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Pan de Vie, Covent Garden’s Asian-fusion bakery, combines classic European baking with exotic flavours of the Far East to bring a new patisserie experience to London. The owners are looking to provide a opportunity for diners to taste flavours from The East and bring the best tastes from around the world to baked goods in London.
Pan de Vie have made matcha their ingredient du jour, meaning the majority of cakes, breads and bakes (all priced under £5 per portion) on offer have a vibrant burst of green colour. Pan de Vie has a continuously evolving range of about 15 individually made cakes available from a Japanese-style (i.e., very light) matcha cheesecake, to an expertly executed cake made from layers of matcha mousse, sponge and lychee.
The green tea and white chocolate tart is a match(a) made in heaven – there is no overpowering bitterness from the green tea and with a good ratio to white chocolate, means this is not overly sweet either.
Matcha itself is known, aside from its bright green colour, for its health benefits, which are said to stem from a lower level of caffeine than black tea and high levels of the antioxidant catechins.
Sesame is another featured flavour, with the Black Sesame & Charcoal cake made with layers of milk and sesame mousse. The sesame and green tea cake uses a sesame biscuit as a base.
Cake flavours closer to the traditional western palate are also available. The dark chocolate cake and the Carmelita cakes (made using mousse flavoured with vanilla and tea-leaf infusion), for example, both boast richness in flavours and a glorious shine.
In addition to the cakes, Pan de Vie offers a range of other baked goodies, including a selection of stuffed buns, which are ideal for an on-the-go lunch. You can choose from the Japanese beef curry bun – sweeter than a typical curry blend; a chicken teriyaki stuffed bun, which is incredibly moreish and easy to eat; and the charcoal bun, which is covered in walnuts and stuffed with a sweet, matcha custard. All the doughs are much lighter than your usual breads and very soft, much like a pho bun.
With biscuits (including a matcha flavour, of course), large matcha loaves, sesame biscuits, macarons and mini madeleines (freshly made on request, priced at £3.80 for 10) also available, there is an indulgence of choice for anyone looking for a decadence difference.
For those who may feel slightly reserved about trying unique flavour combinations, we can confirm – after extensive tasting, of course – that every product boasting green hues of matcha tastes as good as it looks.
– The rich, dark chocolate and the Carmelita cakes for their flavour and impeccable glazing
– If you have the time to dine in, order a yuzu tea – a fruit from East Asia with a flavour somewhere between grapefruit and mandarin orange
Pan de Vie is located on 5 New Row, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 1LH.