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French Pastry Shops in Japan


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#91 prasantrin

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 01:42 AM

HC's salted caramel cake is my favourite!!! It's a bit expensive, but well worth it, in my opinion.

I love their macarons, too, the caramel one in particular. It's much better than Pierre Herme (I don't care for PH macaron, actually), but I'm not sure how it ranks against Chez Cima, my number one macaron from my taste test last spring.

Also try their financier and madeleine. They're so underrated, but they're really quite delicious (very buttery!).

#92 prasantrin

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 05:04 AM

[posted in part elsewhere]

I've been in Tokyo for a couple of days, and have been making the rounds. I'm trying not to eat too much (I'm only here for a few days, after all), but when your eyes are bigger than your stomach, it's hard not to buy too much!

First stop was A Tes Souhaits. It's a bit out of the way, but since I was sort of in the neighbourhood, I stopped by. They have a few tables, but it's primarily a take-out place. I got some kind of caramel cake. The bottom layer was praline, I think, and then there were alternating layers of cake and buttercream. I like this cake a lot. It's not too sweet, and the praline layer adds a nice bit of texture contrast. The caramel flavour is pronounced, but not overwhelming, so it's a nice cake if you like caramel. I also got some vanilla caramels (not yet tried), a couple of florentines (not yet tried), and a very good kouign aman. I liked the kouign aman a lot, except it had a bit of a cinnamon flavour to it. Wasn't crazy about that part, but aside from that, it was excellent.

Later that evening I had dinner at L'Atelier Robuchon, so I shopped at the bakery first. Here I picked up a couple of savoury breads (one with olives, the other with sun-dried tomatoes), three macarons (caramel, citron, and praline), a kouign aman, and a salted caramel tart.

The caramel tart wasn't quite what I expected. It was good, and not too sweet, but I would have preferred a thinner crust. There was also a thin layer of chocolate between the crust and the caramel, and I would have preferred that chocolate not to be there. It interfered with the enjoyment of the caramel, I thought.

And his kouign aman isn't that great. It's not bad, but not really good, either. Just ordinary.

Yesterday my only cake stop was Hidemi Sugino. I arrived bright an early at 9:20, knowing the line-ups would be long by the time the shop opened at 10. I was the fifth person in line. Score! But imagine my surprise when passing by the shop, I noticed a sign in the window stating the shop would not be opening until 11. . . With nothing else to do until 1, I stayed in line for 1 hour and 40 minutes until they opened. Only in Japan would something like that be acceptable. I can't imagine any other country where, unannounced, a store could open one hour later than usual and people would still stand around waiting. By opening at 11, by the way, there were about 50 people or so in line.

They've got some very strict rules about shopping there. About 15 minutes before they opened, a staff member came out to explain about shopping there. You have to line up a certain way, and then you're only allowed 2 cakes to eat in, and 6 cakes to take out (or maybe 6 cakes max in total, with no more than 2 for eat-in--I couldn't hear very well because some annoying women who also cut in front of me kept jabbering away while the rest of us were trying to listen to the announcement). Some cakes can't be taken away, but must only be eaten in the cafe area. I got a bunch of little things (madeleines and the like), and then got one cake to eat in, and two cakes to go.

My eat-in cake was Arabique, I think. It was coffee-flavoured, and could only be eaten in the shop. The first bite was powerful. If you like coffee, this would be a good cake for you. After a few bites, however, I could no longer taste the coffee flavour, or any other flavour for that matter. I could only "taste" the richness of the cake. This was a mousse cake with layers of coffee jelly and another kind of mousse inside (a lighter, creamier, more pudding-like mousse than the rest of the mousse of the cake). It was very very soft. So soft that whenever I took a bite, it reminded me of how when you have a cold and you try to breath in through your nose, the mucous sometimes slides down the back of your throat. Not that I've ever had that happen to me, but if I had, that's what the texture of this cake would have reminded me of. :wink:

I took out the Bresilienne (sp?) which was coffee and caramel, and his version of black forest, called something like charme (with an accent aigu on the e). I didn't particularly care for either of them. The black forest is just sweet to me, and the Bresilienne was more coffee than caramel. And it, too, was very much like a soft mucousy mousse.

I know Hidemi Sugino is famous in the world of pastry, and his cakes are very good, but I don't think I'll be standing in line for 1 hour and 40 minutes ever again for them. Or even 40 minutes. Ten maybe, but I think that would be my max. And contrary to what some people seem to believe, his cakes really are pure French in style. There's nothing really special about them, except the quality of execution is quite high.

Tons of macarons have been purchased, as well. To follow-up on my caramel macaron taste test last spring, I've tested last year's winner with some other untried ones, and my usual caramel. The contenders are Chez Cima (last year's winner), Henri Charpentier (my go-to caramel macaron), Laduree, Sebatian Bouillet, and Joel Robuchon.

None were necessarily bad, but if I had to choose an order of preference, it would be:

Henri Charpentier
Chez Cima
Sebastian Bouillet
Robuchon
Laduree

Henri Charpentier has excellent filling:shell ratio, but it's got a very pronounced caramel flavour, leaning more towards burnt caramel. I like that, but if you don't, you won't like these. The filling is caramel, not buttercream.

Chez Cima has a pronounced salt flavour to its salted caramel macaron. If you like chewy caramels, these are a good choice, as the shell is thicker than most. Buttercream filling in these, I think

Sebastian Bouillet has a very buttery flavour to it. it's not very chewy at all. It's got a caramel filling.

Robuchon has a good salted caramel flavour (buttercream filling). It's a wee bit chewy, and it has a bit of an odd aftertaste. It's not quite an artificial flavour, but I can't pin it down. I liked the saltiness of the filling.

