Sweet-Tooths and Small Bites

Sweet-Tooths and Small Bites

All things sweet or small for the after-meal satisfaction.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Caught wind of the new MAO King Tavern — a collaboration between the folks of Slake and D.Lab by Durian Edition which has taken over the premises of Slake at 15 Swan Lake Avenue; the space is interestingly decked out like a Japanese Izakaya, which is a fitting theme considering how they actually do carry an Musang King Ale (yes, durian and alcohol — try at your own risk!) brewed by the folks behind The 1925 Brewing Co., apart from serving up durian-infused desserts as well as some of the bar bites from Slake’s menu.

We were rather stuffed considering how we have hopped around a number of places and that MAO King Tavern was the last stop for the day (we visited on a weekend night), so we ended up forgoing the cakes and went for the Crispy Durian Bomb (almost a more well-executed version of KFC’s Golden Durian Mochi featuring actual durian mousse) and the Crispy Egg Tarts alongside the Fully-Loaded Chye Poh Fries and Har Jeong Chicken. Coming in a set of three, this was apt as they may be as a dessert ending to a tapas meal just like how they would be at a dim sum establishment; the crispy egg tarts do come with a flaky and buttery texture, and the egg curd does come aptly sweet so that its not overly saccharine from the addition of durian mousse within the curd. Given how the item was served warm and baked, the durian mousse had seemingly turned more custardy; carried a hint of its pungent fragrance with the sweetness sort of melded into the flavours of the egg curd. Whilst some durian purists may find this a little short of satisfying to solve their cravings for the actual fruit, this was actually an interesting item to have that may appeal to some especially when taking into account the innovative concept of infusing durian into egg tart — something that is not particularly intimidating, and in fact, pretty decent being rather “safe” for most.

Whilst MAO King Tavern is somewhat of a tapas bar with a local approach, we felt that we probably would not go for the durian-infused items alongside the tapas offerings out of Slake’s menu — perhaps it was also due to us ordering mostly fried items, but the tapas snacks and durian-infused desserts do feel somewhat overwhelming when had together, considering how they seemingly felt heavy on the palate. That being said, durian lovers would probably love what MAO King Tavern has to offer — a decent variety of durian-based desserts that are seemingly well-executed whilst also offering items to munch on; almost akin to a one-stop shop with a comfortable environment to enjoy even whole durians, which they carry if they are in season. A spot worth checking out especially for Easties who are looking for durian desserts with a hipster approach!

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Being one of the items I really wanted to try considering the rave reviews of it before Patisserie Platine had ceased operations at Renku Lounge during the revamp of Waku Ghin previously, I was rather bummed learning the fact that they had previously only offered the Ghin Cheesecake as a cake exclusively available at Tetsuya in Sydney, Australia upon Patisserie Platine’s return with Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands. Was super glad that they had since brought the Ghin Cheesecake back to Waku Ghin recently as part of the cake selection for April 2021 — a welcomed return alongside other new cakes such as the Dark Chocolate Cremeux with Mint & Hazelnut, and Chocolate Choux with Orange & Earl Grey.

Decided to just drop by as a walk-in pax for the Ghin Cheesecake and thankfully they did have empty seats by the bar counter for the evening — and after a few light bites we found the Ghin Cheesecake sitting right in front of our eyes; the cake’s half spherical shape and the feather-shaped white chocolate piece being the iconic aesthetic that the cake now lives on. Coming with a lemon curd in the middle, that “feather” that sits atop the cake sets the expectations right — as though trying to symbolise how the Ghin Cheesecake is made to be as light as a feather; nothing too cloying here that we are used to from a standard cheesecake. Instead, the cream cheese mousse comes light and smooth; luscious but light in texture almost akin to whipped cream, but carrying a distinct note of savouriness and tanginess that makes the cream cheese mousse so satisfying on its own. In the middle, the lemon curd attempts to cut through the richness with its bright and tangy notes — refreshing, and makes the cake so easy on the taste buds. The details go right down to base; almost akin to a well-made tart base that cracks neatly as one pierces through it with the fork, yet coming with a decent thickness that stayed consistent with the smooth textures of the cake.

