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Advice on pastry shops please...

k
koneko Oct 10, 2009 07:36 PM

Hello, this is my first time posting here. I have really enjoyed following the posts here.

I was hoping to get some advice for my trip to Tokyo (probably January or February 2010.) I will only have a couple days in Tokyo, so I'd like to make the most of my time.

There are a few French pastry shops I'd love to visit during my stay: Sadaharu Aoki, Henri Charpentier, Hidemi Sugino, and Laduree. Is it true that some department stores carry these lines in their food departments? (if so, which ones are located in depachikas? is it the same variety) Or is it much better to go to the free standing stores?

If you have a favorite, which would you recommend? I appreciate any other recs!

Thank you in advance!

  1. l
    Lucil Oct 11, 2009 05:33 AM

    laduree is in ginza mitsukoshi
    sadaharu aoki(tokyo midtown has full range, isetan(selection is limited) personally i dont tink its great( i tink it uses some cheap ingredients),
    pierre herme(selection is limited at shinjuku isetan, aoyama full range),
    henri charpentier(shinjuku isetan, they only sell small sweets and stuff)
    jean paul hevin ( shinjuku isetan and tokyomidtown full range)

    hidemi sugino only has one boutique shop at an alley in ginza. nearest station is takaracho(a3 a4 exit) or kyobashi(exit 1 or 2) - best out of the lot u chosen

    some pastry shops that i want to try in the future..
    - toshi yoroizuka ( interesting desserts made ala minute, cakes etc at tokyo midtown)
    - a tes souhaits ( nishi- ogikubo )
    - paris seville ( jiyugaoka )

    some others
    - henri charpentier ( ginza )
    - mont st clair (jiyugaoka )
    - patisserie tadashi yanagi (jiyugaoka)

    10 Replies
    1. re: Lucil
      BaronDestructo Oct 11, 2009 08:24 AM

      Lucil's rundown is pretty extensive so I'll simply add to what she's listed:

      Sadaaru Aoki in Tokyo Midtown: Can't speak to anything else on the menu but the matcha opera cake was one of the best desserts I had on my last visit. Do check it out.
      Pierre Herme in Shibuya: I know some find them too sweet in comparison to others, but I love their macarons. Check out their seasonal creations (foie gras and truffle last time I was in Tokyo)

      Hidemi Sugino: Excellent but get their early and expect to line up as they sell out quickly. Often, they'll put a cap on how many pastries you can purchase and which you're allowed to take-out as opposed to eating in.

      Laduree in Mitsukoshi (Ginza): Lovely. I went with a friend. She noted that, despite the fact the room was packed, I was the only male there. Anyway, all excellent. My guest ordered some sort of "pink creation" that included rose petal cream macarons. She adored it.

      I checked out Mont St. Clair while I was in Jiyugaoka but wasn't blown away, especially in comparison to some of the other places I visited.

      Check out the basement level of the MItsukoshi department store in Ginza, an entire floor of high-end desserts. Stock up and head back to your hotel for feast. One place that always seems to have line-ups (and their selection looks incredible) is Girotti (sic?).

      I'm heading back in about a month and I promise to do some preliminary legwork for you and report back on my blog.

      1. re: BaronDestructo
        k
        koneko Oct 12, 2009 05:02 PM

        Hi BaronDestructo,
        Thanks so much for your reply as well! I am trying to justify going to both Hidemi Sugino and Laduree in one day... I think I like the idea of eating in at Laduree.
        Do you happen to remember which lines are at Mitsukoshi in Ginza?
        I look forward to hearing about your trip!

        Thanks again!

        1. re: koneko
          BaronDestructo Oct 13, 2009 11:00 PM

          Both in one day? By all means! Compare to my less high-end but nevertheless memorable dessert blow-out last year:

          http://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2...

          The only line-ups at Mitsukoshi are for that dessert place (I believe it's called Girotti) in the basement, and Laduree upstairs (maybe a ten minute wait in the afternoon).

      2. re: Lucil
        k
        koneko Oct 11, 2009 08:27 AM

        Lucil, Thanks so much for your reply!
        sounds like Isetan Shinjuku will have a sampling of quite a few of the ones I am interested in.

        From your post, it sounds like Hidemi Sugino is worth visiting. From reading the posts here, I need to get to his shop early in the morning? How early should I get there? Also, thank you for giving instructions on which station and exit is the best to get to his shop. I tried to google map his shop, but it is in japanese, so I cannot understand the street names. if it is not too much trouble, would you mind telling me which direction to take after exiting the station?

        the only other place that is not available in Isetan is Laduree. do you recommend this as a stop? it looks like it might be near Hidemi Sugino on Google map, but i can't tell how far that is in real life?

        thank you for mentioning the other shops as well. i will read up on them, especially jean paul hevin, since it is already in Isetan.

        thanks again!

