Wednesday, August 14, 2013

136. Tokyo - Bread, Bread, Bread at Saint-Germain / サンジェルマンのパン (Tokyo: Shibuya-ku, Ebisu / 東京都: 渋谷区, 恵比寿)

If you ask anyone about what he or she wants to eat while visiting Japan, the likely answer will be sushi... sashimi, perhaps... maybe even ramen or tempura.  Well, at the top of the list for me is none other than bread (pan / パン).  While strolling through Yebisu Garden Place, I came across Saint-Germain, a two story bakery and café brimming with the warm aroma of baked goodness.  This popular chain is part of a larger family of bakeries including Maison Kayser, one of my favorite producers of European style Japanese bread.

Lucky for me, the nearest location of Saint-Germain was a hop, skip and a jump from the Westin Tokyo where I was staying.  Right across the street from the entrance of the Yebisu Sky Walk (恵比寿スカイウォーク), it was utterly convenient to grab some breakfast on the way to Ebisu Station (恵比寿駅) on the JR Yamanote Line (JR山手線).  For those that don't know already, I am bread crazy.  Like... insane when it comes to bread.  This was my loot from just one morning.

Mentaiko bread (明太子パン) is easily one of my favorite types of Japanese bread.  A salty spread of pollock roe that is utterly glowing is smeared across the soft inside of a crisp baguette making for an absolutely irresistible version of caviar on toast.

There is no way to avoid a curry donut (カレードーナツ) when visiting a Japanese bakery.  When done right the outside should be golden brown but not to the point of crunch.  The inside of the football shaped fried fritter is gooey with spicy curry, peas, and carrots, and the mantle of bread should still be soft and easy to tear apart to reveal the goods within.

This bacon and cheese baguette (チーズベーコンバゲット) captured my attention the moment I laid eyes on it.  Tender and succulent slabs of sweet bacon and cheddar are sandwiched inside thin, crusty French style bread.  Japanese bacon is usually not as crispy or salty as American bacon, which makes for a texture more like that of a fatty ham.  Yum.

Just close your eyes and take one bite of the pork cutlet and egg salad sandwich (サンドイッチのとんかつ卵サラダ), and you will feel like you have gone to heaven.  There is nothing like a deep fried pork chop with sweet ketchup essence submerged under a fluffy cloud of egg salad.  Really, there isn't.  When the pork cutlet and egg salad canoodle under the covers of a soft bun, the combination becomes the definition of excess and decadence.

I picked up a tomato, cheese and bacon calzone (カルツォーネ) based on the staff recommendation.  I still prefer a piping hot pocket feel stuffed with heart attack inducing fillings, but if you like a more delicate, less oily take on the Italian-American classic, this is a good choice.

Custard pudding (カスタードプリン) or flan, Japanese or not, is one of my favorite things to eat of all time.  So naturally, when I saw it sitting in the refrigerator section, I had to take one back with me for dessert.  It was something that I could eat without needing to glance away from the morning paper.  Digging for the caramel syrup that lines the bottom of the smooth custard is like diving for gold at the bottom of a treasure chest.

Also somewhere in this mess of carbs was a hash brown, but I ate it so hastily that I did not get a chance to take a picture of it.  Just a heads up... my next meal is definitely carb overload too.  Until the next carb fest, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

サンジェルマン / Saint-Germain
東京都 渋谷区 / Tokyo Metropolis, Shibuya Ward
恵比寿 4-20-5 / Ebisu District, 4 Chome 20-5
恵比寿 ガーデンプレイス 内 / Yebisu Garden Place

Check out some more mentaiko madness from my Flickr set here.

ML - 20130627

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