Super Strict Score [understand my S3]: 7
Chiboust caramel: 8
Tarte aux fruits secs [dried fruit tart]: 7
Mousse au cassis et chocolat blanc [black currant + white chocolate mousse]: 6
Tarte Tatin: 6
In 1 word: Frangipane
Pâtisserie De Bon Cæur is in every respect a somewhat unusual place. First, its location – in a rather nondescript, quiet neighborhood around Musashikoyama station, but apparently close enough to the Tokyo hustle & bustle, especially upscale Meguro. Second, it’s headed by a chef pâtissière [this being the female form], Iwayanagi Asako, which is a rather uncommon sight in Japan. Third, Ms. Iwayanagi is mostly self-trained, which is basically a thing unheard of in Tokyo’s prime pastry shops. Last but not least, in a largely female clientele dominated business, Ms. Iwayanagi targets men & designed her store to be inviting to men coming in by themselves. As such, the interior design is out of the box, with a distinct purposefully mismatched air about it – the first floor is all about showcasing the cakes in the best sparkly-glittery-chandelier light possible in an unclad concrete shell, while the downstairs café space, very spacious by Tokyo standards, features antique furniture, a huge slab of wood & bar stools, generating at least 3 different environments evoking an old fashioned jazz saloon [complete with piano], a New York enoteca, & a backstage theater changing room.
As for the cakes, apparently, Ms. Iwayanagi’s self declared focus lies on making cakes that even just a single one of will satisfy a man. To that effect, she concentrates mostly on beautifully finished & presented traditional French pastries but makes them more substantial by the ample use of rich batters & crusts, especially frangipane. You can also expect a few twists, e. g. kaki Tarte Tatin. Cakes eaten:
- Caramel Chiboust: namesake, chocolate coffee ganache, pistachio frangipane, puff pastry. Lots of different flavors & textures – rich, soft caramel Chiboust, intense ganache, nutty, squishy pistachio frangipane & flakey, crisp puff pastry. An unusual combination that nevertheless came together deliciously, but even compared to the other cakes its size was disproportionally big.
- Dried fruit tart: dried fruit, cream cheese, frangipane, short crust. The dried fruit were cooked in mulled wine, resulting in beautifully textured fruit with a hint of spice & a bit of heaviness from the wine. The cream cheese had a hint of salt about it, complementing the fruit very well.
- Black currant + white chocolate mousse cake: white chocolate & black currant mousses, frangipane, short crust. A classic & popular antagonistic interplay of sweet & sour; still, a contrast in texture would have been nice.
- Tarte Tatin: apples, frangipane, special short crust. The apples were lusciously caramelized & lightly spiced & had the perfect texture.
Obviously, it’s possible for a single person to have 4 cakes in one go, like I [‹– female] did but every single cake by itself had a good moist vs dry ratio, leaving you feeling satisfied & the frangipane makes the cakes very filling, although it could do with a bit more recipe tweaking, especially in flavor. Generally speaking, the quality of the ingredients used is very high & the cakes are balanced & finished to a degree that surpasses many of Ms. Iwayanagi’s formally trained peers.
The fact that Ms. Iwayanagi’s male target group appears to have taken to the concept – several single men happily munching away at their cakes during my visit – bears testimony to the success of her unconventional methods. Ms. Iwayanagi also operates several viennoiserie specialized stores [one as a café] under Le Coffret de Cœur but baked morsels can be purchased at De Bon Cœur as well. A visit will leave you feeling refreshed after a guaranteed unique experience.