With so many fanatical French pastry chefs in this city, it’s hard to imagine letting a foreigner catch your heart. It’s even harder to imagine the French doing so. But Japanese-born Sadaharu Aoki infiltrated the scene over 10 years ago and has quite the devout following.
I first read about him in Bon Appetit a couple years ago and put his Saint-Germaine boutique on my list of must-visits. Once inside the compact, chic patisserie, it was easy to understand the locals’ acceptance. Aoki’s cakes and pastries are exquisite and dainty to the eyes, but bold and clever on the palate.
With a pain au chocolat or patte d’our I will shamelessly stroll and eat at the same time. Cakes such as these deserve more respect. From this case of dozens of beckoning treats I chose the bamboo cake, an Aoki signature, and ordered “sur place.”
I claimed one of the two tables, enjoying stellar presentation and flatware to match—not unlike going to Lady M on the Upper East Side.
With Asian flavors, namely, the green tea whipped into the cake’s ganache, there is no danger of sweet overload. The five layers are instead light and fluffy, sophisticated and savory and a perfect melding of French fanciness and Japanese austerity.
35, Rue de Vaugirad