The district of Ginza (銀座) started as a center for minting silver coins during the Edo period (江戸時代) and is named after the word “gin (銀),” which means “silver” in Japanese. After the Great Kanto earthquake (関東大震災) of 1923, Ginza was modernized and became the nation’s most glamorous avenue for high-end shopping and art. The district is made up of 8 blocks and each block has its own characteristic, with some of them even being made up entirely of one shopping center building. But did you know that amongst all of the shopping centers and art galleries in the area, there are hidden little gems in the shape of a specialty sweets shop? In this article, I would like to introduce to you 9 sweets shops that can be found throughout the precious district that is Ginza.
The chocolate brand MarieBelle began in New York and its third store in the world opened in Ginza last 2016. The interior space of the shop has an overall vintage feel and is like a chocolate theme park.
The original store in New York is loved by many celebrities due to the high-quality ingredients utilized in its handmade craftsmanship. The shop, CACAO MARKET BY MARIEBELLE, aims to offer the same quality of chocolate at a more affordable price. The CACAO MARKET shop in Ginza opened on the 3rd floor of HINKA RINKA, which is on the 5th floor of Tokyu Plaza Ginza (東急プラザ銀座). The popular NY Caramel chocolates that each feature a landscape of New York on their wrapping are also available at the Ginza shop.
In addition to the wrapped chocolates, CACAO MARKET also has Bark Chocolates sold by weight so you can enjoy as much of each chocolate as you want. They have a variety of flavors including almond, hazelnut, pistachio, etc.
The store also has a cafe inside where you can enjoy chocolate-based treats such as their hot chocolate drinks (810 yen~) made from Honduras-grown cacao beans and their chocolate-infused NY cheesecake (972 yen). My personal recommendation is the Aztec Cognac which is a chocolate cocktail that is extremely smooth as the alcohol brings out the deep flavors of the chocolate beans.
PIERRE MARCOLINI is a chocolate dessert brand made by none other than the world-renowned chocolatier, Pierre Marcolini. With his persistence to find the perfect cacao beans for his creations, he creates chocolate like no other.
The flagship store in Ginza was renewed in December of 2015 where there is also an eat-in cafe space. You can enjoy the various cacao bean-based desserts here, such as the extremely popular Marcolini eclairs and the Marcolini Curry, which is limited to the Ginza store.
The eclairs are baked in the traditional European fashion and the cream inside is made to be soft, fluffy, and not too sweet. The cafe offers six permanent flavors of eclairs, each crafted carefully.
The chocolates available at PIERRE MARCOLINI are of course their most popular items. Each cacao bean is carefully chosen, roasted, and prepared in order to create the best flavors possible. There is a large assortment of pralines, gourmandises, palets fins, tablettes, and saveur du mondes. If you are like me and have absolutely no knowledge on what kind of chocolates these are, here are short descriptions for these creations by Pierre Marcolini:
- Praline – The typical small piece of chocolate made from at least nuts and sugar and sometimes cream. Each type is made in a different shape or with different flavors.
- Gourmandises – A bark-like chocolate filled with dried fruits or nuts.
- Palets Fins – 4-millimeter thin pralines that represent a high level of expertise in making chocolates due to their difficulty.
- Tablette – Tablettes are what people usually recognize as chocolate bars, but the ones from PIERRE MARCOLINI are made in squares, apparently based on the fact that the name “Marcolini” has nine letters.
- Saveur du Monde – These unique chocolates are made from cacao beans grown in various locations such as Ghana, Madagascar, and Brazil, and are perfect for exploring the different kinds of beans that can be found around the world.
Gingembre de Ginza is a unique store that specializes in ginger-based products and sweets. There is a cafe on the second floor of the shop.
The initial product of Gingembre de Ginza was their ginger syrup, which is a perfect item for the winter because ginger is perfect for warming up your body and bringing it back to its usual energy levels. It is usually extremely hard to make drinking ginger a pleasant experience, but Gingembre de Ginza did an amazing job of creating ginger syrups that you can look forward to drinking.
Gingembre de Ginza has a large variety of ginger syrups starting with the normal extra dry syrup and various other flavors such as citrus, lemon, blueberry, strawberry, honey apple, chai, etc. If you’re having trouble deciding which flavors to buy, there is a set with 3 of the most popular flavors so why not get that to try some out?
The new most popular menu at Gingembre de Ginza is their ginger pancakes which feature their ginger confits. These whole grain pancakes are designed to go perfectly with their sweet cream and slightly salty, fluffy base.
There are actually two DelReY locations in Ginza, one is a chocolaterie and the other is a patisserie. DelReY is originally a chocolaterie located in Antwerp, Belgium. Ever since its founding in 1949, DelReY has continuously provided high-quality chocolate that is loved by chocolate connoisseurs all around the world.
