Super Strict Score [understand my S3]: 9.5
Beauté l’ombre: 10
Oncle de Corse: 8
In 1 word: absolute perfection
Assortment: cakes | macarons | tea cakes | chocolate | viennoiseries | cookies
Hiroshima is reportedly a biggish city with more than 1 m inhabitants, but upon perusing tabelog, THE Japanese restaurant reviewing portal, hardly anything that only so much as catches wattwurmnashi’s eye, let alone my fancy comes up. Bad omens for wattwurmnashi’s upcoming visit, but I do pull out aubè pâtissier shinji mori [they seem unable to make up their mind as to how to spell their shop’s name so expect the same here] as a likely contender for Hiroshima’s best pastries, although at that point I’m not sure how much meaning that would even bear.
Entering the store, the very sleek & modern interior comes as a bit of a positive shock, but the pastry showcase is a real mind-blower. After lengthy deliberation & a lot of consultation of the very friendly & knowledgeable owner & pâtissier’s wife, it is all I can do to restrict myself to 5 cakes:
Domori Sambirano [Madagascar] chocolate mousse, cardamom pistachio mousse, raspberry jam
The fruity notes of Domori’s Sambirano chocolate are teased out with a subtle raspberry preserve. The berriness of the cake is expertly set off with a smooth, cardamom infused pistachio brûlée, further enhanced by 2 layers of nutty pistachio génoise.
- Beauté l’ombre
Dark chocolate mousse, Tahiti vanilla mousse, raspberry jam
Superficially similar on paper to Clovis, Beauté l’ombre is a more classic variant of the chocolate-raspberry evergreen, although no less accomplished. This cake concentrates fully on these 2 flavors with a peripheral flirtation with mellow Tahiti vanilla. Unsure of whether this pastry boasts Domori as well, the chocolate nevertheless is of the highest quality, having a more cocoaey & dark taste than Clovis’s Domori Sambirano. The cocoa nibs are as much an artistic device as an astonishingly effective texturing agent.
Pistachio mousse, vanilla mousse, cherry gelée, chocolate génoise
Rich, full-bodied pistachio is the star of this cake & dare I suspect it tastes roasted? A dab of tartness comes from an inset cherry gelée being transitioned into by a generous helping of vanilla mousse. The chocolate génoise everything is perched on somehow manages to cut through all those layers, completing a masterful combination of flavors with a chocolate aftertaste.
- Lemon-gianduja [forgot the name]
White chocolate mousse, lemon curd, gianduja chocolate crémeux, roasted hazelnuts, hazelnut dacquoise
Lemon & gianduja, while not the most common of pairings, has been done before [although certainly not more successfully than this?] but the incorporation of white chocolate takes this into a class of its own. Unlike 99% of its namesake counterparts, the white chocolate mousse is neither too sweet nor too greasy, instead acting as more of a slightly scented carrier for the lemon peel it contains. It pares down the sour lemon curd to just the right balance of sweet & sour for the lemon to pull off its unison with the rich & chocolatey gianduja. The toasted & caramelized hazelnuts accentuate the hazelnut dacquoises while providing extra crunch factor.
- Oncle de Corse
Plum mousse, milk chocolate crémeux, plum chantilly
Plums from Corsica & milk chocolate find each other in a subtle, elegant & accomplished alliance. However, I keep thinking the plum flavor isn’t quite “there”, vainly willing it to break out of its submissiveness. This cake demands a bit more of a pungent prune kick, maybe to be achieved through some liquor or some such.
aube’s cakes are clearly one revelation after another [fortunately, Oncle de Corse came out first. Although I wouldn’t have felt let down even if it came out last.]. Just like at pâtisserie Bébé, the use of Domori chocolate makes what would normally be good chocolate cakes true game-changers. However, it’s evident owner & chef pâtissier Shinji Mori’s meets the crème de la crème of ingredients with equal skills. Constantly striving for improvement, Shinji Mori relentlessly works at bettering his recipes, experimenting with new flavors, researching even better produce. His dedication is absolute.
These aren’t just the best pastries in Hiroshima, but equal best that wattwurmnashi has had anywhere.