Bakeries That Take The Cake

A small but unstoppable wave of Asian-French bakeries is making its way into bread-hungry Singapore. What’s their recipe for success?

Issue: Apr 2017



Toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, a bun for tea or supper — yes, Singaporeans love our bread. We also love variety, and that has evidently created enough room in our relatively saturated food and beverage industry for new entrants.

Asian-French bakeries, in particular, seem to be taking root here. And they’re proving that, when traditional French baking techniques meet Asian inventiveness, the results can be absolutely delicious.

The Japanese spin: Johan Paris

The next time you’re at Isetan Westgate, swing by Johan Paris for fresh bread, handmade daily.
The next time you’re at Isetan Westgate, swing by Johan Paris for fresh bread, handmade daily.

Johan Paris first debuted in Tokyo, Japan, over 30 years ago, marrying traditional French baking techniques with Japanese tastes. Even with a nationwide network of 16 outlets now, Johan Paris’ first outlet at Ginza Mitsukoshi continues to draw such snaking lines that it issues queue tickets for crowd control.

After making a rather subdued entrance into the Singapore market several years ago, Johan Paris has recently popped onto the radar of foodies on the hunt for the best ‘shio pan’ in town. The Japanese bun ($1.40 at Johan Paris) is decidedly simple and savoury (‘shio’ means salt and ‘pan’ means bread). With its chewy dough, buttery filling and salt-sprinkled top, it’s a delightful departure from the typical sugary confectioneries found in most stores.

Johan Paris may have been French inspired but its commitment to quality is definitely Japanese, especially with a team of Japanese bakers ensuring that all its breads are freshly handmade every day.

The Korean twist: Paris Baguette Bakery Café

Paris Baguette from South Korea is one of the most successful Asian-French bakery chains in the world.
Paris Baguette from South Korea is one of the most successful Asian-French bakery chains in the world.

Despite a name like Paris Baguette, the Eiffel Tower in its logo and employees sporting berets, this bakery chain originated 10,000km away from France. Founded in South Korea in 1988, the business has grown phenomenally, with over 3,000 outlets in its home country, with plans to open 12,000 stores globally by 2030. The brand has clearly created a recipe for stealing hearts and bringing in the dough, considering that its founder was ranked the 21st richest man in South Korea in 2016. Forbes puts his fortune at around US$1.6 billion.

Outside France, where Paris Baguette has managed to establish two outlets in its namesake city, the brand markets itself as a “traditional French bakery”. But at least in Singapore, its creations are pretty localised, with items like Korean Powder Garlic Bread ($4.30) and Singapore Choco Twist ($5.50) on its menu. Their popular Royal Pudding (three flavours, from $4.00) probably caters more to the rich-and-creamy Korean palate than a traditional French one, but is nonetheless quite a hit in Singapore!

The half Singaporean: Tiong Bahru Bakery

Enjoy freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at Tiong Bahru Bakery's Raffles City outlet.
Enjoy freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at Tiong Bahru Bakery's Raffles City outlet.

Tiong Bahru Bakery is easily the most authentic French bakery on our list because its Asian twist happens mostly outside the kitchen — it’s a joint venture between Cynthia Chua of Singapore’s Spa Esprit Group and Gontran Cherrier, a French celebrity chef with two television shows and nine cookbooks to his name.

“Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures and the people are open to discovering new sensations, flavours and experiences when it comes to food. So naturally, I was interested in bringing my knowledge and expertise here,” said Cherrier in a published media interview. He “clicked instantly” with Chua, who is known for her track record of popular food and lifestyle brands locally.

Together, they created Tiong Bahru Bakery, which has won rave reviews since day one. While its croissant has earned a thumbs-up from most foodies, it is the Kouign Amann ($3.50) that has really got people talking. Don't leave without trying this traditional Breton cake from Brittany, France!

The Raffles City outlet also boasts an exclusive menu with must-tries like the Chocolate Croissant Pain Perdu ($16), a chocolate croissant given the French toast treatment and served with charred pineapple and cream anglaise sauce, and Pan Bagnat ($16), which is a traditional sandwich commonly found on the streets of Nice in France.

Dine with us:

Johan Paris
Westgate (Isetan) #B2-01

Paris Baguette
Bugis Junction #B1-24
www.parisbaguettesg.com

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Raffles City #B1-11
www.tiongbahrubakery.com


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