The top 15
Considering famed pastry chef Norihiko Terai, runner up in the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, has had a strong say in the creation of Aigre Douce, that can only mean good things for the baked goodies sold here. Their very own 'Chantilly fraise' is both dainty and laden with strawberries and cream. The thin sponge is coated with a slight layer of strawberry syrup, and the entire thing is topped off with another dollop of fresh cream and some very sizeably cut ichigo (strawberry) for you to bite into.
French Pound House has not one but two types of strawberry shortcake: 'blanc' and 'rouge'. Three strawberries are perched on top of either, but that's where the similarity end. The white (blanc) version's sponge is lightly soaked with strawberry fruit juice, making for a simple and delicate cake. The red (rouge) on the other hand is a bombshell, with a strawberry juice-infused meringue, plus drops of strawberry booze and kirsch (liquer) for that extra flavour. This is definitely the grown-up version of shortcake.
Pâtisserie K Vincent isn't the easiest place to visit: it's a brisk walk from any station, and they only open two or three days per week, in order to not compromise on ingredient quality and labour intensity. Of course, that means their shortcake is only available in strawberry season (perhaps counterintuitively, that means winter).
Their hard work pays off: the sponge, which has been made without baking powder and left to sit and rise for three days, is delightfully airy and light. The fresh cream is rich but isn't too sweet, and is perfectly complemented by the strawberries. Note that the actual design of the cake changes each season.
À Tes Souhaits may be a good 10-minute walk from either station, but that hasn't stopped the crowds from coming. Their square 'Gâteau Fraise' uses a slightly vanilla-scented sponge cake, layered with 45 percent fat milk cream. This particular shortcake is a seasonal treat, meaning that depending on the season, peaches or European pears may be used instead (with the corresponding name change, we presume).
Occupying a cosy white house in Nishi-Ogikubo, this café is dedicated to serving cakes and tea (as you might have guessed from the name). Tea & Cake Grace serves a variety of baked goods from chiffon cakes to over ten different kinds of tarts. The café prides itself for not having changed a single recipe since opening in 1984.
The most popular item on the menu, the strawberry shortcake, is packed with slices of juicy strawberries that match perfectly with three layers of fluffy sponge cake and freshly whipped cream. Pair your cake with tea from their wide selection, which you can also order in pots.
Opened in Yoyogi-Uehara back in 2012, Asterisque is the venture of patissier excellent Koichi Izumi, who has a long list of sweet credentials. His Gâteau Fraise is topped with a single still-crowned strawberry, while the entire cake stands three layers of (relatively thick) sponge tall. For that little extra sweetness, he's used honey for his sponge as well – sweet tooths will be happy with this one.
Il Pleut sur la Seine's Ichigo Shortcake does the nigh-impossible: it stands out from the crowd. Topped with sliced strawberries in a strawberry sauce, the sponge below is layered with strawberry syrup for the ultimate red berry bomb. On top of that, there's strawberry meringue mixed in with the fresh cream, marrying the sweet with the tart. Of course, such a creation is highly dependant on the quality of the strawberries, meaning you can only order this between December and May.
This luxury bakery at Hotel New Otani is run by chef Shinsuke Nakajima, and carries Nakajima original cakes, fresh bread and a wide variety of pastries. Their shortcake is so exclusive that they only sell 40 a day, costs over ¥1,200, and is called the Super Shortcake.
Of course, it makes sense when you consider the attention to detail that goes into making these shortcakes: they use trademarked Hataka Amao strawberries (marinated in natural honey imported from France), and they layer black honey into one of their three layers of sponge. Plus, the cream is made from 48 percent fat fresh cream, produced by the dairy cows in Kyushu and enriched with wasabon (refined Japanese sugar). You wouldn't have it any other way.
The original luxury fruits purveyor in Tokyo, Sembikiya is the stuff of novels. The Ichigo Short uses their customary voluptuous and near perfect strawberries, all presented on a base that is just as grand (thankfully – you wouldn't want those strawberries to fall over and bruise). Of course, their fruits are brilliant, but the sponge cake and milky cream are fighting for the spotlight here, too.
Originally a popular restaurant opened back in 1947, Ginza West has fared even better since they changed their line-up to a more patisserie-focused one. Their staple strawberry shortcake has a denser and heavier sponge than most other shortcakes in the area – it's almost a Castella cake. Definitely one of those golden oldies; although it might not be that big, it does pack a punch.
Located along the so-called Kitchen Street inside Tokyo Station (but outside of the ticket gates), this café serves up a variety of delicious fruit-based sweets, including their dome-shaped zucotto. Technically it might not qualify as an orthodox shortcake, but considering it has the trifecta of strawberries, cream and sponge, it's worth a mention. Although you can get one year-round, the one you should aim for is the Amao Zucotto, sold from winter until spring. It's strawberry and cream galore on the inside and out, with that necessary layer of sponge to make everyone happy.
This Western-style sweet shop has been churning out yogashi for over a century. Their fruits-based goodies are especially worth a gander, as the main ingredients are brought in from the morning markets on a daily basis. Their travel-size Ichigo Sando Short is a smaller version of the original, complete with different layers and crowned with a single strawberry. There's also enough strawberries wedged between the layers of sponge and cream to make up for your daily fruit intake.
It may not be the place you'd expect to find a cake shop, but yet the entrance of the Yanaka Cementary is exactly where Pâtissier Inamura Shozo is. Their pesticide-free strawberry items are the most popular, including, of course, a strawberry shortcake. It looks simple and compact, but ticks all the right boxes: 50 percent fat fresh cream, zingy-sweet strawberries and a fine sponge. Happiness on a plate.
Things served in jars existed before hipsters latched onto them, and Éclat des Jours is living proof of that. Here, you can get your strawberry shortcake in a 'verrine' bottomless glass; it's simply named the Shortcake Verrine. All the staples – fresh cream, sponge, strawberries, strawberry sauce – are layered in the glass for a rather Insta-perfect result.
Pastry chef prodigy Daisuke Kitanishi earned his stripes at the Mandarin Oriental, winning plenty of awards and praise in the process, but his next career move was something of a surprise. Instead of aiming for Paris like so many of his sweet-crafting countrymen, Kitanishi decided to open his own neighbourhood shop in the decidedly unfashionable surrounds of Adachi-ku's Umejima. Although making the trip up north may seem like a chore, it's more than worth it for dessert fiends. Have his Ichigo Cake: big on flavours, fluffy soft on texture.
Get a cup of coffee after your cake
Tokyo is one of the world’s great coffee cities, with more specialist shops than most people can hope to visit in a lifetime.
Step back in time by revisiting these old-school, mom-and-pop coffee shops and tea rooms across the city.
From old-school kissaten to third-wave coffee bars and Zen tea houses, these cafés are some of the year's best.