Whenever we are in Taipei, we’d always make it a point to drop by Sadaharu Aoki’s dessert salons in either Bellavita or Hotel Regent Taipei, and sometimes both! There are always something new or seasonal, like a surprise that awaits us to uncover! Last year, we had Sensuelle, a Hotel Regent Taipei exclusive and our visit to Patisserie Sadaharu AOKI paris earlier this year was no exception. There were two new creations that were just waiting for us to sample!
Strangely whenever we are in Tokyo, we never really thought much about visiting Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki Paris unlike the others be it local like Hidemi Sugino or Hideki Kawamura, or the “imports” like Pierre Herme and Jean Paul Hevin. I think it is because we were already sampled quite a few of his creations during our trips to Taipei where he has two dessert salons, in Bellavita and Regent Taipei. However, perhaps due to the quality of the local ingredients used or the level of sophistication his local pastry team is imbued with, friends who tried his cakes from Paris, Taipei and Tokyo told me that one could quite literally make out a difference in the “quality” of the creations between these places. Unlike the macarons and other petit gateau pour sec which are all flown in from France, the entremets and petit gateaus we see in the local stores are made in situ. Tokyo turned out to be their favorite, whose standards of pastry surpasses even those from the 6th arrondissement flagship store in Paris supposedly. That got me very curious and we knew we had to try it to believe it!
We have our own list of “must go” places and eateries which we try to make it a point to visit whenever we are in Taipei. And Pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki is definitely high on that list. Well, Aoki has dessert boutiques in Tokyo too but there are far too many other patisseries in this Asian Capital of French pastry making as well which we have been want to visit (yes, yet another very long list!), to a point of being literally spoilt for choices. So we were “forced” to limit ourselves to Aoki san’s joints largely in Taipei and keep the visits to his Tokyo outlets down to once or twice (such a shame I know!), until the Japanese list of patisseries has been properly exhausted. But I doubt we’ll see that happening any time soon!
While 青木定治 Sadaharu Aoki’s signature creation, バンブー Bamboo is surely his most popular work, I couldn’t help but felt a bit shortchanged by its taste, or rather the lack of it. Its alluring visuals was simply not levelled up by similarly astounding flavours. But his バレンシア Valencia is quite a different story. Easily my favorite amongst Aoki creations, Valencia embodies everything which I felt an entremet should be, delicate and yet well-defined textures, contrasting flavours and of course, scoring high in its aesthetics. Having attempted to make it before earns Valencia a special position in my heart. Am I being biased? Well, I chose not to think so! LOL
Sadaharu Aoki, a name that is prominently featured in my blog. Yes, I’m a big fan of his work, and more so, his determination and perseverance to excel and be the best. Not an easy feat, especially for a Japanese who didn’t speak a word of French when he first landed in Paris at the age of 21 more than 20 years back But he was determined to make it big and went through a lot to bring himself to the level of international recognition and fame which he enjoys today. When his contemporaries like Hidemi Sugino and Hideki Kawamura chose to remain in Japan after winning international pastry competitions like Coupe du Monde, Aoki made his base in Paris instead. Seemingly what a Don Quixote would do, most would think, to make a name for himself in the epicentre of pastry making, where so many others have failed. The odds of succeeding were slim but that challenge suited him best. An urban fairytale for any pastry lover…
青木定治 Sadaharu Aoki’s バンブー Bamboo , his signature creation which first led me to know his works and made me very curious about him. The aesthetics of it is really quite astounding. Well, none of the clever use of avant garde juxtapositions one would find in the works of revolutionaries like Christophe Adam of course, but its beauty is sheer sublime. There are some works which ranked as being “unparallel” in design and built by many. Pierre Herme’s Plasir Sucre is one of them, Gaston Lenôtre ‘s L’ Concorde is another and more recently, Christophe Adam’s Eclair Aquatique. Surely Sadaharu Aoki’s Bamboo must stand amongst this stellar cast. Or must it?
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!
We love Taiwan and had been there more than half a dozen times over the last couple of years. Fabulous food, good shopping and breathtaking scenery, the island country continually astounds us in with her ever-changing facades of beauty, fun and excitment. And that’s basically what keeps us going back. We are never bored there and feel strangely at home all the time. When we got to know that the renowned Japanese patissier Sadaharu Aoki 青木定治 had opened a dessert salon in Taipei, the level of excitement that amounted could barely be contained! This gives us yet another reason to make another trip, this time a pilgrimage, to pay homage to the great Paris based pastry master. It is no secret that I’m in awe of Aoki san’s creations. But travelling frequently to Paris or even Tokyo to try his works proved to be quite a feat. Aoki’s outlet in Taipei is probably our closest pitstop to pastry heaven.