Le Pain de Joel Robuchon

One of my favorite bakeries in Tokyo is from the famous chef Joel Robuchon, for savory breads made with excellent ingredients. Le Pain de Joel Robuchon has recently opened near Shinjuku station in the NEWoMaN mall. Imagine one of France’s top chefs creating breads and sweets using French and Japanese ingredients? I love the l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon restaurant, but don’t often have the time to sit through a meal, so the boulangerie is a alternative to get my Robuchon fix.

On the left above is a foie gras toast topped with apple and pink peppercorns croque monsieur, the right is my favorite, a cheesy potato bread with lardons. Crispy cheese bits contrasted with potato bites and meaty bacon. How many shops do you know serving foie gras croque monsieur?

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Joel Robuchon mushrooms and walnuts

Seasonal breads like this bread with maitake, shimeji, and eringi mushrooms with walnuts change throughout the year. All of the above breads are best reheated in a toaster oven. The green olive fougasse never made it home, it was too hard to resist, and I highly recommend it.

The Roppongi Hills shop has no seating area, but the Shinjuku shop does have a small café seating area by the bakery. There is also a retail shop in the Shibuya Hikarie B2 depachika.

Le Pain de Joel Robuchon

Roppongi Hills, Shinjuku NEWoMaN, Shibuya Hikarie

http://www.robuchon.jp/en

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Point et Ligne

In the basement of the Shin Marunouchi building is a Japanese bakery, Point et Ligne, with a retail shop and a cramped café space in the back. The bread is not traditional French, but made for the Japanese market. The breads are soft and made with butter. The crusts are not crispy and the crumb is chewy. I am not a big fan of this style as I prefer shops like Viron, Gontran Cherrier, and Maison Kayser.

The setting is very dramatic. Dark walls and the retail shop is enticing. But things digress as the walk to the café is through a narrow walkway that overlooks an unorganized kitchen.

The lunch set (about 1,500 JPY) starts out with a sample of five breads. My favorite in today’s mix was the walnut bread. A palate of six dipping sauces is dropped on the table and the server points out the Japanese menu on the side describing the flavors. Four are savory, like EVOO and tapenade and the sweets were salted caramel and Canadian maple syrup.

Diners pick a main course. I went with the pâté de campagne which was under seasoned (maybe made for the Japanese palate?…) and a poorly dressed salad. The dressing was fine, but it was just poured over the leaves, not massaged or tossed, which would make a world of a difference.

Most disappointing was the service. We are so spoiled with great service in Japan, when you come upon a restaurant that isn’t on top of things, you notice it right away.

Point et Ligne

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-5-1, Shin Marunouchi Bldg. B1

http://www.point-et-ligne.com/

Carrot Haystack Sandwich

Bon Coeur carrot sandwich

Nihonbashi Bon Coeur Crunchy Carrot Sandwich

One of my favorite simple breakfasts in Tokyo is this carrot sandwich at Nihonbashi Bon Coeur. Julienned carrots simply presented between two slices of pain de mie, with a schmear of mayonnaise. The orange haystack is so big that it’s hard to keep contained while eating. There may be butter, or not, I don’t remember and I don’t care, because it is so good.

Bon Coeur is a Japanese bakery on the Chuo Dori of Nihonbashi, very close to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I often pick up clients a the MO and will stop by here for breakfast. There is also a free cup of coffee in the early morning, I believe from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m.

There are a few small tables in front of the shop, if the weather is good. There is also a counter inside. Most of the customers work in the neighborhood and are regulars.

The breads here are they typical Japanese oyatsu pan or snack breads, made with ingredients like hot dog, cheese, croquettes, yakisoba, and burdock root. Some unusual breads that they do here will include chili con carne or macaroni. You’ll also find Japanese classic breads like melon pan and French classics like pain au chocolat.

