The 'Japanese touch'
Japanese department stores or convenient stores offer increasingly good quality cakes made with premium raw materials, at low prices, thus competing with traditional bakeries which now have to review their ranges in order to stand out.
For many years, Japanese pastry chefs have come to be trained in France with one single aim in mind: perfection. They want to master French techniques, while respecting Japanese culture.
Revisiting French classics
However, the crisis that Japan has endured for more than 10 years is affecting the Japanese way of life. The Japanese are going back to basics and dependable values: in gastronomy, especially in pastries, consumers tend to prefer simple cakes.
To find a place of choice and fend off competition from department stores, Japanese pastry-makers have thus turned to French-style pâtisserie but with Japanese touches and their own special, legendary sensitivity. Saint-Honoré, rum baba, lemon tart and millefeuille are lighter and less sweet, catering better to local tastes and offering a good selling point with the Japanese who love France and who have a true gastronomic culture.
It used to be said that the Japanese bakers knew how to make beautiful cakes but not good-tasting cakes. Today they have achieved exceptional standards and can do both.
With their extraordinary regularity and a level of self-requirement worthy of their samurai ancestors, yesterday's apprentices have overtaken their masters and Japanese chefs are now part of the French gastronomic scene. 17 starred restaurants in France have a Japanese chef in the 2013 Michelin guide. And this new trend is just beginning; don't forget that for some, the world's culinary capital is now Tokyo.