The Rolls ROYCE’ of Chocolate is finally in Delhi
By Aisha Bhattacharya
New Delhi, October 7, 2014: ROYCE’, the famed Japanese confectionary company, makes its way to the capital this October. When I heard the word Royce’’ I played a word association game in my head. It went something like this:
Royce’ – Rolls
Rolls Royce – Luxury
Luxury – Indulgence
Indulgence – Chocolate
And, I was quite right. Japan’s finest chocolate Royce’ was launched in India at Palladium, Lower Parel in Mumbai in July 2013 by Samir Gadhok & Avani Raheja of Burgundy Hospitality which is a first-of-its-kind fine foods and luxury gourmet curator. Since then Royce’ has built a religious cult-like following with chocolate lovers across the country. After enchanting and surprising customers in Mumbai and Bangalore with its unique array of chocolate and confectionary, Royce’ is all set to launch in Delhi, with its fourth store at Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj.
Royce’ was founded in 1983 in Sapporo, Hokkaido in Northern Japan. It prides itself on the wide and unique offering that follows one underlying theme- chocolate products that are rich in flavour, textures, complexity and creativity. The climate in Sapporo is similar to Switzerland and is conducive to chocolate production and dairy.
Royce’ does for adults what Willy Wonka did for children. Each chocolate is carefully crafted and true to Japanese spirit – meticulously packed to keep the chocolate at its best.
The official launch meant tasting time for us and we had Samir Gadhok explain the intricacies of each chocolate that we tasted. I’ll try and recount each piece with precision and in case I manage to arouse your interest, you can always hop across to the store and try some. In order of tasting:
- NAMA is part of the signature range of chocolates for Royce’ and is Japanese for pure or raw. We started with the Mild Cacao then went on to the Ecuador Sweet and ended with the Ghana Bitter. The main focus on this range is texture – soft, velvety, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate that leaves you satisfied yet wanting more. I don’t know how they managed that but they did. The Mild Cacao tastes like milk chocolate and is comparatively sweeter than the other two. The Ecuador Sweet comes from a single origin cacao bean and isn’t really that sweet. Just a tad sweeter than the Ghana Bitter. All three are rectangular pieces of soft ganache-like chocolate (due to the presence of 20% cream) dusted with cocoa powder. The packaging when you buy a box involves 5 layers. First the plastic box that the chocolates are placed in. Then the box that the plastic box is encased in. This is then wrapped in plastic film. This box is placed in a thermal bag and the fifth part is the frozen gel pack which ensures that the chocolate is kept under 10 degrees till it completes the journey from the store to your fridge. The attention to detail is amazing.
Important note: always hold the box in an upright horizontal position to avoid damaging the delicious product it holds. Pro tip: The Ghana Bitter is outstanding!
- POTATOCHIP CHOCOLATE (Original) is another signature product from Royce’ that has taken India by storm. The saltiness of the potato chip combined with the sweetness of the milk chocolate coating on one side is divine. A great treat for those who enjoy salted caramel macaroons and other such pairings. Sweet and salty as a combination is something many people might not realise is done in Indian cooking very often and therefore is definitely going to be a hot favourite. It tickles your senses and makes you think, ‘let’s see if there’s more where that came from’.
- PRAFEUILLE CHOCOLAT (Berry Cube) is inspired by the French Mille Feuille (meaning a thousand leaves). It is a 1 square inch piece of 3 mm thin milk chocolate, strawberry scented with blueberry and raspberry sauce. Think of a chocolate dessert with raspberry coulis and the joy you derive from eating an entire dessert. Now replace it with this piece of chocolate and you can stop counting those calories. A sweet mouthful that you can end your meal with and feel all the satisfaction with none of the guilt.
- CRIOLLO CHOCOLATE (Bitter) is the most expensive of the lot and this complex, aromatic chocolate is made from Criollo beans, the world’s rarest and most expensive cacao beans, found only near Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. A square inch piece of the most exquisite chocolate I have ever tasted with 65% Cacao. You have to smell it first. It smells like an explosion in a cocoa plantation bitter, sweet, rich and warm. The texture is smooth and starts melting on your fingers as soon as you pick it up. If I ate one piece every day I would die a happy death.
- PURE CHOCOLATE (Venezuela Bitter & Ghana Sweet) these discs of pure chocolate are divine and true to Japanese innovation one side is flat and the other side has grooves reminiscent of waves. This increases the surface are of the chocolate and releases more flavour when you place that side on your tongue. This is not a chocolate to be broken but to be eaten whole. Let it melt in your mouth and the flavours will leave you speechless.
- NUTTY BAR CHOCOLATE is Fruit & Nut meets Crackle but on another level. Milk chocolate with crispy puffs and an array of nuts – cashew, pecan, macadamia and almonds. For all those who like a bit of bite in their chocolate this is perfect.
- CHOCOLATE WAFERS (Hazel Cream) is like “Kitkat on steroids”, according to Samir Gadhok. It reminded me of chocolate wafers I used to eat as a child in terms of how light the wafers are and kitkat because of the chocolate wafer combination. It has light and crunchy wafers sandwiched with hazelnut cream and a chocolate coating.
- BATON COOKIES were chocolate coated biscuits in coconut and hazelnut flavours. The coconut biscuit was mildly sweet and tasted of roasted coconut but, because I tried that first I couldn’t quite get a hold of the flavour in the hazelnut biscuit. The chocolate to biscuit ratio is just right and would go terrifically with a shot of espresso.
- COFFEE CHOCOLATE last but definitely not the least this piece of chocolate was packed in a manner similar to the Criollo chocolate and is a brilliant combination of milk chocolate and coffee. Think of a non-alcoholic Affogato and that is what this chocolate does; the creaminess of the ice cream and the wonderful warm hit of coffee that makes you want to savour that first spoonful forever. I could eat an entire box of this or be content with just one piece. Coffee lovers, this one is definitely for you (I mean us).
The ROYCE’ store at Ambience, Vasant Kunj has been designed to complement the intricate Japanese identity and culture of the brand. The front fascia of the store as well as the display counter, mimic the delicacy and geometry of contemporary Japanese architecture and interiors. The interiors above the display counter is supposed to be a visual representation of what it feels like when you eat a Nama chocolate. Materials like hardwood maple are used to blend in with existing surroundings creating a warm and inviting retail as well as tasting experience. The space has been designed as a transformative Japanese chocolate bar, conducive to exploration and interaction.
There are no long descriptions with each tag just the name and price so if you want to know something you can ask any one of the very efficient and informative people who work there. All the staff is trained and they know everything about the product and are very good at helping you find the perfect chocolate. This makes the entire chocolate sampling and buying experience more interactive and personal.
So, the next time you go across to Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj, look out for the Royce’ store and at least try a piece of chocolate. It will be a happy day, for sure.