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February 22, 2005

the Very Best and "Better-Than-in-France Croissants aux Amandes You Can Get in Tokyo": 1st Annual Independent Food Festival



Every time you find a new shop/restaurant and step into it, there might be something that you would almost automatically try first, either to size up the shop and compare it against your "reference", or simply because it is something you just have to come back to. In my case, it would be green curry if that is a Thai restaurant, pizza margherita at a pizza shop, and croissants aux amandes or almond croissants at a French bakery. And in that last case, my long-standing reference croissants aux amandes are those from a Tokyo bakery called Aux Bacchanales. I have yet to find a better one than theirs, and believe me, I have tried a lot of places.

I can't remember when it was I tried their croissants aux amandes first time, but it must be ten years ago or so. They used to have a cafe/bar/restaurant/bakery/pastry shop at a busy corner of Harajuku, Tokyo, where I would go and drop by now and then to have a cup of good coffee or hot chocolate, or to buy good bread (and I was really sad when they closed the Harajuku shop because their building was to be reconstructed or something). Theirs wasn't the first almond croissant that I have ever had, but it was so outstanding I can't remember any I had tried before that time.

Croissants aux amandes would typically be a "recycled" product made using day-old croissants by filling them with almond cream and re-baking in the oven. So it used to be something you could only get when they do have some unsolds from the day before at the shop. Nowadays in some shop where almond croissants are a big thing, they might not "wait" for one day but just be baking some extra croissants for the almond croissants, I guess.

Like I have said, Aux Bacchanales' have become my "reference" croissants aux amandes over years, after eating countless almond croissants here and there, in Tokyo and in Paris and elsewhere - frankly, almost at every bakery where I found one. Good croissants aux amandes, in my opinion, have to be made using good croissants and almond cream as a matter of course, but they should also be re-baked in a perfect way; most almond croissants I have had are too often underbaked, making them rather soggy and shabby. They also tend to be too sweet and/or have overpowering amount of almond flavoring. Maybe that is the way they are supposed to be since so many of them are like that, but that's not the way I like them to be.


On that account, what I love the most about croissants aux amandes from Aux Bacchanales are that they have the generous amount of almond cream inside and on top of the croissants, and that they are well-baked so the whole thing is very crisp and tastes fresh, not to speak of the quality of croissant itself. I have tried and to some extent liked almond croissants from other bakeries including Poujauran and Maison Kayser and even Paul of Paris, but I would always come back to the same conclusion: I like Aux Bacchanales' better. They might not be the prettiest-looking croissants aux amandes in the world or even in Tokyo, but they are one of the tastiest, and definitely the very best I have ever had, and I love the most.

So here the 2005 Independent Food Festival Awards / Better-than-in-France Croissants aux Amandes You Can Get in Tokyo award goes to croissants aux amandes by Aux Bacchanales!

(And you are always welcome to tip me off about excellent croissants aux amandes that you know!)

*This year marks the very first Independent Food Festival Awards event, presented by TasteEverything. I am honored to be among the selected 30 jury members to create and give their own award, and have had this opportunity to recognize something I love and introduce it to the world. Go check out all the other awards if you haven't done so yet. Much thanks go to Hillel and his fellows who have made this possible... and my special thanks to Namiko, a long-time friend of mine in Japan who has helped me to get the stuff I needed to write this.


Aux Bacchanales Akasaka
Ark Hills Building, 2nd Floor
1-12-32 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Tel. 03-3582-2225 / Fax. 03-3582-8844 (Country code: 81)


There are some other locations in Tokyo, as well as in Yokohama, Hakata, and Kyoto.
They also have a selection of excellent bread/sandwiches and pastries.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The almond croissant looks delicious. I had no idea they are customarily a "recycled" pastry. One of the best I have had was from this little bakery in Montreal:

http://tinyurl.com/4ltdw 

Posted by Josh

Anonymous said...

とても素敵なアングルの写真ですね。
俯瞰で撮るよりもこういう撮り方の方が好きです。
とてもおいしそう。^^)/ 

Posted by akira

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on just stop it. Your blog is so wrong for the eyes of a sweets loving diabetic. 

Posted by michuli

Anonymous said...

Amazing - these look and sound absolutely fantastic! I can taste the butter and almonds from here...ah, how well one of those would go with my coffee right now.

