It may sound like sacrilege to tout pastries in Tokyo as being equal to if not better than those in Paris, but take one bite at city’s best patisseries and boulangeries and you’ll see why. To help you get your fix, we’ve rounded up Tokyo’s top five bakeries.
The heavenly smell of freshly baked bread wafts out the doors of this Shibuya bakery, which uses Retrodor flour imported from France. The baguettes, with a perfectly crisp crust and chewy crumbs, are top-notch. For lunch, pop in and grab a sandwich; rillettes, country terrine (pâté de campagnes) and ham (jambon) all make appearances as spreads on baguettes. The shop’s tantalizing display case is filled with sinful tarts, éclairs and a bevy of gorgeous breads. There’s a second branch at Marunouchi, just in front of Tokyo Station.
Gontran Cherrier Tokyo
Gontran Cherrier is no stranger to quality bread; he’s a fourth-generation boulanger. Making it in his native France is one thing, but this 36-year-old has done well for himself in Asia, too. His Tiong Bahru Bakery in Singapore is jam-packed daily, and the same is true for this Tokyo outpost, which overlooks Shinjuku Southern Terrace. Just as in Singapore, Cherrier plays to local tastes, with regular and matcha (green tea) croissants (both utterly flaky), and classic golden brown baguettes alongside a squid-ink-with-cumin version.
La Boutique de Joël Robuchon
The number of sweet and savory treats on offer at Robuchon’s four combination patisserie-boulangeries around town is dizzying. The lemon tart (tarte au citron) melts in your mouth. The crust on the mushroom and spinach or salmon quiches has an exceptional crumb. But Robuchon, too, has smartly localized his offerings; the seasonal kouign-amann (traditional Breton cake) gets topped with sweet potatoes and black and white sesame seeds. Curry pan (bread) is eaten everywhere in Japan, and here it gets the luxe treatment: The result is a delicious, lightly fried roll stuffed with curry.
To call master pâtissier Hidemi Sugino’s creations simply “dessert” is not doing them justice. At his Tokyo shop in Kyobashi, the World Pastry Cup winner produces works of art that look so good you’ll want to photograph them from every angle before daintily digging in. Some 20 types of petit gâteaux are available daily. These include the ambre noix, with silky milk chocolate and caramel mousse, and Sugino’s most popular treat, the Ambroisie. For the latter, a joconde biscuit (almond sponge cake) with chocolate sits under layers of pistachio mousse, raspberry and milk chocolate mousse. It’s all wrapped in rich chocolate icing and finished with a gold leaf.
Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki Paris
After finding success in Paris with Japanese-influenced French-style pastries, Sadaharu Aoki opened up shop in Tokyo. He now has four outlets, including one in Tokyo Midtown, adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo. The beautiful cakes, chocolates, éclairs and macarons are laid out in glass cases like colorful jewels. There are plenty of classic French treats here, including salted caramel éclairs, but Aoki is known for using Asian flavors, so don’t miss the matcha éclair and macarons in flavors like yuzu (citrus) and momo (peach).