Does the name sound familiar? It should. The owner is Hiroyuki Takahashi, the owner of Takahachi restaurant in the East Village. This Japanese patisserie/bakery/sandwich shop/gelateria is a welcome sight for those of us still weeping over the loss of Bouley Bakery and deprived from the likes of Cafe Zaiya in Midtown. Takahachi is like a fancier version of Cafe Zaiya, with prices slightly higher—but also with sweets and savories that are much more creative, as well as a rather large selection of housemade macarons.
The best part? There are tons of matcha desserts, which have been a lifelong obsession of mine. Like Mochi An-Pan, plush rounds of matcha-dusted baked buns stuffed with mochi and red bean filling. Or better yet, a Matcha Crepe ($4.50) in which a matcha pancake (of the soft, more tender nature, not the traditional crisp French crepes) is filled with azuki bean-speckled whipped cream, and folded into a neat rectangle. Packaging, of course, is simply too cute for words; take a bite and marvel at all the layers.
Cakes range from the traditional Strawberry Shortcake, to bright, fruit-studded Cassis Make layered over a chocolate almond base. But it was the Orange Wasabi Mousse ($4.25) that caught my eye. Wasabi mousse? Indeed! I was skeptical at first, but the wasabi element is so light, it's nearly undetectable, except for the lingering heat that kicks in at the end. It starts with the sponge cake base, then a layer of whipped cream, another layer of sponge cake, followed by bright orange gelée, and finally the wasabi mousse. The slight heat plays well off the sharp and bright gelée, rendering the cake element almost unnecessary.
There are also mini cream puffs to be had, offered in a myriad of flavors, three pieces for $4.50. Moving from left to right, we have a Shiso Cream Puff, the filling a summery green from the fresh shiso leaf itself, very minty. The cream was a tad too gelatinous, but still worth a try for an out of the ordinary flavor. In the middle is the Caramel Cream Puff, topped off with a crunchy caramelized disk. Black Sesame Cream Puff proved to be my favorite from the trio, the filling dense and smooth, and the nutty sesame far from shy in intensity.
There are plenty more goods to cover in this bakery—sandwiches, savory pastries, and gelato, of course—we will be back soon!