Little Mermaid on Land, In Tokyo.

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If there is one thing I have learned about the Japanese food scene, it is this: Japan loves its bread. Bakeries are a quintessential part of Japanese daily life: I have seen salary men pick up packaged bread to go, school children buy them for snacks, and mothers buy boxes of them for their families. Of course, the bread I am talking about is not the regular sliced, white bread for sandwiches, but an assortment of bread in different shapes, sizes, and flavors. Whether bought individually packaged in convenience stores or fresh out the oven from specialized bakeries, bread is no simple food in Japan.

No matter where you are in Tokyo, you are bound to run into a bakery or two within the same vicinity as each other. Many bakeries serve the usual popular items such as curry-filled bread, red bean-filled bread, hot dog-in-a-bread, and so on; other more varying and seasonal breads include melon cream bread, apple and cheese bread, and sweet potato bread to name a few. With the popularity of these carb-filled delights far from dying down, a large amount of bakeries have even incorporated a cafe area for people to sit down and enjoy their food. Not only does this make it easier for customers to consume their purchased products on-site, it also turns the bakery into a more meeting-friendly place for the general public.

In Iidabashi, there is a bakery cafe fusion called Little Mermaid, located on a street filled with Italian and French cuisine. The street is near the JR Iidabashi station and the bakery cafe is not too far of a walk from it (depending on which exit you take). I originally found the place while sightseeing in the area and checking out local eateries. When I came upon Little Mermaid, the cafe had an open window selling some sort of baked pastry to-go. The window treats were not what caught my attention about the place, but the lunch advertisement placed outside the store. The advertisement pictured a panini lunch set including tea or coffee and dessert for a set price: first of all, I had not had a panini in a while and was wondering if this bakery cafe made the real deal; second, the dessert was an egg tart. This has special meaning to me because I come from an area in California where normal weekend hangouts include a trip out for Chinese dim sum and tapioca (bubble) milk tea. Finding an egg tart in my area of California is feasible, finding an egg tart in Hong Kong is a synch, and finding an egg tart in Japan?? Quite the task.

Inside, the place has a very mellow, laid back feel; the bakery selection in this specific cafe is small, but I assume it is because they want to focus more on the cafe aspect and not the bakery part. I went in and ordered a broccoli and bacon cheese panini, then was given an hourglass and told to wait for my food. In no time, my food arrived and I was ready to chow down. The panini was smaller than I imagined (should be no surprise to me by now) and the bacon inside was really more like ham. However, the tiny sandwich was crunchy on the outside while still maintaining its broccoli cheese-filled gooeyness on the inside. The root side salad complimented the simple sandwich well and the egg tart...oh the egg tart. I have to admit, I was skeptical about it at first since the Japanese tend to change the taste of non-local food, either to make it fit local tastes or from the lack of certain ingredients, who knows. I will say this about the egg tart- it was satisfying, and in a good way. The crust of the egg tart was buttery and flakey, similar to a croissant. The creamy egg filling with a hint of vanilla was what pulled me over to Little Mermaid`s version of an egg tart though, a subtle flavor and texture reminiscent of egg pudding.

Would I come back again? Maybe...the cafe food did not really stand out to me much and the selection was pretty limited. Actually, I have already gone back a second time for more egg tarts. Ever since I had them at Little Mermaid, I have been craving those delectable tarts every so often. A third visit might soon be necessary, even if I am trying not to give into temptation.

More information on the Little Mermaid website:

Eat Well,