Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Patissier Hiro Yamamoto : Cakes with a Flower


That's the unique style of the cakes here. Every single cake is adorned with an edible flower and it's hard to imagine that they were produced by a burly chef with a pot belly. As with most patisseries here, the cakes are rooted in French classics but presented in a much colorful manner that attracts attention instantly.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

俺の Bakery&Cafe Ebisu : First Bakery Concept by the Ore No Group

 The Oreno group (Ore no Yakitori , Ore no Kappo, Ore no French Italian)has finally ventured into the bread sector and opened the Oreno Bakery Cafe in Ebisu in  Nov 2006. It's famous for its shokupan 食パン which is made with an original blend of France and Canada flour. There are three types, nama shokupan, yamagata shokupan and mascarpone honey shokupan. The breads are baked at certain timings and that's when you'll notice a line forming outside the cafe. The dine-in menu offers a variety of sandwiches and toasts featuring either it's Nama shokupan or Yamagata shokupan. That's a good way of trying the bread without having to buy an entire loaf for yourself.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hayashiya Shinbei Ginza 銀座林屋新兵衛 : Zunda Amazake Kakigori and More

There's a sense of ecstasy when food turns out much better than expected. And this was the case for the Amazake Cream Zunda Kakigori, the monthly flavor of Kakigori at Hayashiya Shin Beiei. This is a cafe-bar concept by Kyo Hayashiya serving classic Japanese desserts and drinks. I could smell the sweet aroma of Amazake when it arrived and the center sunk in once the unsweetened matcha syrup was poured in. The Amazake was stronger than the one I had at Shimura and the Genmai Cha rice pops buried beneath was a sheer delight.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Le Coin Vert by The Agnes ル・コワンヴェール : Hidden Patisserie in Kagurazaka

Hidden in the quaint neighbourhood of Kagurazaka is a boutique hotel named The Agnes and right next to it is a 2-storey wooden hut that houses a French patisserie that opened at the same time in 2008. It was headed by Chef Koji Ueshimo until 2015 June when Chef Koji left the shop to open his standalone patisserie Avranches Guesnay in the same year. In fact, 50% of the cakes at Le Coint Vert can be found in Avranches and I'm curious if there's any difference between the two places.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Gontran Cherrier Tokyo vs The Peck : Battle of the Matcha Breads

Matcha scene turns hot in May as many pastry shops or bakeries launched their matcha fair. The Peck, a bakery under Takashimaya and Gontran Cherrier have both started their matcha fair. I won't say which is better because the breads are different to start with. Gontran Cherrier's selection are predominantly croissant-based while The Peck's items are more yeasted buns based.

The Peck is generally cheaper but very sweet. My favourite item is neither the cinnamon roll nor the matcha mascarpone bun but the matcha muffin as it wasn't as heavy like an American muffin but moist and cakey. From Gontran, my vote goes to the Matcha Almond Croissant. It was much better than its Matcha Yuzu Croissant as the matcha almond paste in the center boost up the matcha intensity.

The Matcha Mont Blanc is another interesting fusion bread that contains matcha bean paste inside. Both the cream puff and roll cake were excellent and must-try. The cream puff was accented with yuzu peels while the ring of matcha ganache ratcheted the satisfaction level. Shiok

The Peck @ Takashimaya Shinjuku : http://www.takashimaya.co.jp/store/special/pb/peck/#sec01

Gontran Cherrier Tokyo

Monday, May 15, 2017

and Ecle by Olivier Rodriguez : Excellent French Cuisine at Super Affordable Prices

‘きよら’卵黄のオリーブオイルポーチ & ミモレットチーズ with ブロッコリークーリ
Poached in olive oil ‘Kiyora’ egg yolk / broccoli coulis / mimolette cheese


Gone are the days when one comes to Tokyo only for Japanese food because the city is a congregation of esteemed restaurants serving excellent French, Italian or other non-Japanese cuisines. It's not difficult to find good food in Tokyo but it's hard to find top-notched quality food at reasonable prices.

