It is one of the pastry sensations of recent years — an alchemic fusion of croissant and doughnut, unified to create the much-celebrated Cronut.
Now Dominique Ansel, the New York pastry chef who invented (and trademarked) the globally popular Cronut treat, is expanding his creative repertoire with the launch of a second bakery in Japan.
The new Dominique Ansel Bakery opens its doors on March 29 within the confines of Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo’s Ginza district. Its arrival comes two years after the chef opened an Omotesando bakery — his first outlet outside the United States — with its popularity reflected in the fact that 700 people queued outside its doors on its first day.
Here Ansel offers some appetite-whetting examples of the treats that lie in store for pastry lovers when the new Ginza bakery opens its doors.
Why did you decide on Ginza?
Tokyo is much like New York in that every neighborhood is unique. Ginza is a completely new target customer for us — and different from Omotesando. We are appealing to more locals here, and that was interesting for me. We can do more Japan-specific desserts and really work with Japanese flavor combinations here that may not be as familiar to our international-based audience. That was exciting for our team and a new challenge. We’ve always hoped for the opportunity grow, but never for the sake of just growing. It has to be mindful, and because we feel we can do more: create more, reach out to different people, show a new side of ourselves.
How similar will it be to the Omotesando bakery?
We don’t just copy and paste. There must always be a new opportunity to create. The new shop is about 50/50: Half are our signatures and the other half are new Ginza-only items.
What’s on the menu? Any Cronuts?
The Cronut is not the most prominent thing on the menu. We will carry it along with a few other favorites like our DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann) and Cookie Shots. But we’ll also be focusing on all-new items that are only available at Ginza, like our Square Watermelon Raspberry Pistachio Mousse Cake (it’s shaped like a square watermelon with soft pistachio and raspberry mousse inside, watermelon lime gelee, pistachio biscuit and pistachio feuilletine [flakes]); and our Zero Gravity Sponge Cake, a light honey vanilla sponge that’s suspended in the air inside its own balloon, so you pop the balloon then enjoy the cake inside.
We’ll also be making a beautiful Rose Lychee Dahlia Blossom Cake, made of more than 30 individual hand-made rose honey tuile (wafer) “petals” that are each filled with lychee ganache inside — the idea being that you handpick each petal and eat them one by one.
How rewarding is it working with Japanese ingredients?
Great — it is a whole new world of potential when you go to a different country and see all the local ingredients you have at your fingertips. My first market experience in Japan was such an inspiration. There’s that level of curiosity and exploration, the chance to experiment with new flavors, that’s quite exciting.
And the biggest challenges?
New ingredients such as local flours, butters and sugars have different characteristics to what we’re used to working with in New York. So we have to standardize all our recipes again and start from scratch. That always takes some time and testing.
Has Japan influenced your creations?
The more I travel to Japan, the more my palate changes. My first time visiting the country was probably six about years ago. These days, I’m in Tokyo about six or more times a year, and I’ve never eaten at the same place twice.
The best bite from my last trip was a steak sandwich at Shima. The chef makes it for you from any wagyu sirloin that you didn’t finish. I had it late at night when I woke up from jet lag.
Dominique Ansel Bakery in Mitsukoshi Ginza opens on March 29. For more details, visit www.dominiqueanseljapan.com