Thursday, June 24, 2010

Au Temps Jadis

It's amazing how there are little fragments of Europe tucked away all over Tokyo. From the Belarussian home-style restaurant near my office to the high-end branches of Parisian chocolate and pastry shops, it's all here somewhere, if you know where to find it. Au Temps Jadis is another little piece of the puzzle. Out of the way on a side street between Shibuya and Harajuku, the restaurant is down a little brick staircase from the street. Inside, the walls are covered with French posters, the tables are laid with red checkered cloths, and there are wire baskets of brown eggs on every available surface. The menu is limited to crepes and galettes (buckwheat crepes) but there's a long list of fillings, both savory and sweet, and each is cooked to order. Except for the fact that the chefs and most of the clientele are young Japanese women, it's as if you'd been transported to a cafe on the Breton edge of France.
The savory galettes come neatly folded around the filling, which in my case was oeuf-fromage-tomate and included a dusting of sliced green onions and pink peppercorns. The oeuf was runny in the middle and gushed out satisfyingly, to be wiped up with the edges of the galette. I didn't notice much about the cheese or the tomato, but the fillings were well-distributed to the edges of the square, so that every bite included a bit of everything. I especially liked the pink peppercorns on top, not necessarily for their flavor, though they did give it a certain brightness, but because I don't see pink peppercorns that often, and they're fun.

A buckwheat galette has a crisper texture than a classic plain crepe, and I really noticed and enjoyed the difference here. The dessert crepe (non-buckwheat) was almost stretchy, it was so soft, and the fillings were rich and memorable - a chocolate spread with an almond pastry cream, plus the chocolate sauce drizzled liberally over the top. It was really decadent - worlds better than the crepes they sell on the street all over Shibuya and Harajuku - and proof that there's no need to go all the way to France when you can find an authentic piece of it right in the middle of Tokyo.
Au Temps Jadis
Royal Place Harajuku 102
1-5-4 Jinnan
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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