Part 2: A French Bakery in Hikone
Pomme d’Amour in Hikone is a MUST if you are near Hikone. From the cafe atmosphere to the sandwiches on real bread, this cafe-and-bakery is an excellent culinary experience for the foreigner who misses the cafes and bistros back home. Did I mention there’s real sandwiches here?
The bakeries of Japan are, much like my cooking, typically fusion fare. A lot of the breads and sweets they sell are based on European-style recipes like croissants and creme puffs. Fusion sweets rely more heavily on Japanese ingredients: an-pan is a bread-pastry filled with anko, sweet red bean paste; meron-pan (melon bread), is a fist-sized “melon”-flavored bread that typically has a quilted pattern. French toast isn’t like the French toast in the US but is syrup-less, on Texas toast, and eaten like a pastry rather than a meal. I do enjoy Japanese bakeries for their creativity and, to an American, quirky creations, but, as often as they use Western names like “German Bakery” or “Donq,” they, like Japanese loan words, exist in that context only in Japan.
Additionally, “sandwiches” in regular Japanese bakeries are almost always egg-salad sandwiches, or, if you’re “lucky,” bacon, lettuce, and salad dressing; furthermore, the bread tends to be 食パン, the Texas-toast sized Japanese-size white bread that I would be perfectly content never to see again.
Pomme d’Amour, however, is different. The menu items in the cafe are things I would typically order in the States. (As for in France, well, having never been there, I’m not entirely sure.) After pouring over the menu, my traveling companion and I both ordered the sandwich special of the day. For 1050 yen, we each got a leafy green salad with Western dressing*; a tiny slice of the quiche of the day (red-pepper-and-spinach); a cup of the soup of the day (pumpkin); a salmon, cream cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich on whole-grain bread; and a beverage. We also ordered a シュークリーム (shuu kuriimu; chou a la creme) and a “patio,” a chocolate-and-raspberry concoction from the bakery for dessert.
The menu is written in French and Japanese. My French is about as good as my Portuguese (つまり、non-existent), so I was grateful for the descriptions in Japanese. There is also a dinner menu and a bar with real Belgian beer, but the Belgian bottled beer was sadly sold out when we arrived for lunch that day.**
I might note that the sandwich was the first proper sandwich I’ve had since I moved to Japan, and the patio, a Western-style cake, was probably the first non-Japanese, non-pastry item I’ve ordered in a bakery. Aside from nursing a badly burned mouth from some too-hot takoyaki I had eaten earlier in the day, Pomme d’Amour was, by far, the best cafe/bakery experience I have had so far in Japan. The prices seem a little steep, but considering the quality (excellent!) and quantity (just right for a well rounded meal) of food, I was not loathe to part with my hard-earned vacation money for our meals.
Shiga-ken, Hikone-shi, Hanamachi 2-8 (very close to Hikone Castle 彦根城)
Scroll down for the map.
Lunch specials (as described above): 1050-1980 yen
Dinner: 550-1300 yen (party courses 2800-4000 yen)
Pastries, desserts, and slices of cake: 150-450 yen
Whole cakes: 1200 yen
*A rarity in Japanese restaurants, which rely on cabbage-based salads with mayo dressings more often than not.
** Although I was more than satisfied with the meal, I was a little sad about the beer. Since the legal BAC for drivers is 0 and I live in the country, where there are few buses and trains (and bars), I often miss out on drinking with meals because I have to drive afterward. We had traveled entirely by public transportation from my country home to and around Kansai, so I actually got to order all sorts of interesting spirits on my vacation except for the Belgian beer.