Tokyo cafe introduced the dessert to Japan almost 90 years ago, and the rest is sweets history.

Depending on what part of the world you grew up in, Mont Blanc may or may not be a food you’re very familiar with. In Japan, though, everybody knows about the chestnut purée dessert, and just about everyone loves it, as it’s one of the nation’s favorite sweet treats.

But while you can find Mont Blanc at patisseries across Japan today, that wasn’t always the case. As you might guess from the name, Mont Blanc originated in Europe, and was more or less unknown in Japan until one cafe in Tokyo became the very first in the country to make and serve Mont Blanc.

That cafe is called, fittingly, Mont Blanc, and it’s still in business in the Jiyugaoka neighborhood, about 15 minutes by train south from downtown Tokyo’s Shibuya Station. However, Mont Blanc is losing its home as part of a neighborhood redevelopment project, and there are only a few days left to eat at this culinary historical landmark.

We dispatched our ace reporter Mr. Sato, and as he looked at the menu his eyes were greeted by photos of a lineup of classical desserts. These are the kind of sweets whose appeal transcends generations, and right at the top is a picture of Mont Blanc’s Mont Blanc, which it introduced to Japan all the way back in 1933.

At 867 yen (US$6.60), you could say the Mont Blanc is a little on the pricy side, but it’s not exorbitantly expensive by fashionable Tokyo cafe standards. For extra elegance, Mr. Sato added a cup of coffee for another 620 yen, and the two just looked right paired together on his table.

The Mont Blanc’s base is castella sponge cake, with layers of butter cream and whipped cream on top of it. Above that is what makes Mont Blanc Mont Blanc, coils of chestnut cream piled high enough to resemble the mountain in the Alps from which the dessert gets its name. The cafe uses Nakayama kuri, a variety of Japanese-grown chestnut from Ehime Prefecture.

Some Mont Blanc have a swirl of whipped cream at their peak, but the cafe instead uses merengue, with its powdery surface looking like a bank of snow.

Picking up his fancy gold-colored fork, Mr. Sato went in for a bite, starting with the chestnut cream. It was deliciously sweet and flavorful, but not overpoweringly so. The chestnut cream may be the captain of the team of ingredients in this dessert, but it’s still a team player.

Speaking of the other ingredients, some of them are hidden until you take your first bite, like the whipped cream filling

…and, underneath that, custard cream and a whole chestnut. Sitting at the center of the soft and moist cake, the chestnut’s firmness is a stimulating surprise, and its flavor serves as a reminder of what makes it so special and unique compared to more chocolate or strictly creamy desserts.

But while the flavor of Mont Blanc’s Mont Blanc isn’t bittersweet, the atmosphere was. The cafe is closing on December 31, and though it’ll be relocating to a new location in February, they’re referring to it as a “temporary location,” and it’s unclear what the long-term fate of Mont Blanc is. What’s more, the new location will be strictly a take-away sales location, with no cafe, so if you want to sit down and eat Mont Blanc in the place where it started its spread across Japan, now’s the time.

Location information
Mont Blanc / モンブラン
Address: Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, Jiyugaoka 1-29-2
Open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (11 a.m.-4 p.m. on December 31)
Temporary location (opens February 10, 2023; to be in business for approximately four years): Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, Jiyugaoka 1-25-13

Photos ©SoraNews24
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