Friday, January 24, 2014

Best of Matcha Sweets 2014: Hal Yamashita's Water Chocolate ハルヤマシタ 東京

Though it's not officially the season of matcha yet (still strawberries and later sakura), there is no shortage of matcha-related products that are available as regular products. Here is a round-up of a few recent ones. Some are so bewilderingly delicious that caught me speechless while some did not meet expectations. 

 
Sadaharu Aoki, the patissier who shot to fame in Paris before he did in his homeland, has launched the winter special sweet, Matcha Mont Blanc (735 yen). Though the matcha is not limited to only the few specks of dust on the outside, it is buried beneath all that sugar in the meringue.

The monotonously sweet chestnut paste weighed the entire item down and could not be salvaged with the light Chantily cream and Azuki beans. Perhaps it is a fortunate news that this is only a seasonal item.
I've had the best choux cream puff from Sadaharu Aoki and the pastry skin of the matcha eclair managed to sustain the quality but leaning towards the tender and eggy side. But the eclairs are yet to rival that by Fauchon.
Matcha sweets from Kyoto tend to be the yardstick that which we measure to because it seems to offer a greater degree of authenticity. I have no qualms with that, because so far those from Kyoto pastry shops such as Jouvencelle, never fail to impress with their Zen-ness. Click on shop name for link to its other products.
 
For matcha macarons, Lindt's version emerged as a dark horse and I have to reluctantly confess that it has surpassed the macarons by Pierre Herme. It takes minimal effort to sink my tongue through the crispy crusts before hitting the smooth richness of the centers, only to be surprised with some red beans.
If there is one matcha mousse cake to name, it would be this squarish green cube (462 yen). by Patisserie Sola The matcha is from Nishioshi City西尾市, another major producer of green tea that contributes 30% of the national green tea consumption. The cake is 85% green tea mousse, 10% condensed milk filling and 5% sponge. It is luxurious without being too heavy or cloying.

Patisserie Sola is led by American chef-restauranteur David Myers and it has four outlets in Tokyo.

However, what I would list as the best matcha creation in my life so far would be this unassumingly humble looking pot of green "water chocolate". Created by highly acclaimed Japanese chef Hal Yamashita, this "water chocolate" is neither matcha mousse nor pudding, but some form of chocolate dessert that straddles between the solid and liquid state.
 
Unlike many puddings (even those by Tsujiri) which contain artificial additives, this one has only 5 ingredients-mineral water extracted from the 100-year granite stone of Rokkou 六甲, Belgian White Chocolate, Matcha Powder, Gelatin and 38% fresh cream. Those who bake puddings or handle chocolate will know that water is seldom or never used because it is difficult to blend with oil, which amazes me how this "water chocolate" could be created.
It is an extremely velvety texture that I have never encountered before and I was truly lost in translation after the initial spoonful. It does remind me of room temperature Royce matcha chocolate but this is far less greasy possibly thanks to the magical ingredient mineral water.
It comes with a sachet of matcha powder, whose intense bitterness rival the sweetness of the "water chocolate". It comes at a hefty price tag of 500 yen per portion but trust that you can't find any other better substitute than this, even those from Kyoto.

Hal Yamashita ハルヤマシタ 東京  (Water Chocolate)
Tokyo Midtown D-0119
Minato ku Akasaka 9-7-4
11.30am-3pm
5.30pm-12noon
Online shopping available here and website here

Lindt Chocolatier (Matcha Macaron)
Shibuya outlet:
Shibuya ku Shibuya 1-25-6
9am-11pm
click here for other outlets and menu

Patisserie Sola by David Myers (Matcha Mousse Cake)

Shinjuku Isetan B1  
click here for details

Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki (Matcha Mont Blanc & Matcha Eclair)

Shinjuku Isetan B1
10.30am-8pm
click here for other outlets

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