Another acclaimed patisserie just outside the centre of Tokyo beckoned and amidst the confusion of figuring out the damn Chuo Line at Shinjuku station, I found myself at Nishi-Ogikubo station and quite bloody lost. Thank the heavens for googlemaps and the iphone, as it was quite a trek away from the station.
Hideki Kawamura is the Chef/Owner of the curiously named A Tes Soushaits! Bless him, for you can look into the kitchens from his delightful shop. Busy pastry cooks scuttered around as Chef Kawamura talked business outside, first with a bunch of French guys and their translator, and later on, a middle aged man in a ‘power-suit’ to whom the Chef seems to owe a debt of gratitude to.
In a failed attempt at anonymity, I drew suspicious stares from a pudgy, what-looks-to-be Sous Chef in the kitchen. I’d have done the same had a dodgy looking chinese guy who speaks English, carries a camera and asks so many damn annoying questions about their seasonal cakes walked into my shop.
However, the Chef was full of graciousness and figured I was here to visit and tasted and whilst occupied with his benefactor, gave me a smile and acknowledging wink before disappearing into a back office. I pray to god he has a girlfriend.
Touted as one of the best patisseries in Tokyo, it was time to kill 2 birds with one stone on one train ticket on the Toyoko line. About 10 minutes walk from Tadashi Yanagi’s patisserie, turn left at the supermarket and you will come upon Mont St Clair. En route to Mont St Clair, I dropped by Tadashi Yanagi’s to pick up some cakes. These two guys and Hidemi Sugino were right at the top of my Tokyo Hit list.
Hironobu Tsujiguchi…..Mr H, is he known outside of Japan? Probably. He did after all win the individual pastry prize in the world pastry championship but most non-Japanese foodies I have met know only his shops, Mont St Clair and Le Chocolat de H. Note to self: If you want to be world famous and a household name, get rid of that tongue twisting name and call yourself Bob. Bob Tsujiguchi has a cool Hawaiian surfer dude-with-a-cool-job kinda ring to it dontcha think?
For the rather long and potentially boring passages below where you will be subject to my fantastic prose and inteliggent musings (Oops), pictures from Mont St Clair’s pastry showcase shall be interspersed between paragraphs to distract you from my mundane observations.
Picture perfect cakes, lined up in the counter like little gems, seducing you gently as their suggestive colours, decorations and names tantalize your cranial taste buds. They call these Petit Gateaux (Little cakes) in France and when its your turn at the counter, you start panicking for everything LOOKS SO DAMN GOOD! What do I get? What do I get? My answer: “If you can, EVERYTHING.”
Where is this place and who is behind such alchemy? Read on for a glimpse of his history and detail on his cakes.
Memories came back when I boarded the Toyoko line train at Shibuya. It seemed that the 5 years past was just yesterday as I got off at Toritsu Daigaku station. The last time I came to this station in 2004, it was in a different life, not the life of a kitchen cockroach like the present. I was living at a friend’s place about 5 mins walk from the station, and it sure brings back memories.
About 10 mins from Toritsu Daigaku is Tadashi Yanagi’s shop (Exit station, turn left and walk to the main road, turn left and continue walking, the shop is on the opposite side of the road). Walking past his shop, you can take a small peek into the kitchen through a small window and a strong yearning in my heart began. One day, I will work in this city.
Tokyo, like most modern Asian cities is constantly changing and since the last I was there, Tokyo Midtown popped out in Roppongi.
This new ‘high class’ shopping centre also happens to be home to Dean and Deluca, Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki and the world’s most expensive chocolate, which shall not be named here. Basically, this American con-job outfit melts down a French chocolate (Not Valrhona or Michel Cluizel) and makes chocolates that retail for more than the price of gold.
But, we were not at Midtown for either of these guys, though it should be noted that L’Artisan du Chocolat and Guido Gobino can be purchased at Dean and Deluca.