Le Pain Quotidien

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For one year I lived in Brussels. Just down the street from my apartment was a Le Pain Quotidien. I went about two to three times a week. Some nights for a baguette to have with wine and cheese. Mornings I could pop in and pick up a croissant. There was a small garden in the back with some tables and inside a large communal table. On the table were jars of confitures and chocolate-hazelnut spread. It was a popular shop and I loved seeing what the customers were dining on. Usually the signature open-faced tartines or salads.

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I then moved back to New York City and couldn’t be any happier when Le Pain Quotidien opened in Manhattan. The branch I went to the most was in Soho, just down the street from the French Culinary Institute where I took both the bread and culinary programs. The ambience was a bit different in NYC, but the bread was just as good. Here we could order wine by the carafe and some cheese to enjoy with our bread.

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And, now Le Pain Quotidien has followed me to Tokyo. I believe the first location opened near Shiba Koen which is an area I hardly ever get to. And, as there are so many great boulangeries in the city there is no need to make a special trip. The shop in Omotesando is just around the corner from where my cousin lives. She has a young boy and this is a kid-friendly shop so we came for lunch.Pain4

I was excited to see the breads I love so much, a communal table, and the familiar menu. This Mediterranean platter has hummous, tahini, and tabbouleh. The only thing that really changed from the other restaurants I’ve been to in the past is that there is a mini-buffet where the complimentary spreads are congregated. While there is a communal table, everyone this day was sitting at the tables.

It’s perfect for the solo diner or if you want to come with friends. The menu has frittatas, salads, and tartines. A great spot to keep on your radar when in Omotesando and vegetarian-friendly.

And, as one would expect of a European bakery, it is open bright and early in the morning, starting at 7:30 a.m. Some great bakeries in this city that don’t open until 10 a.m. or even later. This and Gontran Cherrier are an exception.

Pain5Le Pain Quotidien Omotesando

Minato-ku, Kita-Aoyama 3-5-15

03-6721-1173

7:30 a.m. – 23:00 (last order at 22:00)

Other branches at Shiba Koen 3-3-1, and Opera City in Nishi-Shinjuku.

CLOSED – Shinjuku Gontran Cherrier

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Sadly, this Shinjuku branch of Gontran Cherrier has closed.

We are so spoiled in Tokyo with amazing bakeries transplanted from France. While living in Singapore one of the popular bakeries was Gontran Cherrier’s Tiong Bahru Bakery. Local Singaporeans as well as Japanese expat wives filled the seats of the shop in the afternoon. One afternoon Cherrier was in town and it was great fun listening to everyone swoon about how sexy he is with his long hair. Regardless of his appearance, I do find his breads very appealing. The signature croissant here is very rustic and it is tempting to pull it apart layer by layer.

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One of my new favorites is this tarte flambée. A speciality of the Alsace region of France across the river from Germany. I traveled a few times to Alsace while living in Brussels and tarte flambée was one of my favorite culinary discoveries that year, along with Belgian french fries served with mayonnaise. Cherrier’s tarte flambée is on a puff pastry crust so it’s crispy and delicate. There is a tart white sauce generously covered with lardons and caramelized onions. These were yakitate, hot out of the oven. I only regret not buying the whole tray. Tarte flambée is a dish I’ve tried a few times making at home, but it’s never as satisfying as this. Next time I buy this I will be sure to drink an Alsatian riesling along with it.

 

 

GC3Cherrier’s creativity is reflected in his use of local ingredients. In Singapore some of his breads are served with curry. Here he does a mattcha croissant.  *** Note, that mattcha croissant is no longer being made. Hopefully, it will come back. 🙂

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Cherrier’s newest shop in Shinjuku has just opened and it’s already very popular. The shop used to be the Hiroshima antenna shop, which moved to Ginza.

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The second floor of the shop is a brightly lit space with plenty of seating. It overlooks Shinjuku’s south exit and the Southern Terrace. It is popular and often hard to find a seat at peak meal times.

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This day I was in the mood for cheese and meat. Far right is the tarte flambée. Above is a croque monsieur croissant which was covered with a handful of cheese and stuffed with ham before being put back in the oven. A meal in a sandwich. The bottom left is a cheese and prunes stuffed into a chewy dough.

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In the entrance the store posts the bakery schedule for baguettes, croissants and the croissant mattcha citron.

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Here is the curry baguette with grains and the squid ink baguette with cumin. I’ve had both of these in Singapore. Everyone is always curious to try the black ink baguette, which I like slicing thin and using for open-faced sandwiches. Topped with ham or smoked salmon. I also love his red miso bread which is dense and rich with umami.

The location is just outside of the Shinjuku Shin-Minami Guchi (New South Exit). Best of all, it is open from 7:30 a.m. as a proper bakery should be. This can not be said for most bakeries in Japan. His other location is in Shibuya, also close to the station.

Gontran Cherrier

Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 2-2-1, Southern Terrace

03-5302-2282

7:30 – 22:00

 

 

Gontran Cherrier Bakery in Tokyo

Gontran Cherrier’s Tiong Bahru Bakery in Singapore

Boulanger Gontran Cherrier‘s Singapore outpost is very popular. As a baker I find his offerings very interesting. A dense red miso bread  and an intense squid ink baguette (see photo below). I love his croissant with visible, crispy layers. I would show a photo but I can never hold myself back from digging in as soon as I get it.

His Singapore outpost has some indoor and outdoor seating and is often full. He’s known for creating unique breads so I am very curious to see what he will make once he starts working with Japanese ingredients.

The media in Singapore has been covering his store here and several have reported that a Tokyo outpost will be opening in August. I hear that it will be near Shibuya station but this has yet to be confirmed.