The chocolates at DelReY are offered in various types and come in unique shapes such as diamonds, hands, twists, etc. DelReY also has an assortment of macarons available in various flavors such as peach, salt caramel, coffee, earl grey, vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, and framboise.
The Japanese name of Maison de Dessert is “Ginza Grape Tree (銀座ぶどうの木)” and it is a patisserie. Each of their dessert dishes is carefully made and served in a cafe that is reminiscent of a 5-star hotel lounge. Each item on the menu is designed and created like a work of art and the menu includes anything from the traditional apple pie to new desserts such as a pistachio crème brûlée. Their menu features things such as tarte tatin, fondant chocolat, tarte marron, soufflé aux marrons, Saint-honoré aux caramel chocolat et sauce poire, and many others.
There are also seasonal items on top of the normal staple menu. These feature fruits and nuts that are in season, and for the current season, marrons (chestnuts) are featured in their dishes. I highly recommend visiting this cafe multiple times.
Tachibana is a shop that specializes in traditional Japanese deep-fried brown sugar snacks called karinto (かりんとう). This shop is unique as they literally only sell two types of sweets – the thick karintos and the thin karintos. There is no variation in the flavor of the snacks. They are all deep-fried dough coated in brown sugar.
The shop itself is designed as a traditional Japanese townhouse like you would see in the old towns of Kyoto (京都) or Nara (奈良). Not only can you buy the karintos here, but you can also enjoy them at the eat-in space within the shop. These sweets are also perfect as souvenirs or gifts to friends or family.
Manneken is a shop and cafe that specializes in Belgian waffles. The founder of Manneken encountered Belgian waffles on the streets of Belgium and wanted to recreate the amazing flavor of the desserts in Japan. The first store opened in Osaka (大阪) in 1986, and ever since then, the store has become the leading brand of Belgian waffles in the country.
The waffles from Manneken are made using specifically selected ingredients which are important especially because of the simplicity of the recipe. The sugar used is brought from Belgium and its unique nature creates the special texture of the Belgian waffles from Manneken.
Their freshly baked waffles are available in various ways, such as cream waffles which are sandwiches made from two Belgian waffle pieces. These come in the flavors vanilla, chocolate, custard, rare cheese, and tiramisu. You can also order a cup of soft serve ice cream topped with a waffle. The waffles come in various flavors such as plain, chocolate, maple, almond, yam, honey custard, matcha, and butter.
HANDELS VÄGEN is a unique store that specializes in creating a fusion between traditional Japanese sweets and ice cream. All of the ice cream served at HANDELS VÄGEN are freshly made within the store itself – something that is rarely found these days. Their waffle cones are also made on-site.
This store opened at the end of March last 2016 and is located on the 2nd level of the basement of Tokyu Plaza Ginza. The chef of HANDELS VÄGEN is actually a specialist in traditional Japanese food and sweets instead of ice cream. He is particular about creating ice cream that has a mix of traditional Japanese flavors and typical ice cream flavors.
There is a wide range of flavors available starting with their four premium flavors, seasonal flavors, and standard flavors. The four premium flavors are green tea, houji tea, fresh pistachio, and rich chocolate. Their current seasonal flavors are soybean brown sugar, white chocolate raspberry, apple pie, caramelized apple sorbet, apple yogurt, framboise sorbet, kiwi sorbet, honey & ginger, caramel, and mandarin orange. These seasonal flavors are subject to change. The standard flavors are vanilla, chocolate mint, berry yogurt, macadamia caramel coconut, zabaione, and strawberry cheesecake.
Additionally, the cafe offers items on the menu other than ice cream such as waffles, pancakes, quiches, and soups.
GRANNY SMITH APPLE PIE & COFFEE, located in Tokyu Plaza Ginza, is a shop that specializes in apple pies. The shop is made under the concept of providing apple pies that taste like they were made by your grandmother. The pies are made to show the versatility of apple flavors and to help the stagnating apple farm industry and make them grow once more.
The apple pies from GRANNY SMITH go perfectly with coffee and tea. They are also ideal to be used as presents to family and friends or as a little treat for yourself. The regular menu from GRANNY SMITH features four different types of apple pies: Dutch Crumble, Classic Rum Raisin, French D’Mandes, and England Custard. You can get each type served with vanilla ice cream and sauce. There are also seasonal menus available such as the Cream Cheese Apple Pie and the “Granny Smith” Apple Pie.
I hope this list helps you in your journey of finding amazing sweets in Ginza. All of these shops are definitely worth visiting. If you are interested in heading to Ginza, why not drop by these shops to find your new favorite sweets or dessert?