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Advice on pastry shops please...

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!

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

        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

          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/A130...

          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

            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

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

              1. re: koneko

                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

                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

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

          2. 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

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

            2. 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

                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

                  There's a Robuchon Patisserie at Ebisu Garden as well

                2. 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. 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

                      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!!