By Kim B
Japan's commitment to food that is both delicious and aesthetically pleasing is admirable, and you'll find this to be the case at many bakeries and patisseries across the country. One gem that I found recently here in Niigata was Biens Popolo, a cafe selling a range of sweet treats that look almost too good to eat...almost.
From the outside, the store looks like something you may expect to see in a European village which adds to the overall charm. When you pop inside, the smell of delicious baked goods is the first thing you notice, and then you'll be greeted by glass cases full of all kinds of desserts. There are fruit filled cakes and tarts, choux cream pastries, plenty of goodies for the chocoholics out there, and the most adorable parfaits topped with macarons shaped like various animals.
The staff at the store can either box up your chosen items for you to take away, or there's a sitting area inside with several tables if you'd prefer to enjoy your treats then and there. If you choose to eat in, they plate up your desserts like works of art alongside a cup of coffee or tea of your choice. When we visited the seating area was completely vacant, so you shouldn't have any difficulty securing a spot.
Biens Popolo also creates cakes for special occasions including weddings and birthdays, and they welcome you bringing in a photograph of what you'd like to see designed.
Do note the store is closed each Wednesday if you're planning to visit.
The Biens Popolo cafe is located in Sanjo, Niigata, approximately twenty minutes on foot from Kita Sanjo Station on the JR Yahiko Line. Taxis are available from the station itself.
Alternatively, if you drive to the store there is plenty of free parking available on site.
I'm an Australian who has lived abroad for almost a decade, including 7 years in Japan - specifically Tokyo and Niigata. I've visited 44 of 47 prefectures, with only Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto left to check out. I'm particularly fond of exploring off the beaten path destinations, gardens, ...