        1. re: koneko
          l
          Lucil Oct 11, 2009 11:43 AM

          around 15-20 mins walk from mitsukoshi to hidemi sugino , if u nv take any wrong roads.. please print out the map, it is almost impossible to tell u the directions.. juz look out for the overhead expressway flyover.. the alley is somewhere below the expressway flyover..
          http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1302/A130202/13002285/dtlmap/

          mitsukoshi is right smack in the middle of ginza where all the shopping action is.. even if u dont go laduree, there are also many other things that u can do..
          i nv tried laduree.. so i cant comment.. but i think its quite hyped up there.. alot of people. judging from pictures, pierre herme at aoyama might be better... the ispahan looks better at PH...personally i had it at pierre herme.. it was quite good...

          u can queue up at hidemi sugino in the morning before 11am before he opens , that is just to ensure u to get a taste of his ambrosie and maybe his full range of cakes??.. but if u go at any other time... ( i went in the noon) , u will still get other cakes as well.. and he will still replenish them(my experience) maybe even the ambrosie( i saw it once in the afternoon.., but not the subsequent time...), i think i went on a weekday around 3+.. maybe try to avoid peak timing like 12-1pm( i think the queue before he opens causes him to run out of cakes temporarily, which i think he will replenish later in the afternoon) hidemi sugino is a must for me, but im sure some other chowhounder might think otherwise..

          u can read up more on this blog ( some pastry guy i know).. http://eatthatyellowsnow.com/category...

          1. re: Lucil
            k
            koneko Oct 12, 2009 06:58 PM

            thanks for the info Lucil! I really appreciate it.
            I read somewhere that certain cakes of hidemi tsugino, we can only eat in the cafe? is this true? I am assuming we can eat any of the cakes in the cafe if we want though.

            thanks again!

            1. re: koneko
              l
              Lucil Oct 12, 2009 08:56 PM

              i think u can eat any of the cakes in the cafe..

              1. re: koneko
                p
                prasantrin Oct 14, 2009 05:55 AM

                Yes, that's true. The delicate mousse cakes (which have the texture of phlegm) are for eat-in only. I think you're allowed 2 cakes to eat at the shop, and 6 to take out.

                BTW, you should really call the store if you're planning to visit. When I went, the hours were supposed to be 10-7, so I arrived shortly before 9:30. Unfortunately, there was a sign on the door saying they had just changed their hours to 11-7. Annoying, to say the least (and there were dozens of other people who were unaware of the change). Plus they normally close on Mondays, but sometimes they close on other days, too. And since they don't have a website, calling the day before is really the only way to know their hours.

                I've been to a tes souhaits, and I liked it a lot. I'd go back there again, even if it is very much out of the way.

                I haven't been as impressed with Pierre Herme. His pastries are very sweet--too sweet for me.

                I do like Henri Charpentier, but I find most of the cakes to be more suited to Japanese taste buds i.e. they have subtle flavours and are less sweet. I like that kind of stuff, but if you prefer more "in your face" flavours, it may not be right for you. HC won my macaron taste test (I tasted more than a dozen caramel flavoured macaron), although Cafe Tanaka in Nagoya has taken over first place. HC is still the best readily available caramel macaron, though.

                I didn't care for JP Hevin cakes. I'd stick with the chocolates there.

                And I still don't understand the fawning over Sadaharu Aoki. I think his sweets are highly over-rated. (That being said, he no longer owns his shops in Japan, but sold out to a Japanese company.)

              2. re: Lucil
                r
                racer x Dec 29, 2009 10:21 AM

                I stopped by Hidemi Sugino today around 3pm. I think they had run out of all the fresh cakes (display cases empty). Didn't wait around to find out if they were replenishing for the afternoon.

                For directions from Laduree to Hidemi Sugino, you can just type "laduree ginza" and "hidemi sugino tokyo" into the "get directions (walking)" on google maps. But for a description:
                if you exit mitsukoshi on Chuo Dori (or exit the metro at A8 or A11 onto Chuo Dori), turn right (northeast) and walk up Chuo Dori about 5 blocks, passing under Tokyo Expressway. Turn right at the first street after Tokyo Expressway and walk one block. Hidemi Sugino is on the ground floor of the first building on your left.

                1. re: racer x
                  k
                  koneko Dec 29, 2009 02:36 PM

                  Thank you so very much!! Very helpful! =)

          2. r
            racer x Dec 27, 2009 09:24 PM

            Be sure to visit the desserts / food gifts / gourmet deli area downstairs at Isetan in Shinjuku to check out their selections, as noted by Lucil.

