Gontran Cherrier, Tokyo Shinjuku

Once when I was in Tokyo with the same two friends I spent a few days together with in Tokyo this April, we popped into the Gontran Cherrier bakery and cafe that was located in the Shibuya area. I haven’t always been able to find it, knowing how confusing the streets of Tokyo can be. I don’t exactly have a bad sense of direction but then again I won’t claim to be the best navigator anytime.

Before heading to Tokyo, I realised that there is a new Gontran Cherrier that opened in Shinjuku, very near to the hotel that I am putting up at. Being a huge fan of carbs, baked stuff, pastries, flour, or however you want to put that, I was always looking longingly when I walked past at the rows upon rows of croissants, muffins, buns and what-have-yous.
So one morning I decided to have my breakfast there. For a one person breakfast, this is my typical order, i.e. a coffee and one pastry item, be it a muffin or bun.I couldn’t remember what were the things that I read off the tag for this muffin, utilising whatever lousy Japanese I could muster or recall, but somehow “chestnut” seemed to be on my mind and while I was savouring this, I wondered where the chestnut was. It turned out that this is a kind of roasted pumpkin muffin! In a way, it is sort of both sweet and savoury at the same time, but perhaps skewing more to the sweet side since pumpkins have a natural sweetness to them.  Really miss the flavour of it, especially when it is topped with some crunchy walnuts – combination of a few of my favourite things, i.e. muffin, walnuts and pumpkin all rolled into one! How can anyone be happier or ask for more?

When my two friends arrived in Tokyo, we met up and headed for breakfast at Dean & Deluca, but it was full so I brought them over to Gontran Cherrier instead, and check out what we ordered, for the 3 of us, and compare this with my one-person-breakfast above. Haha.

We picked 2 scones, a Matcha, white chocolate scone as well as a Butter Raisin scone. These are nice, fragrant and buttery but I find them to be a little dry and too crumbly, if you look at the second photo where the scone just falls apart when you push a fork into it. Maybe it’s meant to be eaten in one mouthful? I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t try either!   We also ordered a mini quiche, which I didn’t have much of it but it does look pretty good from my friends’ enjoyment of its smooth eggy interior.  And on the other tray we had, clockwise from top left, a Chocolate Banana muffin, a croissant (which I can’t remember the flavour), some melon bun of sorts and a curry baguette! A total of about 7 items, for 3 persons! O_O As compared to the pumpkin muffin I had, the chocolate banana muffin was a little disappointing because the banana was probably represented by the mousse atop the muffin. I would have preferred it if the banana in the muffin was more like real banana pieces, and the chocolate, perhaps again it was my misunderstanding or mis-reading but it tasted more like brown sugar and on the whole, this muffin felt softer without the crunch that I usually enjoy from the muffin top.  However, there is no denying that this is still a good place to visit if you are a fan of baked items! Besides these, of course they have regular sandwiches and breads without fillings on the inside, e.g. rolls, loaves, etc. I recalled lamenting about not having this here in Singapore and was aptly reminded that we do have it, in the form of Tiong Bahru Bakery by Gontran Cherrier. So there you have it!

just a sneak peek into Gontran Cherrier, Tokyo

In December, I wanted to check out this cafe in Shibuya, Tokyo, called Gontran Cherrier, but I tried without much success to find it, and also because in the midst of searching I got lazy. See, that’s my problem that I need to overcome in order that my exploratory trips become more fruitful.

But I actually chanced upon it this time round in April, unwittingly, as we were walking about Shibuya after breakfast at the immensely-popular Starbucks at the crossing. It was a fairly warm day, so after some walking that actually made us perspire, we decided to take a breather at MOS burger to have some drinks and French fries! It was just a random stop and I have no idea what building this MOS Burger was at, but my sharp eye saw that within the same building, in the basement from where a flight of steps led from the street level stood a bakery. It seemed like a place I might be interested in, so I made a mental note to suggest to my friends to drop in after MOS.

And of course it turned out to be Gontran Cherrier, the place that I was hunting for in December and couldn’t find it, but while I wasn’t looking for it, it just popped up. As we had already satiated our peckishness at MOS, I couldn’t really stomach anymore food, so I didn’t get a chance to try the breads of this artisan boulanger. It is a really small bakery cafe, with perhaps a handful (maybe 5-6) small tables, that serves coffee/tea and freshly-baked breads and pastries that all look so alluring, especially when coupled with that heavenly fresh-out-of-over scent, well to me at least! I was so happy just to be soaking in the nice aroma in the cafe but of course was quite disappointed I couldn’t try some stuff. So I bought myself something after weighing my options, bread wouldn’t be practical because I don’t know when I’ll eat it and I wanted to try them while they are fresh, so I bought these instead: 20130517-091656.jpg

They are called ポルポローネ (polvorone), and is some kind of soft cookie of sorts. It is a spherical pastry, isn’t as hard as a conventional cookie or crumbly, but instead is still relatively moist and soft. It comes in three different flavours but I picked pumpkin because recently I seemed to have acquired some liking for pumpkins and sweet potatoes all of a sudden. I didn’t eat them immediately, though I had meant to share them with my friends but we clean forgot about them as we went on in the day and had much more other food to keep us and our stomachs occupied and full. This small container costs 500 yen but I think it’s worth a try, for a flour-addict like myself. It doesn’t have a very strong pumpkin taste or scent to it, just traces, but I really liked its texture.

Maybe I should be thankful that we don’t, as yet, have many of these foreign imports in Singapore to distract me from healthy eating, eating clean, eating fit, whatever. I know recently I have been attracting my fair share of comments from concerned family and friends but I don’t have any eating disorders, just to set things straight. I love food so much and enjoy pastries and breads too much to acquire any such disorders. But as it is now, we already have Laduree on our shores, though I am not a macaron fan so I don’t have to worry so much but they do make rather nice gifts, particularly with the exquisite packaging that you can choose to have them in!

For the umpteenth time… I miss Tokyo. 😦

But TGIF! I’m so glad it is finally Friday!