Add: 35 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris*
Tel: +33 1 45 44 48 90
Hours: [Tue-Sat] 11am~7pm [Sun] 10am~6pm (closed on Mon)
Tasted on: Apr 2013
I knew about Sadaharu Aoki even before I discovered Pierre Hermé. The Japanese pastry chef is famed for beautifully infusing French pastries with Japanese ingredients and sensibilities, and has made a big name for himself in France, Japan, and beyond. I first tried his creations 2 years ago at his then recently-opened outpost in Taipei, and was disappointed by what I tasted. Thinking that perhaps it was just a consistency issue with the Taipei branch, I decided to give his Paris boutique a try.
*Additional locations available, check website for detail.
While Aoki is most famed for his Japanese-inspired pastries (think matcha, yuzu, azuki beans), what I eagerly wanted to taste was the tarte caramel salé (€5), which has been recommended to me by friends and professionals alike. And indeed it’s delicious. A spiral of creamy milk chocolate mousse, a buttery crispy tart shell, and – cut the tart open and out oozes – an intensely aromatic salted caramel. So intense that I had to save half of it for the second day. Stricly for caramel lovers.
On a lighter note is Matcha-Azuki (€5.30), a layered pastry showcasing the classic combination of green tea and red bean in Japanese sweets. The flavors are balanced, and the texture is varied thanks to a layer of praliné just beneath the red bean paste. The mini matcha macaron adorning the the cake is cute, and delicious too.
And here are two more…
Saya (€5.30), a stack of strawberry mousse, joconde biscuit, pistachio cream, and hazelnut sablé. The idea of pairing strawberry with pistachio is very attractive, but I found the pistachio flavor to be too subtle, and the strawberry mousse cartoonish (it reminds me of strawberry pocky.) It’s a very pleasant (and beautiful) cake, but not especially memorable.
Zen (€5.50), from the top to bottom: white chocolate cream sandwiching matcha dacquoise, sesame cream with cognac, and sesame shortcrust pastry. I don’t like strong liquor flavors in desserts and found the cognac to be overpowering, but when I offered the cake to a friend, she thought it was delicious and very interesting (yes she likes alcohol). Well, chacun ses goûts. I won’t be going back to Aoki for this, but perhaps you will find it amusing.
Macarons (€1.40/each): yuzu, genmaicha, and earl grey. I had already tried the genmaicha macaron in Taipei and was disappointed, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying it this time around. For those of you who don’t know, genmaicha is Japanese green tea blended with roasted brown rice, and the aromatic flavor worked rather well in this macaron. The yuzu macaron was also lovely, while the earl grey one was nice but not as memorable.
Lastly, a matcha croissant (€1.40), which I’ve been wanting to try ever since spotting it at Aoki’s stand at last year’s Salon du Chocolat. Loved the crunchy caramelized exterior, the evident but not overpowering matcha presence, but unfortunately the interior is not as soft and fluffy as I had hoped. Still, an interesting croissant that’s worth a try.
While not all of Aoki’s creations hit the spot for me, they are inspiring and beautiful enough to lure me back for more. The vibrant colors, the neat cuts, the clever fusion of Japanese and French…