Isetan Shinjuku – The refined Henri Charpentier

Henri Charpentier

Isetan B1 near Shinjuku station

Tokyo Dec 2nd folder-001The Japanese love for food is pretty apparent when you walk along their streets and everywhere you go, there’s quality food. With such a familiar scene replicated in all departmental stores, the first thing that I usually do is to visit its energetic food hall at the basement. I would say that a visit to these uniquely Japanese food hall is mandatory as you couldn’t get to witness such a vibrant scene anywhere else in Asia, not even in HK or SG. You would usually be able to find bento sets or hot food, French patisserie and refined Japanese sweets in every food hall. The outstanding thing is that everything is so elegantly presented and wrapped even though they are just meant for takeaway that it’s difficult to leave empty handed.

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Well, out of the many departmental stores that I have visited such as OIOI, Daimaru, Takashimaya, KITTE, Mistukoshi, my favourite would be none other than Isetan. It is by far the largest food hall that I’ve been to and it took me 2h to scrutinise and decide on what I want. It’s not easy as everything looks so delicious and irresistible. Nicely divided into three huge sections, my favourite two are the polished Japanese sweets and exquisite French Patisserie. Out of the many patisserie shops, I decided on Henri Charpentier which has made big news as it opened its first overseas branch in Singapore. Cakes were priced at 540 yen each except for the Christmasy Noel that is slightly more expensive at about 900 yen. Comparing it to the prices in sg and due to the advantage in the exchange rate, these cakes are priced about 20% lower in Japan and that felt really quite a steal for such quality cakes.

So, never miss the food hall in a departmental store in Japan as that really is one of the must-visits, especially so if you are foodie.

Henri Charpentier – Hailing from Ginza Tokyo

Henri Charpentier

Dempsey Hill block 9A

DSC_1110Yes that’s the new big patisserie kid on the block! Hailing from Ginza Tokyo, Henri Charpentier has finally set up her first overseas branch in nowhere else but Singapore. It is going to be a strong competitor in the patisserie industry I feel and definitely would step up the game for most patisserie shops over here.

DSC_1111What a grand view of the kitchen.

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DSC_1116Replicating the Ginza restaurant, the Dempsey Henri Charpentier not only serves the usual elegant cakes and French madeleine or pastries, they also serve really exorbitant fanciful desserts and mains in the restaurant. Tried some of the fanciful desserts and the cakes and my take is, go for the cakes unless you don’t mind paying for the fun but not too worthy fanciful desserts. We shall see why.

DSC_1112The purplish entrance to the whole restaurant. I was lucky to be here at about 1.15pm when most people are still having their mains elsewhere. By the time we left at 3.15pm, there was a really long queue waiting to be seated.

DSC_1126Yeah, and so we got two most popularly ordered desserts, the crepe suzette and the dome. The waitress would cook your dessert in front of you on a stove in melted butter. Quite a bit of gimmicks over here and orange cognac is used to soak these crepes at the end.

DSC_1130Flame on! when the orange cognac was added.

DSC_1135The final product – two pieces of meagre crepe in the orange cognac soup. Indubitably, this is interesting and taste was refreshingly alcoholic but priced at $22, I thought they could add 6 more pieces of crepes in it. haha! That was an exaggeration but yeah 2 pieces is quite a rip off.

HenriAnd the dome which is a must order for liquor fans. Q had a great time eating this as the core was filled with bitter liquor.

DSC_1145Together with the strawberry sauce, it tasted interesting. Cold chocolate parfait encapsulated in this dome, it was a delight eating it together with the strong liquor. A pity that I didn’t get to see the flame as we were busy talking away.

DSC_1136Alright, and for the more delightful desserts, the strawberry shortcake was fluffy and coated with really fresh cream. Strawberries too were sweet as well.

DSC_1141And this lemon tart was my most favourite dessert actually out of all as the curd isn’t eyes-squinting sour and has a very creamy consistency while the tart was fragrant and not tough at all.

Priced at about $9 for the cakes and tarts, I thought they are more worth of the money. Still, I am pretty impressed with this patisserie place as the usual cakes and tarts are good and it would be more exciting if they were to follow Tokyo’s concept – open more patisserie stalls in the basement of shopping malls. Perhaps Takashimaya or Isetan will be a good start.

Verdict: A good patisserie.