Alas, there's and ecle, a Neo bistro offering "classic French cuisine with a modern twist". But it's simply too humble to describe the food with these few words as the sophistication of the dishes warrants a deeper consideration. The ingredients are sourced locally from various parts of Japan, for instance fish are shipped in directly from Hakodate Harbour and ricotta cheese from Matsubara san in Hiroshima, then weaved harmoniously under the magical hands of owner-chef Olivier Rodriguez.

Having had numerous years of experience in Michelin starred restaurants, Chef Olivier joined Mandarin Oriental Tokyo opening team to be the Chef of restaurant "Signature" which obtained one star in 2007. He kept the star for 7 years before moving on to open his own creative Neo-bistro where gastronomy and innovation are accessible in an "eclectique" atmosphere.

It's a truly magical gastronomic experience without the confinements of rigid fine-dining. There was never a single moment of predictability during our dinner, only pleasant surprises dish after dish. The ala carte menu is broadly divided into starters, "Ocean", "Farm" and "Coulicious". The latter "Coulicious" is an original genre of food developed by Chef Olivier which harness the potential of rice/cereal using French coulis sauce. The sauces are made naturally using vegetables without any artificial colouring or additives. Partnering with Koike Tadao, the third generation owner of Harajuku's only rice shop of over 80 years in history, as well as Shouji Kokabu from Shiga prefecture who adopts a eco-friendly rice cultivation without any insecticide, Chef Olivier goes the extra mile to ensure that the selection of black, red, green, brown or white rice is of the highest quality in Japan.

With so much anticipation built up just from the menu, my partner and I decided to go for the Chef's 4-course and 5-course dinner as we were confident that Chef Olivier would know which would be the right kind of dish to serve for each course. Needless to say, it was the right decision.

I began with a hot appetizer of Kiyora egg yolk poached in olive oil. The mustard provided a wonderful kick to cut through the richness of the yolks and brocolli coulis. There's so much flavours going on in the mouth, racing to a brilliant finish with the cumin-coated bread crumbs which were more than just an accessory.

My partner's cold appetizer of Mr Matsubara's ricoatta cheese was equally competent. Contrary to the Kiyora yolk, this was on the lighter end of the spectrum with a refreshing green tomato sauce to liven the palates. The spring garden composition included the dandelion that was said to have health benefits.

Our appetizers were followed by the "Coulicious". The crunchy bamboo ash powder black rice from Shiga prefecture was a perfect match with the well-seasoned white asparagus coulis and sautéed bamboo shoots. The surprise element here were the toasted almonds which added a light crispness to the dish. My black olive gin-no-mikazuki rice was paired with lusciously tendered red wine beef cheek and "Hitomi-gosun" carrot coulis which had an inexplicable sweetness that soothed the mind.

The total of 3 mains that followed did not depart too far from classic French dishes but they were outstanding on numerous levels. In particular, the lamb was the most delicious lamb we've ever had in our life. The tricky meat is roasted-braised-poached; a rare cooking process that born fruitful results on the texture. Next to the lamb was an unusual sight of tartar sauce on lamb tongue, not beef tongue, and some tangy sweetbread. Genius.

Desserts were another territory not to be underestimated. Who would have expect a beautiful chemistry between tomatoes and coconuts? Or superbly airy chocolate mousse with balsamic vinegar and plenty of crispy nuts? They might not be the most complex desserts out there but each is priced jaw-droppingly at ¥900 on the ala carte menu.

Beyond the food, what truly touched us were the humility of the chef who went the extra mile to serve food to each and every customer during the dinner service when we visited. This was truly one of the BEST MEALS I've ever had and I can't wait to return to try his new menu that will be launched end of May.

