Tokyo’s Sweet Tooth
Tokyo’s Sweet Tooth
IMAGE: Sweets & Deli, Palace Hotel Tokyo
If you’re a lover of all things edible, you’ll know that the city of Tokyo is home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world. When visiting in the past I’ve let my savoury taste buds lead me around the city in search of those memorable Japanese flavours, but on my most recent trip I decided to explore the other side of Japanese cuisine. No, I didn’t go on a quest for street food, Tokyo’s best sushi, endless amounts of sake or the finest cafe in the city. Instead, I put the calorie-counting side of my mind to rest, followed my heart and enjoyed these five incredibly sweet moments!
IMAGE: Sweet delights at Sweets & Deli, Palace Hotel Tokyo
The breads are freshly baked every day and the chocolates are lovingly handmade. I spent one night at this luxury hotel and if you stroll past early in the morning, the smells alone are enough to send you into a cake-induced coma. Like many bakeries in Japan, the cakes and breads on offer change with the seasons. Spring saw a limited edition Sakura & Matcha brioche filled with jam to represent the cherry blossom season as well as chocolate cake with pistachio mousse and a white bait & cream cheese bread. Their signature speciality is inspired by the nation’s favourite spirit- sake. But this isn’t just any sake, this is Palace Hotel Tokyo’s signature 1-1-1 Junmai Ginjo sake, made exclusively for them.
Head pastry chef Yuri Honma trained in France and returned with magical cake-baking fingers. Their specialty is entremets glacé, a type of glazed ice cream cake. These incredibly fancy looking cakes are made up of colours reminiscent of sunny days, puppy dogs and happy times. They’re so beautiful that I could easily put them into frames, keep them forever and allow them to brighten my day whenever I feel down, except I’d rather eat them because they are the tastiest little things.
IMAGE: Number Sugar
Masses of delicious, sweet tangy caramel awaits your eyes, nose and stomach- I was in food heaven and never before had I tried anything like this. This is some seriously good caramel. The team have clearly mastered the art of making this treat and they have mastered it in a way that avoids the use of additives and preservatives (it’s almost healthy guys). Salt, vanilla, cinnamon & tea, ginger and raspberry are just some of the mouth watering flavours on offer and these handmade beauties will melt in your mouth.
Dorayaki is the name of the sweet treat, not the shop in which you can pick it up- it’s available all over Tokyo. Eaten all over Japan, these spherical bundles of sweetness are a snacking staple. The finished product is formed of two small pancakes made from castella wrapped around sweet red bean paste. If you’ve been in Japan for more than a few days, it’s likely that you would have already come across bean paste, probably by accident when you unsuspectingly bit into a donut that tried to pass itself off as having a chocolate filling. Red bean paste is the marmite of Asia, so try it whilst you’re in town.
Whilst I know this is a guide for people with a sweet tooth, just hang in there and hear me out. Narisawa holds a Michelin star and it’s easy to see why. French cooking techniques meet Japanese ingredients to create an explosion of flavour and creativity you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world. If you order “essence of the forest”, you can expect it to both look and taste exactly like a forest, but in a good way. Now enough on mains, let’s talk about dessert- they don’t do things by halves here. If you can get yourself a reservation, I wholeheartedly recommend this dining experience for dessert alone. You’ll thank me when an entire petit fours table graces your tableside. Enjoy perfectly baked mini macarons in a variety of inspired flavours, handcrafted by the genius chef, Narisawa.