What’s in a Nama?

Rare cacao beans, boutique Champagne and fresh cream from Japan's Hokkaido region go into making Royce' chocolates

There are few flavour combinations I love more than salty-and-sweet. At birthday parties as a child, I was the first to dunk my portion of Camy’s potato wafers into chocolate cake icing and I still get an order of Soft Serve Chocolate with French fries at McDonald’s. But you can trust only the Japanese to take the unusual pairing of chocolate and potato chips and turn it into a worldwide junk food sensation.

At the newly opened Royce’ at luxury mall Palladium in Lower Parel, Mumbai, the addictive Potatochip Chocolate ( 755 for 190g) is at the heart of their weird and wonderful confections.

In 1983, when no one else was making chocolate on Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, known for its massive dairy industry, Yasuhiro Yamazaki set up Royce’ Confect Co. Ltd in Sapporo. Yamazaki started selling handmade cow-shaped chocolates as souvenirs for tourists before moving on to chocolate bars. It didn’t take long before word got out and business grew. In 1995, the company struck gold and went global with its signature offering, Nama Chocolate. It’s also the product that prompted Samir Gadhok and his wife Avani Raheja to bring Royce’ to India through their newly launched gourmet food company, Burgundy Hospitality.

The fresh cream content makes Nama chocolates extremely temperature-sensitive (it must be refrigerated below 10 degrees Celsius at all times), so apart from four layers of packaging, the store also wraps each box in an ice pack to take home. Only the mini spatula provided is to be used to lift the delicate cubes, even body heat can drastically change the Nama’s taste and texture. Along with Pierre Mignon Champagne, the Nama ( 995 for a box of 20 cubes, 190g) will also be available in Mild Cacao, Ecuador Sweet and Ghana Bitter variations in Mumbai with seasonal additions every few months.

The tiny boutique also stocks chocolate bars ( 484 for 230g) in rum raisin, almond, milk and black (dark); wafer biscuit chocolate in hazel cream ( 995 for a box of 12) and chocolate-covered almonds ( 1,665 for 360g). The Prafeuille Chocolat Berry Cubes ( 995 for a box of 30) are like After Eight chocolate thins, but at 3mm, they are much thinner and mysteriously hold a raspberry, blueberry and strawberry syrup centre.

The Pure Chocolate is another example of the Japanese obsession with the minutiae: Each little chocolate orb has ridges on one side designed to maximize the surface area of the chocolate as it melts in your mouth. Each box ( 995 for 40 individually wrapped thins) comes with two flavours—at present, you can choose between Creamy Milk & White and Venezuela Bitter & Ghana Sweet.

Dark chocolate connoisseurs will enjoy Criollo Chocolates (845 for a box of 24 mini thins), made from cacao beans sourced from the Sur de Lago region near Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, and the strongly flavoured Coffee Chocolate (870 for a box of 40 mini thins).

Royce’, Palladium, Ground floor, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel, Mumbai. For details, visit www.e-royce.com/english.

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Bacon bits

On a recent holiday to Bangkok, Mehernosh Khajotia, the owner of Celebrations Fine Confections, stumbled upon the German brand’s X-treme bacon-flavoured chocolate and immediately decided to work on his own version of the salty-sweet treat. A week’s worth of experiments later, Khajotia perfected the chocolate by adding a layer of wafer biscuit to complement the crispy bacon slivers. They cost 1,500 a kilo.

Celebrations Fine Confections, Tirupati Apartments, No.27, opposite the Mahalaxmi Temple, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai. To place orders, call 9870402901.

Close