On Storied Heritage: PAUL Boulangerie, SM Aura Premier
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
First established in 1889, French bakery PAUL Boulangerie opened its first branch here in the Philippines 124 years later in 2013. It prides itself in having famed macaron shop Laduree as its sister company, through the parent Groupe Holder. The Bench Group led by Filipino entrepreneur Ben Chan is the firm responsible for bringing this ubiquitous French establishment to Philippine shores.
Interestingly, Chan also boasts of a similar heritage. His parents were responsible for the Liwayway (dawn) brand of laundry starch for clothes under Liwayway Marketing Corporation. The starch maker later expanded to making savory snacks under the Oishi brand when Ben's sibling Carlos Chan assumed leadership.
Branching out on his own, Ben later established the Bench clothing line in 1987. Just like his parents' company, he expanded his ventures to food through the Suyen Group. Establishments under its aegis include the flagship Bench Café, St. Marc Café from Japan, and PAUL Boulangerie from France.
I managed to visit PAUL Boulangerie's branch at SM Aura Premier in Taguig – which was among the first branches – with a former partner back in May 2015. Its flagship branch is also located in Taguig, at the ground floor of the company's Bench Tower. We visited the place to celebrate our sixth month as a couple. Here's what we ordered that time.
The Chocolat Viennois adds a dollop of whipped cream to the basic cup of hot chocolate. On the other hand, the Chocolat Chaud PAUL is the establishment's simple take on hot chocolate, consisting of hot chocolate with milk. PAUL Boulangerie isn't just hot chocolate, however. It also serves signature coffees, including this Caffe Au Lait that follows a ratio of one part coffee to two parts milk.
As we had breakfast there, we also ordered a basket containing a selection of their baked goodies. PAUL Boulangerie also provided us with complimentary butter and strawberry jam, with refills too!
Of course, breakfast is never complete with savories. I ordered the Omelette Complète – which contained farmer's ham, button mushrooms, potatoes and Emmental cheese. It came with a side salad and a half Provençal tomato. Meanwhile, my partner ordered the Paillasson Saumon Fumé – a baked potato pancake with slices of smoked salmon on top and some greens on the side.
We also tried some of the joint's pastries. I ordered the Éclair Vanille, which is an elongated choux pastry filled with vanilla cream and topped off with a vanilla glaze. My partner meanwhile ordered the Éclair Aux Fraises, which substitutes the vanilla cream with strawberries and whipped cream. A dusting of powdered sugar replaces the vanilla glaze on her pastry.
The French have made the practice of baking macarons an art form, and PAUL Boulangerie is no exception. Its take on the crispy almond biscuits with an exaggerated version – the Le Grand Macaron. I ordered the chocolate variant, but it comes in other flavors too.
Basically, this macaron is a confection composed of two almond halves with chocolate ganache in the middle. It truly lives up to its name as a "grand" macaron seeing its size, which is about three times that of a regular macaron. As I mentioned in the earlier part of this post, PAUL Boulangerie is a sister company of the famed Laduree bakeshop.
The Tartelette Chocolat was a rather indulgent dessert, with chocolate custard baked inside a tart shell. PAUL Boulangerie did not scrimp on this, based on the thickness of the filling. It was rather rich, so I had to cut it to bite-size pieces. Nevertheless, this one paired well with coffee!
This 2015 trip to PAUL Boulangerie's SM Aura Premier branch did not have a follow-up. However, I managed to visit the joint's other branches years later – the flagship Bench Tower location and the one at SM Megamall, which is nearer to me. Since my initial trip, PAUL Boulangerie has opened several locations, which attest to its popularity.
In 2018, I paid the Bench Tower location a visit after I attended a seminar in Taguig. I ordered PAUL Boulangerie's Surprise Set – which consists of two mini macarons, a slice of vanilla molleux (molten cake), a serving of mini crème brulee and a choice of drink, in this case Café Moka.
During a March 2022 visit to the SM Megamall branch, I ordered the Tartelette Chocolat once more alongside the Marocchino. The latter is a mix of espresso, chocolate and frothed milk – which I needed that time to wake me up.
I'll definitely visit PAUL Boulangerie again if time and schedule permits me. You can't go wrong with an establishment long known for its much-storied heritage.
UGF SM Aura Premier,
McKinley Hill, Taguig 1634