On my last day in Tokyo (for the first part of this trip), we strolled through Meiji Shrine on our way to lunch and after lunch we got dessert from Dominique Ansel and then went to do a tea experience at Sakurai Tea Experience and finished with sesame ice cream at Gomaya Kuki before rushing back to Shinjuku for a food tour. In this post though, I’ll be talking about the dessert places first and then the tea experience.
Address: 5 Chome-7-14 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
There’s actually a Dominique Ansel store in Los Angeles in the Grove which I have been to twice already (and even saw Dominique Ansel one of those times!) but they have different flavors and items in the various stores around the world so I wanted to stop by one of them while I was in Tokyo. There are currently two stores in Tokyo. One is the one I went to in Omotesando and the other is in Ginza.
If you’re wondering why Dominique Ansel sounds familiar, it’s probably because he is credited as the inventor of the cronut. If you go to any of his stores, you should definitely try the cronut but make sure you also try some of his other desserts as well as they’re all pretty amazing.
The Omotesando store is on one of the smaller streets but you can’t miss it with this cute display in the window:
I’m assuming there are usually long lines because of the set-up but I went on a rainy weekday and was able to head straight in. The hardest part though is staring at the displays and having to limit myself to only a few items. In the end I decided on a Paris-Tokyo pastry and the cronut. The cronut flavor does change monthly so the next time you visit will likely be a different flavor. When I was there the flavor was Pomegranate Kokuto (brown sugar from Okinawa).
I had the Paris-Tokyo pastry while I was there and took the cronut to-go. The Paris-Tokyo pastry is a beautiful green pastry but when you bite into it the most powerful flavor is passion fruit which is a little confusing since it doesn’t look like a passion fruit pastry. The passion fruit was very fresh though and made the otherwise matcha dessert brighter. Something I didn’t get at this store but always get at the LA store though is the DKA. It’s simple but delicious.
I ordered from the counter and found a seat on the first floor but I believe the second floor is more cafe-style where you are served. There aren’t a lot of seats on the first floor but since it was pretty empty the day I went we were able to get a seat and I didn’t really see anyone head up to the second floor.
Address: 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, ４丁目２６−２２ 原宿Hビル
The second dessert I stopped for was sesame ice cream. It’s a small shop with two seating areas. The front seating area seems to be for those ordering just ice cream and then there’s a high counter reserved for I believe customers who order one of the more special desserts. There really isn’t any English in this shop and the workers didn’t understand English either so it was more of a point at something and hope the worker understood kind of deal.
Our order ended up half right. I asked for one scoop of ice cream with the mochi donut but I had pointed to the black sesame ice cream yet ended up with the white sesame ice cream. I think this worked out though because black sesame ice cream is much more common than white sesame ice cream. In fact, this was my first time having white sesame ice cream and it was just as sesame-y as black sesame ice cream. I’m a huge fan of sesame so I loved it. The mochi donut was also delicious. It was light and just a little chewy since it’s mochi-based. I highly recommend this store for sesame lovers. Our little ice cream and donut combo was about USD $7.50.
SAKURAI TEA EXPERIENCE
Address: 東京都港区南青山5-6-23 スパイラル5階, Tokyo
So a lot of people probably go to Japan and want to do a tea ceremony or tea tasting but my friend and I decided to do something a little different. A few months ago, I saw one of the Top Chef contestants I follow, Shirley Chung, had posted a few Instagram stories when she was visiting Sakurai Tea Experience and had mentioned they have a tea liquor tasting. This sounded unique and interesting so we decided to make reservations to visit. My friend’s father (who speaks Japanese) actually called and made the reservation for us and they do ask that you be there on time with a 15 minute grace period. We actually ended being almost 30 minutes early but they were able to seat us immediately. We both chose the tea liquor tasting which came out to about USD $55 each.
We ended up having two people assist us. The person in the beginning, I feel was the tea master though I’m not sure but watching his movements and the fact that he was making recommendations for us rather than asking us what we wanted made it feel like more of an experience he was leading us through but on the last tasting, the person switched to a younger gentleman who asked us which liquor we wanted and which snack we wanted which after our guided experience was a bit of a shock because we had no idea what went better together. Perhaps it was the end of a shift?
But anyways, our experience started with traditional hot tea and the tea leaves later became a snack. You basically add yuzu to the tea leaves and can snack on them. After the traditional tea was a version of iced tea served in a tall delicate looking glass. (We were very impressed by all the thin glassware and the tea master’s ice chipping skills.)
Next was a cocktail with sencha-infused gin:
A hojicha-infused rum:
An iribancha-infused whiskey:
A tencha-infused vodka:
And I think one of these was a campari but I forget what the other was:
It was really interesting to taste the different flavors of tea with the different liquors. The tea was very aromatic but you could also still taste the liquor and “feel” the liquor. We were both a little tipsy after that experience as each drink was fairly strong since the point is to taste the liquors. They do also have small “snacks” or little Japanese desserts with each new drink that were also very good.
I think in the end it lasted about an hour and a half. While we were there, there were parties joining and leaving. Everyone else there though seemed to be doing the regular tea tastings or just a la carte tea. It’s a pretty small space so reservations are important.