Yasushi Sasaki Pâtissserie – Chocolaterie
Yasushi Sasaki in front of his pastry case
Address: Aveune des Franciscains 10
Hours: Open weekdays and Saturday 8h – 18:30
Sunday 8h – 13h00
Accepts all credit cards
Parking: Plenty of street parking.
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Have you tried the Japanese bakery?” my friend Sandy asked. “We think he’s the best,” my friend Anne explains. With so many recommendations, I had to check out Yasushi Sasaki Pâtissserie – Chocolaterie in Woluwe St. Pierre. What I found was a treasure for lovers of truly special desserts.
With the precision of a sushi chef, Yasushi Sasaki’s pastries are works of culinary art with brilliant colors, meticulous shapes, and crafted ornamentation. When you enter the shop, the case of pastries looks like jewels under glass. I think I made an audible gasp of delight my first time there. I went in search of chocolate candy, but found Sasaki’s work to be more of a fusion of fruit and chocolate in multiple forms: tarts, cakes and candy.
Sasaki was born in Japan but got his training as a chocolatier and pastry chef in Belgium. Before opening his own shop, he worked at Patisserie Mahieu in Stockel for 10 years. Sasaki liked the Woulwe St. Pierre commune and wanted to stay in the area. He chose a residential neighborhood, rather than a commercial center like Stockel, because he wanted a business that would be nestled in a neighborhood and not just be a shop among many. In fact, he started as a patisserie and chocolaterie, but the local customers also wanted bread and breakfast pastries, so he expanded his offerings to include bread and croissants.
Yashshi Sasaki, who’s shop takes his name, works behind the counter with his wife Nobuko.
Sasaki’s signature is using fruit in his creations—especially red fruit. He doesn’t try to artificially boost the flavor of fruit with a heavy hand of sugar. Rather he allows the natural richness of the fruit’s own flavor to stand on its own as it works in tandem with whatever it accompanies: chocolate or cream, or meringue. For example, in his Rubis tart, layers of raspberries rest on top soft layers of chocolate cake. Another tart features the marriage of orange and dark chocolate.
He also mixes more fruits with his chocolates than nuts. You won’t find a case full of chocolates with almonds or hazelnuts here. Sasaki’s chocolates are oozing with red fruit.
Another one of his culinary specialties is jam. Here too he doesn’t smother the fruit with sugar. His jams are light spreads of finely chopped fruit. His personal favorite is the orange jam, a subtlety sweet spread loaded with slivers of orange peel.
He also sells a selection of small macaroons in lively colors. You’ll find the flavors you’d expect like chocolate and strawberry, but also the unexpected, such as lychee nut with rose.
Rows of tartes
Sasaki’s motto when it comes to displaying and packaging is “simple is best.” The decor is simple and elegant with deep burgundy walls accented with frosted glass display shelves. He packages his goods the same way making sure the packaging doesn’t overshadow the artwork within.
His skill is recognized by the chocolate industry. He’s competed in some of the most important chocolate competitions in the world, from the World Chocolate Masters to the World Pastry Cup (Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie . In 2005, Sasaki came in 3rd in the 2005 World Chocolate Masters. Though his focus is now exclusively on his shop and not on competitions, he does follow the motto of one his mentors, that everyday is a competition and every items should be competition worthy.
I love when a place lives up to its hype, and Yasushi Sasaki Pâtissserie – Chocolaterie is a must. These are not utilitarian desserts for when you just need a little something sweet after dinner. These are works of art with exquisite flavors appropriate for the grandest dinner or personal indulgence.