Japan 2007

Japan 2007: The Daimaru Food Hall, Kyoto

1/24/2008 12:58:00 PM

Yeast-based Eiffel Tower, Paul Bocuse Bakery, Daimaru Food Hall, Kyoto.

Walking into Daimaru in Kyoto, I was completely unprepared for how freakin' awesome the food hall would be. I miss having Daimaru in Melbourne. When I was a kid, my family would go there every few weekends, walk around the stores, and end up at the cheap Japanese restaurant downstairs, eating super rich okonomiyaki, chicken teriyaki, noodles, and strange Japanese soft drinks. When I was 18, the whole thing closed down and I became deeply cynical. I have spent a considerable amount of time in Melbourne Central after Daimaru closed, but it was never the same. So, when we came across Daimaru in a swanky part of Kyoto, I just had to have a look see.

Follow the arrow down to the food hall. The Daimaru Gochiparakan is a feasting paradise. For those of you who remember Daimaru Melbourne's food floor, it's a bit like that. But at least 5 times bigger. And, let's face it, a zillion times better. Read on.

First, the bakery. Having been separated from proper bread for a couple of weeks at this stage, I was overjoyed to stumble across the Paul Bocuse bakery. (A short while after this, I ate at the Paul Bocuse Brasserie Le Musée in Tokyo. Fabulous!) I'm also a big fan of Brioche bakery, on Commercial Road in Prahran, and knowing that baker Phillip Chiang trained at Paul Bocuse in Japan only added to my sense of anticipation.

Wa-hey! I could not believe the amazing selection of baked goods! There were dozens of varieties of breads (from crusty crusty baguette, to soft white Asian-style loaves), biscuits, scones, pastries, danishes, meron-pan, muffins, pizzas, sandwiches, and more. If it contains flour and has spent more than 5 minutes in an oven, it's here. About an hour and $50 later, we dragged ourselves away from the bakery and had a look around the rest of the shops.

I LOVE Japanese-made pâtisserie! Look how perfect the little cakes are! Mont blancs (chestnut puree and cream, in a swirly mountain shape) seem to be very popular in Japan, as do French-style macarons, and madeleines. There were at least 10 different high-end pâtissiers throughout the food hall, each of which provoke a jaw-dropping reaction (and much Homer-style drooling). Mmm... $80 cake...

Below, we have osechi, special celebratory boxes for New Year's Eve. Just as German people take their Christmas very seriously (and let's not forget the Christmas markets), the Japanese make a huge deal of the New Year's holiday. (Click here to see a gorgeous sweets-based osechi from She Who Eats).

These osechi are from famous hotels and restaurants.

Perhaps the best thing we bought at the food hall was this baguette. Wow.

I told you we were craving proper bread, yes? We were going to eat this baguette with dinner (spaghetti carbonara, cooked at the hostel), but we couldn't help ourselves, and devoured the entire thing before the pasta even cooked.

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  1. Anonymous10:40 AM

    Oh wow Sarah I have never seen anything like that. I would have gone completely mad in there.

  2. sounds like you are having a fantastic trip, Sarah!

    Japan is definitely the place to go for food. Everything looks so perfect and they really do amaze you with the pastries. It's hard not to try everything in sight. We brought back so many biscuits, little gateaux etc and are still feasting on them now :)

  3. Anonymous7:36 AM

    But did you have a Mont Blanc? That's the million dollar question in my book... as you maybe could guess!

    (My brother in Japan and his girlfriend just sent me a box of sweets, including checstnut mochi, chestnut pocky, "collon" (?!) chocolate and Black Sesame cereal (like rice/corn flakes) ... so good! Especially the cereal!)

  4. WOW so that is actually an Eiffel Tower made of bread?! What an exciting place! I think I would have ended up spending sooooo much money in there on bread and pastries...

  5. The food looks great. Is that $80 Australian for a cake? That is expensive. Must be a really good cake.

  6. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your comments! I'm amazed I didn't spend more money in there. I totally could have!

    Hannah - yup, I did get a mont blanc! In Tokyo though, so that's still coming up in a future post. Way yummy!

    xox Sarah

  7. YUM!!!!!!!!!!
    I miss Daimaru too!!

  8. Anonymous12:19 PM

    Just came across your post while I was researching for a blog post on Daimaru... very fond memories of the place in Melbourne :)

    If you're interested in my post, it's here... http://www.melbology.com.au/top-5-secrets-about-daimaru-melbourne-centrals-closed-down-japanese-department-store/



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.