Perfect choice for your award, Chicka! 

Posted by Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Ahhh no they closed the one on Harajuku. I might be going back next month, I hope that little Vietnamese cafe is still there. 

Posted by anthony

Anonymous said...

I cannot quite figure out what tops these "recycled" croissants. Is that baked almond cream? Explain where the almond flavors are coming from again. Thanks, and fantastic pics (especially the one revealing the inside). 

Posted by ACM

Anonymous said...

I thought I had lost AUx Bachanalles forever when I passed by Harajuku and it was no longer there. Glad to hear they are in Akasaka, now.

Thank you. Your blog is delicious! 

Posted by BIa

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone, thanks for leaving comments and I am sorry about my typical late replies.

Josh - thanks for the tip! Motreal is one of the places I really want to go in Canada, and when/if I do, that small bakery will be on my must-visit list.

akiraさん - ありがとうございます ^^
いつもついつい接写の写真のばかり撮ってしまいます。
そのほうが周りを片付けなくてよかったりして(汗)

michuli - mmmm sorry, I did stop blogging for a while, but have just resumed...

Jennifer - thanks, they really do go great with coffee!

Anthony - yeah it was a bummer. The atmosphere of the ones in Akasaka and Osaki aren't as good as the late Harajuku ones, but well, I am glad there are still some.
Coming to Japan next month? That'd be nice! I wonder if the Vietnamese cafe you are talking about is trang cafe....

ACM - They have almond cream inside as filling and on top. I think that's what gives almond flavor, although other almond croissants may have almond flavorings and/or liquor.

BIa - there are several of them in Tokyo, including Akasaka, Osaki, and Akasaka-mitsuke (in the New Otani complex). Go see your long-lost treats! 

Posted by chika

Anonymous said...

Dear Chika,

I am visiting my son in Tokyo in two weeks--this sounds wonderful!! Can you tell me of a good turkish restaurant in Tokyo?

Thanks, Nancy 

Posted by Nancy

Anonymous said...

NAME: Martin Jacky. BIRTH DATE: 18/03/1955

COUNTRY of BIRTH: France.

CURRENT TITLES AND AFFILIATIONS: Pastry chef

HOME ADDRESS: 2 Melville road ,Kent,ME 15 7UY Maidstone England

Tel: 0044 7871434199 E-MAIL ADDRESS: martinjcky@yahoo.com.

LATEST FOCUS: Complete training in French pastry chef in addition of my initial cooking and managing experiences.



EDUCATION:
1999 – 2000, Certificate Pastry practicum, Chocolate factory, Ice cream maker, Confectionery, Obtaining the CAPE Diplomas and BEP Option delicatessen.

National Institute of Bakery Pastry ROUEN.

1970-1973, Initial training for restoration, cooking and restaurant services.

Hotel*** du Grand Bacha ROCHEFORT.



EXPERIENCES

2005 Stone Court Hotel Maidstone England.

Pastry chef

2003-2004, Patisserie Le Canele, Bordeaux

Pastry Chef.

2001-2002, Patisserie La Gondole, Dakar Senegal.

Pastry chef.


1997-1998, Restaurant La Goelette, French Guyane.

Cook

1992-1996, Hotel la Paillotte Phnom Penh CAMBODIA.

Restaurant Manager.

1990-1991, Restaurant l’Ambassy Yaounde Cameroun.

Restaurant Manager.

1990-1991, Potel & Chabot Paris.

Maitre D'Hotel

1978-1981, Bernard Buffet Maison Bourgeoise Paris,

Maitre D'Hotel, Cook.

1975-1978, Restaurant la belle Etoile Niort.

Cook

Languages: French, and Intermediaire English,
 

Posted by Martin

Larry said...

Hi Chika,
I love, love, love your site! I have another French Bakery to add to your list: Boulangerie in San Francisco (Pine Street). Their almond croissant is simply amazing! And, they have Parisian-style macaroons to die for, seriously better than Dalloyao in Tokyo (but I know it would take a lot to impress you!).
http://www.baybread.com/index.php 

Posted by Larry

Naomi said...

I am traveling to Japan this summer for a summer program. You make this almond croissant sound so good, I'll definitely try to find Aux Bacchanales! Is it bad that I am looking forward more to eating in Japan than to taking my classes? :-p 

Posted by Naomi