January 28, 2005

macaron tour in Tokyo 2005 winter

You have checked out the assorted desserts from Pierre Hermé, haven't you? Good.

Now, like I announced in my last post, this time I am tracking back my Macaron Tour in Tokyo 2005 Winter.

Before going any further, I wanted to make one thing clear: French macarons are NOT equivalent to American macaroons, represented by coconut macaroons. They may be similar in a way that both are made by egg whites, sugar and ground nuts, but that's about it - the outcomes are very, very different. Don't ask me specifically what makes them so different; I have never been into either kind of macaro(o)ns and never really cared for them, so I am not the one to ask.

Anyways, like I just confessed, I didn't use to like macarons at all, until very recently when I brought myself to make my own macarons for the very first time. That was when I made up my mind to try real good macarons when I have a chance.

The first chance came when I was in Tokyo, where there are a serious bunch of pastry chops all over. But since I was pressed by work the whole time, I only got to go look for macarons at the very last minute of my stay. I still managed to grab several bags of macarons from a few shops - all within just three days or so!

These are from Dalloyau, a renown French patisserie that has been in Tokyo for quite some time (for more than 15 years), offering a range of perfectly beautiful - almost too perfect to be real - cakes.

Their macarons, like their cakes, were beautiful. To my disappointment, however, my selection of yuzu, raspberry, and pistachio macarons all smelled a bit too sweet and artificial in my opinion. They were pretty hard and sticky, too. I might have chosen wrong ones... I should try some other kinds next time.

The next up is Chez Cima (in Japanese), which is one of my old favorite Tokyo patisseries, although I never even looked for their macarons before.

I picked up matcha (green tea) and cassis. Green one tasted a bit too strong of green tea and quite sweet, which I wasn't for my taste. Cassis one, though, was excellent; macaron itself was light and fragile as well as flavourful, which was enhanced by the fruity cassis jelly inside. I liked it a lot.

Another big batch of macarons here were from Patisserie La Colomba (in Japanese), a dessert brand of a French restaurant in Tokyo. I haven't eaten at the restaurant before, but I got these just because the shop was located in the same floor of a department store where I needed to do some shopping.

I got tea, pistachio, raspberry, lemon, and caramel macarons (I had no choice but to buy this much, because they sell macarons a minimum of 50g (approx. 2oz) and those weighed 50g together). Well, other than they were collapsed after a bit of transportation, nothing particular to note; texture was light but it was, again, really sweet. If I'd choose one, that would be caramel... at least the cream inside was good.

There was one more shop that I happened to pass by on my way: Patisserie Jean Millet (Japanese website here, another such Tokyo branch of a Parisian sweet shop.

I got myself passion fruit and pistachio macarons, which both turned out very good. Macaron cookie part was light but slightly sticky as it should be, and the cream tasted fresh and fruity/nutty.

Overall, I liked Chez Cima's cassis and Jean Millet's passion fruit macarons very much. They both had light macaron shells, crisp on the outside and soft and smooth in the middle, and flavorful filling between them. They were very sweet, for sure, but there was something compelling about their sweetness... maybe the perfect balance of sweetness, flavor, and texture.

Talking about a perfect balance though (in macarons, anyways), any of these weren't quite anywhere near Pierre Hermé's - individually or collectively, in front of their box of tempting selection.

From the left: Plaisirs sucrés (chocolate macaron with milk chocolate ganache and praline), rose (rose-scented macaron with butter cream), Yuzu et Chocolat (chocolate macarons with yuzu-infused ganache), lemon, marron (chestnut macaron with chestnut cream and green tea cream), and pistachio and cherry (simple macaron with pistachio cream and cinnamon-scented griotte cherries).

Most of them had very complex layers of flavors and were highly sophisticated, and all of them were for sure gorgeous. I particularly liked the rose and lemon ones - both of them happened to be the simplest of all, which is a bit ironic because they boast a line of such fancy and decorative combinations. In other words though, they exemplified the simplicity as the beauty, maybe?

They were, again, very sweet but really addictive too; I had a small bite of each, got satisfied, but was tempted to have another bite after a while... I don't know if I should feel myself lucky or unlucky that I don't live or work near their shop; I'd have to go back over and over again, and the best (or worst) part is that they offer seasonal and/or limited-version macarons once every few times a year!

Next time ever you find macarons here in this blog, that'd be when I make some on my own... so don't expect anything fine like these!


