Popular streetfooder and owner of award-winning Viet Shack teamed up with his wife earlier this month to open Simone’s: The Healthy Baker in Arndale market. In doing this, they have revolutionised feeling of regret that often comes with “cheat-day” indulges.
Through intense research and planning, Nelson Lam and his wife Simone Yau, an ex-yoga instructor, have opened a healthy dessert stall that everyone with a sweet tooth wants to weigh in on.
The homemade desserts are made without butter or refined sugars, so healthy alternatives such as honey are used to sweeten recipes – and most cakes are completely fat free.
As Simone’s is open everyday from 11.30am to 5.30pm, lunch options are also available in the form of homemade soups and sandwiches.
Not only do they cater for those interested in reducing their sugar intake, but most of their products are vegan as well as gluten and dairy free.
Raw cakes are also on offer, which due to their natural consistency, tend to be popular with vegans.
According to The Vegan Society, there are currently over half a million vegans in Great Britain (three and a half times the amount estimated in 2006), but limited vegan eateries in Manchester.
Nelson said: “The first week we sold out of all our stock every day before 2pm. I have now tackled that problem by increasing bakers and ovens to deal with the high demand.”
The amount of effort that has gone into the stall was apparent from the synthetic grass lined floor to the walls of glossy white tiles. The petite nature of the venue only highlighted how clean the kitchen-like room was – which seemed so far from the hustle and bustle of the market environment just steps away.
Neatly placed selections of desserts flooded one large shelf in the kitchen. Amongst them were all the traditional favourites such as strawberry cake, blueberry muffins, chocolate cake, and various styles of brownies.
Quirky cake enthusiasts were also spoilt for choice, as they could choose from mango and avocado cheesecake, matcha brownies and earl grey velvet cake.
Nelson added: “Our cakes change daily. Whatever local produce is given to us, we use it to make non-processed products with no waste.”
Hand-written black signs that sat next to each artistic display stated a list of ingredients along with the price, which was more than reasonable, ranging from two to three pounds.
All goods came in disposable packaging meaning they were available to consume on the premises, as well as to take away.
Additionally a small variety of soft drinks were on offer, including aloe vera water and various flavours of Sanpellegrino.
Now for the most important question – do the cakes taste as good as they look?
The matcha brownie sold itself on curiosity alone. Anything green naturally arouses anticipation of the taste buds. The rich taste of matcha came through the brownie subtly, leaving a familiar aftertaste, similar to what you would expect after consuming a steaming cup of green tea. The chocolate topping mixed well with the favouring, which was a pleasant surprise.
Surprisingly, the chocolate cake was not much different to a typical “unhealthy” option. It smelt delicious and tasted even better. The crumby sponge cake was topped with a single ripe raspberry, adding a welcome fusion to the last bite.
Overall, they did not taste exactly the same as typical sugar-filled snacks but that is not necessarily a bad thing – it might just take some getting used to.
Being the first of its kind, Simone’s might have just set a new trend for Manchester’s food scene!