Pastry making is as much a science as it is an art. Behind the finest treats are chefs who are truly dedicated to a craft that demands precision, technical skill, patience and passion. This explains the mutual admiration between French and Japanese pastry chefs whose otherwise vastly different cultures intersect in the kitchen, thanks to their shared emphasis on perfection.
Over the years, Japanese patissiers, inspired by their French counterparts, have founded patisseries stocked with distinctly French millefeuille, eclairs and macarons, in Japanese flavours such as yuzu, matcha and persimmon. This growing popularity of Japanese-French bakes has finally made its way onto our shores with the likes of Henri Charpentier, whose buttery financiers and madeleines, and signature crepe suzette — finished and flambeed tableside, of course — have already won it regular fans since it opened its light-filled space at the top of Dempsey Hill in September last year.
Hot on its heels is the first overseas outpost for Asanoya, the 82-year-old Japanese bakery best known for its Japanese-European breads that are baked in a traditional stone oven. To maintain the authenticity of signatures such as its Karuizawa Raisin – a 55cm-diameter, 1.3kg loaf that is sliced and sold by weight – the bakery, which opened in Queen Street last November, imports specialist ingredients such as red beans from Hokkaido and Mori apples from Nagano.
Similarly, Pantler – a partnership between Singaporean founder and baker Mattias Phua and Japanese pastry chef Tomoharu Morita, which opened in Telok Ayer Street last October – uses select Japanese flour and French AOC butter to create oven-fresh viennoiserie, entremets and its popular, light-as-air ricotta cheese tart.
Besides skill and dedication, these patissiers are bound by one essential element – freshness. Using the finest, freshest ingredients and serving their wares straight out of the oven, they each purvey delights that will please even the most discerning of sweet-toothed gourmets.