Popular Omiyage – Croissant Rusk

Having worked at Takashimaya’s depachika in Nihonbashi I am very familiar with hordes of people lining up outside of department stores first thing in the morning. I still don’t quite understand the fascination with having to buy the latest trendy food item, but it happens all of the time. Personally I don’t have the time to queue just for food, but apparently in Tokyo there are lots of people with the luxury of time.

One of the current hot items at depachika are the croissant rusks by Ohzan. Rusks have long been a popular sweet at depachika, but typically they are made from bread similar to a baguette. Toasted and often sweetened with sugar. I never understood the popularity of these rusks. For a long time there were lines to purchase the Gouter de Roi rusks.

However, these rusks are not just from just any bread, but made from croissants. And they come in a variety of flavors like caramel, covered in white or milk chocolate, nuts, and even garlic or black pepper. Currently these can be had at Mitsukoshi in Ginza. But go early if you want to try them as they often sell out sometime during the day.

New Candyland at Tokyo Station

Opening tomorrow in the basement of Tokyo Station is Tokyo Candyland (Tokyo Okashi Rando). The three main tenants are Calbee, Morinaga, and Glico, big snack manufacturers in Japan. At Calbee you can have potato chips hot out of the deep-fryer. The area is located in the basement outside of the Yaesu central exit. While it’s not worth going out of your way to come to, it may be interesting if you are at Tokyo station as the tenants will say limited edition items, usually seasonal products.

Higashiya Ginza

Higashiya Ginza

Higashiya Ginza

For traditional Japanese confectionaries there is Toraya, which is one of Japan’s most famous shops with locations around Tokyo. A modern confectionary shop that I love is Higashiya in Ginza. I first met the folks from Higashiya at a food event where I was pouring dessert wine from Coco Farm and Winery. The Higashiya team were serving wagashi with shochu. I knew immediately that they were worth exploring and I have always been delighted with the sweets from Higashiya.

The Ginza shop is conveniently located in the heart of the shopping district, so a good excuse to rest your feet here and to rejuvenate over some sweets, either traditional or modern. Check out the mattcha blanc manger or the houjicha pudding or for something more classic, the monaka or yokan.

Higashiya Ginza

Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-7-7, Pola Ginza 2F

03- 3538-3230

 

Japanese Pastry Chefs Worth Checking Out

Patissier Jun Honma

Patissier Jun Honma

The December 2011 issue of Cuisine Kingdom (料理王国) lists some Japanese patissiers and chocolatiers worth getting to know. I am listing them here. On a side note, it also includes a friend of ours, Shinji Oyama, who is in charge of all of the public relations for the Tsuji Chori Gakko.

Susumu Koyama 小山進

Patissier Es Koyama in Hyogo prefecture

Tadashi Yanagi 柳正司

Patisserie Tadashi Yanagi

Meguro-ku, Yakumo 2-8-11

03-5731-9477

Koji Tsuchiya 土屋公二

Theobroma

Shibuya-ku, Tomigaya 1-14-9, Green Core L Shibuya

03-5790-2181

www.grand-patissier.info/TadashiYanagi/index.html

Miya and Toshimi Fujimoto 藤本美弥 智美

Patisserie Etienne in Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa prefecture

Shinpei Asada 朝田晋平

Patisserie Aplanos in Saitama-shi, Saitama prefecture

Jun Honma 本間淳

Patissier Jun Honma

Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Honcho 3-4-11

0422-27-5444

Chika Tamehiro (Tillman)

Chikalicious NY Amarige

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-10-1, Gyre Bldg. 4F

03-6418-8015

Reiko Imou 芋生玲子

Atessouhaits

Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Higashi-cho 3-8-8, Kasa Kichijoji II

0422-29-0888

Kazuya Morita 森田一頼

Libertable

Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 5-2-11, R2-A Blgd. B1

03-6427-3229

Fumiyuki Kanai 金井 史章

Benoit

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-51-8, La Porto Aoyama 10F

03-6419-4181

Naoki Miura 三浦直樹

Bulgari Il Cioccolato

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-10-1, Gyre Bldg. 2F

03-6362-0500

Digging into an Ice Cold Kakigori

On summer visits to Japan as a child my favorite sweets were kakigori topped with milk. Only when I grew up did I realize that it wasn’t milk but it was sweetened condensed milk. No better way to cool down in the Tokyo heat than a bowl of shaved ice topped with a sweet syrup. Flavors like mattcha and azuki, mango, or anzu (apricots) will have you smacking your lips. Many kanmidokoro (Japanese cafes with traditional sweets) serve kakigori, but usually only for the summertime so this is the best time to dig in.