            I'm in Tokyo now and asked a friend of mine who lives here where to go for desserts (I tend to prefer mousse cakes and happen to be staying in Shinjuku). He took me to Isetan yesterday (Sunday late afternoon). I was totally blown away by the sheer number of dessert shops represented, the number of desserts offered, and the number of customers eagerly making purchases. This one store alone easily puts Tokyo far in advance of most other world cities in terms of the desserts scene (NYC, which I know best, wouldn't even be in the running by comparison).

            Of course, that's not to say that all of those desserts actually taste good -- too often I've found as I've sampled desserts from many cities that many of the offerings look delicious but end up tasting pretty underwhelming, or even bad. I'll try to try a few places over the next few days.

            1 Reply
            1. re: racer x
              k
              koneko Dec 28, 2009 04:35 PM

              Sounds great! Isetan is one of our first stops on our visit. =)

            2. Yukari Dec 28, 2009 11:46 AM

              I would add to your the boutique next to l"Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Roppongi, the best tarte au citron in the city and Pierre Herme in Aoyama.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Yukari
                k
                koneko Dec 28, 2009 04:36 PM

                Thanks Yukari!
                I was wondering, is the selection of Pierre Herme drastically different if I went to the counter at Isetan? Thanks in advance!

                1. re: Yukari
                  Charles Yu Dec 29, 2009 04:17 PM

                  There's a Robuchon Patisserie at Ebisu Garden as well

                2. r
                  racer x Dec 29, 2009 04:08 PM

                  Did anyone mention Fauchon?

                  Btw, poster yuichi.sakuraba has some mouth-watering food porn photos of pastries from many of these purveyors in Tokyo at flickr.

                  1. r
                    racer x Dec 30, 2009 02:03 PM

                    If you visit in January, be aware that A Tes Souhaits will be closed on certain days during the month (as mentioned on the website). Probably worth calling a day or so beforehand to be sure they will be open when you plan to visit.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: racer x
                      k
                      koneko Dec 30, 2009 04:12 PM

                      Sadly, I had to take this one off the list b/c of time constraint... but I'll feel better if it were closed anyway!!

                    2. r
                      racer x Jan 1, 2010 05:41 PM

                      A few pastries I got from Laduree the other day. They wouldn't allow any photos to be taken of the pastries in the display cases, where they were perfectly lit and quite beautiful, so you'll have to make do with this less-than optimal pic instead.

                      Laduree is very macaron-centric (everybody in the carry-out queue other than me was buying macarons.) I didn't see any mousse cakes (my preference), just pastries with macaron-like or puff pastry bases, mini tarts, and millefeuilles.

                      The ones in the picture included, I think, two rose water-flavored treats (I hate rose water flavor, but they looked so good that I couldn't resist), another with a pistachio base and fresh raspberries and strawberry slices, and a tart with a passionfruit-flavored custard (that was too sour) covered with fresh raspberries. All very beautiful, but not the tastiest pastries I had while in Tokyo. However, at almost 900 yen each, they were the most expensive.

                       
                      1 Reply
                      1. re: racer x
                        k
                        koneko Jan 2, 2010 04:18 PM

                        Hi RacerX,
                        thanks so much for sharing your photos! I am getting so hungry looking at them!
                        You mentioned that Laduree will not allow photos by the display cases... will they allow photos in the cafe? It's such a pretty place!

                      2. r
                        racer x Jan 1, 2010 05:59 PM

                        Some of my favorites:

                        A very simple strawberry mousse cake from Henri Charpentier (Isetan). Visually not very impressive, but quite tasty.

                        A vanilla tart from Pierre Hermes (Isetan). Another pretty plain-looking dessert, but full of Madagascar vanilla flavor. I am craving another one of these as I write this.

                        An exquisite pistachio and strawberry cake from Sadaharu Aoki (Isetan).

                         
                         
                         
                        1 Reply
                        1. re: racer x
                          s
                          Supernatural Feb 14, 2010 07:44 PM

                          PH Ispahan is nice but I found his Chocolate Mousse cake is more of my favourite.
                          Sadaharu I like the spectrum of color and flavour of chocolate. Great as a gift or just snacking.

                        2. r
                          racer x Jan 1, 2010 06:05 PM

                          Both of these were also from Isetan. Both were good, but not my favorites.
                          One of two praline cakes available from Sadaharu Aoki, and a strawberry cake from Pierre Hermes. (I also had a chocolate cake encased in a dark chocolate shell from another shop at Isetan - don't recall the exact name, something like Demechelle? - that was too dry and not very satisfying. No pictures.)

