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Chez Karine Bakery: Serendra’s Japanese-Inspired French Patisserie
When in Manila, there’s seemingly no end to the number of dessert spots that could satisfy your sweet tooth! But when the craving gets strong, I bet you’d want a place that could do the job right. Lucky for you, I got the perfect place in mind: Chez Karine Bakery! A new patisserie in Serendra that’s sure to give you the ‘sweet fix‘ that you so rightfully deserve!
I’m no French, but from the way I heard it, Chez Karine is pronounced as “shey ka-reen” which then simply translates to: “At Karen’s Place”. Naturally, it was owned by Karen, Chef Karen Yang.
With her background—a Stanford graduate who worked on computer systems for years—it was a surprise to see her running this kind of business; it was clearly an entirely different field! But I guess that’s what happens when a person goes after their passion in life! Rest assured, ‘Chez Karine’ wasn’t done on a whim: Chef Karen seriously studied and prepared for this craft.
Her adventure first started with Le Corden Bleu in Paris where she acquired a Diplome de Patisserie (Pastry Diploma). This was followed by a stint with Marriot Hotel on Champs Elysées where she assisted as a pastry chef, and then an internship with the famous Pierre Hermé in his commissary in Rue Vaugirard and in his boutique on Rue Bonaparte.
But Chef Karen didn’t just stop there; she continued to develop her skills back in San Franciso., and eventually, she decided to share her creations here in Manila—which I am really thankful for!
A small and quaint spot, Chez Karine goes by simplicity, and due to several Asian shows that I’ve watched, I can see how the place has a Japanese feel to it. Other than the minimalist elements, this was best shown on their cute packaging! According to Chef Karen, these were designed by two people: her boyfriend and a family friend. Looking closely at the boxes, each graphic actually shows funny representations which you could see below!
To start our lovely feast, we first had a taste of their Royal Pudding (P100.00 each) selections that are placed in these small glass bottles are said to be custom-made from Taiwan. As of now, they only offer three flavors: vanilla, muscovado, and chocolate.
What did we have? Well sweetie, we tried them all!
Chef Karen actually calls the Vanilla Royal Pudding as “Tomoyo“, named after one of her chef friends. Well… if you ask me, by the taste of this pudding alone, Tomoyo must be one fineeee person! Haha! This vanilla treat actually had me thinking of crème brûlée, but lighter and less sweeter: a perfect balance.
Meanwhile, Muscovado is made from a certain type of unrefined brown sugar and its taste was almost similar to caramel. I say that because these three all have a dark caramel layer at the bottom and eating the muscovado almost blended in to the caramel-y flavor. As for the Chocolate Royal Pudding, it has that same murky chocolate taste that’s sure to please the chocolate lovers!
Muscovado, Chocolate, and Vanilla
Next up was their Panna Cotta (P100.00 each) that comes in two flavors. The Mango kind was light and fluffy to the taste, but it almost tasted too light. Still, it was a good treat all and the same.
The Strawberry Panna Cotta rather had a stronger flavor, almost like tasting jam. And aside from tasting the light cream, the strawberry seeds added texture to this, making it an enjoyable eat.
Now of course, we have to try each of their Macarons (P50.00 each)! Chef Karen and her crew makes batches of these sweet stuff daily; much like any of the other pastries that they offer!
My favorite macaron of them all? The Earl Grey (purple)! Simply because of its subtle tea flavor. It wasn’t overwhelming nor was it underwhelming, it makes you crave for more but makes you satisfied too—all at the same time.
If you’re up for a strong burst of Strawberry, then go for the pink one. I’ve tasted Salted Caramel (light brown) from a different pastry shop before, but the strong salty taste had put me off. Good thing I managed to finally appreciate this kind of flavor through Chez Karine’s version since it wasn’t overpowering. One of their top three best-sellers (which was also a strong contender for my favorite: Earl Grey) was the Dark Chocolate. You’ve got to taste it for yourself to know how it really lived up to its name! Other flavors included Pistachio, with its refreshing taste, the unique fruity kick of the Milk Chocolate Passionfruit, and Lemon, with its gentle tangy notes.
All of these macarons were mildly crisp on first bite, and then slowly turning to a soft and chewy texture. As per Chef Karen’s advice, these were best eaten within (7) days of purchasing them from the store, all other menu items such as the pudding, panna cotta, and cakes last for three (3) days.
Speaking of cakes, we were already too full and satisfied that we weren’t able to taste the rest of these goodies! Their ‘cakes’ are actually called Entremets which are usually small multi-layered mousse cakes. Their best-seller of all? The Ambroisie (P225.00) which you should absolutely try! This is made of chocolate and pistachio mousse, with pistachio joconde, strawberry jam, and chocolate biscuit! YUM! Just look at that beauty!
DRINK: Capuccino (P95.00)
The rest of the Entremets are as seen below:
ENTREMET: Passionfruit Igloo (P195.00)
DRINK: Orange Mocha (P130.00)
DRINK: Muscovado Latte (P105.00)
If you’re up for some delightful tarts, then try their Strawberry Gourmandise which is a French version of a cream puff. It has chantilly cream, vanilla pastry cream and of course, fresh strawberries!
To cap this off, one other thing that you must try from Chez Karine is their Honey Toast selections. I’ve got no pictures for this but just imagine this in your mind: a six-inched big cubed loaf of bread that’s buttered, toasted, drizzled with honey, and served with vanilla ice cream, chantilly cream, and almonds. Aaaaah… that does it! I’m definitely going back to Chez Karine to try this one!
Needless to say… a trip to this Serendra charm is a must When in Manila. Their prices are a bit steep but it’s a given their location and the quality of their food. Simply put: you’ll get your money’s worth. Besides, who wouldn’t crave for these sweet, but well-balanced patisseries? I swear, it will be perfect for your palate! There’s more to anticipate from them too since they’re constantly cooking up some new flavors!
Open from 11:00AM to 10:00PM on Sundays to Thursdays and 11:00AM to 11:00PM on Fridays to Saturdays, drop by Chez Karine, fellow foodies! It might turn out to be your next favorite sweets-destination!
Chez Karine Bakery