During our month in Japan, we have 2 free days where we can choose to travel. We spent our free days in Shinjuku, Harajuku, Asakusa, and Ikebukuro. On the day where we suppose to unite with the group in the afternoon, Hikari and I went to Hidemi Sugino in the morning.
Before visiting the cafe, Hikari told me that Hidemi Sugino is a famous pastry chef that specializes in mousse cakes. He won awards and is considered as one of the best pastry chefs in Japan. What’s interesting is he uses simple ingredients (with the exception of the Ambroisi cake) that anyone can make the food, yet it’s difficult to balance out the flavors and getting the constancy of the texture just right. The mousse cakes are amazing not because of the ingredients but because of his skills. The chef has mastered his skills that he is able to control the sweetness and the texture of the cakes.
Ambroisi - Chocolate mousse cake by City Foodsters (Disclaimer: I do not own this image.)
The most difficult cake to make is Ambroisi cake because you have to get the flavor and texture right. The flavor needs to be precisely right or else the cake will be ruined if the chocolate is even a little too bitter or too sweet. The Ambroisi cake requires precision and is time consuming to make that the chef only makes 10 of them per day. If you want to try the Ambroisi cake, you have to arrive early since it will be gone within an hour.
I was so excited for getting the chance to try out the mousse cakes from one of the best pastry chef’s in Japan! When I arrived at the cafe, I was surprised how simple the cafe’s external appearance is considering that I expected the store appearance to be extravagant to reflect the chef’s prestigious status. An outsider can easily walk pass by without knowing that the best desserts is in a small cafe unless one recognizes the chef’s name and his reputation. I anticipated for the cakes as I waited in line for 20 minutes before the cafe is open. Finally, the wait is over and I examined at the cake display. All of the mousse cakes look perfect and delicious! The decorations are carefully placed in these delicate cakes. It was so difficult to choose which cake to buy since each customer is limited to 4 cakes. After much consideration, I finally chose my cakes.
I stepped inside of the cafe and notice how the atmosphere is different from the boisterous dining hall back in ARI. Everyone was chatting quietly as they waited for their orders to arrive. There’s an air of sophistication and I noticed that this is a place where one should behave in a refined way to not disturb the atmosphere. Most of the customers are either upper middle class people or trendy tourists. Photos are prohibited inside the cafe because the obnoxious noise from cameras and iPhones will disturb the atmosphere. If you attempt to take a picture of your cakes, you will end up looking like a fool with the customers and waiters giving you disapproval stares. Another reason why photos are not allowed is because one should take the moment to enjoy the taste and the aesthetic appearance of food. It is difficult to appreciate and savor your food when you are surrounded by people who are constantly taking pictures. Most of us have iPhones or androids where we can easily take pictures of our food or use them while eating. Sometimes we forget to appreciate the food and enjoy the moment of eating with your friends because we are distracted by phones. We are so focused on constantly keeping touch with our friends that we forget to take the time off from our busy day and just live the moment.
The mousse cakes were the best thing I ever have. Every bite of the cake is rich with flavor. In one of the cakes I ordered, I can taste the chocolate, the subtle raspberry flavor, and the pistachio mousse. All of the flavors blended together and none of them overwhelmed each other. I appreciated the taste of the food as well the chef who took the time to create the mousse cakes with care. I believe that food tastes better when you know the person who create the food. If I didn’t have any knowledge of the chef who created the cake mousses, then I wouldn’t appreciate the food as much. By knowing the person who created the food, you will end up not only appreciating the food and the creator but having the satisfaction in your mind,body, and soul that you eat good food.