KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — A glance at the Les Deux Garcons patisserie in Jalan Telawi, Bangsar breaks our common perception of cake shops. Petite, stark, and clinically designed in white tones, the pastries displayed bear little resemblance to what we expect to see in KL cake shops: there are no garishly iced cakes, Swiss rolls, or even a mini-pizza in sight.
In their place are individual pieces that carry names like Le Palladio, and a section of macarons that puzzles and fascinates: truffle, black pepper, wasabi, capsicum, chocolate with Cointreau.
“In Malaysia we don’t see a proper patisserie here,” says Les Deux Garcons co-owner and chef pâtissier Ben Yeong. “When we talk about patisseries, we think of cake shops, but the cake shops over here, are just... cake shops! You don’t see anything else besides sponge cakes.”
Yeong should know what a patisserie should be. He spent 18 months training under pastry chef Eric Perez in his training centre in Bangkok, Thailand to learn everything there is to know about French pastry.
“I’ve wanted to learn how to make fine French pastries for a long time, and then I found Eric. In his school, he teaches everything from scratch — the basics, fundamentals and theories of French pastry. Nothing is ever done pre-mixed. And that was exactly what I wanted to learn,” he says.
After that, it took Yeong another year to develop the line-up for Les Deux Garcons before opening up a kitchen in Taman Desa, initially limiting his business to taking orders online before opening up the retail outlet in Bangsar a few months ago.
“I didn’t want to create a repertoire for myself where it looked like I just copied from someone else. The whole idea of a patisserie is a variety of cakes and textures and flavours,” he says.
This explains his rather eclectic, layered, and ultimately fine creations like Le Palladio, a white truffle vanilla almond tart that is all at once velvety, sweet, and earthy; or the Le Favori, a popular piece that layers the nutty pistachio with a raspberry brulee. His macarons too cover the entire gamut of tastes — including sweet, savoury, sour, bitter, and spicy — and shakes up your perception of what desserts are.
“When it comes to macarons, there’s no specific formula or rules. There’s no you can’t-do-this or you-can’t-do-thats, you can even put chilli in them,” he says, adding that he’s tried sun-dried and porcini mushroom macarons while in Europe, which encouraged him to think beyond the usual chocolate-vanilla-berry flavours.
But whether or not Malaysians are ready to explore such oddities in pastry is another matter. “At the moment, I’m not sure of the acceptance level amongst customers here — do they really have the culture to buy them, or are they just excited about new things?”
The response from blogs and reviews show an encouraging start to LDG’s approach, however, with few people coming away disappointed with a visit there.
The prices of Yeong’s pastries may not be cheap; the Le Palladio costs RM22, while a pack of 18 macarons cost RM82, but considering that he uses imported ingredients (including truffle!), and the time spent crafting each creation (a batch of 30 macarons, he says, take a good four hours to make), it’s a piece of luxury you can’t afford to miss.
Visit Les Deux Garcons at 36 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, KL (near Hong Leong Bank), or you can place an order online at www.lesdeuxgarcons.com.my.