Bon Coeur

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Muromachi 4-3-12

中央区日本橋室町4-3-12

http://www.bansei-gp.com/boncoeur/about/

平日 07:30 – 20:00 weekdays
土曜日 08:00 – 18:00 Saturday

closed Sundays and national holidays

Focaccia and Ciabatta in Tokyo

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My favorite Italian bakery in the city is Peck, which is only found at Takashimaya, both in Nihonbashi and Shinjuku, as well as at the shops in the suburbs. Peck is a gourmet shop in Milano that dates back to 1883. The selection includes Italian cheeses, cured meats, pastas, olive oils, and other pantry staples. There is also a selection of prepared dishes as well as some sandwiches.

I am addicted to the focaccia and ciabatta at Peck. The ciabatta freezes well, so I’ll cut up a few pieces for the freezer and warm it up in the oven toaster.

Peck is perfect for an impromptu picnic in Shinjuku Gyoen park, which is a short walk from the Shinjuku Takashimaya. Pick up some breads, cheese, and meat and swing by the wine shop for a bottle of wine.

If you come across great Italian breads in Tokyo, please let me know.

Peck at Takashimaya

Musashi-Sakai Passage a Niveau

Passage a Niveau baguette

Passage a Niveau baguette

My favorite baguette in Tokyo is found along the Chuo line near Musashi-Sakai station. Passage a Niveau does a three-grain baguette that has a lovely crumb with a chewy crust.

Passage a Niveau baguette crust

Passage a Niveau baguette crumb

The bakery opens at 8 a.m. but the baguettes do not come out until a bit later in the morning. Passage a Niveau is worth a journey across town for. The shop is small but has a selection of both Western and Japanese breads.

It is closed every Wednesday and the first Tuesday of each month. Nearby, the library at the South Exit has a big collection of magazines on the first floor as well as a café.

Passage a Niveau

Tokyo-to, Musashino-shi, Sakai Minami-cho 1-1-20, Taiko Bldg.

東京都武蔵野市境南町1-1-20 タイコービル

 

 

 

Manseibashi Hofbackerei Edegger-Tax

Tokyoites have yet another European bakery to add to a rich list that includes Viron, Maison Kayser, Peck (exclusively at Takashimaya), and Gontran Cherrier. What makes this new shop unique is that I believe it is the first bakery in Tokyo from Austria. For German bakeries there is Linde in Kichijoji. (Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Honcho 1-11-27).

Hofbakerei Edegger-Tax is at the Manseibashi mall conveniently located between Kanda, Akihabara, and Ochanomizu. It is one of Austria’s oldest bakeries (1569), and fills a gap in the city for these European breads. Linde is a great shop, but Kichijoji is a hike out of the city center.

The shop opens at 8:30 a.m. on weekdays, and 11:00 a.m. on weekends. There is a lovely selection of bread, sandwiches, including open-faced sandwiches, and pastries. I’ve been to the original shop in Graz, Austria, and at the time, the most impressive memory was the colorful selection of open-faced sandwiches.

Hofbakerei Edegger-Tax

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda-Sudacho 1-25-4, Maach ecute Kanda Manseibashi

http://www.edegger-tax.jp/

 

 

Food Trends – Shio Pan

Vie de France Shio Pan

Vie de France Shio Pan

As it looks like rainy season has come to an end and summer is officially here it has suddenly become hot. Temperatures soared overnight and for this Minnesotan, the heat is unbearable. Increased salt intake is recommended for heat exhaustion or for acclimating to the heat. A baker in Ehime prefecture came up with this concept which is now spreading throughout the country. He adds a bit of butter to the insider of the dough and then sprinkles the outer part with salt. It becomes a mini meal for those who have to eat on the run. Shio means salt and pan is for bread, simply salty bread.

The shio pan from Vie de France is my favorite so far. The inside opens up like a balloon so the outside is slightly crunchy and the inside is slightly chewy. The butter brings it all together. This is only 100 JPY. It can be eaten just as it is as a snack. I think it would also be nice sliced in half and stuffed with ice cream or sorbet.

Pompadour Shio Pan

Pompadour Shio Pan

Pompadour’s version is much more dense. I much prefer the airy version from Vie de France. Pompadour’s is better suited for making into a sandwich, perhaps stuffed with tuna or ham and cheese.

Vie de France and Pompadour are popular chains with branches throughout the city. Ask at your local bakery as many shops are now jumping on the bandwagon. Please let me know if you come across a good one. I’d travel across the city to try one.