Here are a few places to dig into kakigori in the summer. Shops usually put a small flag outside with the kanji for ice on it. 氷

Mihashi

Mihashi

Mihashi’s original shop in Ueno (Taito-ku, Ueno 4-9-7) opened during the Edo period. This location, in the basement of Tokyo station in the area called Ichiban Gai, is more centrally located.

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Tokyo Station, Ichiban Gai B1

Morinoen

Morinoen

Walking around the historic Ningyocho district is always fun. Morinoen is a tea shop that specializes in houjicha. Here is their houjicha kakigori. You can smell the houjicha being roasted out on the street. Pick up a bag of the tea while you are here to take home. It’s great both hot or cold.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-4-9

Naniwaya

Naniwaya

Naniwaya in Azabu-Juban is renowned for its taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes stuffed with azuki).  It’s been grilling taiyaki for over a century. Step inside and grab a seat for an anzu (apricot) kakigori.

Minato-ku, Azabu-Juban 1-8-14

Kinozen

Kinozen

Kagurazaka is also a fabulous place for walking around and Kinozen is my favorite place for a kakigori.

Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 1-12

Toraya

Toraya

Toraya in Ginza serves up a yummy ichigo (strawberries) kakigori.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 7-8-6, 2nd floor

Tokyo Sweet Trends

SOLA

SOLA

Chef David Myers from Los Angeles has created a buzz with his square-shaped chiffon cake in flavors such as yuzu and mattcha or Earl Grey and raspberry. His patisseries can be found at SOLA in Ginza Mitsukoshi’s depachika.

SOLA

Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-6-16, Mitsukoshi B2

03-3562-1111

http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1301/A130101/13115875/

Tokyo Sweet Trends

Patisserie Aimee Viber

Patisserie Aimee Vibert

Sweets made from choux crème in many forms are popping up throughout the metropolis. Some of what you will find include the traditional Paris-Brest at Patisserie Aimee Vibert, a pistachio Saint-honore at D’eux Patisserie in Tokyo station, or an éclair topped with a brittle candy at Aux Delices de Kenji.

Patisserie Aimee Vibert

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-2-1, Coredo Muromachi 1F

03-6225-2551

www.aimeevibert.com/pati/ (Japanese)

D'eux Patisserie

D'eux Patisserie

D’eux Patisserie a Tokyo

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1,Tokyo station, South Court ecute Tokyo 1F

03-3211-8925

http://deux-tokyo.com/ (Japanese)

Aux Delices de Kenji

Aux Delices de Kenji

Aux Delices de Kenji

Sumida-ku, Kyojima 3-19-4

03-3612-4679

no website


Tokyo Sweet Trends 2011

Dessert specialty restaurants and several tea salons are leading the trends for sweets. Chef Kazuyori Morita trained in France and each afternoon between lunch and dinner, Libertable, becomes a ‘salon de the’ with desserts and tea or champagne. Classical French desserts with a twist, for example Mont Blanc with a meringue made of porcini mushrooms or an Opera Cake that is served with a warm chocolate sauce.

The sweets at Dessert le Comptoir by chef Yoshizaki Daisuke are more traditional, such as a chocolate soufflé or crème brulee. There is also a selection of take-away sweets like a milk rum confiture, cannelles, and pate de fruit.

Kohta Yoshioka Patisserie Table has a long counter overlooking the open kitchen so diners can watch as chef Yoshioka assembles each dessert. Yoshioka has been with the Gordon Ramsay group, both in Tokyo and in London at La Noisette as a sous chef. The desserts are more traditional like lemon meringue tart or caramel, orange and apple crepe suzette.