Laduree was the least caramelly of the bunch. It's mostly just sweet, and the almond flavour is more pronounced than the caramel flavour. That's why these are in last place.

I still have some other Laduree macaron to try (mango, praline, and citron), and a couple of Robuchon left (praline and citron).

Today went to Le Chocolat de H just to look. Really, it's true! But I ended up buying some little things--madeleines, florentines (can you tell I have a thing for madeleines and florentines?), some kind of chocolate covered cake thing that looks like it comes in a lipstick box, some caramels, and another caramel macaron!!

The caramel macaron was a bit of a disappointment. I think I should just stop buying macaron from chocolate shops. I have the same complaints about the LCdH one as I did about last year's Jean-Paul Hevin macaron--they taste almost nothing of caramel but almost entirely of chocolate.

I tried to go to Toshi Yoroizuka, but the line up was quite long (just for take-out, too!) and after yesterday's long wait at Hidemi Sugino's, I just wasn't up to it. I might try again tomorrow--I've got a long day before the night bus leaves!

On my way back to my hotel I stopped by Isetan, my favourite depachika in the world! I stocked up on Henri LeRoux CBS tarts and caramels. I also picked up some omiyage from a place called Yokohama Francais Patisserie. They sell chocolate covered millefeuille-like bars. And I got some leaf pies from Confectionary West for my mother.

I also got another kouign aman from BE-Japon (boulangepicier--a branch of Alain Ducasse's bakery/cafe). It's my second favourite, and has a good amount of caramelized sugar.

I think that's all I bought today. Of pastries, that is. . . (National Azabu has a sale on Thai and Filipino mangos, so I couldn't resist! Now to get them back to Kansai without too much bruising. . . )

#93 LordBalthazar

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 09:31 PM

Hey Prasantrin,

Have you been to Sadaharu Aoko Patisserie in Roppogni Hills? The matcha opera cake is outstanding! On my last day, I was intending to drop by and pick up an entire cake to bring back with me to Canada. In the event customs prevented me from bringing it over, I would have happily sat down in the airport and attempted to eat the whole thing there. Alas, I didn't have the time.

Also, I sampled a variety of wonderful macarons, but my favorites were the ones I picked up at Pierre Hermes in Shibuya. They did a seasonal trio - foie gras, black truffle, and white truffle - that I would highly recommend.
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#94 prasantrin

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 04:45 AM

Hey Prasantrin,

Have you been to Sadaharu Aoko Patisserie in Roppogni Hills?  The matcha opera cake is outstanding!  On my last day, I was intending to drop by and pick up an entire cake to bring back with me to Canada.  In the event customs prevented me from bringing it over, I would have happily sat down in the airport and attempted to eat the whole thing there.  Alas, I didn't have the time.

Also, I sampled a variety of wonderful macarons, but my favorites were the ones I picked up at Pierre Hermes in Shibuya.  They did a seasonal trio - foie gras, black truffle, and white truffle - that I would highly recommend.

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I've had Sadaharu Aoki stuff, but not from the Roppongi Hills shop. I've only gotten take out from his store at Isetan in Shinjinku (take-out only). I wasn't really impressed with what I had (macarons and eclair), but I'm always willing to try more sweets!

Did you try any of the Japanese-brand macarons? I found the Japanese makers of macaron did a better job (or at least one more suited to my tastebuds) than the French makers--I placed both Chez Cima and Henri Charpentier (they don't sound like it, but they're Japanese companies) above JP Hevin, Pierre Herme, Lauduree, etc.

Did you make the short trek from Roppongi Hills to Tokyo Midtown to try Toshi Yoroizuka? I wanted to try his stuff, but the day I went (a national holiday), the line up just to enter the place was way too long. It was worse (I thought) than at Hidemi Sugino!

#95 helenjp

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 07:35 AM

If you read Japanese, the current issue of Cafe Sweets has interviews with high-fliers including patissiers. It would be a good starting point for anybody planning a pilgrimage.

#96 LordBalthazar

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:51 PM

Hey Prasantrin,

Have you been to Sadaharu Aoko Patisserie in Roppogni Hills?  The matcha opera cake is outstanding!  On my last day, I was intending to drop by and pick up an entire cake to bring back with me to Canada.  In the event customs prevented me from bringing it over, I would have happily sat down in the airport and attempted to eat the whole thing there.  Alas, I didn't have the time.

Also, I sampled a variety of wonderful macarons, but my favorites were the ones I picked up at Pierre Hermes in Shibuya.  They did a seasonal trio - foie gras, black truffle, and white truffle - that I would highly recommend.

View Post


I've had Sadaharu Aoki stuff, but not from the Roppongi Hills shop. I've only gotten take out from his store at Isetan in Shinjinku (take-out only). I wasn't really impressed with what I had (macarons and eclair), but I'm always willing to try more sweets!

Did you try any of the Japanese-brand macarons? I found the Japanese makers of macaron did a better job (or at least one more suited to my tastebuds) than the French makers--I placed both Chez Cima and Henri Charpentier (they don't sound like it, but they're Japanese companies) above JP Hevin, Pierre Herme, Lauduree, etc.

Did you make the short trek from Roppongi Hills to Tokyo Midtown to try Toshi Yoroizuka? I wanted to try his stuff, but the day I went (a national holiday), the line up just to enter the place was way too long. It was worse (I thought) than at Hidemi Sugino!

View Post


I highly recommend that matcha opera cake. I went back twice during my stay.

I didn't try either Chez Cima or Henri Charpentier, but will definitely check them out when I head back later this year. Better than Pierre Herme you say?

Didn't get to Toshi Yoroizuka either and, for the life of me, I dont' remember why. May well have been a line-up as I can't think of any other reason I wouldn't have checked it out. And, no, not being hungry would never stop me - especially when it comes to dessert.
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