Sunday afternoon in a Franco-Japanese teahouse in Paris. If you do not know anything about Japanese delicacies, “Tomo” is a great address to try them for the first time. Either a Dorayaki or a Wagashi, you will adore tasting each creation, YES, but also the story behind them. Let’s start from the beginning…
Romain Gaia and Takanori Murata friendship story
Tomo is a teahouse company based in Paris, owned by French Romain Gaia and Japanese Takanori Murata. They created “Tomo” in October 2016 to master the ancestral Japanese culture and introduce “Dorayakis” and “Wagashis” (Japanese delicacies) in Paris. The aim of Tomo is simple : create, through craftsmanship, popular Japanese delicacies without any compromise on the quality and seasonality.
Indeed, what make the creations special are the delicate taste and the elegant design. And nothing comes from nowhere. The taste ? Takanori Murata comes from a family of traditional wagashi pastry cooks, allowing him to make the famous Anko (Azuki red bean confit) his speciality. The red bean paste is home and handmade directly in the Tomo’s kitchen everyday (alongside with the other preparations). They both take great care of all elements : ingredients are organic and vegan, which make the flavors fresh and unique.
Tomo teahouse & bakery : the creation story
Tomo’s story starts from a friendship. The creators met each other when they worked at Walaku, a former Japanese teahouse located in Paris left bank. Since then, they have hardly tried (and succeeded) in bringing quality and craftsmanship back to Japanese baking in a Parisian teahouse. Do not get me wrong, you can find Wagashis or Dorayakis (vacuum-packed) all over Paris if you want, but nowadays, you would probably want to go back to qualitative things and even pay a little more.
Dorayakis and Wagashis
Dorayaki is the name given to the traditional Japanese pastry you see above, on the left. It is made of two round and flat cakes, stuck together with a red bean paste (known in Japanese as “Anko“). The two sides cake are called “Katutera” and have the consistency of a sponge cake. Sometimes referring to “open” sweet sandwiches, Dorayakis have been created in 1914 in a small pastry shop in Ueno, Tokyo that still exists. I like them classical (only with red bean paste) even though I have tried few other ones with matcha ice cream, strawberries or whipped cream fillings.
Wagashi is the name given to the traditional Japanese pastry you see on the picture above, on the right. It is a small, bite sized, shaped, textured and colorful delicacy. Elegant by the appearance and refined by the taste, Wagashis are often red bean paste (anko) delicacies made with either rice, wheat flour, kuzu starch or agar-agar dough. I personally enjoy eating Wagashis with green tea (the traditional way) and will always choose the most elaborative (beautiful shaped) and not -to- sweet ones. NB : They usually are supposed to represent the four seasons. The most common “Wagashis” you may know are mochis, daifuku, dango, manju and monaka.
Why “Tomo” ?
友達 (tomodachi) : “friend”
“To mo” (とも) is a combination of two respective meanings in Japanese : to (と), “with” and mo (も), “also”. Therefore, they both decided to call the teahouse “Tomo” to highlight their friendship and create a place where friends can come along, have a drink, laugh and eat 🙂
What to eat at Tomo’s bakery and teahouse ?
“Dorayaki Franco-Japonais : citron-yuzu”
I have chosen the “Dorayaki Franco-Japanais : citron-yuzu” you see down below. It looked like a lemon tart but in a lighter and softer way. What changed from the famous French lemon tart was mainly the base : it was not a shortbread but a “Katutera” (the famous sponge cake I mentioned at the beginning of the post). The lemon curd was quite similar though : not very sweet and a little bit thick. Of course, the taste was particularly insane and special. The yuzu flavor along with the lemon notes of the curd was divine. I have always loved yuzu (japanese citrus) because of the strong, tenacious and fragrant flavor… It was a good choice then !
Authentic and modern drinks
Original and light delicacies
Tomo : beauty of Japanese culture and national traditions
I wanted to come at Tomo’s teahouse just before “Hinamatsuri” (the Japanese girls’ festival, also known as “Momo No Sekku” or “peach blossom festival”). On the 3rd of March, each year since 1625, Japanese families who have a little girl among their members set up a doll altar in their home, which is believed to bring good luck, including keeping the children of the house healthy. This year for the occasion, Tomo has created these 2 wagashis you see just above and exposed them at the entrance of the teahouse as a welcome greeting. They are soft as the fabric of the kimono they represent (usually dolls wear 12 layers of fine cloth).
The tradition wants Japanese families to place the dolls within an altar a few days before the feast, at the entrance of their house. At the end of the celebration, they immediately put them away to wish the unmarried daughters of the household a safe wedding (here is an example of a Japanese household entrance). The two dolls they handmade with rice dough are those of the Japanese imperial couple (named “Dairisama” and “Ohinasama” here pictured). Most of the time, dolls are placed on the steps of the altar, covered with a red felt carpet just like the ones you see on the second picture. I loved it and found the creations beautiful and thoughtful 🙂 I think it is very delicate and represent in the best way the celebration.
A cosy and warm teahouse
The teahouse is big enough to welcome 40 people. You can not make any reservation. We waited 10 minutes to be sited on the wooden tables, which was very quick and worth. It smells yuzu and green tea all over the teahouse. It is a confidential and snug place, where you can enjoy your time in sofas and bar sitting areas. You also can choose to be sitted on the corners if you want to see them make the delicacies (I love the idea). I won’t recommend you enough to go and try 🙂
Arigato. Here are the only info you need : 11 Rue Chabanais, 75002 Paris.