For this week’s edition of 50 Shades of Tokyo Desserts I headed to the back streets of Shibuya to Patisserie VIRON, a renowned French bakery which opened its doors to Tokyoites a decade (or so) ago. I have read nothing but raves about their baked products and finally made it there to taste it myself.
Viron is especially noted for its traditional preparation methods, nothing is precooked and frozen, everything sold is fresh-from-the-oven. The bulky Retrodor flour sacks stacked just inside the front door serve as testament to quality. The semi-open kitchen in the first floor patisserie supplies constant flow of freshly baked baguettes, croissants, kouign amann, fougasse and dizzying array of other pastries. I couldn’t resist getting classic as well as doux croissants and one pain au raisin which I devoured later in Yoyogi Park.
I have been spoilt with some really amazing pain aux raisans which has turned me into a bit of a snob. VIRON’s version was done well, but nothing beyond that. The dough seemed a bit flat and tad on a drier side. I’ve heard that VIRON’s croissants are baked using Echire butter, although I didn’t think they were as rich in flavor as those from Dominique Ansel, Joel Robuchon or Echire itself.
You can also get a baguette sandwich to go including pate de campagne, rillettes, and jambon. On top of the pastries, you also have a wide selection of cakes and petits gâteaux to choose from. I settled on strawberry financier and eclair. The former was moist and flavorful, while the latter was quite delectable, with chocolate custard filling.
My initial intention was to have breakfast in the upstairs brasserie, although by the time I arrived (big SALE signs and subsequent shopping got in the way) they already put out the lunch menu. Thus instead of a light morning bite I somehow ended up with a generous portion of a refined mid-day meal of duck in a white wine and olive sauce accompanied with mashed potatoes, vegetables and freshly baked baguette, whose texture and flavor was on point. Note: you have to pay extra (450 yen) if you want butter — premium beurre d’Echire. The duck was beautifully cooked, with perfectly moist flesh, while the sauce provided necessary savoriness to the dish. Impeccable service and attention to detail made the meal even more enjoyable. I also enjoyed the interior which is done after a classic French bistro, with red leather banquettes, brass fittings, the high velvet curtains and menu chalked on the large board and presented in front of each table on a chisel. Although I felt a bit claustrophobic due to a lack of view and option to dine al fresco. However, neither of these are an issue at VIRON’s Marunochi branch. I would certainly come back here for fresh baguettes and some more of those cakes.
Viron Marunouchi: Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 2-7-3, TOKIA Bldg. 1st floor
Viron Shibuya: Shibuya-ku, Udagawacho 33-8, Tsukuda Bldg.