50 SHADES OF TOKYO DESSERTS | SHADE 5
If you love Cronuts, a croissant-doughnut pastry, then you most probably heard of the pastry wizard Dominique Ansel too – a young charismatic and creative chef who doesn’t seize to wow the world with his innovative sugary creations. If not, then you have to put a visit to his bakery on your bucket list NOW! New York City has long been pampered by the presence of the Bakery while Tokyo welcomed Dominique Ansel in summer of 2015. Chef Ansel has earned numerous accolades throughout his career. In 2014 he won the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Pastry Chef” of the nation while the following year he was named one of Business Insider’s “Most Innovative people Under 40”. His bakery is Zagat 2013’s highest ranked bakery and listed as one of the Best Bakeries in the U.S. by Daily Meal. Within four months of opening its doors in 2011 Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City was awarded Time Out New York’s “Best New Bakery of 2012” and Metromix’s “Best Bakery of 2012”. And the list goes on.
Naturally, Mr. B and I couldn’t have passed the opportunity to visit the Cronut mecca so during one of our Tokyo jaunts we headed to upscale and lively Omotesando which houses the bakery in one of its backstreets. We arrived closer to dawn. Spotting the place was not hard as there was a long line in front of it. Why am I not surprised? The bakery has been swamped with ravenous sweets fiend Tokyoites since the day it opened. I even read that enthusiastic customers started lining up about 9:30 p.m. the night before the bakery first opened. That is some serious love of dessert paired with dedication and patience. Lots of patience. Anyway, I loved the décor of the bakery inspired by the subway stations of Paris and New York City: white walls, crème and grey color leather banquettes and chairs, copper fixtures and colorful wall art add a tasteful pop of color to the place. Acrylic table at the entrance displays the times in Tokyo, Paris, and NYC. Everything seemed to reflect the Chef’s futuristic concept as well as depict significant people and moments in his life. These custom-made graphics on the wall are from French graphic artist Vahram Muratyan. It is a play on the view from the kitchen of customers peering in. The art pays tribute to Japan by incorporating a sumo wrestler and the black makkuro-kurosuke from Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro. There is a mirror on the wall so that you can imagine what you look like peering into the kitchen.
Atmosphere was buzzy with anxious Tokyoties savoring their fresh desserts. The world-famous pastry guru strives to create a next generation bakery with fresh and modern takes on French and New York desserts. Except for a few signature desserts and unique Japan-only items the menu changes regularly thus introducing new sweet ways to excite taste buds of their customers . Japan-exclusive desserts and other artisan sweets line up like little pieces of art along the ground-floor bar. As you can guess, we visited just before Valentine’s Day, thus almost every dessert incorporated the theme in one way or the other. You have an option to take away the pastries, enjoy them in situ at the first floor sitting area or head upstairs to the Dominique Ansel Kitchen (you have to order a drink, plus pay an extra service charge). Determined to sample all the “must-try” items on the menu we opted to head upstairs where we made ourselves comfortable by a delightful hot pot of tea. Here, in the fully open kitchen you can see your dessert prepared to be served à la minute. We put our outrageous order (which brought a frank smile on the waiter’s face) and waited. Soon enough, desserts started rolling in….
The DKA [Dominique’s Kouign Amann] is a Breton specialty that features a caramelized flaky crust and tender layered interior. I read that apparently they’re so popular that they outsell the cronuts in New York. Both Mr. B and I absolutely loved it. The texture was flaky soft yet crispy at the same time with rich buttery flavor, the latter further complimented by a touch of fleur de sel. Although I must say kouign amann by Henri Le Roux still ranks as no. 1 in my chart. There was something extra luscious about his salted caramel filling.
Frozen S’more is probably one of the most popular local desserts on the menu, and watching it being prepared is a pretty spectacular sighting. This rectangular pièce de résistance consists of multiple layers of pure indulgence. A Tahitian vanilla ice cream is covered with salted chocolate feuilletine flakes and then enrobed in a 100% honey marshmallow. The whole thing is then put on a smoked wooden branch and torched to order.It was a delightful mélange of textures and flavors. Freshly torched hot marshmallow paired beautifully with creamy cold ice cream and chocolate inside. A pure deliciousness. I must warn you though, it was very sweet; so it would be a good idea to split it with a partner, especially if you want to try other desserts.
Cookie Shot is another innovative and super popular item in the bakery. A shot glass made out of soft and moist chocolate chip cookie is served warm with fresh cold vanilla-infused milk. The “glass” has a layer of dark chocolate inside to keep it from soaking the cookie. It was amusing, delectable and absolutely screamed of “Christmas” to me! Take into account that Cookie Shots are served only after 3 P.M.!
Cotton Soft Cheesecake – It might have been the most delicate cheesecake I have ever eaten – strawberry-flavored ricotta mousse was incredibly light and airy and it was topped on a thin layer of an equally soft and flavorful almond biscuit base. The top was beautifully brûléed while and the dollop of strawberry jam adorned the center. In fact, it was too light to be a cheesecake! I liked that it was not too sweet either and had a touch of citrus flavor. Absolutely lovely dessert which I happily devoured.
Sadly, the Cronuts were already sold out although we are determined to get back for more sugar-filled feast in the future. I will make sure to update the post as I try new items on the menu. The menu of the café also features various egg-centric breakfast and lunch items, so I would say Dominique Ansel Bakery Omotesando would make a wonderful Sunday brunch spot for those who wish to have a little taste of America. That is… after you brave the long line.
- Address: 5-7-14, Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-0001
- Opening Hours: 1st floor 08.00 – 19.00, 2nd floor 09.00 – 19.00