Coming from Germany, a country famous for its bread, I have a very distinct idea of how bread has to be like. And as much as I love Japanese bakeries for the pastries, I have to say that the bread usually does not meet my expectations. Most of the bread is just too soft and too sweet. I like bread with a crisp crust and a moist, slightly salty and sour dough. No matter if it is a white or a dark bread - I love both, as long as they are the way I described it. I know, also in Germany there are many big bakery chains and their bread often isn't that way either. But you just have to go to the little bakeries and there you usually still find the good stuff.
And in Japan people are so crazy about food that it just surprises me that something as simple as bread of all things has to be so bland and taste like untoasted toast here! And don't tell me it is because people eat rice all the time - it is not true: bakery products are very popular, too. There are good western bakeries in Japan. French or Scandinavian they mostly want to be. They make wonderful sweet things, pastries, brioche - great!
Sometimes they also offer "German bread" and oftentimes it even looks like bread in Germany, with a brown dough and some grains and seeds on top. It happened a few times that I couldn't withstand trying one again, hoping that this one could be right. That I bought it and as soon as I was out of the bakery opening the bag hastily and covertly (because it is supposed to be rude to eat while walking on the street in Japan) ripping a piece of the bread to try it: and then it is soft and sweet and with a much too fluffy crumb again and the brown colour is just made with malt, not with wholemeal.
Lately however, during one of my countless strolls around Ya-Ne-Sen (Yanaka, Nezu, Sendagi), the downtown area where I live, I came across a tiny little bakery that looked so cute and its products so natural that I just had to go inside and check it out. The painted sign in the entrance that said: おいしいパンとお菓子の店 = "shop for delicious bread (pan - from the portuguese word for bread) and sweets", was also very promising.
To put it blundly, they do not bake "German bread", but this is absolutly fine, I don't search for that! I just search for good tasting bread. In fact I think it is much more interesting when things have a local touch. And in this lovely place called Paritto Fuwatto they do taste great!
No wonder, they are all made freshly in this neat little shop, directly behind the counter. There a very friendly lady is working, who just stops kneading the dough for serving customers. All over the place where she is baking are kabocha (Japanese squash), sweet potatoes and all kind of other good ingrediences used for the breads, rolls, cookies and cakes that pile up in little baskets on a nicely arranged table beside the counter.
It is a little paradise where it is hard to decide what to take: a wholemeal roll with dried fruits or rather an intensivly green one with lots of yomogi (mugwort), a bread with a natural yeast dough and grains or corn, dark short cakes baked with black tea... The shop is so tiny, but the assortment is quite large. And everything I tried so far was sooooo delicious! The bread has a rather light colour and also no crust to speak of, but the dough has a firm texture, is not too dry and not to soft, the crumb is just right and *thanks a lot - it is not sweet! Absolutly luscious are the kabocha rolls, also firm, with a golden colour and slightly moist thanks to the little cubes of the squash inside, which is one of my favourite veggies anyway. Also moist and just sweetend with the fruits was the dried fruit roll, with fruits and nuts - a healthy and filling snack!
The black tea short cakes had an intense tea flavour, just very little sweetness and
with a very nice dry crumb, perfecty matching a cup of milk tea.
Apropos milk tea: for everyone who does not eat eggs or butter Paritto Fuwatto is also a great choice, because on their website they list which of all their products contain these ingrediences (in Japanese only, unfortunatly. But if you are able to read katakana, you will understand most names and behind the names you find the kanji 卵 (tamago) for egg and in katakana バター for butter and o or x (yes or no)- so it is quite easy to understand). And I am sure the lady in the shop is very helpful if you ask her.
I couldn't really find out whether the ingrediences they use derive from organic farming, would be nice if someone whose Japanese is better than mine could check that... but with the special atmosphere in the store, the interior with lots of wood and baskets, the fact that they use brown paper bags instead of vinyl, the emphasis on natural flavours and healthy ingrediences, etc. all that point pretty much in an organic direction. Anyway: it tastes great, that is the most important fact in my opinion. Organic ingrediences would just be a nice bonus.
And has anyone an idea what the name means? パリットフワット Paritto Fuwatto? Seems like a foreign word, because of the use of katakana.. I racked my brains but couldn't think of anything French, English, whatever that sounds similar and all dictionaries I consulted didn't help either... ideas anybody?
Update: I have been there today again and checked out the yomogipan (bread with looooots of mugwort) and a delicious mikan (tangerine) pastry and both are highly recommendable! The yomogipan has a very refreshing and (at least for me) unusual taste and a fantastic emerald colour! See the top right pic in the new photo mosaic i made.. The tangerine pastry was not too sweet and had plenty of little candied tangerine pieces on top - delicious and such a summerly taste!
The address is:
Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Sendagi 1-19-7 [click address to see map]
about 5 min walk from Sendagi Metro stn, Chiyodaline.
It is open from 9am - 7pm. Closed on mondays.