Pastry making is considered a part of the culinary “arts”, but there are times — oft when we’re midway through the rich sugary goodness — we forget how much creativity and effort goes behind the sweet treats we relish so much. Of course, in Bangkok, aesthetics rarely take a back seat, especially when it comes to cafes and dessert houses. While it is more common for these visuals to be reflected through interiors, store decor or design themes, there are also a lot of talented individuals on the scene, who approach pastry making with an artistic passion.
It’s especially interesting when the beguiling, intricate forms mostly associated with large-scale design are carried out on a smaller scale, and with sweets — sculptural desserts. If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box option to your cafe-hopping plans, we’ve gathered a round-up of dessert cafes that’ll make you rethink sugary delights. From precise geometries to dreamy chocolate orbs, scroll down to check out five spots known for serving artistic sweet treats.
The New Neighbour: Ici
If you’ve been on social media lately, chances are you’ve come across Ici’s now Insta-famous desserts — namely the eye-catching starfish, or a marshmallow bear bathing in hot chocolate. The new sweet-infused brainchild of rising pastry chef Arisara “Paper” Chongphanitkul — formerly of Saawaan and Issaya Siamese Club — Ici serves you playful, sugary delights from the comforts of an elegant house-esque venue. While we love the mini outdoor-garden and the oasis-like vibes, it’s the menu that keeps us going back.
With each so meticulously crafted, we find it hard to sink that spoon in, expect a variety of treats that remind us pastry is an art form. The flawless Blueberry Balloon gives you a base of buttery crumbs, gently topped with soft cheesecake and carefully covered with a glossy blueberry gelee. Cut open the Yuzu Cornet and you’ll see an elegant combination of layers and forms, finally fire-glazed and topped with a swipe of gold leaf to look like an ice cream cone.
Drinks are far from overshadowed — the Butterscotch Milk comes with a corn-flavoured ice cream crafted into the shape of a real corn, and the bear in a hot milk bath really speaks for itself. Do keep in mind though that seating is very limited and the place is almost always full — book in advance! Official Facebook Page.
The Long-Time Veteran: Shugaa
In Bangkok’s ever-dynamic cafe scene, you have the newbies, and then you have places like Shugaa that are constantly innovating, but have been around long enough for you to rely on for quality. Designed by the creative talents over at party/space/design, Shugaa has graced everything from the feeds of the best food blogs to global design magazines like archdaily.com. The venue stands out for an interior design based on sugar cubes — cue the exquisite polygon-shaped facade, crystal staircase and hanging sugar-inspired installations. But the design isn’t limited to just interiors alone.
Accompanying a selection of delicate and original cakes is Shugaa’s highlight — a selection of signature plated dessert menus especially crafted by the chefs. Each plate is personally prepared, telling whimsical tales through sculpted sweets. The CrumpB gives you an intricate mushroom-like creation, with chocolate crumbs very closely resembling soil with a sprouting shoot.
The plated Shugaa set is a delicately laid dish of chestnuts, grilled kinako coated mochi and homemade matcha ice-cream, complemented by a sweet mitarashi sauce, red bean mont blanc and crispy rice. You can even order custom-made cakes with blooming roses and cartoon figures. The venue is picturesque, and the menu never disappoints — what’s not to love? shugaaordercake.com.
The Brainchild of Design Graduates: Little Hideout
Little Hideout might be on the Thonburi side of the river, but it still draws a sizeable crowd, especially over the weekends. If you’re looking for a slightly out-of-town retreat, head straight here for exquisitely created pastries served from the comforts of a garden respite.
Dessert-wise, think this: what would it be like if a design graduate decided to start making desserts? Put two designers-turned-pastry chefs together and you have Little Hideout. Helmed by an owner couple who were former design students, each of the adorable treats served at the venue is personally created by the two over the weekend, and from the intricate details and precise forms, their educational background shows.
We personally love the Buche — a hazelnut chocolate mousse, complemented by dark chocolate and almond streusel, topped with what looks like a tiny mushroom garden — but the cute Always Summer is also worthy of mention. Official Facebook page.
The French-Meets-Nippon Pastry House: Chez Shibata 365
For those who love the painstaking attention of Japanese craftsmanship, but also enjoy the sweet, light flavours of classic French pastries, look no further than Hotel Nikko’s Chez Shibata 365. Originating in Japan, Chez Shibata has branches in various countries across Asia, and is one of the first Japanese brands to have branched out into foreign markets. Helmed by chef Takeshi Shibata, it’s known for French pastries, created with care and Japanese craftsmanshipThe desserts sit behind a glass case, in a pastel-hued setting. Each dessert has been meticulously put together, composed of modules of flavour — take apart the blueberry cheesecake and you’ll find a very logically created structure of chocolate feuilletine, almond sponge, and components of baked cheese cake, rare cheese, and blueberry jam.
Even the most seemingly simple desserts, from choux cream to yuzu lemon tarts, were the result of much thought and attention to detail. Graceful swathes of chocolate flakes rest on the smaller treats, while items like the Mont Blanc feature a delicacy that can really only be associated with Japanese craft. Some of the desserts even come with infographic-like diagrams to help you visualise exactly what you’re about to indulge in. Official Facebook page.
The Deconstructed Desserts: Tanwa Design & Food Project
Here’s a new way to enjoy your favourite sweet staples — deconstructed. A part of Tanwa The Elements of Lifestyle concept store, Tanwa The Food Project offers both savoury and sweet, presented through a selection of creative fusion dishes that are inspired by the concept store itself.
What really catches our eye is how the desserts are presented. Classic signatures are deconstructed, and separated into components across the plate. The Lemon Tart Tanwa comes as a swathe of lemon-infused cream, laid alongside scattered crumble nestling fresh fruits. Another dessert gives you a plain white pudding, lain alongside soft butter crumble and a puddle of rich black sesame. tanwa-official.com.