The Ghin Cheesecake is quite the experience, but my clear favourite would still lie towards the Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla & Macadamia — don’t get it wrong; the Ghin Cheesecake is great in its own right, but the Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla & Macadamia comes with a complexity and contrast that leaves a stronger impression even for one who is hardly a chocolate lover like I am. But there again, I do see why the Ghin Cheesecake has its fair share of fans — it’s clearly different from the usual; something which would appeal to those who loves lighter desserts with a slight zing. Something that is worth the try — though

Was pretty bummed by how Degree Celsius Cafe is located pretty conveniently from the work place, but was previously only open in the day and only on weekdays, rendering it a spot that was impossible to visit unless special arrangements are to be made — so I was pretty glad that they had since extended their operating hours to weekends so that I could check them out.

Perhaps almost everyone else was checking out Edith Patisserie Cake Bar just several units away when we made our visit to Degree Celsius on a weekend brunch service — the cafe only have two other tables occupied during our visit. Hot food selection was fairly limited but the Smoked Salmon Toast was something that appealed to me that sounded a little bit more substantial compared to the croissant sandwiches they had to offers. Whilst some may argue over the “basic” nature of the item, the Smoked Salmon Toast at Degree Celsius Cafe is actually immensely satisfying — a surprisingly well-made rendition of a very easy-to-make offering that left a good impression. For one, I did enjoy how they have seemingly used the right sourdough toast here — one that comes light and fluffy with a slight tension for some bite for the inside, but a crisp crust that did not take too much effort to chew. Spreading the right amount of cream cheese on the toast, I enjoyed how the cream cheese was not particularly thick nor cloying; complimenting the savoury notes of the smoked salmon perfectly while the capers gave a tangy, earthy burst while the raw onions were zesty and provided a zing to cut through the heavier-tasting elements for the dish. Coming with the “standard” mix of “cafe greens”, the arugula came accompanied with cherry tomatoes with a slight drizzle of vinaigrette for the dressing — gave a more wholesome feel to the item.

Some may comment on how they are located on the wrong side of Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station but I would say that’s the charm — conveniently-located without being too buzzy; a respite from the crowd with simple cafe fare and decently-pulled cuppas that make it an unpretentious hangout that is peaceful and conducive to get some work done or have quality catch-ups with friends.

Noticed the opening of Edith Patisserie’s latest dine-in concept at 9 Penang Road (where Park Mall used to be) whilst passing Dhoby Ghaut after work last week — Edith Patisserie Cake Bar is their very first venture into full cafe operations, and is situated right beside TAP Craft Beer in the same building. Was rather spoilt for choice given the wide variety of desserts and small bites available here — Edith Patisserie Cake Bar also do serve up pastries, waffles and soft-serve alongside a good selection of cakes at their newest outpost; all that with specialty coffee brewed using local roastery PPP Coffee’s Throwback blend as well as other beverages such as tea on the menu.

Whilst the cakes were pretty satisfying at Edith Patisserie Cake Bar, those who are not into sweet treats can also considering going for the Kimchi Cheese Roll — a bread roll that comes swirled with bits of Kimchi and cheese melted into the bread roll. Was honestly expecting the bread to be a little dry; an impression that is left behind by the various bread rolls that featured cheese that we have had before from some local bakeries — that being said, the Kimchi Cheese Roll was set to impress with its pillowy soft texture which was easy to have, not to mention how the occasional piece of Kimchi adds a bright tanginess that was pretty refreshing without being particularly spicy. The melted cheese works well with the kimchi — somewhat of a safe combination considering how cheese somehow always have a spot with Korean cuisine usually (especially those featuring Gochujang and the likes of it); provides a light hint of savouriness that makes the bread pretty comforting to have. Works especially well with a Long Black on the side; something I would gladly have whilst sipping on some coffee over a book.