                           
                           
                          1. r
                            racer x Jan 1, 2010 06:29 PM

                            Perhaps surprisingly, the pastries at the Hyatt Regency lobby's pastry shop were pretty good.
                            My favorite was a yuzu-flavored mousse cake (pictured in the lower left corner). Absolutely delicious.

                            Also shown are, I think* (clockwise from upper left): a lily-flavored mousse, pumpkin mousse cake (flavor was too subtle for my tongue subjected to many years of bold American pumpkin spice mix), and a pear and raspberry cake with custard.

                            The staff at the pastry counter said that they bake all their desserts in house.

                            (*Sorry for any errors, but I don't know any Japanese, and I had a little trouble understanding the person who was behind the counter.)

                             
                             
                            1. u
                              Uncle Yabai Jan 2, 2010 12:14 AM

                              A new place that is getting good airplay is the Echire butter store in Marunouchi Brick Square. They sell butter seven ways, financiers, madeleines, cakes, and some killer, killer butter croissants. They run out of everything pretty quickly, though, so no use going in the afternoon.

                              Their madeleines are Proustian, and their financiers are nice and crackly, not oily or greasy at all. Croissants are extra-excellent.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                p
                                prasantrin Jan 2, 2010 01:15 AM

                                I've wanted to try that place for a while now, but haven't made it there. I've got a possible trip to Tokyo later this month, so hopefully I'll make it! Do they just have a retail outlet, or do they also have a cafe there?

                                I hope they have kouign amann!

                                1. re: prasantrin
                                  u
                                  Uncle Yabai Jan 2, 2010 01:25 AM

                                  No, it is just a retail outlet. The Viron bistro around the corner from the main post office sells their butter as part of their menu, and their pastries are pretty good.

                                  I didn't see any kouign amann, they may have had some at some point during the day. They did have a salted caramel cake which looked pretty good, a pear tarte that was sexy (but at 4,200 yen for a small one, seemed a bit, ahem, steep), and some Miserables which looked far from it.

                                  The best kouign amann I've had was in Paris, at the Park Hyatt Vendome breakfast room. Still looking for anything close to that. Will keep trying.

                                  1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                    t
                                    theskyflyer Jan 2, 2010 02:54 AM

                                    I second that!!!

                                    "The best kouign amann I've had was in Paris, at the Park Hyatt Vendome breakfast room"

                                    On my Feb trip, I will be having lunch at Troisgros and will make sure to get some pastries from the lobby. Hopefully we won't be too stuffed from lunch and will skip buying pastries (although I would seriously doubt it will happen) :-)

                                    "Perhaps surprisingly, the pastries at the Hyatt Regency lobby's pastry shop were pretty good"

                                    1. re: theskyflyer
                                      n
                                      Ninisix Jan 6, 2010 07:47 PM

                                      This duplication of festins, this intense papil course on creamy, caramelized, sweaty sugar. Suddenly, this return to normal !!! Arg ! Already adopted.
                                      Back on a light version : the juicy juicy fruits desert : a pear tart (slight accent of Pastis), a comquat verrine in l`Atelier Joel ROBUCHON,… What is your take back in sweets ? Especially season one ?

                              2. r
                                racer x Oct 23, 2010 12:28 AM

                                Made it to Hidemi Sugino's shop today.
                                I should have re-read Prasantrin's posts on this shop before heading over.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/616978

                                There are a lot of rules.
                                I thought I'd just pop in and buy whatever looked good to take back to the hotel with me, as I usually do. Nope.
                                You are not allowed to buy more than 6 cakes per visit. And only certain cakes can be bought for take-away; the others have to be eaten in the shop.
                                So I ordered 6 cakes that looked good and ate them there, with a plan to return next week to try others. I wasn't quite in the mood to eat cakes at the moment (it was before my lunch), or to eat 6 at a time -- but you only live once and those were the rules.

                                (Actually, they brought the cakes out in twos -- so maybe the real rule is that you can only buy two to eat at a time? and they were bending this rule for me?

                                )

                                At any rate, these were THE BEST mousse cakes I have ever had. Anywhere. So it was worth the rules hassle, the waiting in line, and the cost -- they are on the small side and about 650-700 yen each -- in the end. It would be ideal though if he would just open a second branch inside Isetan, like most of the other haute patissiers, and make life easier.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: racer x
                                  p
                                  prasantrin Oct 23, 2010 02:43 PM

                                  When I went, I ordered 1 or 2 cakes to eat in the shop, and I think 2 to take away, plus I bought some other stuff. They were kind enough to keep my take-away things in the fridge for me until I was ready to leave.

