UPDATE: Rose Bakery has closed.
Not much beats curling up with a good book and a piece of cake… so I think it’s pretty clever for Hong Kong bookshop Page One to have stuck a café in their recently renovated Harbour City store – the Parisian import Rose Bakery, to be exact.
That said, I don’t think Rose Bakery’s décor is the most welcoming. It’s the same signature look in every city (London, New York, Tokyo and counting) but I found its stark industrial design rather chilly, and somewhat at odds with the traditional dark wood bookshelves lining the walls at Page One. With a bare cement floor, cold glass tables and stainless steel surfaces, it feels like a cross between a disused aircraft hangar and the Industrial Zone on The Crystal Maze (and yes, I know I seem to reference The Crystal Maze way more than the average person!).
Come 4pm and my mind immediately turns to cake… hell, who am I fooling, my mind is usually fixated on cake at all times of the day! So on our visit, afternoon tea partner-in-crime Mirander and I decided to bypass Rose Bakery’s savoury offerings of salads and quiches for cake, cake and more cake; a balanced diet means that not all the cakes we chose are chocolate ones, right?
I had heard good things about Rose Bakery’s legendary carrot cake… and I have to say, I was subsequently quite disappointed. The flavour was good and strong in real carrot taste, the frosting creamy and tangy – but the sponge was a bit too dry; factor in the lofty size of the thing, and there just wasn’t enough cream cheese to combat the amount of dry sponge. Given the reputation of Rose Bakery’s carrot cake, I can quite easily think of several others in Hong Kong that have it beat hands down, including Fuel, Classified, Rummin’ Tings, The Library Café, and even Sift’s carrot cupcakes.
We also tried two slices of loaf cake – Marbled Chocolate and Pistachio. Again, I had no complaints about the flavour of the marbled loaf, a light chocolate taste that thankfully wasn’t too sweet, but this sponge was really dry. Too dry to finish, which is nothing short of a cake crime.
Meanwhile, the pistachio loaf had the best texture of the trio, but this time the flavour let it down. Blandly sweet, if it wasn’t for the colour, I’m not even sure I’d have guessed it was pistachio, more just a generic pound cake. At $58 each, these were all too expensive for average cakes, and definitely not worth making a special trip for.
The seats at Rose Bakery aren’t especially comfortable and the atmosphere ain’t exactly rich in warm fuzzies either. However, as anyone who’s ever set foot in Harbour City mall will testify, the place is a total zoo and sometimes you just need somewhere to sit down for a quiet respite from squawking suitcase-wielding tourists. On that front at least, Rose Bakery delivers – so here’s hoping that next time, the cakes will have rose to the occasion.
Rose Bakery, Shop 4001 (inside Page One), 4/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2254 6568