It’s Ellie’s birthday today, so I ordered some cake from Japanese-French Kova Patisserie this morning. I don’t normally eat cake, but I remembered that Ellie had banged on about Kova following several visits with her girlfriends over the past few years, so it seemed a safe guess.
Kova’s tiny flagship café opened over five years ago on January 2016, during the height of the London matcha craze. Since then they’ve been famous for their matcha mille crêpes. Wafer-thin layers of French crêpes alternating with matcha-flavoured custard cream. I get easily bored when people talk about cake and I recall very vividly how terribly bored I was when Ellie spent the best of ten minutes describing the structural details of Kova’s matcha mille crêpes to me a few years ago.
Can’t decide? Order three different cakes.
In order to keep her from getting that monologue started all over again, I decided to choose three slices of different cakes.
Kova being Kova and all I realised quickly that neither matcha nor mille crêpes could be avoided entirely, but I came up with a solution:
Matcha shortcake, a “fluffy matcha chiffon cake with matcha cream in between, and matcha panna cotta on the top” for £6.60,
Oreo whole mille crêpes, “layers of French crepes with light Oreo pastry cream in between, topped with cookie crumble” for £6.50, and
Sea salt cheese lava, “super fluffy Asian sponge chiffon cake, filled and covered in lava – sea salt cheese pastry cream, topped with cocoa powder, crispy crepes, dried cranberries and sultanas” for £5.60, plus delivery, service fee and tip via Deliveroo.
Perhaps matcha is not for me
Personally, I found the matcha shortcake very disappointing and I hardly managed to swallow one small bite of it. To me it tasted of cod liver oil. Ellie, however, said it had a subtle flavour of seaweed and tasted delicious. It was her favourite cake of the day.
The famous mille crêpes cake
I found the oreo whole mille crêpes cake very tasty and surprisingly light for the amount of custard cream involved. Perhaps it lacked a bit in texture. The crêpes were only distinguishable visually but not in terms of texture. It all blended into one homogenous, creamy mass from where I was standing. Ellie loved the cake but felt that it was a tad rich for her liking, and not chocolaty enough.
Cake and crime
My absolute favourite was the sea salt cheese lava. I would happily murder a very large number of people to get my hands on more of that cake, it was that good. Until today I always felt that salted caramel was just another trend invented by people with more money than brains for people with more money than brains, but boy was I wrong. I realise now that it is the best flavour combination on earth. And Kova got the mix perfectly right. The salted mascarpone will stay in my mind forever.
The wafer flakes went extremely well with the other ingredients, while the raisins and dried cranberries didn’t really do anything for me except add a bit of red colour perhaps. In terms of texture there is really only so much you can say about a sponge cake, but as far as sponge cakes go this one’s texture was excellent. Ellie liked the cake, but felt it was too salty and not sweet enough. If others feel that way too, it could explain why sea-salt flavoured desserts which are omnipresent in the Land of the Rising Sun have not had much success so far here in the UK.
Three branches in London
Our delivery came from Kova Patisserie’s South Kensington café. The Soho café that Ellie used to frequent is currently closed until further notice, the Chinatown café has been attacked two weeks ago by a vandal who sprayed black paint all over the front of the shop. Kova are currently offering £2,000 for information leading to an arrest. The café has opened again for take-away.
Other reviews – our rating of Kova
A November 2019 Country & Townhouse article lists Kova among the best London bakeries offering delivery. Half a year earlier, Gentlemen’s Quarterly shared their Mille Crêpe Cake recipe with their audience. During the previous months and years nearly every major publication recommended Kova as the go-to place for cake. However, when actual customers are doing the reviews on sites such as Tripadvisor, Kova is only ever doing soso. As a non-cake eater I’m dismissing my own judgement and only taking Ellie’s opinion into account. Overall, she was quite pleased today, so we will give Kova a 3.25 out of 5.
Looking for more food-related posts? Check out our article about poor people’s nosh that has turned posh, our Emperor’s Mess and our Sierra Leonean potato leaves plasa recipes, and the write-up of that time when we enjoyed fine dining near the North Pole (Spitsbergen).