Anonymous said...

Hi Chika,

The pictures are wonderful. I've would have never guessed that you'd find such a wide selection of macarons and French bakeries in Japan. I'm definitely looking forward to my visit. 

Posted by Reid

Anonymous said...

Hi Chika,

The pictures are wonderful. I've would have never guessed that you'd find such a wide selection of macarons and French bakeries in Japan. I'm definitely looking forward to my visit. Thank you so much for sharing! 

Posted by Reid

Anonymous said...

im drooling and have never even had a macaroon before, THATS how good your photos & explanations are ;) 

Posted by Cat

Anonymous said...

Hi Chika,

I love the way you photograph the food.

I was never a big macaron fan (tried most of the places you mentioned) until I had them at Laduree in Paris. I bought one of each kind and loved every one of them. Too bad they don't have a branch in Tokyo. 

Posted by Lynn

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Reid - you'd be surprised with how much stuff Tokyo's got - it sometimes makes it really hard to find a souvenir (especially food item) you can't get there when in overseas. Hope you'll discover some goodies while you're there!

Cat - you've got drive a few hours and find out them in France!

Lynn - thanks, and that is exactly where I will be going to get macarons next time I'm in Paris. One of everything - I'm dreaming!


Posted by chika

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness!!! Those macaroons looks absolutely delicious. I too, have to admit that i'm not a fanatic lover of macaroons (the non-American kinds), but these just might change my mind. Makes me wish I lived in Tokyo! 

Posted by J.

Anonymous said...

You're sucking my will to resist!

I actually do live around the corner from PH in Paris - a fact I must repress as much as possible or else I'd be fat and broke. Now that I've read this post, however, I'm ready to go camp out until they open to get my macaron fix. Problem is, I think they're closed today. How will I ever make it from here to tomorrow?

Thanks a lot. 

Posted by pie

Anonymous said...

Wow, these pictures are simply gorgeous!
You've got one great blog here. :D 

Posted by Cam Seslaf

Anonymous said...

Hi folks,

J. - yeah all that said, I still don't regard myself as a great macaron lover, either... but I just discovered that there are good ones. Some of them changed MY mind!

pie - hope you made it through to the following day
yeah I probably should think I'm lucky I don't have to get fat and broke by not living right by Pierre Herme. Or should I?

Cam Seslaf - thanks! macarons are particularly photogenic, aren't they? 

Posted by chika

Anonymous said...

Dear chika,

Where did you get your recipes for macarons? ive been looking and looking here in the US and cant find anything other than Herme's chocolate one.

So help! 

Posted by Naheed

Anonymous said...

Hello Chica,
I really enjoy your site. I can see that you are a fan of the famous Pastry Chef Pierre Herme and his Patisserie.
Have you visited his new shop in Ayonoma?
I understand that they introduced a new collection of Desserts for the Autumn/Winter at the New Otani on Monday? Did you go? 

Posted by Ronnie D

Anonymous said...

hi chika!
i love your blog's great! i have a macaron-in-Tokyo question for you...a few years ago when i lived in Japan i had the most amazing macarons that i bought at Daimaru department store at Tokyo Station but i forgot the name of that shop. do you happen to know of it? if so, please post it for me. thanks!! :)

vancouver, canada 

Posted by gyozagirl

nycfoodie said...

When visiting Japan in May, 2005, I came across a great macaroon shop at the Yebisu Garden Place complex. If you know what I'm talking about, please tell me the name of the store! Thanks. 

Posted by Jini

Thor said...

The photography is so cute and the layout I think was perfect for the subject (macaroons). Thoroughly enjoyed. I envy you a bit, that you got to taste Pierre Herme's goodies! I went to culinary arts college and skimmed through some of his books and he'd said he specialized not in looks, but in flavor, because it is the content which is important, not the flavor, which is an irony, for the very "art" of patisserie focuses not on the content, yea, rather on the temporal pleasure of the flavor of the food as it passes through the tiny little unimportant mouth, in disregard to every nutritional finding as of late. Quite so. 

Posted by Daniel

Lady Macaron said...

Great macaron review in Tokyo! I personally love laduree in comparison to Pierre Herme but i salute him for his crazy over the top flavours! I must visit all these places when Im in Tokyo, btw have u succeeded in making ur own macarons?

Anonymous said...

LUCKY U...defenitely absorbed by last 2 pics~