Parfaits in Tokyo and Their Nearby Jaunts — Todoroki and Yanaka
Having arguably the sweetest tooth in our att.JAPAN staff, I am excited to announce the outrageously delicious parfaits so far on my list this year. And to make a good outing better, I am including highlights not only of their shops but of their environs as well, all within easy stroll.
1.PATISSERIE ASAKO IWAYANAGINot far from the dessert haven of Jiyugaoka lies Todoroki Station, a gateway to quiet residential neighborhoods and relaxed shopping Street areas.
PATISSERIE ASAKO IWAYANAGI has been the buzz of the crowd ever since its opening in 2015. The shop is the namesake of Chef Pâtissiere Asako Iwayanagi, a master of work-of-art delectables that showcase fruits in season.
Exit Todoroki Station and follow the railroad tracks for about 5 minutes until you see an unpainted concrete building.
PATISSERIE ASAKO IWAYANAGI
The town will be quiet, but you’ll know you’re there by the line of people at the door.That also happened to be the case on the day I went. I added my name to the seating list, then took a peek next door at ASAKO IWAYANAGI PLUS, the takeout counterpart. A selection of baked items, parfaits and chocolates graced the showcase, ready for anyone on the go.
Shortly after, my wait was rewarded with a Parfait Bijou ® Fraise and a Parfait Japonais, accompanied by seasonal citrus. With the soothing gray walls giving full play to the dazzling desserts, I was blown away by the magic of the moment!
PATISSERIE ASAKO IWAYANAGI Parfait Bijou ®, Parfait Japonais, accompanied by seasonal citrus
Parfait Bijou ® Fraise is a montage of Tochi-otome strawberry sorbet and arugula gelato, and believe me, the side of olive oil and salt takes it up another notch! Three types of strawberries and wine gelee fill the glass, each spoonful as exquisite as the last.
Parfait Japonais is a composition of matcha and vanilla ice cream topped by a wedge of “Hamasaki,” a high-end citrus from Saga Prefecture. Further heightening the “Japonais” taste is the layer of black beans, kinako and matcha kudzu balls in the glass. The occasional whiff of Ao Pepper intertwined with the fragrance of the green lemongrass stick, add another dimension.
PATISSERIE ASAKO IWAYANAGI
Access：A 5 min walk from Todoroki Station
Why not take a short walk to Todoroki Valley after your ravishing dessert? Todoroki Valley is the only natural gorge located within the 23 cities of Tokyo, a distinction that ranks it as one of Tokyo’s top scenic spots. The temperature begins to dip the moment you enter the ravine, and with more than 30 springs along its 1km trail of dappled sunlight, what could be more pleasant?
Walk past the scarlet Golf Bridge and you will find Todoroki Falls, Todoroki Fudoson Temple, a Japanese garden and a shoin, a traditional Japanese building.
The valley, I might add, wears its seasons well — greens in spring and summer, reds in autumn, and silver-white in winter. Enjoy each visit!
2.HAGI CAFENext, let me introduce you to HAGI CAFE, a shop with a down-home feel, located in Yanaka, a section of old Tokyo.
While waiting for a table, I contemplated the artwork in the gallery. The original post and beam construction opens the area to natural sunlight. As I was viewing the works of young artists, a staff member offered to explain to me the history of HAGISO.
HAGI CAFE sits in what was once a wooden apartment known as HAGISO, built in 1955. HAGI CAFE shares the first floor with HAGI ART, a gallery, and HAGI ROOM, a rental area for events. The flow-through space allows diners to enjoy the artwork while savoring their meals.
As history would have it, HAGISO, old and worn, had been fated for demolition. Its residents, however, banded together to host an art exhibition that proved so successful that the building gained new respect, and subsequently, new life.
Another reference to its ties with the artist community is the selection of artfully designed household goods on the second floor. In calling itself “The smallest multi-cultural facility,” HAGISO hopes to contribute to the fostering of art and culture.
The warmth of the wood seemed to reach out to welcome me as I made my way into the cafe. Once settled, I ordered their “Seasonal Parfait” along with their classic “HAGISO Parfait.”
The Seasonal Parfait melded perfectly the flavors of the fresh strawberries and chocolate ice cream. In fact, so irresistible were the tart-sweet strawberries that I finished them in no time!
The HAGISO Parfait was a deceptively simple presentation of banana and chocolate ice cream, laced with its inimitable house blend coffee. The sweetness of the ice cream accented by the slightly bitter coffee and the mascarpone was, I thought, truly out of this world.
Access：6 min on foot from Nippori Station or 10 min on foot from Sendagi Station
A good parfait deserves a pleasant stroll. Let me recommend to you a walk to Yanaka Ginza, a shopping district famous for its yesteryear charm. You’ll want to wander around snacking on a deep-fried meat patty or grilled squid-on-a-stick or poke through the foreign and Japanese trinkets as you while away the time.
Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street
By all means, end the day with a stop at the Yuuyake-dandan (Sunset Steps), located between the Yanaka shopping area and Nippori Station. Glance from the top of the stairs and you’ll find a hint of the past in the sunset tones.
Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street, Yuuyake-dandan (Sunset Steps)
*The information herein is as of April 2020.