More than even the French, the Japanese have an eye for the aesthetic at mealtimes. At our ryokan in Japan, we ate art at every dinner when we tucked into our kaiseki meals. Bite-sized morsels of fresh shrimp and fish were served on porcelain and clay plates and decorated with rosemary flowers or dried maple leaves. The whole meal had to have a theme, and the cook would match decoration with food, sometimes to the theme of obscure Japanese poetry or to co-ordinate with the ancient painting in the alcove which is changed every season. Actually, one doesn't quite TUCK INTO a Japanese kaiseki meal. That would be very disrespectful to the chef. One needs to interact with the meal like it were an installation art piece. Ask questions. See connections. Understand the meaning behind the presentation.
Wow! That is what I call civilization.
The Chinese in China have completely lost this. Centuries of dishonest feudalism had the entire populace starving. They would have eaten the dried maple leaf instead of using it to decorate. Then, another century of civil unrest followed. After, there was the Cultural Revolution where books were burnt and scholars sent away to work as farm hands. Today, some of the worst excesses happen in China... some of the worst crimes against humanity take place in China. A pity. I am told by people who know the Chinese classics that once upon a time in China there was a level of decorum and civilization, that far surpassed much that there is today. Food for average folks in Japan is often beautifully presented. Food for average folks in China tends to be served in a sort of gravy hodge-podge. If you want nicely presented food, ya gotta make sure ya can afford it like here (and even then, there clearly isn't the same level of artistry as when you sit down to a Japanese kaiseki meal). Even in the smallest tucked away boutiques in Japan, the premises are clean. We ate the best tasting steamed dumplings in the world in premises where the floor looked like it hadn't been cleaned in more than decade. I won't even tell you what the kitchen looked like. If the dumplings weren't steaming hot, I would have feared for my tummy.
Anyway, when the Japanese folks decide to interpret French desserts, they go one better. The tarts on display at Fruits Paradise looked so perfect that they didn't look real. They tasted every bit as good as they looked. The fruits were fresh and sweet. The cream was light and not too sweet. I had a floral tea to go with it that came in a simple teapot and a transparent teacup. And of course, I had really good company to go with that tart and tea set.
Fruits Paradise belongs to the publicly listed company Japan Foods Holdings, which also happens to own many other Japanese restaurants pitched at different market segments, offering a variety of different Japanese foods. I've noticed that their restaurants are often crowded. I think I won't just buy their tarts. I'll go buy their stocks too.