2am : dessert bar Chef Janice Wong has been busy. After opening Cobo House by 2am : dessertbar in Hong Kong in March, she opened Janice Wong Dessert Bar in Tokyo just 2 months later.
Janice loves experimenting and is known for testing the limits of dessert making, not just pushing boundaries in taste but presentation as well. She is also focused on curating ingredients from the day they were grown to the time they are presented to you, Cobo House will have a farm-to-table concept where the herbs and greens are either grown in the roof top garden or flown in from a farm in Japan.
In Singapore, 2am : dessertbar has been around for 9 years, serving progressive dessert drinks and desserts. At each point of time, there can be as many as 20 unique items on the menu. The Janice Wong sweets boutique is focused on sweets and chocolates, always presenting them in colourful themes, turning them into a fashion statement. Like fashion brands with multiple themes throughout the year, the Janice Wong brand has 3 to 4 collections per year and her works has attracted collaborations with luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Mikimoto. Other than being a chef, Janice is also an artist where she translate her imagination and culinary skills into edible art. Last year alone, she held 48 exhibitions with up to 29 pieces of edible art pieces per exhibition.
“We constantly set ourselves out to inspire, if we can’t inspire others, we can’t inspire ourselves.”
“People often ask me, Janice Wong brand is so colourful, bright and playful, yet the dessertbar is so zen, how am I able to create and maintain 2 different styles successfully. For me, I am able to compartmentalise and reflect on different types of creation I want to create. What grounds both of course is delicious food, and creative confectionery and pastries. I think of myself as a story teller and I love using my imagination to create my own world. We constantly set ourselves out to inspire, if we can’t inspire others, we can’t inspire ourselves.”
What are the challenges you face?
“When you are an artist, you can become completely absorbed. You get so engrossed in creating the artwork that you might shut out other things. As a pastry chef, managing costs is also a major business challenge. Desserts are very expensive to make, the cost of ingredients is high and many people don’t realise the amount of effort it takes to create desserts and to make them look pretty. While you have to manage costs, you also have to remain creative. In places like Japan, famous pastry chefs have a strong following. People are willing to queue up way before the store opens and pay a premium for the desserts. However, the culture is not like that in Singapore.”
How are you able to break into a country like Japan?
“Japan is a market that takes a lot of pride in their culture and I am well aware of that. I lived in Japan from the age of 3 to 7, studying in an American International School there. Japanese are very well mannered and they have great respect for themselves, for each other, their work, the ingredients, their food and more. I take a lot inspiration from their culture and didn’t expect to be opening there so quickly. However, an opportunity came as I received an invitation from a Japanese developer for a prime location in Tokyo so I decided to take it up.”
See more of her edible artwork and creative dishes over at her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/janicewong2am/
Photography by Janice Liu