Food Lifestyle

Best Macarons in the Asia-Pacific Region

Affordable luxury edibles, macarons can be purchased anywhere nowadays; and the choice of flavors are becoming increasingly inventive.

Photo: Wandering Mint

Macarons, or the “Oreos of Paris,” as yours truly has come to think of them, was once the choice confection served at royal orgies and salons in the Faubourg Saint-Germain; whence the great families of France took it with champagne and puffs of opium. Fast forward to today, the treat has become a thing of public domain, accessible to all the common citizens of the world to partake.

The macaron craze is widespread, it is observable, and no where is this pandemic more apparent then in the fashionable cities of Asia-Pacific; wherein brand name pâtisseries from Paree can be seen opening shops adjacent to the Cartier boutiques of Main Streets. However, not all good macarons need be imported from Gaul; for there are many pastry chefs with the hands of a surgeon and the creativity of an artist that have lived in (migrated to) Asia or Australia, striving of find meringue success in their towns, have their creations hashtagged on social media, and name dropped in Vogue magazine.

Thus, this article aims to reveal the best (i.e. crème de la crème) of macarons that are not produced by the Royal Institute of Ladurée, but are instead baked in an oven much more closer to home, and no less capable of competing with the princely likes of Pierre Hermé of the Rue Bonaparte. Moreover, the single notes of raspberry and pistachio classics will not be mentioned here, since they are too common to dwell upon. So saying, only the most interestingly flavored, edible divinities churned out by each of the following establishments will be considered and recommended.

Antoinette Patisserie, Singapore

The interior of Antoinette Patisserie, headed by the distinguished and award-winning pastry chef Pang Kok Keong, is no doubt inspired by the extravagant boudoir of Marie Antoinette in the Palace of Versailles. Moreover, the assembly of sweets aligned within the glass cases serve to remind the visiting patron that confectionery can be just as intricately beautiful as haute couture. Apart from looking exquisite, what makes the macarons at Antoinette Patisserie additionally appealing are it’s combinations of flavors best described as pastel romantique. To wit, “Antoinette” is milk chocolate with Earl Grey tea, and “Charlotte” a vanilla cream macaron with strawberry coulis.

Adriano Zumbo, Sydney

In France it is written macaron, in Australia it is sometimes pronounced “macaroon,” and in Adriano Zumbo’s salon it is called “Zumbaron.” Good marketing indeed. Though yours truly still prefers the epithet “Oreo of Paris.” Anyway, the long boxes wherein the macarons are carefully set into looks like a wand box from Ollivanders Wand Shop, and the choices of flavors on offer evoke the whimsical sweets from Honeydukes of Hogsmeade Village. Imagine, if you will: “Salted Butter Popcorn,” “Finger Bun,” “Gin & Tonic,” and “Vegemite.” I repeat: Vegemite!

Duc de Praslin, Bangkok

Acclaimed for crafting Belgian truffles that rival even those from imported Godiva, sensuous chocolate cakes that inject a shot of joy into the system, and rich cocoa drinks with the consistency of molten lava, Duc de Praslin, the preeminent chocolatier in bustling Bangkok, has branched into macaron-making too. The results, critical applause! Furthermore, the bakery is particularly known for its penchant for pairing ingredients that seem unlikely to turn out well, but do. To wit, “Fraise-Wasabi,” “Coconut-Mango,” and the popular citrusy “Apricot-Yuzu” macaron.

Le Goûter Bernardaud, Hong Kong

Though known for serving tiers of mouth-watering afternoon tea delights (light sandwiches, cute petit fours, heavy scones, piquant tarts, etc.), LGB is also famous for its macarons, in part, because the pâtisserie continues to push the limits of macaronal flavors to such extremes, including “Sesame” and “Cheddar Cheese.” Perhaps next they should consider Blue Cheese or maybe even Paprika? Otherwise, for a less bold rendition, try the signature “Rose Lychee.” It’s romantic, but not cheesy (ha ha).

Les Deux Garcons, Kuala Lumpur

While macaron boxes are not required by epicurean law to be as pleasing as the thing they were made to encase, it is certainly an undertaking that is encouraged by all who champion good taste, artistically and edibly speaking. Les Deux Garcons abides by this rule to the letter, albeit, their’s looks like an eyeshadow-palette. Pretty convincing at that too. The tints that must be tested here include: “Winter Truffles,” “Coffee & Hazelnut,” and “Lemon Vanilla.” Moreover, it is worth noting that at Les Deux Garcons, they are very generous with the fillings between the meringue shells; as thick as the cream inside a “Mega Stuf Oreo.”

And thus concludes the top recommended pâtisseries across Asia-Pacific that churn out the most singular and uncommon macarons to be found in the region. Romantic and weird sums up the creations on offer. Indeed, why settle for chocolate and vanilla when one can have cheese and wasabi with a cup of tea.

By Boripat Lebel

Boripat Lebel is a research coordinator at the Unit for Social and Environmental Research at Chiang Mai University. He authored the eBook “A Vomit of Diamonds.” Boripat can also be found on LinkedIn .