Kingdom under siege by flaky favourite

A croissant craze is sweeping the nation, led by marquee restaurants in central Bangkok

There's no doubt that at this very minute no other pastries are more sought after in the Kingdom than flaky and buttery croissants.

The popularity of the crescent-shaped baked good, originated from Austria, was ignited on social media and quickly adopted by pâtissiers -- veteran and wannabe -- around the country.

New baking wunderkinds specialising in croissants are popping up not only in Bangkok CBD but also at locations in the middle of nowhere in provinces such as Chiang Mai, Samut Songkhram and Ratchaburi.

Many of these bakers are taking pride not only in their culinary expertise but also long waiting queue -- in front of the shop and online.

At some vendors, you need to pre-order and wait as long as six months to be notified that your freshly baked bread is ready for pick up. And the customers, mainly die-hard bread fans and relentless trend-catchers, are always prompt for the phenomenal wait.

That really is a bloody new normal for gastronomic pleasure, I would say. But it also proves that, even under harsh economic circumstances, anyone can thrive with a nimble marketing move.

However, this article never intends to echo such overblown glory of those social-media treasures.

Amid such a craze over my darling pastry, I have gathered a list of some of the city's best croissants that are heavenly spot-on but not yet a fad.

Tuxedo Espresso Bar

Over the past several months, Tuxedo Espresso Bar at the Carlton Hotel Sukhumvit has been the place where I regularly stop to buy delicious croissants.

My favourite choice, French butter croissant (75 baht), is loved for its light and flaky character that showcases more than 100 fine layers encircling a buttery and spongy honeycomb-like centre.

Many of my friends, however, vote for German-styled laugen croissant (85 baht) prepared with lye-bathed pretzel dough to yield a slightly gummier texture and a slightly astringent savoury taste.

Another favourite of mine is rubik brioche cube (105 baht).

Just like the croissant, the glazed pastry is made with butter-laminated dough and featuring multiple crisp layers. Inside the cube reveals a molten chocolate sauce made with premium French chocolate.

Tuxedo's bakery line is crafted by the hotel's executive pastry chef Kritnakorn Rooplek.

Kritnakorn is a highly-experienced pâtissier whose 15-year career includes working at leading hotels and top-class dining establishments both in the US and Thailand.

He only uses T55 French flour and French butter for croissants to ensure the light open texture and crispy crust.

There are also almond croissant, chocolate croissant (90 baht) and tropezienne brioche with orange blossom cream (105 baht).

For World Croissant Day on Jan 30, the Tuxedo Espresso Bar is introducing two special items: the lemon merengue croissant (115 baht) and the truffle and ricotta croissant (250 baht), available from Jan 18 to 30.

Tuxedo Espresso Bar is located at lobby level, Carlton Bangkok Sukhumvit. Call 02-090-7888.

La Pâtisserie

Brioche feuilletée, the flaky and buttery signature pastry of the Okura Prestige Bangkok, was until very recently offered as an exclusive treat to dine-in guests at the hotel's Michelin-starred Elements restaurant.

Good news is that you can now find the pastry, which gives a similar palate pleasure as a great croissant does, on offer as a part of takeaway bread set dubbed "Elements Artisan Bread Box".

Available from the hotel's La Pâtisserie shop, the set, priced at 390 baht, comprises two pieces of soba baguette, two pieces of goma charcoal soft bun and two pieces of the brioche feuilletée, and all are the restaurant's signature.

The escargot-shaped brioche feuilletée, crafted by the hotel's Dutch executive chef Sebastiaan Hoogewerf, boasts a very light and airy addictive mouthfeel and proves one of the best Viennoiseries in Bangkok.

A minimum 24-hour pre-order is required for the bread set, which comes with a bar of artisan French salted butter and a house-smoked miso and seaweed butter.

La Pâtisserie is located on the ground floor of Park Ventures Ecoplex, Phloenchit Road. For more information or reservations, call the Okura Prestige hotel 02-687-9031 or 02-687-9000.

Gontran Cherrier

A sweeping variety of scrumptious and most-authentic croissants can be found at Gontran Cherrier, a French bakery cafe located on the ground floor of Singha Complex.

The brainchild of a globetrotting well-established French boulanger and TV host Gontran Cherrier, the bakery first opened in Paris in 2010. Today there are 50 of its outlets throughout the globe including in France, the US, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

The Bangkok edition opened in 2018. The 60-seater offers a wide selection of pastries, breads, breakfast dishes, gourmet sandwiches and other light meal items.

From its collection of spot-on croissants, options range from classic to fanciful contemporary.

Other than the plain butter croissant (70 baht), there are flavour options including linen maple syrup (90 baht), black tea with cream cheese (85 baht), almond chocolate (120 baht), matcha green tea with red bean (95 baht), pink chocolate-raspberry (115 baht), passion fruit meringue (100 baht) and red velvet cream cheese (130 baht).

As for sandwich, prepared with either croissant or Danish, filling choices are such as mushroom and truffle cream (95 baht), ham and cheese (150 baht), kurobuta barbecue (100 baht) and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (210 baht).

Gontran Cherrier is located on the ground floor of Singha Complex, New Phetchaburi Road. Call 090-991-8999.

Chef Erwin Bistro

Whether it be for a fine-dining meal or reheated food, my trust in chef Erwin Eberharter has always been super high. And the trust is of course extended to his croissants.

For more than two decades, the Austrian-born culinary master has been directing the kitchens of luxurious hotels around the world. But in 2014, he gave up his hotelier career to start a new culinary venture in the uncharted territory of chilled gourmet meals.

Under the brand Chef Erwin Bistro, the products range from main dishes to pasta and soup to sandwiches.

Croissants, however, were never the brand's main product. But the low-key, unadvertised pastry is agreed by many keen foodies as second to none in the city. After all, the croissant is a Viennoiserie pastry of Austrian origin. And who am I not to trust an Austrian chef.

Erwin's options of croissants range from fine butter croissant (65 baht), dark chocolate croissant (75 baht), raspberry croissant (80 baht) to wholemeal croissant with sesame (65 baht).

Chef Erwin Bistro croissants are available upon reservations and via online delivery service.

For more information call 088-886-6266 or LINE @ChefErwinBistro.

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