Friday, May 30, 2014

Le Pain De Joel Robuchon : World's First JR Bakery

Joel Robuchon has opened many different concept restaurants in Tokyo but Le Pain De Joel Robuchon in Shibuya Hikarie is the world's first Joel Robuchon specialty bakery that serves traditional French bread.

This is not a sweet bread. It's a savoury Gorgonzola croissant cube covered in a chewy crisp of cheese. I had expected cheese filling but it turned out to be plain when I cut through it. Nonetheless, the clear distinct layers of dough was remarkable.

It is wrong to say that the inside is purely white, for there are some blue blemishes that are evidences that blue cheese had been folded into the dough before baking. Gorgonzola and honey always go hand-in-hand and thus explains the honey in the mini tube.

Does this look like a muddy soccer field or a rustic garden?
It's a French Tartine with lentils, sausage and mash potato on sale during this year's Auvergne Fair. Not sure why I got so attracted to this but maybe it's because of the word "lentils", which evoked my nostalgia of Indian vegetarian curry. However, the lentil paste has a strange, rather bland taste that required more salt and pepper. Perhaps pork lentils and potatoes are the key ingredients for Auvergne cuisine but I wished the mash potato could be replaced by a soft boiled egg.

Moving to the croissants section, who can resist this bright Pain au Chocolat-Cafe et Noisettes Caramelisees? Topped with crushed almonds, chocolate balls and a layer of baked espresso almond cream, one can tell that this is triple the sinfulness of a typical croissant.

Now there seems alot going on here--thick espresso custard, hazelnuts, rum-spiked raisins. This is one darn delicious pastry that can transport you to fantasyland. But this sheer amount of ingredients is also the reason why it suffers from lack of crunch.

The Salted Caramel Croissant is something that I would like to have instead of the previous croissant. It's lighter and well-balanced in taste, with just enough amount of salted caramel sauce to bring the pastry to life.
While the interior is soft and stretchy, the external pastry layers still need some slight reworking to match strong competitors like Echire or Viron.

Instead of croissants, I thought this place delivers better brioches. For instance, the Salted Butter brioche is one that achieved a good grasp of saltiness and sweetness with a light coating of sugar.

The Florentine, made with the classic ingredients such as honey, almonds and nuts, but delivered to resemble bread toast instead of typical bars.

Carrying the Robuchon brand name, the bread sold here are inevitably priced higher than average Japanese bakeries. Perhaps one thing that I found reasonably priced was the quiche. Big and flavorful. These bread are also available at the his cafe at Marunouchi but for a wider selection, this is the place to go.

Le Pain De Joel Robuchon
Daily 10am-9pm
B2F Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs, 2-21-1,
Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8509
Latest Theme: Mango Fair (Mango Chutney Kilimanjaro Curry Croque Monsieur, Mango Cream Croissant etc.) Till 15th July 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dalloyau : Phantom of the Opera....Cakes

This famous Parisian pastry house since it was founded by a king in 1682 is known for its Opera cake and macarons. It has quite a number of outlets all over Japan but the main building is located in Ginza.

Yes, I must say that the Opera Cake is really good but not for the macarons. They are rather inconsistent. The rose flavour was too crunchy while the Salted Caramel was so chewy that it could get stuck to the teeth like chewing gum.

However, I decided to give it a second chance by trying out its other creations. It came as a major surprise that a French patisserie could handle the sophisticated matcha so well in Verrine Uji Matcha. Bitter matcha gelee sauce, velvety matcha mousse, moist sponge and a semi-translucent Kokutoh (black sugar) jelly base. Everything came together like a highly synchronized orchestra.

Called Zen but there is none of the usual suspects such as red beans, black beans or even matcha mousse. Appeared here as bitter moist sponge, matcha is paired with GUAVA! Never have I encountered guava in mousse cakes, and most definitely not the matcha-guava combination

However, there is an unspeakable splendidness in this cake. Fruity guava mousse, sourish raspberry, substantially thick matcha sponge all draped in a baby lotion-like white chocolate cream.

The Chocolate Tart is nothing special except for the cute warrior figurine. That said, the chocolate ganache is truly  intense and no wonder it comes in such a small size.

Chou Cubique The Vert
Nearly made me "nose-bleed" when I saw the amount of matcha inside the cube. This is actually Dalloyau's classic choux Cubique series and there are other flavours like raspberry and vanilla. It looked like bread but was crusty choux pastry shaped like a square.

Unlike some cream cube buns that I've come across in Singapore, this is way more generous and yummy for 90% is filled with the rich matcha cream.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see this? I immediately thought of pig brain because of the neat, intricately piped chestnut paste that has been air-sprayed with a nice chocolate tan.

What excels in this is the tempered sweetness and a lovely rum aroma that is not found even in those by Mont Blanc specialist Angelina.

The Le Jardin Fraise conjured the images of a garden with pink rosy flowers. I thought it would be a boring cake but the vanilla mousse was elegant. It was speckled with lots of vanilla beans that led to mildly sweet scents but yet the sweetness is highly restrained.

