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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Week 13 Part 6 - Hidemi Sugino and more

My all time favorite Japanese patisserie is Hidemi Sugino's eponymous shop in Kyobashi. I will never forget the first time I visited with friends of my Le Cordon Bleu course all those years ago. I've been a fan ever since and even after moving away from Japan I religiously visited his shop every time I was in Tokyo. Back in the days when the shop was first open, we used to stand in line an hour before it opened to ensure we get first seating. The one time we were late we had to wait for the first round of people to finish eating until we could be seated and that took more than 2 hours. After that J refused to go with me again, so I went alone to buy take-out. In colder months there are more cakes available for takeout and you could choose the cakes early (they get sold out around noon) do some shopping in Ginza and go back to pick up later before the store closes in the evening.

What I loved about Hidemi is that every time I go, besides the classic there will always be something new to try. The difficult part is eliminating the ones I will skip this time.

These are my final selections. Clockwise from top left:
Figue Figue: fig and pear mousse with fig gelee filling
Strawberry Pistachio
Helen: chocolate red wine cream with fig gelee topped with chantilly
Agrumes: orange and kumquat mousse
Caramel tart with dried fruits and nuts filling

Cappuccino, which was destroyed when a businessman swung his briefcase and hit the paper bag I was carefully balancing in my hand. You can see a recreation I did a few years ago here.

 The night before while walking back to our hotel we passed a restaurant specializing in Kobe beef that we wanted to try for lunch. It seemed to be very popular and we had to share a table with someone. Lunch sets were reasonably priced but the beef was just ok, and we were a little disappointed.

I think J ordered a filet and I had the sirloin.

After lunch we wondered around Ginza and went to Uniqlo to pick up some essentials. J likes their basic T-shirts. He used to get their pima cotten T-shirts but on this trip discovered another range that's better for Singapore's climate: Airism. I like their Airism range of tank tops with built-in bras and literally live in them when I'm at home. Prices are much cheaper in Japan so we stock up. This time we lucked out because Uniqlo had just launched a Kabuki themed T-shirts. The designs are so nice I bought a few for myself and some as gifts.

In the afternoon we met up with K, who recommended our lunch place yesterday and went to Meguro river for some sakura viewing. Meguro river is a famous Hanami (flower viewing) spot but this year we're a little early. It's always tricky to catch the sakura in full bloom because they're very much affected by weather. Last week there was a cold front so the flowers that were ready to bloom were shocked into staying closed. We did manage to find a couple of trees that had bloomed more than the others though.

And some bonsai sakura in a store that were in full bloom, along with some bonsai Japanese maple and wisteria.

And a regular sized purple magnolia tree

K showed me a bakery she liked along the river and of course I had to buy the sakura flavored scones and ang pan.

For dinner we went to K and her husband J's favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant called Cujorl. We had been there once on our last trip to Tokyo and liked their unpretentious food.

 The tempura that we shared.

 J's beef tongue with bamboo shoot and broad beans.

 My smoked swordfish with marinated kumquat.

 My bouillabaisse
 J was so happy to find Aka-ushi on the menu! Although pretty decent, it's still not as good as the one we had at El Patio Ranch =o( We definitely need to go back...

We ended the dinner with a cranberry souffle cheesecake with raspberry sorbet made by the restaurant.