Eat + Drink

Tokyo Goes Cronuts for Dominique Ansel

One ring — the Cronut — has ruled Dominique Ansel’s pastry empire since he introduced the flaky croissant-doughnut hybrid in New York City in 2013. Chef Ansel’s now ready to take on the world, opening up bakeries in Tokyo and soon London and prove that he has some other sweet tricks up his chef’s coat sleeve.

With French-influenced bread and pastries lining the shelves of Japan’s bakeries, it only made sense for Ansel to open his first overseas shop in Tokyo last summer.

Word of the Cronut-creator coming to Japan quickly spread, and the first guests started lining up as early as 9 p.m. the night before the grand opening to sample Ansel’s creations. More than 450 people were in line when the store opened that Saturday morning.

But visitors to Dominique Ansel’s Bakery (or DAB for short) were surprised when they also found roasted brown tea cream-filled “Mr. Roboto” buns, and “Tokyo Paris” cookies, a twist on the Paris Brest with matcha ganache and soft passion fruit curd — both among several exclusives for the Japanese market.

A Mr Roboto cookie sold exclusively at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
A Mr Roboto cookie sold exclusively at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in Tokyo. (Photo: Chrissy Carini)
A monkey pastry at Dominique Ansel's Tokyo bakery. The Tokyo Paris cookie is on the left. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
A monkey pastry at Dominique Ansel’s Tokyo bakery. (Photo: Chrissy Carini)
The Baked Apple Pie Alaska at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
The Baked Apple Pie Alaska at Dominique Ansel Bakery’s Petit Park Cafe in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)

Naturally, given our sweet tooth, Marriott Traveler also had to check out Tokyo’s DAB while in town.

Must try inventions include “The DKA,” or Dominique’s Kouign Amann; the “Cookie Shot,” a warm chocolate chip cookie in the shape of a shot glass with cold vanilla milk filling the center; and our personal favorite, the “Frozen S’more,” a block of Tahitian vanilla ice cream frozen onto a wooden stick that’s covered with chocolate flakes, enrobed in honey flavored marshmallow and then torched to order.

A Frozen S'more being toasted at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
A Frozen S’more being toasted at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
The exterior of Domnique Ansel Bakery in Tokyo and his popular Frozen S'more. (Photo: Thomas Schauer)
The exterior of Domnique Ansel Bakery in Tokyo and his popular Frozen S’more. (Photos: Thomas Schauer, left; Dale Rutledge, right)
(Photo: Dale Rutledge)
(Photo: Dale Rutledge)

Nearly eight months after opening in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood, cravings for Chef Ansel’s creations show no sign of waning as long lines on weekends wind out the door of the two-story shop and restaurant that adds new items to its menu every six to eight weeks.

Seasonal Cronuts

The playfully decorated pastry shop on the first floor offers seasonal Cronuts, like February’s take on a Japanese classic: “Strawberry Daifuku”, a flaky delight layered with homemade strawberry jam and topped with azuki ganache. The store launched with a Cronut featuring Hokkaido milk honey and Yuzu lemon curd.

Cronut creator Dominique Ansel in his bakery. (Photos: Thomas Schauer)
Cronut creator Dominique Ansel in his bakery. (Photo: Thomas Schauer)
Dominique Ansel's Bakery in Tokyo has been doing brisk business since opening last summer. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
Dominique Ansel’s Bakery in Tokyo has been doing brisk business since opening last summer. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
Inside the Petit Park Cafe at the Dominique Ansel Bakery location in Tokyo. (Photo: Thomas Schauer)
Inside the Petit Park Cafe at the Dominique Ansel Bakery location in Tokyo. (Photo: Thomas Schauer)

The shop’s second floor’s offering, Petit Park Cafe, presents not only an entirely different menu but also a different atmosphere. Meant to resemble a classy but elevated American diner (with music to match), the Petit Park Cafe serves up delicious made-to-order breakfast and lunch items such as the amazingly fluffy “Molten Omelet Souffle” and the deliciously massive “Baked Apple Pie Alaska”.

If you were eyeballing a pastry on your way to the second floor, don’t fret. Most items can be brought up to you by the wait staff for a 10% service fee, but if you want the signature Cronut you’ll have to que up downstairs yourself.

“I could’ve never imagined I would have a chance to build a store in Japan,” Chef Ansel told Marriott Traveler. “But, what was even better than I could’ve imagined is the family and team there. The chefs are not only talented but some of the most dedicated I’ve ever met. I’m excited to see all of them grow.”

Crazy for S’mores

Yet with almost 14 million citizens in Tokyo, Chef Ansel soon found that even his split menu concept couldn’t meet demand.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Chef Ansel also opened a “S’mores Pop Up” shop, just blocks from the busiest crosswalk in the world in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Only open Jan-Feb 14th, this S’mores shop offers a limited menu of exclusive lip-smacking torched-to-order treats as the “Ultimate S’more” and “Cookie S’mores” as well as take home sweets for your sweet like S’mores Cereal, S’more Macaroons and build your own S’more kits.

If that’s a lot of S’mores, there’s a reason: The Japanese market has embraced the Frozen S’more, in particular — even more than the Cronut and DKA at times.

(Above): S'mores and cookies sold at Dominique Ansel's S'mores Pop Up shop in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
(Above and below): S’mores and cookies sold at Dominique Ansel’s S’mores Pop Up shop in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)

S'mores Cookie Dominique Ansel Japan

Packages of S'mores cereal sold at Dominique Ansel's S'mores Pop Up shop in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)
Packages of S’mores cereal sold at Dominique Ansel’s S’mores Pop Up shop in Tokyo. (Photo: Dale Rutledge)

All three of Chef Ansel’s Tokyo locations are quite a sugar-filled wonderland to behold and inspired him to consider other locations around the world.

“Japan is now a big inspiration for our entire team in New York.” Ansel says.

London Calling

In addition to his two eateries in New York City — Dominique Ansel Kitchen features an eight-course dessert tasting menu — a new bakery in London will open later this year. A late summer opening is being considered.

Naturally, Chef Ansel made the announcement with a photo of a Cronut featuring the Union Jack flag on Facebook and his other social channels.

“Growing up so close to London, I never had a chance to visit until I was much older and immediately fell in love with the blend of cultures and the spirit of the place,” he wrote. “I’m so grateful at the chance to share a little of what I do with you all.”


Cronut 101:

Some facts about the Cronut provided by Chef Ansel:

• There’s only one Cronut flavor each month. In February, it’s Milk Chocolate Cassis (in NYC).
• The Cronut should be eaten within 8 hours.
• It took two months and more than 10 recipes to create the Cronut.
• The entire process to make a Cronut takes three days.
• Want to make a Cronut at home? Buy Chef Ansel’s cookbook: Dominic Ansel: The Secret Recipes.