Pan de Vie is a newly opened cake store in Covent Garden. It specialises in French patisseries infused with Asian flavours. When we heard that, we couldn’t wait to go try them out.
When you enter, you’re greeted with a large glass cabinet showcasing the cakes available for the day. They all looked so delicious and it took us some time to decide on which cakes to taste.
In the end, we chose the following four:
Baby Panda (£4.20) – although the name of this cake takes after the animal, there’s no panda in it! In fact, the layers are made up of charcoal powder, black sesame and milk flavours of mousse and cake. Don’t be alarmed by the sound of charcoal in your cake. It’s actually quite normal to see it used in all types of Asian breads and pastries. Cooked in a certain way, charcoal is said to have health benefits, and foods with charcoal in it don’t actually taste anything like charcoal on a barbeque! This applied to the Baby Panda too. But neither did we taste the black sesame that we were so looking forward to. Although the cake was soft and fluffy, the taste itself was pretty bland. The only good part was the black sesame brittle. So the blackberry was probably there to add some acidity to balance out the flavours, but it was pointless really.
Sesa-Matcha Mousse (£4.20) – who doesn’t love the sweet bitterness from matcha green tea? At Yummy Jubbly, we certainly do! So we just had to go for this sesame and match a flavoured cake. The layers in this were made up of cake, mousse, panna cotta and a sesame brittle. The combination of flavours and textures sounded exciting, but again it was disappointingly bland. You could barely taste either the sesame or the matcha.
Matcha Lychee Mousse (£4.20) – there were 7 layers in this little cake, 6 of which were supposed to be matcha flavoured. Did we taste it? Sadly, no. Which was a really big let down and made us question how exactly this cake could even be called matcha. It could have been that the middle layer of lychee jelly was just too overpowering – but even that wasn’t too tasty.
Pink Passion (£4.20) – the outside glaze was orange more than pink and didn’t have any taste. Inside were layers of coconut mousse, coconut cake and a tropical fruits flavoured mousse. But yet again, the flavours were so bland that we really couldn’t taste the passion at all. The white chocolate piece was nice though and the desiccated coconut pieces added texture and flavour to the cake.
As you can tell, we didn’t really enjoy our experience at Pan de Vie. The cakes looked amazing but really failed to deliver on taste. So we think it’s fair to say that Pan de Vie is pretty much style over substance, and we’re only giving then 2.5 yums. This is also because the cakes are tiny, considering the price you’re paying. Could it be that we ate the wrong cakes? Maybe. But we won’t be returning anytime soon to find out.
Opening times: Sun-Fri: 1000-2200, Sat 1000-2300
Location: 5 New Row, London WC2N 4LH