High end chocolate in Tokyo's Ginza (and a little sake)
Strolling around Ginza this past Monday, the coming of age holiday, we happened upon Pierre Marcolini's gorgeous chocolate shop. There were about 30 people lined up in the street, some waiting to purchase hot chocolate to go, while others were waiting for ice cream. Since we had dinner plans, I returned the following day and sampled ice cream from the takeout shop, hot chocolate in the upstairs cafe, and bought chocolate to bring home.
The ice cream was great, not too sweet, good texture, and having a nice earl gray taste, but I sort of wolfed it down, since it was rather nippy outside (nothing like here though). After a spot of shopping at the next-door sake shop (more about that later), I returned to the chocolate shop and bought a pricey box of 10 assorted chocolates (over $30) and then headed upstairs to the cafe to sample what they call the simple hot chocolate ($10). Yeah, it was definitely the most expensive hot chocolate I've ever tried, but it was also the best, and took around 15 minutes to prepare. It was thick, but not overly thick like some of the premium NYC hot chocolates such as Jacques Torres. From what I could tell, there was little or no sugar in the drink, just delicious premium chocolate (and whatever they use to dilute it). I've never had chocolate this way, so I have nothing to compare it against, but I'd gladly pay $10 to drink it again. Most of the other patrons in the small cafe were eating amazing looking ice cream sundaes consisting of two scoops of ice cream, a banana and whipped cream. I meant to come back the next day and try it, but I never made it. I'm hoping one of the permanent Tokyo hounds will do it for me and report back.
Pierre Marcolini Ginza - Chocolatier Bruxelles
see website for address and hours(http://www.pierremarcolini.com/TOPFrameset.htm
Right next door is the company store for the Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery, around since 1625 (the brewery, not the store). In addition to gorgeous, affordable sake-related ceramics, they have a nice little bar where you can sample the company's sakes, and an upstairs restaurant called Ekas. I never got to return and make use of the bar, but while shopping for ceramics, the shop clerks gave us complementary samples of some of the sakes.
See their website for more info (http://www.fukumitsuya.co.jp/english/...)
I first fell in love with Pierre Marcolini's chocolate when I visited Brussels last year. It was better than any other that I have tried and remains my favourite chocolate in the world. Did visit their Tokyo store once before to satiate my choc cravings since that was the closest to home but it is expensive! Didn't do an exact calculation but this must be at least 50% more than what they charge in Brussels! Also wanted to try their ice cream and hot chocolate (which I didn't remember seeing in the Marcolini shop in Grand Sablon in Brussels) but got there too late. Will try to do this next time I am in Tokyo. My favourite is their chocolate covered hazelnuts! Simply out of this world.
Another chocolate shop with good chocolate cakes is Le Chocolate de H in Roppongi Hills. Its chocolate is not as good but the cookies and another bakery goods are very good. I always buy a bunch before going home.
Thanks for the tip on the sake store. Will try it next time as well.