“The UK has a longstanding love affair with chocolate, and you’ll find some of the finest desserts and chocolatiers represented in London,” Singaporean chef Janice Wong declares. And the 39-year-old – who has won the coveted title of “Pastry Chef of the Year” at the World Gourmet Summit Awards not once, but thrice – is absolutely spot on. From divine truffles at Paul A Young and dainty eclairs at Maitre Choux to decadent cups of hot chocolate at Dark Sugars, there’s certainly no shortage of places in the English capital to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This is precisely why Wong decided to set up shop in London in October 2022 – in the iconic Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, no less. In the sprawling confectionery hall on the complex’s lower ground floor, visitors will find retail stands by artisanal chocolatiers from around the world – including Wong’s eponymous line, which is the first Singaporean confectionery brand to join the Selfridges family. “When you think of shopping in London, you think of Oxford Street. And when you think of Oxford Street, you think first of Selfridges. Where else would we want to start?” she quips.
At Janice Wong London, shoppers can take their pick from a colourful array of bean-to-bar chocolate slabs and handcrafted bon bons (from £15 to £66) infused with creative Asian-inspired flavours, such as Coffee Kopi, Gula Melaka Pandan, Laksa Leaf Lemongrass and – Wong’s favourite – Kaffir Lime Caramel. “We want to showcase our local flavours since they reflect our heritage and represent us on a global scale,” Wong shares. “We keep everything authentic by sourcing local herbs and spices for our products, which is what I’ve been doing for the past few years.”
Starting from November 2022, Wong’s confectionery will also be available to purchase at The National Gallery in London, where they will come clad in limited-edition, art-themed packaging – a nod to her penchant for combining food and design. Looking further ahead, she hopes to bring her unique wares to other locations across the UK and Europe. “Launching in London is a big step forward for our brand, opening us up to more consumers and markets in the near future,” she shares. “We want to keep telling stories, talking about our heritage, and getting people excited about the future of design meets art meets dessert.” We asked Janice Wong to share her top three dessert spots in London.
1. Arôme Bakery, Covent Garden
Known for their croissants, pain au chocolat and the signature Honey Butter Toast, Arôme Bakery was co-founded by French-born pâtissier Alix André and Singaporean restaurateur Ellen Chew. “I keep coming back for its baked goods, which are made with high-quality ingredients and are well-balanced. I really like the egg tart as it reminds me of home, as well as the delicate and well-made honey toast.”
2. Café Kitsuné at Pantechnicon, Belgravia
“What I love about Cafe Kitsuné, which serves delectable Nordic and Japanese pastries, is that it combines a unique offering with a good location [in the heart of central London]. The double-baked matcha croissant and caramel miso rice pudding brioche are two of my favourites.” And, as its name would suggest, the café was conceived by the eponymous Japanese-French record label founded by Masaya Kuroki and Gildas Loaëc.
3. Buns From Home, Notting Hill
“I go to this simple takeaway bakery near Portobello Market for its classic cardamom buns and pistachio buns. They’re just simply delicious!” Buns From Home is also known for their generously sized flaky cinnamon buns.