Saturday, 16 August 2014

Macarons @ Jouer

This is a long overdue post. I finally got the time to write when I had a day of sick leave... it's true when people say minor ailment is a blessing. 

It was a steaming hot evening in early July. While not as graphic as a polar bear on floating ice, isn't this summer - the stickiest summer EVER in my life - a solid proof of climate change? :( Walking in the streets in such weather and sweltering in work clothes was hardly the smartest idea, but I just couldn't wait to check out Jouer, a stylish shop that sells both homeware and macarons, after reading about it in several magazines. 

Jouer is located in Sau Wa Fong. I had no idea where it was until I looked up the place in Google Map and learnt that it's within my favourite haunt Star Street Precinct! When I was finally there I saw why I had missed Sau Wa Fong all along. Apparently the only way to reach it is by climbing a flight of unassuming steps from St Francis Street. The flight is signposted but the sign is so small that it easily goes unnoticed. 

Crowd-phobic me immediately fell in love with this obscure little square for its tranquility and quirky shops. The empty, tree-shaded street made me feel relaxed and calm, even though I was almost soaked in sweat. I found Jouer at the end of the street. 

The moment I entered the shop, I was mesmerized. Look at all the tastefully arranged vintage-style decorations and curiosities - doesn't it look like a shop in Paris (the French name Jouer certainly helps with the association!)? Every corner was just so photogenic, no wonder it's often featured in magazine photo shoots! The lady in the shop was so nice that she let me take tonnes of pictures during my brief visit. :) Although none of my pix does justice to Jouer's chicness due to my poor photography skills, let me show you some snapshots:

Penguin Clothbound Classics make great photo props!

Beautiful customizable cook books set from Juniper Books :)

Macarons here...

Macarons there...

Macarons everywhere!

Even the backyard exudes rustic charm

I don't think anyone can leave the shop empty-handed after seeing so many tempting macarons around! At the time of my visit Jouer was offering a 4-course macaron "menu du jour", which consisted of both savoury and sweet macarons. I ordered it without any hesitation! :P The 4 flavours were:

Appetizer - French onion soup
Main - "Partner in Crime" (foie gras & Sauternes)
Cheese course - Ancient blue cheese
Dessert - Classic French apple tart

Because the minimum order is 6 pieces of macarons, I chose 2 more from Jouer's signature Asian flavours. They had a range of exotic flavours like Tom Yum, Chinese Vinegar & Ginger, Kaya & Salt, etc. on offer. My choices were HK-Style Milk Tea and Ginger Milk. :) The macarons come in paper gift box, or in a luxurious glass box if you are willing to pay extra. The glass box is really lovely, but since the macarons are already quite expensive by themselves, I settled for the cheaper option...

Apart from the milk tea macaron, which didn't have much discernible taste apart from sweetness, all macarons tasted just like what their names had suggested. In particular, the blue cheese macaron had such a strong taste of stinky cheese that Hellish was reluctant to take a second bite! But the filling in most of the macarons was so thin that it's not even visible (see golden standard of macaron filling here), which meant that the macarons didn't have the rich, creamy texture that I was looking for. The shells were not very crispy either, but since it's possible that they had softened on my way home given the humid weather, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

I appreciate very much the creativity behind Jouer's exciting flavours and the cute idea of having a 4-course macaron menu. HK needs more independent shops like this! But there's absolutely a need to adjust the macaron formula (or at the very least, enlarge the macaron a bit) if they are to charge ~$17 for a piece. The shop lady said they might be offering Japanese flavours soon, which is going to be another interesting experiment. Next time I am going to have the macarons right inside the beautiful store (they do offer this option), which will certainly help me feel better about my money spent. :P

Jouer (website)
G/F, 1 Sau Wa Fong, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Opening hours: 11:00am-7:30pm (Mon - Sun)
Macarons: $100 for 6 or $180 for 12 (in paper box), $160 for 6 or $280 for 12 (in glass box)

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