Japanese desserts, and the art that goes into making them, are topics I can write endlessly on. Traditional Japanese desserts, otherwise known as wagashi (和菓子), include sweets such as Mochi (pounded sticky rice), Manju (flour cake with a sweet inside filling), Monaka (wafer with azuki bean), just to name a few. No trip to Japan can be counted complete if you’ve not tasted wagashi. But then again, it’ll be hard to have a dessert that isn’t one! In this article, I’ll be introducing 3 baked desserts you can find in Japan that aren’t strictly wagashi, but are more of a Japanese-Western fusion. Nevertheless, each one draws long queues at the shops.
Bake Cheese Tart
Specializing only in the sales of cheese tarts, it might be difficult to imagine how a shop can thrive by selling exclusively single-flavoured cheese tarts. However, once you’ve tried one Bake Cheese Tart, it’s hard not come back for more! Bake Cheese Tart brings its production of cheese tarts to the most delicious level possible.
Using Hokkaido cheese in its recipe, each cheese tart contains 3 types of cheese and is baked twice before it is sold. The cheese tart is rich, creamy, but not overwhelmingly so. The crust is also solid and slightly crispy, matching the molten inside of the cheese tart perfectly. You can choose to have your cheese tart cold or warmed up, they taste good either way!
Each piece is priced at 216 yen, with a box of 6 at 1242 yen. While slightly pricey, it definitely makes a good occasional indulgence. The box itself was beautiful, and Valentine’s Day 2016 saw the typical yellow boxes changing to a romantic pink. Limited edition chocolate cheese tarts were released then as well, though I personally thought Bake does best with its classic cheese tart.
With overseas franchises in Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea and recently in Singapore, the popularity of Bake Cheese Tarts is clearly global! Lines at the more popular Shinjuku and Ikebukuro outlets almost always long, with staff having to organise the queues. Outlet information can be found, here.
Croquant Chou Zaku Zaku
You might have eaten a cream puff before, but have you eaten one shaped in a stick? Croquant Chou Zaku Zaku does it entirely different, selling crunchy sticks containing cream that oozes out as you eat. With each stick freshly baked on the spot, you can view the process in which the cream is put into each croquant stick as you wait for your turn. Hokkaido cream is used, giving the filling an extra milky, creamy, slightly sweet taste. Zaku Zaku refers to the crunchy sound you make when you bite into the almond-covered sticks. Taken together, each stick was delicious to eat, and had me wanting more!
One piece is priced at 250 yen, while 6 pieces are sold at 1450 yen. Outlets can be found at Shinjuku, Harajuku and Kamata (for more information click here).
Dominique Ansel Bakery
As a much celebrated and award-winning bakery in New York, Dominique Ansel Bakery is likely a familiar name to many. Its branch in Tokyo is classy, and perfect for afternoon tea. While the bakery might have first been known for its Cronut (a cross between a croissant and a donut), two items I would highly recommend are the Frozen S’mores and the Cookie Shot.
The Frozen S’more is a sight to behold as much as a treat to be tasted. The dessert has a custard, gooey, vanilla ice-cream centre, and with each order, the outside of the marshmallow is blowtorched in front of your eyes. The charred outside, matched with a wooden stick, makes it feel like a snack you would have at a campsite. Each piece costs 750 yen.
The Cookie Shot is another ingenious creation, a cookie shaped like a small shot glass with milk poured into it. Not only can you have your shot, but you can eat the cookie cup too! Each piece costs 480 yen, and is only available after 3 pm. While these two desserts are a bit on the sweet side, a variety of adorable and exquisite looking pastries are available and are changed seasonally.
Dominique Ansel Bakery can be found at Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 5-7-14.