Libertable

Libertable

Libertable

Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 5-2-11

03-6427-3229

http://libertable.com/

Le Comptoir

Le Comptoir

Dessert le Comptoir

Setagaya-ku, Fukazawa 5-2-1

011-81-3-6411-6042

http://lecomptoir.jp/

Kohta Yoshioka

Kohta Yoshioka

Kohta Yoshioka Patisserie Table

Bunkyo-ku, Koishikawa 3-32-1

011-81-3-3816-2290

www.kohta-yoshioka.jp/

Chocolate Shops in Tokyo

Pierre Marcolini

Pierre Marcolini

Chocoholics should be warned that Tokyo abounds with chocolate shops. Here are just a tiny few of what tempts customers. This article first appeared in Metropolis magazine.

http://archive.metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/619/localflavors.asp (text follows)

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to find a man who was rich, sweet and most important, who would satisfy me. But I had no idea I would be courted by a cadre of chocolatiers. I share this with you for Valentine’s Day as there is only one me and many of them, and they are oh so sweet.

The first to tempt me was Pascal Caffet as we both work at Takashimaya in Nihonbashi. He offered me a glass of champagne with his specialty, a chocolate disk studded with hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios and raisins. I never say no to champagne, and the yeastiness from the bubbly melds with the nuttiness of his Croq’tele Noir.

I was curious to see what the competition had to offer and made a beeline to Isetan in Shinjuku. Jean-Paul Hevin warmed me up with a velvety rich chocolat chaud that had hints of warm spices like cinnamon. Jean-Paul’s café is next door to his shop, where the chocolates are on display like jewels in a jewelry shop.

Having lived in Brussels, and having been told by the Belgians that their chocolate is the best in the world, I thought it was time to pursue Pierre Marcolini. He was playing hard to get and each time I went to his shops in Ginza there were long lines of ladies waiting patiently to get a piece of him. I finally managed to squeeze a seat at the bar, and it was well worth the wait. He played it cool and offered me a scoop each of his chocolate sorbet and chocolate glace. The contrast between the two was necessary; as the glace alone was too rich, the sorbet worked almost as a palate cleanser—albeit a very rich palate cleanser.

So far so good, but it was time to be wooed by an older and perhaps wiser man. The legendary chocolatier Robert Linxe invited me to relax at La Maison du Chocolat. This may be the most luxurious of destinations in Tokyo. There is a long bar at which to sit and indulge, but buyer beware: Once you let your hair down here, it is hard to leave. These are classic creations and perhaps the most seductive of all the chocolates in town.

Finally, I was seduced by a Spaniard in Shiroganedai who offered me something unique. Oriol Balaguer’s shop is intimate if you can find it, but he blew my mind with his firecracker chocolate. If there is one chocolate you should try, this is it. I had never had a chocolate go snap, crackle and pop in my mouth before, but it was brilliant. Then he tempted me with his unique Nippon Collection featuring savory soy sauce, spicy wasabi and roasty toasty hojicha tea. But he won my Midwestern heart with a chocolate filled with crunchy bits of corn.

These are just the tip of the truffle; there are many more to explore.

I did check out a few Japanese chocolatiers, but I’m sad to say that, even though their shops were always busy, none compared with the Europeans. So indulge yourself with my sublime new friends. Theirs are not the chocolates of childhood but sweets for the savvy and sophisticated. And guaranteed to put a smile on any winter-worn face.

Pascal Caffet Nihonbashi
Takashimaya, Nihonbashi 2-4-1, Chuo-ku

03-3231-3475

www.pascal-caffet.jp

Jean-Paul Hevin 
Shinjuku Isetan, Shinjuku 3-14-1, Shinjuku-ku

03-3351-7882

www.jph-japon.co.jp

Pierre Marcolini 
Ginza 5-5-8, Chuo-ku

03-5537-0015

www.pierremarcolini.jp

La Maison du Chocolat 
3-4-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku

03-3201-6006

www.lamaisonduchocolat.com

Oriol Balaguer 
2F Barbizon 32, 4-9-18 Shiroganedai, Minato-ku

03-3449-9509