In Singapore recently, I sat down with feted young pastry chef Janice Wong to sample her signature dumplings. The crispy-skin chilli crab radish puff was seriously memorable, but it was her colourful Wonka-esque chocolates that I stowed away in my suitcase home. At her flagship restaurant, I pored over her beautifully boxed, painterly confections. Some draw on the flavours of this food-loving city – from gingerflower and kaffir lime caramel to laksa leaf lemongrass and mango curry – while her more classic fillings of cassis and almond marzipan are cased in typically wacky, vibrant exteriors. All are glossy, brilliant and seductive, and I can confirm they taste as good as they look.
I plumped for several stocking-filler boxes (from $12 for a box of three) for my children, each one with different chocolates inside. I also bought a Singapore Signature selection for my chocolate-loving husband to try when I got home; he promptly declared the Laksa Leaf Lemongrass his favourite. In Singapore these most giftable of chocolates can be purchased online as well as at Wong’s growing string of stores, dessert bars and restaurants, which now span Singapore, Macau and Tokyo. But with “edible art” commissions for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Prada and Guerlain under her belt, her name is now attracting international attention, and last month Harrods launched a Janice Wong concession in its Chocolate Hall.
First to land in London was one of Wong’s most quirky creations: a box of crayons (£25 for eight; £85 for 40 at Harrods), in enticing paint-splodged packaging, that are, in fact, an edible adventure in eight colours and flavours. The yellow “crayons”, for instance, are passion fruit, red is strawberry, and blue peppermint. Of course, I bought a box of these too. I’m now working out who to give them to (and who’ll let me share them). Fingers crossed, it won’t be long before all of Wong’s confections land on these shores.