Named by Bon Appetit magazine as America’s most influential bakery, San Francisco’s legendary Tartine has set the standard for artisanal bread making in the United States.
Most recently, the husband-and-wife owners behind this cult bread-making enterprise, Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt, have expanded with three locations in Seoul, South Korea, along with a sprawling new outpost in Los Angeles called Tartine Manufactory. You can get a taste of Tartine if you happen to be flying out of San Francisco’s International terminal, where they’ve opened a new Manufactury Food Hall. And by the end of 2019, you’ll be able to sip coffee and sample their famous morning buns in Tokyo, with a cafe planned to open by the end of 2019.
“We’re so inspired by Japanese culture and cuisine,” explains Robertson. “The attention to the unseen details behind everything, the obsession with craft, holding oneself to the highest standard. That approach has influenced who I am and what we do as a company and a team.”
For Robertson, the great joy of eating in Tokyo comes with finding those places so utterly focused on mastery. “In Japan, they isolate the quality that they love in something and then take it to the next level. So, as a chef you ask yourself, ‘What makes good food good?’ With an amazing loaf of bread, is it the contrast between the crust and the crumb? With a delicious cake, is it the umami flavor that you get from adding crème fraiche to a chocolate ganache? Once you’ve identified that detail, you strip the rest away and focus on that quality, amplify it and take it to the next level. That is the Japanese way.”
Here, Robertson shares some of his favorite insider places to eat in Tokyo where that obsession with craft is in full play.
“Chef Namae-san [Shinobu Namae] is a friend, as is his baker and partner Ayumu-san, who has a renowned bakery in Osaka. Ayumu spent a month working with us at Tartine in San Francisco and he is a super-talented baker.”
Roppongi Hills Keyakizaka Terrace, Roppongi 6-15-1 , Minato-ku
“A breakfast, lunch and dinner spot with some of the best Viennoiserie in Tokyo, which says a lot. The savory food and vibe remind me a bit of Outerlands in San Francisco, which is one of my favorite places.”
1-44-2 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku
“Masa-san [Masa Sekiguchi] is a good friend and surf pal for many years. It’s a great hotel in a fun neighborhood, and a wonderful chef collaboration with the Path team.”
Shibuya Bridge B,1-29-3 Higashi, Shibuya-ku
“A Japanese take on a modern French bistro, but with Japanese bistro food. Basically everything I want to eat, and they make good sourdough bread in-house too.”
1-19-4 Tomiyaga, Shibuya-ku
“This store is part motorcycle workshop, part cafe and downstairs is an incredible gallery space. In March and April of this year, our Coffee Manufactory brand is doing a pop-up with them every Thursday and Friday; it is a great way to introduce the brand before we launch in Japan.”
3-29-5 Jingumae, Harujuku, Shibuya-ku
“I’m just a huge fan of Zaiyu-san’s [Zaiyu Hasegawa] cooking and his warm collaborative approach.”
2-3-18 Jingumae Shibuya-ku
“This is my favorite hotel — I could live here. I love their breakfast: pickles, porridge, fish, seaweed — it’s how I start every day when I’m there.”
2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku