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Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Cake Shop at Mandarin Oriental Taipei

Whenever I go to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Taipei, I like to stop by the Cake Shop located on the ground floor of the inner part of the retail courtyard. Similar to other parts of the hotel, the shop can be entered from more than one place. The best and most direct way is through the front door from the courtyard. Upon entering the shop one immediately sees the cakes and pastries displayed in vitrines set on a large white stone counter. To the left of the entrance are freshly baked bread and Viennoiseries. To the right, are chocolates and the wonderful macarons. The back walls behind the display counters are shelves for the various packaging materials. I just love the colors of the boxes, ribbons, and the way they are composed on the wall.

Outside to the right of the shop is a small area with tables and chairs for customers to eat and be served. But I really dislike this space because it feels like one is sitting in a large corridor. In contrast to the shop, there is no ambiance and it is not really designed in any thoughtful manner. Therefore I always buy the various items to go. In fact, the Cake Shop has become the place I like to go to buy birthday cakes for other people. Not only are the cakes delicious and beautiful, the packaging is just delightful.

The box for the cake is a tall round cylinder with studs at the bottom to be secured with strings. This makes a serious impression on anyone.

Given that everything in the Cake Shop is fancy, one would think the prices would be exorbitant. In fact, the prices in the Cake Shop are comparable to other lesser pastries shops in town. Some of the items are actually cheaper.

A few months back I purchased a beautiful and delicious 7-inch strawberry tart for NT$1,000.

I only hope the Cake Shop will be able to maintain the standards as time goes on. I wish it will not be like Sweet Tea by Yannick Alleno on the fourth floor of Taipei 101, where when it opened the pastries were in boxes with magnetic latches, the tarts were in beautiful rectangular boxes that slid open, and there were special items like Galette des Rois during the holidays. But now to save costs there are only paper-like boxes, the tarts are circular, and the Galette is only available at the sister store Lalos.  I worry about the Cake Shop because the sous chef Alexis Bouillet has left, and his boss, the chocolate master Frank Haasnoot, is also rumored to be on the way out. Will the Cake Shop remain as good as it is or get even better? I certainly hope so. I am a fan.

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