One joyful discovery made during this trip to Tokyo, is that strawberry season is in the winter in Japan. Every grocery store we stopped in, there were gorgeous, plump, perfectly red strawberries on display. This particular example is in the basement of Isetan Department Store, in Shinjuku. Each strawberry is individually nestled in a small compartment to prevent jostling. (And at 3780 yen~ or approximately $35 USD for 12 strawberries!!) But don’t despair, there are less expensive options in other grocery stores, and even in the convenience stores, so have a look around. Another option is that most of the bakeries in Japan also take bountiful advantage of strawberry season, and there are lots of cakes and desserts featuring strawberries.
My dear friend Laura surprised me with a trip to Harbs, and treated me to afternoon tea for my birthday! Harbs is located in the basement level of Lumine EST department store, in Shinjuku. Usually, there is a wait for a table, but on a weekday afternoon, I think we only waited for about 15- 20 minutes. The eat-in section is filled with women, happily chatting away with their friends and enjoying dreamy slices of cakes, with cups of tea or coffee.
The wait for a table was enough time for me to ogle all the different cakes in the display case. There is a chocolate custard cake, mille crepes (layers of crepes sandwiched with different fruits) citron cake, and marron cake (a cake that features chestnuts) You can see their entire menu and descriptions here.
But of course, my heart (and appetite) was captured by one of their signature cakes, the Strawberry Cake, which is a sponge cake, gently layered with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Laura chose the strawberry chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was lightly flavored, with just a mild hint of cocoa. The main flavor of the cake still came from the whipped cream and strawberries.
The Strawberry Cake I chose tasted even better than it looks. I’m guessing that the aluminum foil between the slices of cake makes it easier to slice and serve, but unfortunately, it’s not very photogenic. (And I also couldn’t figure out a way of easing the foil off of the plate, without toppling the entire slice over). In all honesty, I didn’t want to spend too much time capturing the perfect photo, because all I really wanted to do was eat the cake and talk to Laura!
The cake is perfection. The cake-whipped cream-strawberry ratio is just right. Just as your tastebuds are about to get a little lost in the fluffy sweetness, you will bite into a slightly sour, but still sweet strawberry slice for contrasting flavor. It’s a flavor and texture combination that I would fly all the way back to Tokyo and wait in line for, to experience time and time again.
Thanks again, Laura (and Carol!) for the birthday treat. It was one of my favorite presents of all time. 🙂
Information: Address: Lumine EST Shinjuku, 3-38-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, B2F | Tel.03-5366-1538| Hours: Weekdays: 11:00am -10:00 pm (last order 9:30 pm) Weekends and holidays: 10:30 am-10:00 pm (Last order 9:30 pm)|Website: http://www.harbs.co.jp/harbs/eng_menu.html