Dominique Ansel Bakery Tokyo

Dominique's Kouign Amann DKA

Dominique’s Kouign Amann DKA

Dominique Ansel Bakery Tokyo has finally opened. The local media has been leading up to this event for several months so it is no surprise that there are long lines. The first customers started lining up about 9:30 p.m. the night before, on a wet evening during rainy season. Staff brought out umbrellas for the customers, very Japanese of them, a nod towards”omotenashi“. On the opening day the first customers in line were given DAB baseball hats. The bakery will also bring out warm madeleines to those standing in line.

I went in a few days after it opened and was lucky enough to get a tour of the space and sit down with chef Dominique to talk about the opening. My take-away from speaking with him was how down-to-earth he is, how much he supports his staff, and his creativity and playfulness. He has brought together a great team, including head chef Laurie Jon Moran, executive sous chef Mitsuhiro Shimotaka, and general manager Yuji Okada. There are almost 100 on the staff. Ansel says how hard-working his team is.

The Japanese adore the buttery, flakey, sweet kouign amann, so it is no surprise that the DKA is one of the more popular sweets at the bakery. However, chef Dominique’s version is rich and dense, just take a look at the photo above. It uses half the butter and half the sugar as usual and has a touch of fleur de sel. It is a nice contrast to the thinner versions which are typically found throughout the city.

Dominique Ansel Frozen S'more

Dominique Ansel Frozen S’more

The frozen s’more is presented on a natural wooden stick that has been smoked. The marshmallow surrounds a center of vanilla ice cream, salted chocolate, and a cookie is fired just before serving. The marshmallow is made with honey instead of sugar. The madeleines are baked after each order is placed, so that they are served warm out of the oven after being freshly dusted with powdered sugar.

There are some Tokyo-only creations, including the Japanese cronut which is now being made with a yuzu cream and Hokkaido milk. The Tokyo Brest, a play on the classic Paris Brest, is made with mattcha and passion fruit and is garnished with a ginkgo leaf. There is a kawaii (cute) maneki neko cat creme puff that is filled with yuzu vanilla. The traditional Japanese melon pan is made with kokuto black sugar and hojicha (roasted tea) cream. It is called Mr. Roboto melon pan as it looks like a robot’s face. Chef said that he has toned down the sugar a bit for the Japanese market. Looking at the sweets in the glass display case it is evident this is for a fun, young, casual market. At 3 p.m. the cookie shots are available. Vanilla is steeped in milk for 24 hours and the cookies come out of the oven. A good excuse to come back in the afternoon.

Dominique Ansel Tokyo Tea Room

Dominique Ansel Tokyo Tea Room

The bakery is a three-story building. The first floor is the bakery with a seating section and a kitchen for finishing the sweets. This is where you will find the cronuts and other sweets.

The second floor is a cafe with its own menu. Chef Laurie Jon Moran. There is also a quiet tea room off to the side. Chef is making a mont blanc wagashi that I need to come back for.

The working space for the staff is nice, especially the third floor production kitchen which is well-lit with windows that bring in natural sunlight. Sadly, many production kitchens are hidden away in the basement or in some dark part of the restaurant without any windows.

Dominique Ansel Tokyo Art

Dominique Ansel Tokyo Art

The custom-made graphics on the wall are from French graphic artist Vahram Muratyan. It is a play on the view from the kitchen of customers peering in. The wall includes some nods to Japan including a sumo wrestler and the black makkuro-kurosuke from Ghibli’s Totoro. There is a mirror on the wall so that you can imagine what you look like peering into the kitchen. Be sure to also check out the playful Metro map on the wall of the cafe.

http://www.vahrammuratyan.com/

Dominique Ansel Tokyo Interior

Dominique Ansel Tokyo Interior

The lines for the bakery are actually on the main Omotesando street. Staff will bring the customers on the back street where the bakery is. I have seen many chefs open in Tokyo and sadly they pick the wrong location to open up on. A famous Michelin-starred chef first opened his restaurant in the suburbs of Tokyo and of course it didn’t survive. He has since successfuly reopened in the heart of the city. But DAB is in a perfect location for his first shop.

