Hidden in an alley beside the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Mayu Cafe is like a museum of patisserie art. An exquisite appearance, a rich variety of ingredients and multiple layers of flavor make Mayu one of Taipei's top choices for people with a sweet tooth.
Mayu Cafe is run by a couple who both graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris. Kobayashi Mai (小林舞), 26, from Japan, who majored in pastry making, creates the deserts in Mayu, while her husband, Yu Kuo-jung (游國榮), 34, makes the French cuisine.
Kobayashi's cakes are based on French recipes garnished with a Japanese aesthetic. Yu said that while French cakes tasted good, they were not visually attractive. "Japanese cakes emphasize the look that makes you want to eat for its appearance."
Each day, Mayu offers 17 kinds of patisserie a day, but only makes five of each. Since the restaurant opened in 2002, the Mayu Cafe has already launched more than 200 kinds of patisserie, with offerings changed four to six times a year. Some, like the Opera, combining seven layers of chocolate, in a rich, cocoa-flavored bomb, has earned a permanent place on their menu.
Mayu also offers macaroons, a relative rarity in Taiwan due to the high humidity. Combined with fresh strawberries and chocolate sauce, these macaroons make a delicious desert. Quality coffee made with Illy beans is also on offer to wash down the sweets.
Mayu's French cuisine also aims at authenticity. "I won't change the original recipe just to meet local tastes," Yu said, adding that he did consciously select dishes that would appeal to locals. Dishes such as the salmon steak with mustard seed cream sauce (NT$340) and the barbecue chicken with rosemary (NT$320) are highly recommended.
Although it serves up cordon bleu food and patisserie, Mayu has positioned itself as a bistro rather than aiming for posh formality. It has the laid-back ambience, ideal for giving your full attention to the fine food they offer. As a result of Yu and Mai's desire to provide a menu that changes regularly and have fresh cakes every day, this bistro keeps very un-bistro hours, closing at 6pm.