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By Sonja Bakery Is The New Go-To For Dessert Lovers

The most fairytale-like desserts are found here!

By Sonja, the latest venture by renowned pastry chef Sonja Ocampo, is an embodiment of creativity, craftsmanship, and a deep passion for culinary arts. Known for founding Cupcakes by Sonja 18 years ago, her new bakery concept offers a refreshing expansion of her culinary repertoire, moving beyond the beloved cupcakes to an array of meticulously crafted desserts.


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By Sonja Bakery is Sonja Ocampo's new dessert shop along Chino Roces in Makati | Courtesy of By Sonja Bakery

Chef Sonja (pronounced /son-jah/ and not /son-yah/) explains her motivation for opening By Sonja: "I wanted to be able to do all the other stuff that I've always wanted to do, but they weren't aligned with the Cupcakes by Sonja brand." This sentiment captures the essence of By Sonja, a space where she can explore her full range of culinary interests, from French pastries to Japanese-inspired desserts.


Located in a newly available space that had long been used for storage, By Sonja isn't just an extension of her previous work. 


"It's not really like a restaurant restaurant. It's meant as a takeaway," says Chef Sonja, emphasizing the intimate and personalized nature of her new venture. The storefront features hand-painted signs by Etienne Renard, co-founder of Enseignes Brillo in Paris, giving it a quaint Parisian café vibe even before entering the cozy spot. The bakery features six tables and 12 seats, creating a cozy spot for customers to enjoy their treats on-site.






The menu at By Sonja reflects her evolution as a chef, showcasing her sophisticated palate and international influences. 


"With cupcakes, we were really into all this sugary stuff. With this one, it's a little bit more refined," she notes, highlighting her inspiration from her travels as well as French and Japanese culinary traditions. 


This refined approach is evident in offerings such as their nearly authentic crêpes as well as matcha- and yuzu-infused drinks and pastries, which bring a delicate balance of flavors and a touch of elegance to the menu.


While a lot of us may already be familiar with Cupcakes By Sonja’s arsenal of handy cakes, By Sonja offers a more refined and wider selection. Though only being three weeks old as of our visit, people are already raving about their Lemon Cake. We also recommend trying the following:




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Brocéliande

When Sonja Ocampo said she trained in Brittany, the birthplace of the crêpe, my eyes lit up instantly. I have never had authentic crêpes before. And my first bite of By Sonja’s Brocéliande made my eyes widen even more.


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Brocéliande | Ching Dee

Named after an enchanted forest in Brittany, this is a beautiful mixture of earthy goodness and sublime luxury. The crisp crêpe is made of 100% buckwheat flour, giving it an (again) earthy and almost nutty flavor, grounding the otherwise too-indulgent combo of smoked salmon, fresh cream, sautéed spinach, and sunny-side-up egg. True to its origins, By Sonja only uses one of the best French butters ever made, Le Beurre Bordier.


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Le Beurre Bordier | Courtesy of By Sonja Bakery

Mille-Pressé

Inspired by the Japanese dessert of the same name, which was inspired by the French classic Mille-Feuille, By Sonja’s Mille-Pressé is the perfect dessert on the go. It features two caramelized pastry discs with a variety of fillings to choose from. I had the Chocolate & Praline Banana Mille-Pressé, which had a filling of Valrhona chocolate pastry cream, pecan and hazelnut praline, and banana slices. 


This is where I truly understood the restraint and maturity Chef Sonja was talking about. The flavors are balanced and despite the numerous sweet elements, the dessert wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet. And the textures — oh, the textures! The silky pastry cream, the softness of the banana slices, the crunchy praline, the crisp pastry shells — everything worked well together. It’s a great handy snack or dessert when you just want a quick bite of something sweet and satisfying.


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Mille-Pressé | Ching Dee

Strawberry Banana Caramel Shortcake

This dessert will remind you of Japan’s iconic strawberry cakes. In between layers of moist genoise cake is a generous spread of their house-made caramel strawberry jam and By Sonja’s signature caramel Chantilly cream studded with slices of fresh strawberries and bananas — the wedge slice gives a beautiful peek of the shortcake’s fresh fillings. It’s topped with crisp meringue batons for added flavor and texture. 


“As the seasons change and fruit availability evolves, so too will our shortcake variants,” Chef Sonja points out.


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Strawberry Banana Caramel Shortcake | Ching Dee

Sweet Pleasures

Described as their “quintessential gourmet dessert”, this multi-layered treat is a dream come true for chocoholics. It has layers of dacquoise cake with hazelnuts, crunchy praline and milk chocolate, milk chocolate chantilly cream, milk chocolate ganache, and sheets of fine milk chocolate. The serving size is just right, giving diners enough sweetness and richness to enjoy with any of their coffee and tea selections.


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Sweet Pleasures | Ching Dee

Strawberry Basil Iced Tea

On a warm summer afternoon, this drink is most refreshing. Served ice cold, it has muddled fresh strawberries and basil lending its freshness to the tea.


Developing the menu was a process that involved both creativity and meticulous planning. Ocampo shares about the evolving menu, which includes classic desserts as well as innovative new creations. 

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Strawberry Basil Iced Tea | Ching Dee
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“We’re still adding stuff to the menu. I feel like we’re still evolving. We’re actually launching a Bacon Mushroom Crêpe this weekend, and maybe a Suzette,” she said, indicating her ongoing commitment to experimenting and perfecting her offerings.


By Sonja also pays homage to her personal history and culinary roots as the bakery embodies a mix of tradition and modernity. 


"The core of it is really a bakery," she says, “But it ranges from French to American influences." This blend of cultural influences is a testament to her diverse background and her dedication to bringing unique, high-quality desserts to her customers.


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A sampler of the most delightful desserts | Ching Dee

Reflecting on her journey, Chef Sonja acknowledges the importance of her classical training and personal experiences like travels, underscoring her commitment to authenticity and excellence. This foundation is what allows her to innovate confidently, merging traditional techniques with modern flavors.


For her, By Sonja is more than just a business; it's a personal and creative outlet. "I care so much... I put a lot of heart into stuff that I do," she confesses, a sentiment that is evident in every detail of the bakery. Her dedication to continuous learning and improvement is also clear. "I love learning. I love taking classes," she says, describing her efforts to bring the best techniques and flavors from around the world to her customers.


At its core, By Sonja is about creating enjoyable experiences for its patrons. "I just want them to enjoy," she shared. This straightforward yet profound goal is what drives her to innovate and perfect her craft, ensuring that every visit to By Sonja is as delicious as it is delightful.


As Chef Sonja embarks on this new chapter, she brings with her the same passion and dedication that made Cupcakes by Sonja a beloved name.


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By Sonja Bakery is the new dessert destination in town | Ching Dee

By Sonja | G/F YMC Building, 2320 Chino Roces Extension, Makati City | Hours: Monday to Sunday, 7:30am - 6:00pm | Instagram: @bysonja.ph | Facebook: @bysonjabakery



Photos by Ching Dee and By Sonja Bakery