For everything from noodles to nigiri, you can’t go wrong in Tokyo – but if you’re hankering for something a little sweeter, don’t worry. Tokyo has you covered.
Tokyo is renowned for its food, but you might not think to include a bakery in your itinerary. However, there are several reasons why you should consider it.
The Japanese have elevated baking to an art form. You’ll be amazed at their sourdough, croissants, pastries, baguettes, and yes… cinnamon rolls.
Our quest for the best cinnamon rolls in Tokyo took us on a sweet week-long adventure. What we found in the average Tokyo bakery was on par with anything you’d find in Paris.
What started with 10 bakeries in Tokyo was quickly narrowed down to five. Here’s what
Sawamura is a famous bakery from Karuizawa. Their cinnamon roll is a traditional style that you see in many bakeries in Japan.
People often think that success in baking is only about following a recipe, but the truth is that professional bakers have to adjust their recipes daily depending on the quality of their ingredients and environmental conditions.
They use 10 different types of flour and four different homemade yeasts. They adjust the ph level of their water and room temperature daily. They adjust how they bake depending on those conditions.
Their use of a low temperature and long-rising process creates the best flavor from each type of flour they utilize.
The cinnamon roll was a little dry when it was served to us but we asked for them it to be reheated.
The cinnamon roll frosting is different than what you might expect in the United States or elsewhere. Sawamura added a little extra sugar to the top of the frosting, giving the cream a little extra texture, and it was a perfect match with black coffee.
The Sawamura cinnamon rolls are a perfect representation of a traditional cinnamon roll commonly found in bakeries throughout Tokyo. The cost of the cinnamon roll we tried was 330 yen or about $2.27 American dollars.
Our team was excited to try a whole-grain cinnamon roll at ESPRIT NAGOYA bakery in Tokyo.
This cinnamon roll had the most unique texture of the ten different bakeries we researched while in Japan.
This roll was bouncy and moist with a delicate texture. It also became moister over time, much like a Castella sponge cake.
The initial bite yielded a noticeable whole-grain flavor, and the cinnamon roll quickly fell apart.
The frosting was as distinct from the original cinnamon roll as the cake itself. The optimum level of cinnamon and sugar. However, the frosting incorporates a unique and rare cheese with a robust flavor and a hint of tartness to it.
The cinnamon roll at Esprit Nagoya was by far the most unique cinnamon roll experience we’ve had while on our quest for the World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls.
The cost of the Cinnamon Roll was 380 Yen or $2.61 American dollars.
Whole grain Cinnamon Roll (380 yen) This cinnamon roll has the unique texture and flavor of whole grain. It got a bouncy texture when you bite and fall apart in the mouth. The perfect amount of cinnamon and sweetness. The frosting on top contains rare cheese and has the flavor of fresh tartness from the cheese. This tartness goes perfectly with the cinnamon and its sweetness.
The only bakery we visited that specializes in cinnamon rolls was Hari bakery in Tokyo. At Hari, you’ll find at least 10 distinct varieties of cinnamon rolls.
Our team was shocked by the seemingly endless cinnamon roll flavor choices at Hari. We had a difficult time choosing which ones to try.
Having traveled thousands of miles in pursuit of the World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls, we were finally at a standstill. Hari Cinnamon Roll bakery had more than a dozen varieties of cinnamon rolls to choose from.
Cinnamon Roll Flavors at Hari Bakery:
- Honey Nuts
- Citrus Ginger
- Yuzu Mix
- Sri Lanka Coffee Tiramisu
- Chestnuts & Red Bean
- Maple Sweet Potato
- Masala Chai,
- Autumn Rum Fruits
- Fig Mix,
In the end, and for the purposes of this article, we decided on the Honey Nuts variety of cinnamon rolls.
The cinnamon roll’s exterior was textured similar to a loaf of bread–soft on the inside with a strong, distinct cinnamon flavor. There wasn’t much frosting, which allowed Hari’s unique flavors and perfectly baked Cinnamon Rolls to shine through as the star of their show.
The cinnamon rolls at Morethan Bakery in Tokyo had a distinctive appearance compared to the other bakeries we visited while in Japan. These are quite possibly the most beautiful cinnamon rolls we’ve ever photographed. Simply stunning.
The cinnamon roll had a flaky texture and a delicious buttery flavor. It was prepared with pastry dough and had a wonderful, rich butter taste.
The roll was dusted with sugar on all sides, giving it a little bit of sweetness in every bite.
This is a one-of-a-kind cinnamon roll made from the combination of cinnamon and sweetness from the sugar, as well as the texture of pastry dough.
Although there was no icing or frosting on this cinnamon roll, it was the first one we’ve seen in Tokyo that didn’t have either. The pastry of the cinnamon roll was sturdy enough without the frosting.
Dean & Deluca
Headquartered in America, Dean & Deluca is a historic chain of grocers. The company has struggled in recent years and only a handful of stores remain in the United States.
The Dean & Deluca we visited in Tokyo was thriving. It is also the only chain bakery store we visited on our quest for the best cinnamon rolls in the world.
The American influence on their cinnamon rolls was evident. Big, sweet, and has lots of frosting.
The cinnamon roll was soft, pillowy, and had plenty of rise. The cinnamon roll was 10cm wide and 7cm tall.
The Dean & Deluca cinnamon roll had plenty of cinnamon roll flavor and was iced generously with a frosting you would typically find at an American diner.
This cinnamon roll was quite similar to what you would find in the United States.
The Best Cinnamon Rolls in Tokyo
What an incredible trip we had in Tokyo! The bakers in Tokyo did not disappoint, as we began with 10 shops and whittled it down to five that are deserving of the title Best Cinnamon Rolls in Tokyo!
Don’t forget to celebrate International Cinnamon Roll Day each year on October 4th!