This is a commendable thing because most pastry chefs tend to throw in too much sugar when they use vanilla beans (eg. Creme Brulee)

Last but not least, Matcha Melon Pan!
Made with Suzuka Matcha from Mie prefecture (click here for more info on Suzuka Matcha), the melon pan has a very well baked crust that emits an attractive fragrant unlike most matcha melon pans.

I love the deep flavour that corresponds to the bold dark green crust, even though the spiraling green interior was tad rough. Would be ideal if there was some matcha cream filling.

Overall, Dalloyau is another potentially delicious patisserie that exhibits creativity and quality for almost everything sans the macarons.

6-9-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
1F Retail Store and Bakery Daily 10am-9pm (Till 10pm on Fri.Sat.Eve of PH)
2F Cafe/Restaurant Daily 11am-9pm (Till 10pm on Fri.Sat.Eve of PH)
Other outlets: Jiyugaoka, Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi, Mitsukoshi Ginza

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nihonbashi Tamai 日本橋 玉ゐ : Anago Specialist

I've had Chirasushi before but never heard of Anago Chirashi until I read about this place in a local magazine. And so I went to the main outlet in Nihonbashi before the opening hours, only to realize that there is a whole bunch of people who have arrived earlier than me.
Situated in an old Showa building, it has a long history that dates back to Showa 28 (1953). Somehow, these kind of historic establishments evoke a sense of nostalgia.

An Anago specialty shop is quite rare in Tokyo as most of them specialises in eels.

At Nihonbashi Tamai, most people go for the Hako Meshi (Choice of simmered or grilled anago on rice )......

but I chose the Anago Chirashi 1450 yen (Contents vary for the 2300 yen).

It comes with miso soup and pickles. Just can't wait to dig into the vibrant bowl!
Instead of the usual teriyaki-like sauce, this dark brown sauce reminds me something back home...kecap manis. But I barely added much as the bowl itself is already very flavorful.

Revealing......the Anago!!! Tama uses only wild-caught Anago and the meat was amazingly fresh and tender. While usual chirashi is about 30% ingredients and 70% rice, this is made up of 70% ingredients and 30% rice!

Bamboo shoots, zesty pink ginger, sweets tamago chunks, simmered shimeji mushrooms, tobiko roe, crunchy lotus, sticky ladyfingers. Throw everything together with the Anago and rice, you have a sure winner.

There are plenty of reasons why one should try the Anago here. First, it is cheaper than unagi. Second, Anago is good for health--low calorie and lots of DHA to boost brain power. Third, the deliciousness has usurped that of the Unagi.

Still not convinced? Then the more you should visit and taste it for yourself!

Nihonbashi Tamai Anago 日本橋 玉ゐ
2-9-9 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku.
Open Daily
Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays 11:30am-3.30pm/4:30pm-8:30pm.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Shibuya Cheese Stand : Cheese and the Cow

Shibuya cheese stand is a casual cheese cafe in the quiet suburbs near NHK Broadcast Centre in between Harajuku JR and Shibuya JR. It aims to bring high end cheeses to the masses. On the menu are sandwiches, pizzas, salad and desserts that plays around with Fromage.

A small space is allocated as mini cheese factory where the signature mozzarella balls are churned out.

The "Plates" stated on the menu is tapas-like cheese platter which contains different variety of cheese. I do wish they could serve some complimentary crackers or baguette alongside because the two types of Aged Cheddar Cheese (770 yen) were tasty but too salty on their own. The minimal specks of dried fruits did not help much.

Perhaps we should have fork out more money and head straight for the burrata balls or freshly made ricotta mozzarella next time.

Craving for some carbohydrates, we decided to try the seasonal flavour pizza. More like a rustic galette than a pizza, this "pizza" (900 yen) is scattered with sweet potatoes, mint, cheese and raisins. It's definitely not a dessert pizza but neither is it the typical Italian pizza with cheesy strands. Dry and bland, it would taste better with at least a sauce base.

Since there had been good reviews about the sandwiches, I had the Truffled oil bacon sandwich (560 yen) Made with chewy rye baguette, the sandwich was much more delicious than the odd pizza.

I could smell the aromatic truffle oil when the staff was assembling the toasted warm bread with the ingredients. However, I wished they could be more generous with the amount of cheese since it is the main star of the shop.
Desserts such as Cheese Pudding, Cheesecake, etc...
Spot this cow to locate this place
I thought the concept of this cheese stand is pretty cool but the food did not excite me. Hence, I don't think it is necessary to make a trip all the way here for cheese even if you are cheese lovers but it's a great place to grab a quick bite or takeaway before heading to join the hippies at Yoyogi Park.
Shibuya Cheese Stand
Shibuya Ku Kamiyamacho 5-8 1F
11am-11pm (Till 8pm on Sundays)
Closed on Mondays
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