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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

One Afternoon At Le Vain - Korean Bakery, Home Of Daily Baked, Healthy and Slow Cooked Bread

It's been a little under a week since The Mediocre Wanderer was in the Outlook Drive Food Street. 

It's not an official street name, but I do believe that with all the restaurants popping up in that area, it should be called so. But anyway, I digress. Back to the Outlook Drive Food Street.

On our way home from our lunch with the in-laws, we passed by another newly opened establishment in the area, right beside Villa La Maja/Villa Silvana. 

It's a place called Le Vain and it has nothing to do with Vanity. In fact, it's a Korean Bakery (I'm guessing it's a play on the word Leaven , a baking term that means "to cause dough to rise using yeast"). At first, with my limited grasp of the French language, I thought it was pronounced as Luh-Van like the way bread is pronounced in French (luh-pan). Luckily, I was enlightened by the staff as it is pronounced as Le-vayne.
The new place doubles as a cafe / bakeshop that serves fresh, slow cooked and healthy bread. At least that's what their signage says. To satisfy our curiosity, we decided to check the place out. Here's what we discovered:

1. LOCATION: as with our restaurant review of DECADES (click link to see post), this location is quite accessible and is a good 5-10 minutes from town. On can take a jeep to Mines View or Tuding, and just get off in front of the Baguio Townhouse. From there, it's a three minute walk inside Outlook Drive and to Le Vain. SCORE: 5/5

2. MENU: What you see is what you get. Just grab a tray and a pair of tongs and pick out various breads from the shelves and display table. The menu on the counter offers hot and cold drinks that may be equated to the price of drinks at Starbucks. The place offers a nice selection of baked good and drinks. SCORE: 5/5

Here's a glimpse of what else they have at Le Vain: 

3. FOOD: We loved the bread at Le Vain!! MAX was particulary fond (and that's an understatement) of their pizza baguette. Served fresh from the oven, tasty and topped with fresh veggies, sliced kani sticks, ham, a cream sauce and mozzarella cheese, our son just couldn't get enough. It was so good, that we had to get another to go, just so he can eat more of it at home. It was a pretty big piece of bread too!  

SCORE: 4/5 (just because we wished the fillings were tastier. The bread dough though is a 10 all the way!!)

Here are the other things that we tried out:

a. Black Sesame Ball - a toasted version of a dinner roll.

b. Curry Croquette - the bread is seriously good!! It's soft in a fluffy kind of way with little crunchy bits of dough that somehow brings a good contrast to the pillowy texture of the bun. We're curry fans at home, but I did find the curry filling a bit bland. Maybe it's because we're used to spicy Japanese curry or that we had our bread served cold that affected it's flavors, we're not sure. I'd still recommend it though, with just bread bun.

c. Pizza Croquette -  a variation of the Curry bun, we had this piece heated up. Not really sure if that was a smart move as the heated filling somehow made the wonderful bun a bit soggy and oily. Keep in mind that we are big fans of the bun alone, without the filling. Expect a more "Asian" type of pizza filling. It's quite similar to the Japanese kind - the ones with corn kernels on top.

d. Butter Cream Bread - one of my favorites whenever I'd get this from Breadtalk. This versions a bit smaller with a a smaller cream to bread ratio. Not bad, but I wish there was more buttercream.

e. Pizza Baguette -  this was, in our opinion, the star of our tray (see description above, right beside 3. FOOD :)

4. SERVICE: Le Vain employs self service. For food that requires the staff's attention, we felt that the staff was friendly, knowledgeable of the products and accommodating. From the cashier's counter, you can get a glimpse of the kitchen and the bakery's equipment. Everything was commercial grade and quite organized. They weren't also kidding when they called it a Korean Bakery. Aside from Korean bread, the baked goods are also made by a Korean baker. SCORE: 5/5

5. AMBIANCE: the bakery's exterior was still under construction when we checked it out. The inside though could be counted as cozy, well-lit and furnished well. 

Music was non-intrusive to conversations, bordering on Muzak (as Phil commented), that it was super ear-friendly to our son MAX's hypersensitive ears. 

MAX is getting acquainted with the place
The huge picture windows looking out on the street allows you to check out the horses that the tourists hire from Wright Park. 

The place is soothing, peaceful and a great place for some coffee and conversation. SCORE: 5/5

Le Vain has more good points than bad. Given that it's on it's soft opening and they've got 98% of their stuff down to a "T", we'd recommend this place for folks who want a nice place to chill at, get away from the city centre's crowd and for those who just want great, freshly baked bread. Enjoy life's simple pleasures. Head on out to Le Vain. OVERALL SCORE: 4.8/5

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!

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