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New Taiwan specialty shop offers quality, handmade pastries

Several months ago, Donald C.H. Ho (何啟華) opened a shop in Taipei's Neihu District, selling a good variety of hand-made pastries. Eying Taiwan's growing tourism industry, the experienced businessman is transferring his know-how into his “Laurel Bakery” (桂冠園), and he is aiming high.

The variety of pastries offered in the Laurel Bakery is dazzling. You have multiple choices with pineapple cakes alone: original pineapple cake, native pineapple cake (“new generation” pineapple cake with richer pineapple tastes), pineapple cake with egg yolk and pineapple cake with seaweed.

Pastries made of different fillings such as salted egg yolk, longan fruit, red and green bean paste, taro paste and tangerine and pomelo bits are also on offer. According to Ho, his experiences in the trading business offer him useful resources on choosing quality ingredients. For example, the egg yolks used for the pastry are from Yilan. The tea leaves sold in the shop are from tea farmers he trusts as a longtime tea drinker.

As to the name Laurel Bakery, Ho said it has a nostalgic origin. “My parents are Cantonese who used to live in Shanghai, where they shopped at food stores like Guan Sheng Yuan (冠生園) and Lao Da Fang (老大房). After they settled down in Taiwan, my parents mention shopping at the places from time to time, thus I opened my bakery, referencing the good old days,” explained Ho.

“Hopefully my bakery will prosper like the ones in Shanghai,” he added.

Pastry is only Ho's first step. He is looking to add more varieties, such as chocolates and jerkies. “Those products are under research now,” he said with a mysterious smile on his face.

Laurel Bakery receives tourist groups, walk-ins and orders by phone. Call (02) 2657-8181 for more information. ■

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Experienced businessman transfers his know-how into baking. (Courtesy of Laurel Bakery)

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