This is what I call, food from the heart

LUNCH 11:30 - 14:30 (L.O)
DINNER (Weekday/Sat.) 18:00 - 21:00 (L.O)
DINNER (Sun. or holiday) 18:00 - 20:00 (L.O)
〒107-0062 東京都港区南青山5-5-4 LUCE南青山2F
TEL 03-6712-5018
Luce Minamiaoyama 2F 5-5-4
Minamiaoyama Minato-ku Tokyo Zip107-0062 Japan
TEL 03-6712-5018

Lamb roasted-braised-poached / seared romaine lettuce / thyme-flavored gravy & black olive coulis
Black pepper-roasted ‘kajika’ fillet / young onion & potato with sherry vinegar sauce

Cheese selection: Hokkaido Mr.Noya, Shiga pref. Ms.Tsuyako & Hirosima pref Mr.Matsubara Selection

Crémet d’Anjou / mango compote / dragon fruit coulis

Tomato & coconuts composition

Manate’ milk chocolate mousse / crispy nuts / balsamic vinegar coulis
Strawberry Parfait with Pink Peppercorn
Four Textures of Strawberries

Friday, May 12, 2017

Andaz Tokyo Pastry Boutique : Shincha Bitter Sweets

May marks the season of Shincha (first tea harvest) and Andaz Hotel has launched a series of Shincha sweets featuring teas from Shizuoka Prefecture. Just when you expect everything to be green, the cakes are mostly decked in white. But all the cakes we've tasted would have passed with flying colors if there was a cake examination.

The textures were brilliant and the structure of the cakes were coherent. Take for example the Shincha Opera (650 yen), probably the best opera I've ever had. The green tea ganache was smooth yet potent, contrasted by the nutty chocolate feuilletine in the center. The Vert (650 yen) was a showcase of exemplary chocolate mousse; not porous but silky tight like wearing a comfortable pair of leggings. Again, there's a variation of textures here which took to our fancy.

The Shincha roll cake (600 yen) tasted normal but the fluffy texture could easily threaten the position of Es Koyama's roll in my ranking chart. I was intrigued by The Barley Tea (麦茶) Chocolate (550 yen) as very few chefs would play with this underrated tea. Clearly, mugicha was an excellent partner with chocolate just like Hojicha. The eclairs (small 200 yen / large 490 yen) were decent but I would recommend getting the regular sized ones for a deeper satisfaction. 

Good to know: With 20 dine-in seats, this pastry shop offers a truly relaxed space for enjoyingquality cakes without having to queue or pay for any compulsory beverage. Pastry chef Tanaka Reito has vast experience in French pastries and has been working with Grand Hyatt Tokyo for more than 15 years before being appointed as the chef for Andaz Tokyo

Period: now till June 16 2017
Details: https://www.andaztokyo.jp/restaurants/jp/pastry-shop/

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hattifnatt Cafe @ Kichijoji : Not your typical Kawaii Cafe

There are many kawaii cafes around in Japan but the kind of kawaii at Hattifnatt is rather different. It's a kind of kawaii that draws from childhood storybooks and probably makes your hair stand less than the other. It feels like a form of Zakka-graffiti fusion art to me and one can expect this place to be popular among teenage girls here.

The food plays along the same line but thankfully they taste good. I'm surprised by the quality of the desserts as kawaii food usually taste worse or like sh*t. The caramel sauce of the banana chiffon was intensely bitter and the cake wasn't too dry. As for he Pumpkin Mont Blanc, the base was constructed of puff pastry--a welcome change from the usual tart base. It gave a flaky savoury touch to the sweet pumpkin cream that was strangely filled with frozen apple cubes. The drinks are too sweet but I guessed it's hard to resist ordering them since they are probably the "cutest" food on the menu.

For more handmade Zakka items, hop over to its sister retail shop just next door.

Kichijoji outlet
〒180-0003 東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺南町2丁目22−1
11.30am-10pm Mon-Thur, Sun
11.30am-11pm Fri-Sat

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