There is a metaphorical two-way street between Tokyo and Paris, that goes through the world’s finest chocolateries – internationally acclaimed Japanese chocolate artists, like Sadaharu Aoki, opened branches in Paris. Pierre Hermé, Pierre Marcolini and Jean-Paul Hévin run hugely successful branches in Tokyo, in return. The leading international chocolate festival, “Salon du Chocolat” that was born in Paris in 1995 in France is also being held annually in Tokyo since 2013.
The entire city is a perfect blend of culture and entertainment. With beautiful parks, ancient temples, stylish shops, and an unbelievable selection of restaurants and cafes, in which even the simplest food is a feast for the eyes.
French Technique + Japanese Ingredients = Unforgettable Bliss
The leading Japanese chocolate artists employ the techniques of the French. They create handmade thin layers that cover delicately flavoured ganaches.
The famous Japanese knack for innovation, manifests itself in local flavours (exotic for us) of ganache.
Try these: saké, green tea, yuzu (local citrus fruit), sesame, wasabi, sansho (Japanese pepper), and matcha.
Le Temp Compensé
In 2003 Sofia Coppola filmed Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray getting lost in Tokyo’s coolest neighborhoods – Ginza and Shibuya.
If this happens to you too – savour the experience. Let yourself get lost and feel overwhelmed by the city.
Compensate yourself later with award-winning desserts, by following Ika’s itinerary that makes the most of what Japan has to offer to chocolate lovers.
Where to go for the finest chocolate and pastries:
Mouthwatering delicacies await on the streets of the ‘big three’ districts: Ginza and Shibuya, Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku.
Tip: If you want to focus on desserts, and have a low-key lunch, buy a bento lunch from the konbini (convenience store) and have a picnic in Yoyogi Park.
Palais à Tokyo – Mitsukoshi Isaten
For Ika, the Mitsukoshi department store is the first and most important stop, to stock up on Japanese chocolates and other delicacies.
Mitsukoshi (also Isetan Mitsukoshi) is an international department store that was founded in Japan in 1673 (wow!).
This giant palace full of designer items holds everything a stylish tourist might look for.
Head to the food hall at the 2nd Basement floor, and good luck to you in being able to get out of there.
4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku
The most revered Japanese pastry chef is Sadaharu Aoki.
He already has several locations in Paris, and four in Tokyo. Aoki have received the most prestigious International Chocolate Awards, and the highest ranking in the Guide des Croqueurs de Chocolat, the leading authority for true chocolate connoisseurs.
You absolutely must visit them, and don’t miss the Matcha macaron.
Chocolat De H.
Master Chocolatier Hironobu Tsujiguchi creates the most exquisite pralines. The extraordinary precision of the pralines makes it hard to believe they were made by hand. But they are, and they are wonderful.
We recommend tasting the Bananier, Arabique, Hibiscus, and the Japonais Yuzu.
Bean to Bar by Minimal Chocolate
This shop near Yoyogi Park is the perfect place to fully understand the Bean To Bar trend the Japanese are so into.
Minimal‘s mission is to bring us closer to cacao bean growers and terroir.
The chocolate bars’ labels include all the information about the beans they were made of: origin, crop year, variety, note (such as fruity, tangy). Buy a pack of samples with multiple samples from many origins.
Feast your eyes also on the minimalistic, tasteful design. This level of exquisite design seems to be possible to exist only in Japan.
6 More Addresses For Your Trip to Tokyo:
1. The perfect breakfast: Croissants the Black Buddha bakery, inside Sawamura Hiroo, 5-1-6 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku.
2. The perfect Tokyo dinner: Masudaya, 2-9 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku.
4. Dominique Ansel Bakery: Buy and pop their balloon, to eat a lighter-than-air honey vanilla chiffon cake inside it.
5. Glaciel Ice Cream: Go for their artisanal milk flavoured ice cream. Or Avocado, if you’re adventurous.
6. The Gourmet Shop by Mandarin Oriental offers artisanal sweets and savouries, beautifully presented and packaged. With your heavy load of shopping, take the hotel elevator to the 38th floor (where the gym is) for mesmerizing city views.
Before you go back home:
A very popular gift at the Narita airport duty free shop is the Matcha Chocolate, by Royce.
For the kids (or your inner child), stock up with some Japanese Kit Kats, offered in weird flavours and colours, like purple sweet potato.