You guys, we finally made it back to Tokyo! On the list for our first day in town was visiting one of the spots that we missed two years ago during our last trip: Shirohige Cream Puff Factory. This little cafe is known for its Totoro shaped profiteroles.
(Not familiar with Totoro? You’ve got some movie-watching to do over the holiday break…!)
Tucked in a small town on a hidden street, this little cafe is not the easiest to find. While it is a bit out of the way (which is why we didn’t stop by last time we were here), if you have the luxury of time while you’re in Tokyo, definitely consider stopping by for an afternoon snack. We took the Hanzoman Line to Shimo-Kitazawa Station, exited via the southwest side, and walked just under 10 minutes to the shop’s location.
As you’re walking towards the shop, it almost feels like you’re entering a whimsical corner of Totoro’s forest. You’ll see a few cute signs pointing you to the entrance, clad with drawings of the famed Studio Ghibli character.
Upon entering, you can either walk directly into the “to go” part of the shop and take your Totoro profiteroles to go, or you can head up the narrow curved staircase and ask to be seated at their restaurant upstairs. Seeing an assortment of delicious pastas on the menu, we chose the latter and were seated upstairs in a window-lined dining room that felt more like a treehouse encased in glass than a sit-down food establishment.
This time of year, the shop offers a prix fixe course consisting of small bites, tea, and a pasta entree. The menus were even accompanied by drawings of the pasta noodles and homemade bread to help you understand the different options.
I went for a classic — fettucine alfredo with minced meat. While the items on the menu may seem Italian in nature, the flavor of the food definitely had a uniquely Japanese twist.
Accompanied by an assortment of homemade chestnut bread, croissants, and Guinness rye bread (yes, you read that right… Guinness!), each and every bite tasted like delicious homemade Japanese cooking with European influences. The appetizers included carpaccio, frittata, roast pork with spicy mustard, potato potage, and a fresh salad.
Finally, at the end of the meal came these perfectly baked and delicately decorated edible Totoros!
We got three different flavors — traditional cream, raspberry, and chestnut — and each Totoro had a different little edible hat perched upon its head. The best and worst part was cutting into his face…
I felt so sad because we were destroying such a cute work of art. But it felt so good because the cream puffs were WAY more delicious than I thought they would be!
Crispy and light on the outside, the profiterole had the exact perfect texture it should be. Even for a cream puff this big, it wasn’t heavy at all. The cream inside each pastry was whipped nice and light (and most importantly for me, not too sweet). Each of these little Totoros far exceeded my expectation of being just a cute pastry to eat with your eyes.
It was really the perfect way to end our first afternoon in Tokyo, which, after strolling through the quaint little tree-lined street to get to Shirohige already felt like a page out of a storybook. With our tummies completely full, we made our way back to the train station to walk off the Totoros while window shipping in Shibuya. Definitely glad that we made it this time to try out these popular profiteroles… better late than never!