Castella, a type of sponge/pound cake that originally hails from Portugal, is reinvented in miniature format at Aoi Renga in Shimokitazawa: baby castella is the cute name for a tiny ball of castella cake happiness. Watch the tiny cake balls fly as staff expertly flick them from the pan into the air. The cooking process looks similar to preparing takoyaki, but this sweet treat is seafood-filling free.
Flying Baby Castella: The Skill of the Patissier
Close to Shimokitazawa Station’s north exit, you’ll find Aoi Renga, a baby castella specialty shop. What is baby castella, you ask? It’s a pound cake, originally brought to Japan via Portugal and now a Nagasaki sweet standard. These tiny balls of dough fly off the pan as the patissier expertly flicks them into the air with impressive speed. It’s a snack with a show!
From an Osaka Food Stall to a Certified Setagaya Staple
The shop opened in Osaka in 1993, originally as a yatai stall without a name. The stall had a blue tile roof, which is where the current store name, Aoi Renga, comes from. Its owner, a patissier with an impressive resume, moved the shop from Osaka to Tokyo in 2011. But it wasn’t until 2014 that this cake shop made its home in hipster capital Shimokitazawa. Since then it’s enjoyed extensive media coverage and has made a name for itself as a purveyor of one of Shimokita’s most famous foods.
A Chocolate Lover’s Delight: Chocolate Fondue
Since this is a baby castella specialty shop, then baby castella is what you’re going to get. However, it doesn’t have to be just that. If you’ve made it all the way here, then try the chocolate fondue. The combination of freshly baked baby castella and a creamy, bitter chocolate sauce with Hokkaido cream blended in is to die for. Dip the dough balls into the sauce and when you’re done with the castella, down the rest of the chocolate like the shameless chocoholic you are.
Hot and Cool: Two Textures, Two Temperatures
Another recommendation is the Shimokita Dolce. You’ll get a cup full of baby castella, topped with soft-serve vanilla ice cream. Choose between caramel, mango, very berry, and chocolate sauces to drizzle over it all. Enjoy the combination of hot baby castella and cold ice cream — two textures and two temperatures.
For Aoi Renga’s map and contact details, see our Concierge listing.