Wednesday 3 February 2016

The Foodie Review: Halal Bakery Cafe Liaison (Tokyo, Japan)

See the Halal certification logo?

Before I tell you how delightful it was finding a fully halal bakery in the heart of Toyko, let me ask you something: In your childhood, have you ever been intensely curious about how good a food item was in a tv show or movie?

Say perhaps.. the gooey cheesy pizza from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Or pretty much the whole "Be Our Guest" scene from Beauty and the Beast?

How about this juicy melon fruit from the Lion King? (There's something so delicious-looking about this!)

Well that's how I feel about Japanese pastries. Since I was a kid I noticed that anime characters just seem to adore Japanese baked goods, going so far as to fight over "Bread" at lunch time or speak at length about the "curry bun" they so desperately wanted. I wondered, what's so great about their baked goods? Why so delicious?

So while in Tokyo, I was on a mission: Discover what's so great about the Japanese Curry Bun. What's the curry like? Why do they put curry chicken inside of bread?

 I must know these answers.

While doing our research for our Japanese Itinerary, I was so shocked to discover a completely halal bakery very close to the Tokyo Tower. Perhaps my dream might come true?

We arrived on a rainy morning intending to make this place our breakfast spot before heading out to other adventures. It was a little bit confusing to find, but it ended up being exactly where the Google Map directions led us.

The bright and welcoming storefront had two displays of baked goods, and behind the front counter you could see employees kneading dough and taking fresh pastries out of the oven. I was so happy to see two hijabi ladies part of the baker team, they seemed to be Malaysian, not too sure. I had a chance to say hello to one of them but I don't speak Malay and she didn't speak English, but she spoke Japanese fluently to another coworker. Whoever they are I felt happy to see them :)

The customers who were coming in frequently were all locals and none seemed to be muslim. I read somewhere that this is the local spot for the nearby university where students drop by to get a snack or for local residents to pick up breakfast on the way to school or work. That warmed my heart. I'm always happy to see halal establishments which are popular with all crowds, not just muslims.

Anyhow, they had all sorts of buns, baguettes, croissants, and sweet pastries, but one sign made my heart stop.

I-I can't believe it! THERE IT IS! CHICKEN CURRY! But.. they're all gone! Say it ain't so!

I appealed desperately to the cashier to ask if there was any left. And guess what, she scurried away and came back with a full tray of hot curry chicken buns fresh from the kitchen.

This was the best. THE BEST!

On a side note: Don't be a noob like us, this isn't a full-service cafe. We went to the cashier and ordered each of the items we wanted, and she came out and picked each of them out for us and brought it to our table for us, which I thought was how it worked. Only until later did I see other customers come in, pick up a tray, and bring their tray of selections to the counter to pay and wrap up. I was so embarrassed! I apologized afterwards but she didn't seem to mind :)

We bought three things to share. Here we have the curry chicken bun and a brownie. About the brownie, it was pretty good, but what I was pretty curious about was the writing on the wrapper. I took my time to open it out and read it, and it seemed to be a sweet little poem, which was a nice touch.

And we got this cheese and tomato panini. It was pretty good, but would've been better had it been hot.

Now let's talk about the curry bun. This is a deep-fried item. See the white line in the centre? That's what donuts look like after frying.

See how thin the pastry is? I've seen recipes for this dish which ends up having thick and doughy bread, that's not how it is.  The pastry was thin, crispy, and crunched when you bite into it. It also seemed to be coated in panko bread crumbs before frying.

The curry, how to describe it. The closest thing I can compare it to thai coconut curry, but it's not coconut-tasting at all. It's sweet, seems to be a bit creamy, but still has a complex curry flavour. Japanese curry is really a category on its own. 

As we ate, customers were streaming in and snatching up the whole batch of curry buns that the cashier had just put out. We were now well aware of its popularity, and quickly went and bought another one before they were all gone. Great decision! By the time we had left about 30 minutes later, they were all gone.

Our first bill came up to be 1,004 yen or just over 10 dollars, which was our curry bun, brownie, cheese panini, and iced tea we bought to share. I think that it was all well priced and worth every penny.


Address: 4 Chome-1-9 Mita, Minato, Tokyo 108-0073, Japan
Address in Japanese: 東京都 港区 三田 4-1-9 三田ヒルサイドビル 1F
GPS coordinates: 35.64767, 139.7417

515 meters from Mita Station, it was about a 10 minute walk.

Operating Hours: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Phone Number: 03-6809-6158 (+81-3-6809-6158)

If you use Google Maps for directions, it will lead you to the right place. Just keep walking until you see the green sign!

Thank you for fulfilling my dreams, Liaison Cafe!


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