nose and mouth:

This "wave toast" takes a bit of time but can be easily made by mixing jam or natural food coloring to cream cheese and creating an alternating pattern:

#2: Fruit sandwiches

Fruit sandwiches have been popular in Japan for a long time, and are a staple of many cafes, but this new trend focuses not on what you put in them but on the way you arrange the fruit fillings so that they create beautiful cross-sections when you cut them.

They're made with standard shokupan Japanese white bread, whipped cream or drained yogurt and, of course, fresh fruits like strawberries, grapes, kiwi, mandarin oranges, etc.

#3: Candied fruits

Taking over from candied apples, candied strawberries have been the new Instagenic trend for 2020. Skewered and beautifully arranged with a ribbon and nice table settings (as seen below), you can see why they're popular. You can also try it with grapes, kiwi sections or other fruits.

#4: Marshmallow cookies

#5: Cream soda

To get close to the flavor of old-fashioned cream sodas served in Japanese coffee shops, blend melon flavor shaved ice syrup with soda water, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve with a Maraschino cherry.

If you're not interested in the classics, you can get creative with other ingredients and styles, like this cream soda in the likeness of the cute dog character Pochacco. It's made with a ball of mochi ice cream (known as Yukimi Daifuku in Japan) for his face, chocolate-coated Kaki no tane rice crisps for ears, and the face drawn with a chocolate pen (or, if you don't have one, melted chocolate piped through a parchment paper cone).

#6: Dalgona coffee

The Korean-born drink made with a rich frothy topping of egg whites, instant coffee and sugar is now trending in Japan:

#7: Cloud eggs

Another egg white-based Instagram darling, cloud eggs are now well into their third year of popularity and are still going strong in Japan. For those who don't know, it's made by putting an egg yolk on top of a bed of whipped egg whites (optionally flavored with salt and grated white cheese), and baking the whole thing in an oven for five minutes at about 320 F.

#8: "Oreo milk"

Now being touted as the next Instagenic "hoem cafe" trend after Dalgona Coffee, Oreo milk is made by layering a crushed Oreos and milk, whipped cream, and milk in a glass.

#9: "Deco" ice cream

Take an ice cream cone, find new and cute ways of decorating it with various cookies and snack foods, and you have the basic concept behind "deco" ice cream. The more popular posts seem to feature Lotte's Koala's March, Meiji's Marble chocolate smarties (like M & Ms), or Tabekko's Animal Biscuits animal crackers (as seen below):

#10: Ades

We've come a long way since lemonade. Ades made with all kinds of fruits and flavors are trending in Japan and, with a bit of creativity and effort, they can be quite Instagenic. Popular versions are grapefruit, lemon (of course), kiwi, mixed berries or simply strawberries:

This list was based on results for the period between February 28th and May 5th, but if you'd like to keep up to date on the most recent trends, be sure to check Snaplace's Home Cafe Best of 2020 page here.

For more inspiration, you can also do your own search in Instagram using the hashtag #おうちカフェ

By - Ben K.