Without question, Tokyo is one of the world's greatest food cities. Chefs are among the many trusted resources who extoll its unequaled sushi and other historic culinary charms. You’ve heard of the high-tech toilets, the robots and the hyperspeed trains. But most Americans with passports visit Paris before making it to Japan, if they ever do.
As a lifelong Francophile, I understand why. I love most everything French, from single-flavor éclairs (unlike the chocolate-glazed, custard-filled torpedoes here, their frosting matches the drapes) to Alain Ducasse (I wrote his New York guide book). I’ve lived in Paris, dated Parisians, used any excuse I could find to go back, and became a writer on the off chance that the flexible career could find me back in Paris one day with a sunny Montmartre flat and innocuous smoking habit (a wonderfully cliché fantasy, if there ever was one). So after spending 12 days in Japan, this revelation feels quite shocking: Tokyo is better than Paris. Here’s why.
1. The Pastries. In Shinjuku’s Isetan department store alone, the basement pastry counters read like a Who’s Who of French desserts, including macaron–master Pierre Hermé, éclair whiz Sadaharu Aoki, chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin and Brittany–based caramel maker Henri Le Roux. Japan is home to satellites of the world’s best sugar artisans. You might just stumble across an outlet of the famed La Pâtisserie des Rêves while sightseeing in Kyoto, or spot faux Cronuts (“New York Rings”) while grabbing a cup of coffee near Shibuya. Japanese confections are brilliant, too. Just know that when in doubt, it’s filled with red bean.