I could never resist the smells of freshly baked breads wafting through the air and have always lingered a little longer whenever I see mouth-watering window displays of bakeries. This probably explained why I enjoyed myself at the latest launch of Bonjour Garden, a lifestyle garden café at the Intermark Mall by Grand Chef Yukichi Matsubara, an award-winning Japanese culinary maestro who is the Head Chef and Managing Director. This is the fifth outlet to date since the first one opened in Kota Damansara in 2011.
Bonjour Garden - as the moniker suggests – is a quintessential lifestyle-garden concept bakery and café with culinary inspirations from France. Bonjour Garden is designed for those who enjoy healthy and creative French bakery at its most authentic but made with Japanese skills and ingredients. It has a menu boasting more than 100 types of items comprising a selection of confectionery items, pastries and main dishes which aims to please the fussiest of palates. The new Intermark outlet has a casual and charming environment with Parisian memorabilia which makes it suitable for a relaxing dining experience.
Chef Matsubara explained that Bonjour Garden was conceived from market sentiment which sees the mushrooming of cafes inspired by therapeutic garden concepts – a breath of fresh air in a concrete jungle. “The ever-growing love for a relaxing time by sipping your mocha and relishing a scrumptious croissant is fast becoming every busy working executive’s idea of a good downtime with friends for lunch or tea. And if you are game for a hearty meal for dinner, there’s a repertoire of tasty dishes to select from.”
Bonjour Garden offers some of the most real and authentic French bakery and pastries. Its menu concept revolves around 3 key elements – “Healthy”, “Creativity” & “Japanese Chefs.” – inspiring 5 signature bakery items (the 5’C’s) – namely caramel cheese raisin (butter roll), Ciabatta (hard bread), Croissant, Campagne (levain bread) and cranberry cheese (levain bread). Chef Matsubara mentioned to me that 1,000 pieces of caramel cheese raisins are sold daily. I also love flaky, buttery croissants and the pricing is quite reasonable at RM2.50 each for its size and the quality of ingredients used.
During the launch, I was captivated by Chef Matsubara’s passion which was also clearly shown by his two main Chefs, namely Chef Darren Chin and Chef Shigeru Hashizume. The first demonstration of the night was by Chef Matsubara as he made his signature Ciabatta. It was amazing watching him knead the flour mixture with deft hands and quick precision. His years of experience were on display for all to see as he stretched and slammed the dough hard numerous times on the table. Bread has to be kneaded well to prevent bubbles and crumbing. This also helps to break down the protein structures for a smoother consistency and to distribute active yeast and the oxygen it needs throughout the dough. This was followed by the grand unveiling of an enormous Ciabatta bread which had the word Bonjour on it.
We also enjoyed tasting their Chicken Crisp Sandwich, Crab and Edamame pasta, Cream of Champignon soup, Oriental Pizza and The Pacific platter which had smoked salmon for dinner. The next demonstration was by Chef Shigeru as he placed the finishing decorative touches to the Mont Blanc Christmas Cake. He delicately piped the cake with cream and dusted cocoa powder on it. A Snow White Strawberry Shortcake was also unveiled and I can tell you that both of them tasted delicious. If you’re looking for a nice Christmas cake to share with your family and friends, you probably should try it!
Chef Matsubara was friendly and engaging throughout the night and he allowed me to sample a slice of the Rye Fruits sourdough bread which comprised of 70% rye flour content with US raisins, walnuts and pine nuts. He topped the slice with brie cheese which accentuated the flavours further.
If it’s not perfectly baked, it’s not leaving the kitchen” – this is a personal philosophy and commitment Chef Matsubara holds dearly. The true-blood Japanese culinary master certainly knows what he is talking about. A son of Kobe, Japan, he is trained in the Classic French techniques and had honed his craft in Tokyo, working at Kimuraya Bakery. He was inevitably drawn to Paris, France, to fulfill his destiny as a master of the Patissier’s art at the famous Boulangerie au 140, Paris.
Such is his in-depth knowledge of his craft, Chef Matsubara has authored a book ‘Latest Style of Boulanger Desserts’ and confirmed his credentials as a master in his field with his success in the internationally screened Japanese television show, Chojin Chef, Bakery Skills. In 2004, he won a gold medal in the California Raisin Culinary Challenge Contest; an event that attracted bakery professionals from around the world.
“Our products are produced by our own bakery artisans and are made daily with only the finest ingredients and traditional time-tested recipes using modern angles. We don’t use preservatives but the finest quality, healthiest and natural ingredients in the making of our confectionery items. For example – we utilise highly-acclaimed Torigoe Flour from the region of Kyushu in Japan and use in-house natural yeast made from Californian Raisins to ‘rise” the bread – giving it a distinctive aroma and flavor.”
