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15 January 2012

Japonaise Bakery & Cafe - Boston, MA

The Bruins brought me to Boston and “The Beans” brought me to Japonaise Bakery & Café.  I actually have to give Vodka and Ginger the credit for sparking my interest in “The Beans”.  And no, I didn’t drink too many Moscow Mules at the game!  Vodka and Ginger are actual people.

Let me start by telling you a little bit about them.  Vodka and Ginger are two New York ladies who are on a mission to eat at every restaurant featured on the Best Thing I Ever Ate show.  Their target locations are in Manhattan, however they have gone “Off the Map” and visited other places from the show such as Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and of course Boston.  Their blog is called “It’s Not Even Noon Somewhere” and I am hooked!  These women are HILARIOUS.  They give honest opinions about the dishes certain “food experts” claim to be truly the “best thing they ever ate”.  Like all things in life you should make your own decisions but it is nice to hear other people’s opinions—especially Vodka and Ginger’s.

Now back to my story, I was getting all snug and nestled in my plush hotel bed after an enjoyable evening of hockey when I saw a tweet from Vodka and Ginger about “magically disappearing croissant cream filling” in Cambridge.  I immediately contacted them to inquire about this place where magic happens!  I was happy to have somewhere different to go for breakfast on my way out of Boston.

Japonaise Cafe & Bakery @ 1032 Commonwealth

Japonaise Bakery & Café (JB&C) is the place where this magic happens!  I didn’t really feel like venturing out to Cambridge—especially after reading about Vodka’s experience—so I was glad to discover that there are three locations: Brookline, Cambridge and Boston.  Here are a few facts about Japonaise Bakery & Café:

1.      Japonaise is French for Japanese;
2.      Hiroko Sakan is a self-taught pastry chef and owner of Japonaise Bakery & Café;
3.      I believe Japonaise Bakery & Cafe is the ONLY place where one can get French pastries with a Japanese twist AND an African Queen Cake!

Trying not to look like a complete cow to young Chris B. who helped me out, I ordered only four items as a sampler—although the entire case was very enticing.


Yummy Pastry Case


TWIST CROISSANT
I figured it would probably be best for me to start with something simple and sweet.  The Twist Croissant had the perfect amount of sugar and wasn’t heavy.  I thought it was going to taste like a basic sugar twist donut—similar to the ones you can get at the chain a few doors down.  But it was very light and it literally melted in my mouth.  It also tasted like it had just come out of the oven.  The first goal goes to JB&C.  I was very excited for my next selection.

Twist Croissant




AFRICAN QUEEN CAKE
By now you all are aware of my chocolate problem and there is nothing that I can do about it.  So of course when I go in and see a chocolate cake fittingly called the African Queen Cake, I had no choice but to get it.  I decided to wait until I made it back home to try it so I could eat it in private and in the comfort of my house.  IT WAS SO WORTH THE WAIT!!!  It is super light—seems to be a theme so far—and not too sweet.  Something about it reminds me of the Mozartkugel at Café Kristall.  Second goal goes to JB& C.

The African Queen



ICHIGO CREAM
I learned that Ichigo or (いちご) means strawberries in Japanese.  This is not to be confused with Ichigo Kurosaki a character in the famous Bleach magna and anime series.  He has an actual Facebook Fan Club Page and I am seriously thinking about starting one for the Ichigo Cream Pastry at JB&C.  It is another super light puff pastry with yummy creamy custard in the middle and fresh strawberry slices.  The croissant is flaky and buttery and is good on its own but something about the custard and strawberries wedged in the middle makes it worthy of praise.  I had no shame using my fingers to make sure EVERY morsel was accounted for.  Just look at the picture!  What a thing of beauty, mmmmmm!  The score is now 3-0! 
Ichigo Cream


AZUKI CREAM
This is what brought us all here.  If it hadn’t been for Ming Tsai on the Best Thing I Ever Ate, then Vodka wouldn’t have gone to Cambridge to try it out and tweet about it and I would have never read about “The Beans” which is what ultimately brought me to the Japonaise Bakery & Café location across the street from Boston University.

The best way for me to describe the Azuki Cream is to imagine a croissant ball filled with a light cream and Azuki at the bottom.  I think some of the Harvard folks in Cambridge must have been having some fun with Vodka since she was so adamant about her quest for Harvard, because from her pictures it does appear as if the cream in her Azuki Cream had somehow disappeared.  Mine on the other hand was filled to the brim!


(L) picture of Azuki Cream courtesy of Vodka & Ginger's blog post & (R) picture of Epic girls Azuki Cream

I appreciate Vodka preparing me for the special treat at the bottom of the Azuki Cream—The Beans!  Azuki (アズキ) is a red bean that is cooked into a paste and typically used in Japanese sweets.  I will admit after my first bite my chewing action slowed down as I was really trying to figure it all out.  I am a big texture eater and there was so much going on that it took me a few bites to finalize my opinion.  I had to cut the pastry in half and eat the Azuki by itself before I could properly appreciate Chef Hiroko Sakan’s creation!  I think everyone should try the Azuki Cream at least once.
Azuki Red Bean Paste

NOLA Girl and I are planning a trip to Boston in February so I will take her to JB&C to get her opinion.  I will keep you posted.  If you are in the Boston area you should pay a visit to Japonaise Bakery & Cafe because I know you will not be disappointed.


Epicurean Girl’s Conclusion: 4 VIPs
Japonaise Bakery & Cafe gets an overall rating of 4 VIPs.

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