Joël Robuchon is a name within the culinary scene which does not require much introduction. His line of restaurants, many of which of michelin-starred calibre is often regarded as the epitome of French haute cuisine. It it seems almost befitting to find him anchored in Bellavita, a shopping arcade right in the heart of the Xin Yi District, the prime shopping belt in Taipei. Despite having only 6 floors and obviously dwarfed by the neighbouring Taipei 101, Bellavita stood out prominently amidst the surrounding skyscrapers with its Edwardian architectural style. Dotted with exquisitely designed cafes and fine dining restaurants, its a common sight to find madame moseilles aka “tai tais” all dolled up in haute couture enjoying afternoon tea amidst alikened company. No wonder this place is known as 貴婦百貨 in Taiwanese. And indeed JR has found himself two establishments in Bellavita – Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Donned in only bermudas and polos, we are obviously too shabbily dressed for the main restaurant. So it was to the tea salon to pick up some of their pastry creations.
Pâtisserie Henri Charpentier (PHC) is easily the most “accessible” french bakery in Japan, with many takeaway outlets in depachikas of the major departmental stores like Isetan, Daimaru and Takashimaya, all over Japan. In fact, I don’t recall not seeing them at any of the departmental stores we went to! If one is forced to draw comparisons, PHC is like BreadTalk in Singapore, only that the former is much much much much much much…better, especially for a pastry junkie like me!