My first encounter with PAUL was at Champs Elysées Paris. Needless to say, the ambience, the bread, the éclair, the charm… it was a truly unforgettable experience – so much so that I kept a piece of its serviette. When PAUL opened at Takashimaya, fans were ecstatic over the news because it was as though Europe has come to us.
The history of PAUL is one that sounds familiar. Since 1889 when a small bakery opened in Northern France by Charlemagne Mayot and his wife, PAUL has become the story of the family’s love, commitment and traditions. Five generations down, CEO Maxime Holder continues with PAUL’s culinary heritage.
Somehow, the charm seems to be lost when it comes to Singapore, with fans saying it is “a little overhyped” and a “disappointment” with its ordinary food and poor service. Especially when they have to queue that long just to get a seat.
All I can say is you can import the European goods, but you cannot import the European service and European experience.
As for my local experience, my wait was almost negligible on a weekday night. Service was very attentive and rather prompt (perhaps they could handle better at off-peak hours).
Items available include pastries, cakes, croissants, sandwiches, soups, quiches, tarts, crepes, eggs, and over 100 types of bread. PAUL still makes their bread by hand in the bakeries every day which would take up to seven hours as that their dough can develop its full flavour with longer fermentation.
My favourite bread was definitely the Fougasse Olive Bread. It was wonderful. I liked its soft texture with a slightly salty taste, perfect when dipped into the balsamic olive oil mixture. Their crisp and flaky croissants ($2.20) are also a must-have, a mile better than all the ordinary ones I ever had, but please eat it fresh.
A recommended dessert can be the Millefeuille Chocolat ($6.40), their Napoleon with chocolate crème patisserie filling. It is a tad on the sweet side for me, and I much prefer its plain version with creamy custard fillings.
Its Fruit Tarts such as the Tartelette Multifruits ($6.40) are a delight to look at but does not leave much of an impression taste wise. I much prefer the Éclair ($5.60) with traditional choux pastry with chocolate crème patisserie filling.
The friends who went with me said their expectations were not met. Perhaps I did not go expecting ‘Paris’, and therefore had quite a positive experience.
391A Orchard Road, #03-16/16A/17 Ngee Ann City Tower A, Singapore (Orchard MRT), Tel: +65 6836 5932
Opening Hours: Sun–Thu: 8.30am – 10pm & Fri–Sat: 8.30am – 11pm (Bakery), Mon–Sun: 10am – 11pm (Restaurant)
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Hmm.. true about the European experience part…But heck, still better than the usual Bread Talk kinda breads.
In Msia, the breads are getting much much better, with the recent opening of some artisan bakeries.
Maybe it’s time to pay Malaysia a visit soon!
absolutely great blog : the posts about local and asian food are very good and very appealing for a French guy like me (but living in Belgium, too far…)
On this post, I just want to indicate two mispelling, from my french ( = pernickety ) point of view:
>> “A recommended dessert can be the Millefeufille Chocolat ($6.40), their Napoleon with chocolate crème patisserie filling.”
The correct spelling are “Millefeuille” or “Mille-feuille” (litterally “thousand-leaf”) and “Crème pâtissière”.
Of course I understand that for “pâtissière” the copy-paste is probably the only solution on not-french keyboards…
Before reading this post, I was not aware of the “Napoleon” name. This name is never used for this kind of pastry in France.
Concerning Paul, they are (a little bit) cheating on the millefeuille, because normally a millefeuille is composed of THREE layers of crispy “pâte feuilletée” and in consequence TWO layers of “Crème pâtissière”. The very traditional version has also a thin white and brown “fondant” layer with a specific pattern, like visible on wiki : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mille-feuille. Powdered sugar on top is also a quite frequent alternative nowadays.
But the taste of Millefeuille at Paul is very good, this is the most important.
Concerning the bread, the principle of Paul is to have an industrial production of pre-mixed wheat base for their different kinds of bread, but still (almost) traditional preparation and cooking of the bread, on-site. This is a very good idea to reduce costs and to have similar level of taste and quality all other the places… except when the local cooker is highly unskilled, which is sometime the case in a few Paul places in France/Belgium (Paul initial bakery was at Lille, close to Belgium).
My favorite at Paul is the sandwich “Pavot jambon cru” (Papaver + Prosciutto ham) and the very simple “moelleux chocolat” : http://www.paul-usa.com/shop/en-US/Product/Moelleux-Chocolat_4-14
Hey Galanga, Thank you for dropping by! And thank you for sharing what you know about French food and PAUL – a lot for me to learn from. Of course I have only been to PAUL in Paris once, and PAUL in Singapore 3 times, not enough to make a good comparison. Let me check next time if the PAUL here has “Pavot jambon cru” !