Japanese strawberry shortcake is different from the kind usually eaten in the United States in that it’s more like an angel food cake with whipped cream icing and sliced strawberries. Amongst Japanese people, strawberry shortcakes are considered a classic dessert. In Sugamo, Tokyo, is a bakery where it is said that the finest shortcakes in Japan are produced. The French Pound House Bakery is found in a quiet residential district, only a five minute walk from JR Sugamo train station.
Because they have received a lot of media exposure, their strawberry shortcake is still their top selling item. Even though they try to keep up with demand, they often run completely out of sponge cake.
For such a good reputation, I felt that it was necessary to find out for myself.
One November afternoon I paid them a visit. I saw two different kinds of shortcakes on the menu, so I ordered samples of both.
“Blanc” (¥599 with tax): Features the highest quality whipped cream, lots of strawberries, and fresh strawberry juice lightly penetrating the sponge base. No liquor is used.
“Rouge” (¥599 with tax): Meringue base with strawberry juice mixed into whipped cream. Strawberry liquor and kirsch are also added.
(Menu descriptions quoted from their website)
Does the taste live up to the hype? On my first bite I thought, “wow, that cake was amazing”. I have eaten a lot of shortcakes in my life, but I have never eaten a shortcake that was this moist and with a flavor this sophisticated before. The Rouge especially demonstrates this, with a deep flavor derived from the hint of liquor.
I now understand what the media raving was all about. It was worth the trip to get there and I will definitely visit again. If you decide to check it out for yourself, I recommend going as early as you can in the day.
FRENCH POUND HOUSE
1-4-4 Sugamo, Toshima-ku,Tokyo