At the mention of luxury chocolate, the first thing that comes to mind is a Swiss or Belgian brand. So it was natural that I let out a faint sign of disbelief when JW Mariott, told me that Royce Chocolates (which was due to launch on the 20th of June at the Bengaluru Baking Company) was actually a product of Japan! Like most laymen, my association of Japan was with Sushi and Sony (yes I’m a bumpkin like that!). The team explained that the chocolate is produced in the Hokkaido region of Japan which is a doppelganger for the Swiss Alps with its green pastures, snow covered mountains and dairy farms! Somehow, the world seemed less crazy now.
Royce(pronounced like Rolls-‘royce’, but having no connection to it), has been around since 1983 and is a pretty familiar name to the well-traveled in Asia. The most popular of their offerings (and in my opinion the one with most fanfare) is their Nama range of chocolates. We tried the Ghana Bitters (48% Cocoa) and the Mild Cacoa flavors. I was instantly taken in by the Ghana bitters. Delicate, creamy (courtesy – cream from the Hokkaido cows), melt-in-the-mouth with just the right edge of bitterness. Nama means pure in Japanese and the product stays true to the name by being hand rolled, using raw cocoa, and having no preservatives. This also means that it has a short shelf life and you need to consume it soon. (No problem with that!).
The consumption of Nama, as Chef Jolly of the JW Mariott explained, “Is an experience”. You first uncover the box from the thermal bag (used to maintain the optimum temperature to retain the shape and texture of the chocolate), then remove the box to reveal another foil covering with a mini spatula. Cut that open to find a transparent plastic box holding 20 delectable pieces. Now flip the lid and gently, ever so gently jab a single piece with the spatula and lift off the box and pop it into your mouth. The truffle like cocoa dusted squares are pure heaven!
Nama will be available in five flavors in Bangalore – Ghana Bitters, Mild Cacao, Equador sweet, Pierre Mignon and Au Lait. Each box is priced at Rs.1000/- but the indulgence is well worth it. Two or three of the mini-truffles and you will probably not find the need to order dessert.
The Japanese love for aesthetics and technology marries well in Royce’s Pure Chocolate. Shaped like a coin, with once side being completely smooth and the other side having ridges to mimic the shape of your tongue, it’s been designed for maximum chocolate pleasure. Apparently the shape and texture ensure you ‘taste’ more of the chocolate with your tongue. They have six varieties of this depending on the amount of cocoa in it. We tried the Milk Chocolate and the White Chocolate. Both were too sweet for my liking.
The most expensive cocoa bean in the world is the Criollo. Here’s a little snippet from Chocolate revolution to pique your fancy. “What the fine Arabica bean is to coffee, the even finer and rarer Criollo bean is to chocolate. Criollo chocolate has a distinctly reddish color, and an equally distinctive complex taste which can include flavors of caramel, nuts, vanilla and tobacco. Criollo bars are fairly rare and should definitely be sampled if encountered”. The Criollo Chocolate then, is Royce’s most expensive range considering the raw ingredient itself is sourced for a premium. I would recommend this to true chocolate aficionados, as the subtle variants in taste might be lost on mere chocolate lovers like us.
Royce is also very popular for their range of confectioneries. We tried some Baton Cookies – light and airy cookie fingers, coated with chocolate on one side. The Hazel Cocoa had finely crushed cocoa nibs and the Coconut had desiccated coconut peeking out from the cookie. Both varieties are ideally suited companions to a cup of tea. But I’d imagine the Coconut ones being considered almost ordinary in South India, owing to the fact that our Iyengar bakeries churn out a similar product.
The quirkiest of their products was the Potato chip Chocolate – chocolate covered wafers. Yes, you heard me right! Some crazy dude in a confectionery lab actually managed to convince his bosses that the sweet-salty combo works. And as a matter of fact, I think it works brilliantly. At Rs.1000/- a bag it might be the most expensive bag of chips you’ve ever eaten, but we must all encourage quirkiness, especially when it’s coated with chocolate!
Royce Chocolates will be available at Bengaluru Baking Company from the 20thof June. They have a fairly wide range of products to suit your fancy. With prices ranging from Rs.500/- for the bars and Rs.1000/- onwards for their more premium ranges, they certainly don’t come cheap. But Royce has an almost cult status in Asia and those who have experienced their Nama range will always go back for more.
ROYCE CHOCOLATE INDIA
@ BENGALURU BAKING COMPANY
JW Mariott Hotel Bengaluru,
Next to UB City,
Bangalore – 560001.
Ph: 080 67188551.
Parking: Valet available