                                  AFAIK, the rule is two cakes to eat in the shop, and the rest for take-away. But that could mean two cakes to eat at once. They do only serve two cakes maximum on a plate, I noticed. It's all very cryptic to me.

                                  What time did you go and how long was the line (i.e. how long did you wait)?

                                  1. re: prasantrin
                                    r
                                    racer x Oct 23, 2010 04:24 PM

                                    Arrived around 12:10 pm I think.
                                    There were maybe 10 ahead of me at the counter. Waiting for them to be served took maybe 15 minutes. I was panicking because it looked like there wouldn't be any cakes left once those piranhas had all been served. Thankfully, though, the staff brought out more of everything, so I was able to choose any of the mousse cakes I wanted. I was also able to get a table right away.

                                    The irony is that by the time I had placed my order, there wasn't anyone else in line. So if I had arrived just 20 minutes or so later, I wouldn't have had to wait at all!

                                    1. re: racer x
                                      r
                                      racer x Oct 26, 2010 06:55 PM

                                      Returned to Hidemi Sugino (this time for takeout order) yesterday (Tuesday).
                                      Arrived around 11:55. This time there were just a half-dozen people milling in the front area, apparently already having ordered. I was able to walk straight to the counter and place an order. I was in and out in under 10 minutes. I guess the moral to the story is, either avoid Saturday at lunchtime, or be prepared to wait a bit.

                                      1. re: racer x
                                        r
                                        racer x Oct 28, 2010 01:17 PM

                                        Hidemi Sugino

                                         
                                         
                                         
                                         
                                2. r
                                  racer x Oct 28, 2010 01:21 PM

                                  Sébastien Bouillet

                                  Both of these were pretty good.
                                  (I took the photo after they had been at room temperature for a while. They looked better when they were cooler, when I bought them.)

                                   
                                  1. r
                                    racer x Oct 28, 2010 01:25 PM

                                    Shiseido Parlour

                                    I'm afraid I didn't like either of these.

                                     
                                    1. r
                                      racer x Oct 28, 2010 01:38 PM

                                      À tes souhaits

                                      Shop is a bit out of the way, but not too hard to find. (I opted to walk from the metro stop instead of taking a bus, and was treated to seeing a number of local eateries along the way.) I visited around 16:30. The customers were ladies with their children (almost all girls) at the handful of tables and at the counter buying orders to go.
                                      The patisserie team could be seen through a glass wall at work in the kitchen behind the counter. I was surprised at the number of cooks, all in crisp white uniforms.
                                      Prices are about 40% lower than at Hidemi Sugino. And there are many more pastries to choose from (and thankfully no rules!).
                                      The pastries at Hidemi Sugino tasted a lot better though.

                                       
                                       
                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: racer x
                                        p
                                        prasantrin Oct 29, 2010 08:11 AM

                                        Did you try the kouign aman at a tes souhaits? It finished second in my taste tests (didn't like the cinnamon-y flavour) to Viron's first. It was first for a while, but then I tried Viron's, so it fell to a distant second.

                                        1. re: prasantrin
                                          r
                                          racer x Oct 29, 2010 03:15 PM

                                          No -- I am still a kouign amann virgin.

                                          1. re: racer x
                                            p
                                            prasantrin Oct 30, 2010 10:49 AM

                                            Get thee to Viron now!! Before it's too late!

                                      2. r
                                        racer x Oct 31, 2010 02:49 AM

                                        Henri Charpentier

                                        These were pretty, but I didn't like the tastes of either.

                                         
                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: racer x
                                          j
                                          jem589 Oct 31, 2010 08:06 PM

                                          These posts are awesome, thanks! I thought Charpentier was disappointing (lemon tart, macarons), which surprised me given the grandness of the building and the number of people I see carrying the bags around. I know those things aren't related to flavor, but still...

                                          1. re: jem589
                                            p
                                            prasantrin Nov 1, 2010 05:56 AM

                                            You didn't like the caramel macarons? Shocking! I also like HC's caramel mousse cake. Their caramel-flavoured things taste more of dark caramel than light, so I like the slight bitterness they have.

                                            I think HC caters to Japanese taste buds, one of the reasons a lot of non-Japanese don't care for them. Generally, their flavours are more subtle and their goods are not as sweet. Though I still think their caramel macarons and also their financiers are some of the best you'll find in depachika in Japan.

                                        2. r
                                          racer x Oct 31, 2010 02:56 AM

                                          Sadaharu Aoki

                                           
                                           
                                           
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