“The butter used at Bonjour Garden are A.O.P (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) grade and churned at the region of Poitou-Charentes, France. The subtle blend of soil and climate give the butter its distinctive character and richness. To us, creativity is not only in the taste, content and the presentation, but innovation is key in exploring a fusion of different ingredients and flavours to create exciting tastes all the time”, added the Chef.
While Intermark, Kota Damansara and Bukit Jelutong are full-fledged bakery and dining cafés, the other two outlets (Mutiara Tropicana and Valencia Sierramas) are set in kiosk styles for a quick take-away. It was certainly a scrumptious night and I left the venue feeling completely satisfied and full!
For more information, please logon to www.facebook.com/bonjourgarden or call 03-6140-7603. Below are some quick facts that were shared with us for your reference too!
Grand Chef / Managing Director: Grand Chef Yukichi Matsubara
Main chefs: Chef Darren Chin & Chef Shigeru Hashizume
Chef Yukichi Matsubara
(Grand Chef /Managing Director)
Originally from Kobe, Japan. He is trained in the Classic French techniques. After studying his craft in Tokyo and working at Kimuraya Bakery, he was inevitably drawn to Paris, France, to fulfill his destiny as a master of the Patissier’s art. This he did at the famous Boulangerie au 140, Paris.
Such is Grand Chef Yukichi’s knowledge of his craft that he has even authored a book ‘Latest Style of Boulanger Desserts’. He has also confirmed his credentials as a master in his field with his success in the internationally screened Japanese television show, Chojin Chef, Bakery Skills. In 2004, he won a gold medal in the California Raisin Culinary Challenge Contest; an event that attracted bakery professionals from around the world
Chef Darren Chin
(Chef/Manager – Intermark)
Driven by his passion for food, he left Law School to pursue his dream of becoming a Chef. He then graduated with distinction from Taylor’s University School of Hospitality and Tourism affiliated with University De Toulouse – Le Mirail that specializes in French Cuisine. He then did his apprenticeship in some of the top restaurants in town (Third Floor Restaurant & Bar and The Westin Kuala Lumpur) where he was exposed to various cuisines from Italy, Spain and French- Japanese fusion.
Fascinated by the incorporation of Japanese ingredients with French techniques, he then pursued his professional career at one of the first and renowned French-Japanese Bakery & Bistro in Kuala Lumpur under the helm of Grand Chef Yukichi Matsubara and Chef James Thong. After years of work, he left and joined Club Elite of Genting Highland that serves the finest food to the platinum guests of Genting Group.
In 2012, opportunity arised when he was re-united with Grand Chef Yukichi Matsubara. Together he assists Grand Chef Yukichi Matsubara in developing the concept and menu at Bonjour Garden, The Intermark. Inspired by his mentors in French-Japanese cuisine, he has incorporated Asian ingredients into Western Cuisine in his menu to give customers a fresh and unique dining experience
Chef Shigeru Hashizume
(Pastry Chef-Bonjour Garden)
Hailing from Fukuoka, Japan, Chef Shigeru Hashizume’s interest in food stemmed from watching the popular TV show called “Iron Chef”. Wowed by Chef Hiroyuki Sakai’s creativity and success in his culinary creation which earned himself the Iron Chef title, Shigeru harnessed his initial culinary attempts through baking trays and trays of cookies for family and friends at the age of 10.
Having graduated from Junior high, Shigeru wasted no time to path out his career in Patisserie by becoming an Apprentice for Minori no Toki, also known as CAKE HOUSE 実りの季. He subsequently joined Esperance, refining and becoming a master in making the Japanese Roll Cake. His persistence in harnessing his skills and creativity paid off when he emerged as the winner in the Fukuoka Pastry Skill Contest (Under 21) in 2009. In the summer of 2011, he backpacked across Asia region covering Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and India to explore the unique flavours and creations of each country’s pastry delights. He came home along with exciting ideas and inspirations to further enhance his skills, thus joining Hotel New Otani in Hakata, taking pulpilage under the critically acclaimed pastry chef Shinsuke Nakajima.
Lot LC01 – 08, Intermark Mall
No. 348 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel (03) 2181-1822
Operating hours = 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
Central Park Building
Jalan PJU 5/13
47810 Petaling Jaya,
Tel: (03) 6140-7603
8:30 am to 11:00 pm ( Sunday-Thursday)
8.30 am to 12 midnight ( Friday – Saturday)
*2 Piece Band Performance: 8pm-10pm
Lot 5, R-1 Ting GL 2
No 5C Prsn Gerbang Utama
40150 Shah Alam, Selangor
Tel: (03) 7734-3018
Operating hours = 9:00 am to 10:00 pm
Mutiara Tropicana (kiosk)
No 2G-6G Jalan Mutiara
Mutiara Tropicana PJU
347410 Petaling Jaya
Operating hours = 9:00 am to 10:00 pm
Valencia Sierramas (kiosk)
3G Ground Floor,
Jalan Sierramas Utama,
47000 Sg Buloh
Tel: (011 2345-7918)
Operating hours = 9:30 am to 9:00 pm