Given how there is a fair bit of social media attention thrown onto the place recently, do expect some waiting time for seats considering that the seating space is fairly limited. That being said, given how they do churn out rather well-executed desserts and how the cafe is located in a centralised location, this would be a spot I would likely to return when the crowds die down for a relaxed mid-day cuppa.

Yet another one of those local-inspired flavours which had gotten my attention when the promotional posters first came out — had always enjoyed trying out the various limited-time only soft-serves off the menu of the Golden Arches, and my favourite this far still goes to the Sweet Potato Waffle Cone which I absolutely love; and item that I insistently must have if it makes the return on the menu .

The Gula Melaka Cone was unfortunately one of those flavours which I am sitting on the fence about — and that is despite me being a fan of Gula Melaka. Felt that the Gula Melaka soft-serve felt a little too syrupy and weak; the creaminess of the soft-serve easily overwhelms the deep earthiness that Gula Melaka is noted to carry — just didn’t feel like it did hit the spot for me, though at the same time it did seem like I was carrying a much higher expectation for something that is seemingly of a fast food nature.

Still remembered making the visit to Momolato back then when they were still a kiosk at Singapore Management University (they operated from the space that is now run by Hong Seng Curry Rice) — they had subsequently went into online operations, but had recently moved into a brand new space within a shophouse at Haji Lane.

While Momolato was still a relatively simple gelato parlour back then, they had since grown their business and is now halal-friendly whilst also offering keto-friendly gelato — a relatively fresh concept even to this day; patrons at their physical shop space will also be glad to know that they do serve up waffles, croffles (with flavours such as Banana, or Gula Melaka even), as well as popsicles and seasonal plated desserts apart from the scoops of gelato in either cups or cones.

The Pandan Waffle is relatively decent; does come with a slight hint of Pandan fragrance with its batter coming with a green hue in the interior, but the waffle does come off a little dry and clumpy somewhat. Thankfully, each order of the waffle comes with Vanilla Chantilly Cream and a house-made sauce by the side (seemingly a mix of condensed milk(?) and Gula Melaka(?)) — the latter of which being pretty unique with its mellow, yet rich sweetness — paired up with the waffles and even the Banana Croffles perfectly. The Pure Coconut Gelato, also a flavour which is keto-friendly, was pretty smooth, creamy and hints of a whiff of the fruit — not particularly sweet considering the keto-friendly flavours at Momolato are sweetened with natural sweeteners, and almost akin to having the flesh of the fruit itself.

Whilst being a relatively simple establishment in the past, Momolato has since grown over the years during the period where they have ceased physical retail operations — and they are back being more than what they were. Dine-in space at Momolato is rather limited; mostly within the confines of the space in front of the counter that comes with two tables are meant for 4 pax each, and counter seating by the wall though there are also three al-fresco seats at the street itself — do expect a short waiting time for seats here.

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There are quite a number of places that I get quite excited to revisit whenever in Potong Pasir — one being HoJiaGa 呵呷嘠 for their Sausage with Sticky Rice ( Original) 大肠包小肠, and the other one being Ms. Durian for their durian pastries and desserts.

Being of the new items just launched recently, the 24K Mao Shan Wang Cheese Cake comes in two sizes — a 9cm portion good to share between 2 to 3 pax according to Ms. Durian, and a 15cm portion that is good for 8 pax, which we went for the former. To give the cheese cake it’s glittery 24K gold aesthetic, it comes with an additional layer of Konnyaku Jelly embellished with gold flakes for the shimmery effect — something which I could make do without. Going for the cheesecake itself, the cheesecake was an utter pleasure — unlike other durian cheesecakes that features durian flesh churned into the mousse layer, their rendition comes with the mousse encasing durian pulp instead. This results in a brilliant combination of the two elements — an actual smooth, creamy and luscious cheesecake mousse that was well-balanced and not too heavy when had against the fibrous durian pulp, whilst the the durian pulp comes with a pungent hint of the king of fruits that takes the cake (quite literally); a sure hit with durian lovers.

