Gontran Cherrier – Tokyo’s French Bakery

On a rainy afternoon in Tokyo it pays to be sat in a large window. From here, you can watch as the lights change and opposing hordes of umbrellas crash, then merge. It’s a fitting tribute to commuter culture in Japan. As the sky darkens, the multicoloured lights wash over the pavements like glitter shifting over standing water.This is easily one of my favorite wet day features of any big city. Perhaps, though, this isn’t as grand as sitting in the Starbucks overlooking Shibuya Crossing, the most famous rainy day spot in Tokyo. But bear with me here.

In this large window I haven’t queued for ages to have a seat, nor am I elbow to elbow with other customers. I mean, it kinda helps I’m drinking the best Assam I’ve found in Tokyo so far, and scoffing the softest, and most interesting, pastries I’ve eaten in a very long time. But there’s a little bit more to this place than just the pastries, it’s the atmosphere I guess. It seems to be a capsule of calm within a heaving, spluttering city. I’m sat in the upstairs room of Shibuya ward’s Gontran Cherrier – a French Artisan Boulanger. Now, this all sounds a bit hipster and unrelatable what with the frenchery, and rainy day imagery. But, I mean, just look at these bad boys:

It’s not just that the pastries are well made; soft when they need to be, melt in the middle when they need to be, and fresh as they could possibly need to be, it’s also that each and everyone single one has been given the same amount of thought and testing a main course would receive in a Michelin star restaurant. I bought two cakes, a chocolate pudding which was gooey in the middle, a Pistachio bun which was so fluffy, and then went back for something lighter and came across the crispy, fruity pastry above. I sat there luxuriating in all this for a good 3 hours, whilst writing and catching up with myself. It was relaxing, had the classic metropolitan view going on outside the window, and gave me all the relief from manic Shibuya I needed before picking up and carrying on to meet friends.

The only hang up is that everything, including the recycling bins, are annotated in French and Japanese, instead of the usual Japanese with some English. Sometimes, maybe, if they feel like it. But oh well, it is a French bakery after all. Also, I mean, dem cakes tho. January to April 588

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