pâtisserie Sadaharu AOKI paris @ Taipei – a preview
This is the beginning of a series of reviews meant to be up much much later. Well, they really ought to have been done up long time ago. Life’s such an irony I know. Just earlier, I read an entry on someone’s visit to Pierre Herme in Paris and his take on the French pastry master’s macarons, analogising it to one of life’s many first times, those viriginal encounters which change one’s perspective of things and never to look back at the old ways again. That most certainly struck a chord which resonated deep within as I recall those precise moments, one of which was fairly recent. Not with Pierre Herme though, but at Sadaharu AOKI’s dessert boutique in Taipei last year.
We planned the trip way before the actual date, as we do with most of our overseas excursions, ensuring that our itineraries would allow us to maximise the experience with the minimal amount of time we had. Been to Taiwan for a number of times now, this was my first visit to experience the country’s pastisserie scene. We had a number of places in mind, from smaller and more local dessert shops and cafes, to international names like Joel Robuchon and Jean Paul Hevin’s joints which recently anchored in Taipei. However, top on our list were the two dessert salons by Sadaharu Aoki. As some of you already know, I’m a big fan of his work, with attempts to reconstruct some of his creations. But his pastries and desserts remain elusive and somewhat mysterous, with very little recipes in circulation. Even those which are going around the internet and even publications are somewhat dubious in terms of their genuinity. So this trip to Taipei was the perfect opportunity to experience firsthand how his masterpieces are like. And sampling we most certainly did. This would definitely go down as one of life’s many first times. Konnichiwa Aoki san, Hajimemashite, dozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
Sadaharu Aoki first arrived in France more than two decades ago and started his apprenticeship at Jean Millet’s and Couderc’s restaurants in Paris, and then later Girardet’s in Switzerland. And he was suppose to embark on a career as a racing driver when a turn of events caused him to become a pastry chef instead! Like I’d said, life’s such an irony…
He opened his first pastry workshop-kitchen in 1998, supplying French restaurants and hotels, and was brought to attention with his stints to make pastries and desserts for fashion shows to top Japanese designers like Yamamoto and Kenzo, when he stunned the French culinary scene with his Japanese-inspired creations, boldly using matcha, yuzu, adzuki, kurogome and infusing wagashi making elements into his french pastries.
He started his first dessert boutique in 2001 on the 6th arrondissement, Paris and it has been no stopping since, with the latest in Grand Formosa Regent, Taipei, which we visited last spring. Dropping our bags immediately after returning from Taichung, we started making our way down to the boutique located at the basement of the hotel. The Zhongshan district is a prime area in Taipei, much like Omotesando in Tokyo, lined with fashion flagship stores from renowned brands like Prada, Gucci etc.
The basement of the hotel was quite a maze and to make things worse, we went down from the wrong entrance on the opposite side, making the walk even longer, stopping by the concierge for directions. Alas we finally found the place. Gosh, its just like how I’d anticipated… Charlie walking into Willie Wonker’s Chocolate Factory! And chocolates there were! Together witha wide range of delectable pastries and macarons in almost every imaginable flavour!
Photos were not allowed in the boutique actually, but after expressing our intentions, the store manager consented to “just a few quick shots”. We bought a few pieces to go along, out of gratitude of course!
On the very next day, we went down to Bellavita located in the Xinyi district where Sadaharu’s first Salon de Thé was located. Unlike the outlet in Formosa Regent which had its individual shop space, the joint at Bellavita was basically “pseudo al fresco” with the basement floor space cordoned off and compartmentalised to house several joints. There was a cafe, a gourmet food shop, an gelato parlour amongst others, and of course, pâtisserie Sadaharu AOKI.
pâtisserie Sadaharu AOKI paris @ Bellavita Taipei
Sliced entremets chilled at 8.4C to preserve the integrity of the creations.
glimpse of more macarons and chocorons…
pretty packaging of chocorons to go…
Needless to say, we had to bring along some of these pretty things with us, and here’s a peekaboo of what we sampled.
Trio, Valencia, Bamboo
Macaron chocolat from Chocolat Praline
Saint Marc, Chocolat Praline, Foret Noire, and Cassis Chocolat
le sucre et le kumquat décor on Valencia
Sexy curves on Foret Noire
Layers of Cassis Chocolat
Tarte Caramel Salé
Choux à la crème
Millefeuille à la matcha
Tarte au Citron
Tarte marrons fruits rouges
And of course, there will be lotsa macarons as well!
Throughout our week-long stay in Taiwan, we’d made no less than 5 trips to the two boutiques, picking up pastries and chatting with the managers and pastry chefs, while juxtaposing between other dessert places and cafes. It was quite an experience for us!
So if you would allow me to indulge, let me bring you on a journey through some of the works of Sadaharu Aoki and hopefully, it would entice you to pack your bags, hop on a plane and go try them yourselves!
pâtisserie Sadaharu AOKI paris @ Taipei
No.28 Song Ren Road, Xinyi, Taipei 11073
Tel. 00886 (0)2 8729 2759
Sun – Thu 11:00 – 22:00
Fri – Sat 11:00 – 22:30
boutique Formosa Regent
No.41 Chung Shan North Road, Section 2
Taipei 10450, Formosa Regent 1F/B2F
Tel. 00886 (0)2 2511 5000
Mon – Sun 10:30 – 21:30