While there are quite a few establishments around that serves up durian-related desserts, I always liked how Ms. Durian throws in one or two new specials every now and then to keep things fresh and exciting for their patrons. That, coupled with the quality of their bakes which had remained consistent over the years, as well as the low-key location that they are within The Poiz Centre, does make Ms. Durian a rather laid back hangout for those who loves their durian-based desserts — somewhere that I still look forward to returning even till this day.

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Having visited Sweet Thoughts by M.O.D a number of times, I have been feeling rather compelled to return for how their desserts do come with an interesting local twist, featuring the flavours of familiar local desserts presented in a different form. They were also one of the last few places that I have visited slightly before the “Circuit Breaker” was implemented with the rise in COVID-19 cases during this time in 2020 — also my last visit here until fairly recently.

I am actually rather torn between the various shaved ice and hot desserts available here, so it is always good to be here with friends for how everyone does seem to end up ordering the various flavours here — not to mention how the shaved ice desserts are good for sharing. The Kaya Pandan Shaved Ice features elements such as Toasted Bread, Black Sugar Jelly, Pandan Jelly and Gula Melaka Cheese Cap — replicates the classic Hainanese breakfast of Kaya Toast, but also seemingly carrying a little influence from Chendol itself. Unlike other establishments which serve shaved ice, there is something about the shaved ice from Sweet Thoughts by M.O.D being exceptionally rich and creamy; there is a lingering creaminess to the evident hints of Pandan going on in there, and that works especially well with the toasted bread cubes that are similar to croutons — creates a crunch, and does replicate that Kaya Toast vibes in an elevated form. The other elements such as the jellies give an additional chew factor, while the Gula Melaka Cheese Cap, though albeit unnecessary, does provide for that instagrammable pour shot for the dessert if one fancies — also adds a slight creaminess almost akin to the smooth and creamy, yet not particularly heavy cheese mousse/cream/foam that bubble tea stalls serve up; good to have however.

Have always been a fan of the desserts at Sweet Thoughts by M.O.D; their offerings brining a sense of newness to the usual offerings commonly found in traditional Chinese dessert shops. While their offerings do seem a tad limited, they still do offer quite a large variety of flavours which are done rather well that makes return visits almost mandatory despite axing off quite a number of items from the shaved ice menu. That being said, I do wish that Sweet Thoughts by M.O.D will be able to continue to innovate further with creative, traditional desserts served with a dash of modernity — the menu has been rather stagnant for the past one year, and would certainly help if they could just perhaps work on a special every now and then to draw the crowds back.

I travel out of the north quite a fair bit for food usually, but Just Because Creamery is one of the few ice-cream parlours I would most certainly visit if I do have the time to travel out of Woodlands, but just not beyond the realms of Yishun.

Had been visiting them since the days where they were just a hole-in-the-wall shop at Victory8, but the Honey Citron is something that I have skipped having since then considering I have other favourites such as their Black Sesame Soy Milk, Tie Guan Yin and Chrysanthemum with Goji Berry, just to name a few. For a Honey Citron lover like me who seemingly keeps a jar of the said marmalade in the fridge to standby when the craving hits, this was an utter joy to have — think a milk-based ice-cream that is smooth and creamy, yet churned together with honey citron marmalade for that light, zesty, sweetness that is fairly rich, yet surprisingly refreshing especially after a meal; comes full with the fibres of the citron flesh to chew on even. Yet another flavour to add on to the list that I would crave for whilst being here in the future — and almost every flavour here seemingly just hits the spot for me. And that experience has to end with their handmade waffle cones; made fresh in-house daily, these are crisp and lightly buttery, and goes well with any of their ice-cream flavours unlike the trendy herb-infused cones that are rather popular of the late.

