Translated by Greg
Sweets Studio Bellenote: Savor Belgian Desserts In Asakusa
Written by chia
The streets of Tokyo's popular Asakusa district are lined with many Japanese and Western-style confectionery shops. One must-visit is Sweets Studio Bellenote, which specializes in Belgian desserts. This pastry shop was also featured in an episode of a Japanese drama with Yui Aragaki.
Sweets Studio Bellenote - Enjoy Flavors Baked by a Belgian Royal Family Chef
However, there's something unexpectedly tucked away here, too––a famous Western-style sweets shop.
Located behind Sensoji Temple along Senzokudori Shotengai shopping street, you'll find an establishment that stands out from the rest: Sweets Studio Bellenote, a popular local confectionery.
This shop has a striking turquoise-colored doorway and large glass windows. When you step inside, the pink interior and wide assortment of sweets will immediately catch your eye and brighten your day.
The confectionery was also featured as a location in the 2020 television drama, "Love Will Last Forever" (Koiwa Tsuzukuyo Dokomademo), starring a famous Japanese actor, Takeru Sato.
Bellenote is managed by a dedicated husband-and-wife team.
Owner-chef Hiroshi Ueno acquired his pastry chef skills by training in Belgium. There, Hiroshi decorated pastries at a famous shop called WITTAMER, a purveyor of confectionery to the Belgium Royal Family. He even prepared sweets ordered for the Royal Household!
After returning to Japan in 2003, he held various positions, including executive chef of cakes and chocolate at Wako Department Store in Ginza, and as a product development consultant at a major confectionery company.
Then in 2012, he and his wife opened up their Western-style sweets shop in Asakusa.
A Love for Music and Harmony of Ingredients!
Bellenote means "beautiful musical tone" in the French language. This word is appropriate for the shop as Mr. and Mrs. Ueno both love music.
Also, for Chef Hiroshi, sweets are a product built upon the harmony created by all the different ingredients.
Keeping this in mind, a musical scale with notes serves as a backdrop to the shop's storefront sign (see picture above).
There's more behind the name, though: the capital letter "B" doesn't just stand for Belle (meaning beautiful in French) but also represents Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Brussels is where Hiroshi did his training, and also where he and his wife met.
A designer friend of the couple create the "Bellenote" (means the fruit of their love) heart using the letter "B" as a motif.
This heart got turned into an adorable cookie. This "B" motif (looking like a musical note with a heart), is used to decorate many of the shop's other sweets.
A Belgian-Trained Patissier in Asakusa
Asakusa was chosen as the shop's location because it's conveniently close to where the couple lives. However, there's also another reason: people in Asakusa have highly refined palates and are very particular about their food.
Chef Hiroshi was up for this challenge, and since opening, Bellenote's homemade Western-style sweets have become a beloved treat of many Asakusa residents.
Popular, Mouthwateringly Delicious Sweets to Try
High-quality ingredients and expert pastry skills are the key to creating sweets that will capture the stomachs and hearts of those who try them. However, meeting both of these requirements at the same time is not an easy task.
However, Chef Hiroshi has fully satisfied these two criteria and continues to make confectionery with a loyal following.
Below are the top five favorite items at Bellenote, as chosen by the writer of this article.
1. Truffle Cake
Truffle Cake: 3,500 yen for a whole cake, 460 yen for one piece. Prices do not include tax.
This writer guarantees the outstanding flavor of this cake!
The base of the truffle cake is made with high-quality Belgian chocolate. The cake's several layers are each created using the chef's special vanilla cream, chocolate sponge cake, and truffle chocolate cream.
Take one bite and instantly enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth texture, and savor the cake's right amount of sweetness. The quality Belgian chocolate and carefully-placed layers are delicious and the entire cake is decorated with beautiful, natural-looking frills.
This menu item is extremely elaborate and the shop's most popular cake. It is a favorite with customers of all ages.
2. Custard Pudding
Custard Pudding: 290 yen each (not including tax).
In a 2015 Japanese drama series "Okitegami Kyoko no Biboroku" starring actress, Yui Aragaki, one of the story's characters becomes completely absorbed in eating a "heavenly pudding," which happens to be Bellenote's custard pudding! (Due to the drama's storyline, the pudding made its appearance under a different name.) After the episode aired, countless fans flocked to the shop.
Bellenote's custard pudding uses twice as many egg yolks as a standard pudding, so it has a very rich aroma and flavor. Even before it appeared in the drama, it was one of the shop's top-selling items. It is very popular and usually sells out shortly after lunchtime.
If you can get your hands on this delectable pudding, you will be rewarded with a heavenly sweets experience!
3. Truffle Chocolates Made with Pisco and Champagne
In line with the name Sweets Studio, the chef is most proud of his chocolate items.
The shop's truffle chocolate is made using Barons de Rothschild Brut, top-class French champagne, and alcohol called "Pisco" that's brewed at TACAMA, one of South America's oldest distilleries.
The result is a special chocolate that has a fully matured taste and ideal for mature tastebuds.
3-piece box: 1,210 yen; 5-piece box: 1,850 yen; 10-piece box: 3,500 yen. Prices do not include tax. A special version of the 10-piece box has chocolates containing both champagne and Pisco.
Bite into one of these delectable treats, and the chocolate's sweetness along with the slight alcoholic aroma will envelop your senses. Containing champagne and Pisco, these chocolates will give your body a warm and pleasurable feeling all over!
The writer conducted this interview during winter. These chocolates helped keep them warm and cozy despite the cold.
Please note that these chocolates melt easily, so they are not sold during the summer.
4. Belgian Waffles
Belgian Waffle (plain): 200 yen; Belgian Waffle (chocolate): 240 yen. Prices do not include tax.
Belgian waffles are synonymous with Belgium. The shop goes to great lengths to make the best waffles, even importing special lump sugar from Belgium.
These waffles are prepared with meticulous care and attention, from the quality of the ingredients to the cooking process, making them one of Bellenote's star attractions.
The waffles have a soft, yet hearty texture and are the ideal size for an afternoon snack. They come in two varieties: plain and chocolate.
5. Weekend-Only Freshly Baked Bread
Pan Do Mi Bread: 400 yen per loaf; French Bread: 400 yen per loaf (half-loaf purchases are also possible). Prices do not include tax.
During the weekends, the shop also sells their homemade bread. Pan Do Mi Bread is made using lots of fresh Hokkaido milk (not a single drop of water is used in this recipe), butter, and eggs.
On the other hand, their French bread doesn't contain any milk, butter, or eggs at all. It's made with only flour and natural yeast and has a chewy texture.
This writer especially likes the soft and fluffy Pan Do Mi Bread.
Homemade Jam: 460 yen and up for one jar, not including tax.
How about having some toast with jam on top? Bellenote's jams are made with two or more varieties of fruit in each jar, so you can enjoy both a full-bodied sweetness and tartness.
For those who like a tart flavor, this writer recommends the Soldam jam (bottom far-left in picture above). For a sweeter taste, the Kyoho Peach jam (bottom center in photo above) comes recommended.
In addition they have a large selection of cookies and seasonal sweets. Whenever you visit the shop, new flavors will be anxiously waiting for you!
When in Asakusa, Be Sure to Visit Bellenote!
Bellenote is a western-style sweets shop bringing a breath of fresh air to this historic and traditional area.
On your next visit to Asakusa, please be sure to stop in at Bellenote and sample some genuine Belgian sweets!
In cooperation with Sweets Studio Bellenote