50 SHADES OF TOKYO DESSERTS | SHADE 16
Life in Tokyo is never short of quirky and wonderful things to do and taste. Last weekend I headed to Harajuku, the hub of all things extraordinary and peculiar, to check out a special themed dessert spot I have had on my bucket list for a while – Nicholas Charles House, which was opened by a charismatic French pastry chef. It is almost impossible to walk past the two-storied café without noticing French chef’s excited smiling face all over the windows as well as be attracted by absolutely cute desserts on a display glorifying all things bunny-related. It’s very hard to resist the desire to taste these adorable creations. I won’t lie, I had to queue about 1 hour on Sunday to finally get in, but what awaited me inside was nothing short of awesome and completely blew my mind. As soon as you step inside you immerse into a magical world of Little Twin Stars, popular Sanrio characters released in 1975. The entire ceiling is covered in colorful heart- and star-shaped balloons and the space is filled with pretty vintage items (wooden sewing machines made into tables, lace curtains, old cupboards, lamps, bookshelves etc.) to create a vibe of old French provincial house. The manager promptly hands you the bunny ears and offers to take your photo by the huge statues of Kiki and Lala. How could I say no to that???I was seated at a cute little wooden table. Even those plush star-shaped cushions were adorable. You are even allowed to pull down and play with the balloons. Everything is just whimsical. For a minute I thought I was a kid again crashing someone’s birthday party. The menu is equally fascinating, something you’d see on a kid’s menu in the West. In fact, the name of menu is “Children’s Lunch for Adults.” You have options to order savory platters which are a scrumptious combo of meat, salad and rice (bunny-shaped, of course!). On top of that you can order those fantastic-looking desserts which include parfaits and cream-puffs with a variety of flavors. I opted for raspberry parfait and caramel apple cream puff. While I was waiting for my order I could hear two things only: French ballads playing and excited Japanese girls exclaiming “kawaii” as they snapped photos of their plates. And then it finally arrived, one of the most playful choux I have ever seen, almost too cute to eat! To be honest I was very skeptical about the taste as often times it is compromised for the sake of presentation. However, pastries at Nicholas Charles House turned out to be a feast for the palate as much as the eyes. The cream puffs were absolutely delectable, with light, crispy cookie choux cream pastry filled with flavorful mildly sweet caramel custard and chunks of caramelized apples. It was covered with chocolate icing and two pieces of chocolate that stick out like bunny ears. I liked it so much I will make sure to get it again next time I visit. Other options included: rose jelly and raspberries mixed with raspberry mousse (pretty intrigued by this one too); and basil-flavored mousse mixed with strawberries tossed in balsamic vinegar. The parfait was made in the best of Japanese kawaii traditions. It was filled with multiple layers of jelly, raspberry blancmange pudding, crumble, custard, fruit, whipped cream and then topped with cookie choux shell and raspberry sorbet with two chocolate ears. While it looks and sounds like a total sugar bliss its sweetness was actually very subtle, the quality of Japanese desserts I really like.
This place was most certainly treat for the senses, and didn’t fail to excite and delight me. So if you are looking for one of the best themed cafes in Tokyo with adorable food and desserts, then this is certainly a great spot to check out. You can also buy pastries (cream puffs only) to-go in case you are limited in time and cannot wait to get in line. Just remember, walking and eating in Japan is a big no-no, so make sure you sit somewhere to devour your treats before you go on exploring the area.
The café is located on Cat Street, a small alley behind white Ralf Lauren mansion.
Address: Jingumae 426 Bldg. 2F, 4-26-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Have you experienced anything similar? Would you be interested to go to a cafe like this?