Just Because Creamery is pretty much a hidden gem in the north — there are other more established ice-cream parlours around no doubt, but I have always enjoyed how innovative they are with their flavours, and how they are also able to churn out ice-creams that are consistently smooth and creamy, yet refreshing; a plus considering the various zichar establishments around it. No doubt it may be quite a trek for most to give it them a visit, but they are most certainly worthy of making the trip down for — especially given how they have a proper dine-in area ever since their move to another unit within Victory8 several months ago!

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There seems to be quite a number of eateries which have caught on to the wave of traditional Chinese desserts of the late — the most recent being Sweet Hut which had recently opened its doors along Geylang Road. Tian Wang 甜旺is one of the latest new-comers into the Jalan Besar neighbourhood, which had seen the opening of various new eateries in recent months (i.e. Stixers, 69 Noodle Bar, LA VIE etc.), and is one that also dishes out traditional Chinese desserts and local desserts alike in a mahjong-themed setting with walls being plastered with a wallpaper featuring mahjong tiles, and a traditional Chinese character “發” hanging over the same wall.

Apart from the usual selection of Chinese and local desserts that can be found in similar establishments such as the Yam Paste with Pumpkin and Gingko Nuts, D24/MSW Durian Mousse, Snow Jelly, Honeydew Sago etc., Tian Wang also serves up a Durian Bubur Cha Cha — not exactly something new and out-of-the-box, but still relatively uncommon as compared to the Durian Sago and Durian Mousse often served up in such establishments. Served warm, the Durian Bubur Cha Cha is essentially the usual Bubur Cha Cha coming with dollop of durian purée over the top — the Bubur Cha Cha consisting of diced yam and sweet potatoes, along with sago served with coconut milk. Perhaps something more for the adventurous — warm durian flesh is something that most have yet to experience; the taste could be described to be more pungent than the raw variant we are so used to having, yet with a more creamier, buttery consistency amidst the fibrous texture of the meat that somewhat works as a quirky combination to the already creamy coconut milk, providing a rather strong-handed finishing note that may appeal to some. The other elements such as the sago provides a chewiness to the dessert, while the diced yam and sweet potatoes provided a sweet earthiness for some contrast, carried a soft bite, though would have preferred that they cooked if for just a little longer for an even softer texture.

Make no mistake that Tian Wang’s traditional local/Chinese desserts are actually pretty decent — the Yam Paste with Pumpkin & Gingko Nuts is one that most would find comfort in; smooth paste that is sufficiently sweet, creamy and earthy which would easily satisfy most even though its nothing quite as artisan as Yatkayan’s rendition (that’s another ball game altogether). That being said, Tian Wang does make for a good dessert spot after some satisfying dim sum in the neighbourhood, considering the lack of such establishments in a supper enclave — Tian Wang does open up to 2am to satisfy hungry folks looking for a sweet treat. A place to check out while in this neighbourhood!

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Its been a long long time ever since I made my last visit to Old Hen Coffee — the last time being even before this thing called “COVID-19” actually existed; definitely miss those times where one could head out without actually wearing a mask, and it feels like this “new norm” has already been this way for a while.

Having seen Old Hen Coffee Bar’s updated menu via their social media pages, I was really attracted to the Brownie Affogato — a relatively new item being introduced to the menu (at least to me) that is exclusively available at Old Hen Coffee Bar (i.e. their original space at 88 Rangoon Road). Those whom have been following my Instagram feed for a while may have come across the “Bittersweet” from Percolate, and the same conceptual ideas have brought upon the Brownie Affogato here at Old Hen Coffee Bar — brownie, served with a scoop of Vanilla ice-cream over the top, and with a shot of espresso served on the side to be poured atop the scoop of Vanilla ice-cream for maximum enjoyment.