#Anselfie

#Anselfie

Chef Dominique also spoke on the Japanese appreciation for sweets. He definitely understands the market and is off to a great start. Tokyoites are embracing him and his bakery. Here’s hoping that this is the start of a long ride for him and his team in Japan.

Note – if you do see chef at the bakery, ask to take an #Anselfie with him.

Dominique Ansel Bakery Tokyo

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-7-14

渋谷区神宮前5-7-14

dominiqueanseljapan.com/

Viron Boulangerie

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My go-to lunch when on a run is a sandwich from Viron. Excellent baguettes with a chewy crumb that can stand up to the crispy exterior. The sandwiches are classic French-style including pate de campagne, rillettes, and jambon.

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The large window display case in the front of the store has a dizzying array of sandwiches and pastries.

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The breads are authentic and take me back to France. The baguette is my favorite, but also excellent kouign amann and fougasse as well. Of course, much more than you would pay for in France, but it is a treat to have such great bread in Tokyo. Flour is brought in from France to make Viron’s signature retrador baguette and other breads. There is also a brasserie at each location. Viron has a branch at Marunouchi in front of Tokyo Station and in Shibuya. Now, if they would only expand and open more branches around the city.

Viron Marunouchi

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 2-7-3, TOKIA Bldg. 1st floor

03-5220-7289

Viron Shibuya

Shibuya-ku, Udagawacho 33-8, Tsukuda Bldg.

03-5458-1770

Le Pain Quotidien at nonowa Higashi-Koganei

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I lived in Brussels for a year and one of the things I remember the most is the Le Pain Quotidien down the street from my apartment. The bakery opened up early in the morning so I could stop by and get a croissant or pain au chocolat to start the day. The large communal table in the middle of the cafe is perfect when dining solo. On the table were jars of jam and nutty and chocolate spreads for bread. Open-faced tartine sandwiches as well as salads round out the menu here. The menu sadly does not have any Japanese influences. It is pretty much the same menu you’ll see in Belgium or in New York City. A fun shop to come in solo or with some friends.

Le Pain Quotidien is in a new shopping complex that opened up recently, nonowa Higashi-Koganei, which is on the Chuo line between Mitaka and Kokubunji. nonowa can also be found in Nishi-Kokubunji and in Musashi-Sakai, also on the Chuo line. The shops are in the train stations and this Higashi-Koganei shop is all underneath the Chuo line. A smart move to use the space underneath the train tracks. While it’s possible to hear the trains passing above, it is not nearly as noisy as spots like the restaurants underneath the Yamanote line near Yurakucho station.

The organic coffee is served in a bowl. Reminds me of bowls of hot chocolate in Europe. The coffee comes in a pot and is about two cups plus. Next time I come back I will bring some reading with me and settle in and be transported back to Belgium.

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The shop is brightly lit as one wall of windows faces south. On this day there were a few older couples and many young women in the shop. There is a small, but well-stocked bakery in the front of the shop for take-away or for eating in the cafe.

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There is also outdoor seating which will be perfect once the weather warms up. And, operation hours are 7:30 – 22:00.

Le Pain Quotidien has branches in the city. It’s not worth the trek out to Higashi-Koganei. But, if you find yourself traveling on the Chuo line, it’s good to know that it’s here.

Sandwich and Salad Lunch

Sandwich and Salad Lunch

A vegetable-friendly menu with salads and sandwiches.

Le Pain Quotidien Kid's Lunch

Le Pain Quotidien Kid’s Lunch

The Kid’s Lunch is hearty with an open-faced sandwich, fresh fruit, roasted potatoes, juice, and a chocolate muffin. Best of all, the waitress set a bucket of crayons on the communal table along with some origami paper. The crayons bought me enough free time to leisurely peruse their cookbook.

Le Pain Quotidien

Koganei-shi, Kajinocho 5-1-1, nonowa Higashi-Koganei

小金井市梶野町5-1-1, nonowa東小金井

Chuo line, local stop at Higashi-Koganei station 東小金井駅

042-316-7041

7:30 – 22:00

updated 27 July 2015