There is something about how simple this dessert may be in terms of its set up, but takes into consideration more details than one might think. The brownie here comes all fudgy; served warm, its rich, dense and chocolatey — glad how this does not burn the throat and is nowhere near being heaty. The Vanilla ice-cream is where the details lie; considering it has to be served atop a warm slab of brownie, and also doused with warm espresso atop, the ice-cream has to be served chilled, and should not melt too easily to end up in a mosh due to the warm elements around it — the Vanilla ice-cream here stays true to those concerns, and holds much of its integrity down to the last morsel whilst slowly infusing itself into the espresso as it gently melts to the heat of the surrounding elements and climate. With that, the flavours of all the elements in the Brownie Affogato melds into one; the bittersweetness of the brownie along with a slight hint of saltishness from the sea salt, the aromatic vanilla beans of the smooth and creamy Vanilla ice-cream, and the roasty, earthy notes of the espresso shot comes together as one — almost akin to having a brownie with ice-cream and a cuppa on the side.

Being the first specialty cafe to have launched bottled cold brews, Old Hen Coffee Bar has since become an established name in the local coffee scene. Whilst they have expanded their operations into Old Hen Kitchen several years ago, Old Hen Coffee Bar has always been seen as a more down-to-earth establishment with its more earnest food offerings that does away with the fussy fusion elements in cafe offerings of the modern day coffeehouse. No doubt the food offered may not be quite as adventurous or even interesting as some may say, but Old Hen Coffee Bar is a spot I would return to when looking for a safe option that I know I would leave satisfied.

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Checked out the new La Vie during the weekend — previously an online-based patisserie formerly known as Reverie Patisserie, they had since re-branded themselves as La Vie, with their physical shop space being situated at Jalan Besar just a short walk away from Farrer Park MRT Station and City Square Mall — a rather spacious cafe with a minimalist design featuring cement floors, white walls and marbled table tops with paintings from a local artist adorning the walls.

Had tried the following items during the visit:

1) Kaiser;
2) Watermelon Strawberry; and
3) Flat White

The Kaiser is primarily a mousse cake that features elements such as mango mousse, passionfruit sponge, mango bits and mango popping boba — essentially all the things that one would be able to find in a dessert featuring tropical fruits and flavours; sufficiently sweet, yet tangy and attempts to be refreshing as well. This is pretty decent despite — the mango mousse being smooth and creamy, while the passionfruit sponge is light and airy; a consistent texture with the mousse that binds together well. Inside the mango mousse, bits of diced mango can be found within — not too many, but enough to enhance the flavours and textures of the mousse just a little, while the mango popping boba gives a contrast of textures with a burst of tangy sweetness when one chews on the boba; something akin to that popping sensation that Ikura brings.

The Watermelon Strawberry is probably the one that most folks will opt for — features elements such as almond dacquoise, rose chantilly cream, watermelon, strawberry, grapes and blackcurrant; the cake being a creation that was first experimented and sold by Black Star Pastry in Sydney, Australia, and became a sensation even in the local F&B scene where Sugar Thieves and The Twisted Trio being just two of the few patisseries which did a replica of the original. Whilst the rose chantilly cream here isn’t quite as floral as the one I have had at The Twisted Trio, the cream is still light and fluffy — sufficiently sweet and not seemingly overwhelming. The mix of fruits on top gives the cake refreshing tartness, as well as a good bite against the creamier, softer elements beneath — the watermelon giving the cake a slight boost of moisture with its juices and fibres giving a refreshing, light crunch that gives volume in terms of texture to the cake, while the almond dacquoise gives a soft crunch that is almost akin to that of meringue. Of particular note, we also noted how the fruits atop weren’t too sour — in fact, they went very well with the rest of the elements beneath them.

The Flat White is fairly decent— brewed from beans roasted by Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee; not the best and rather creamy and flat in its flavour profile, but considering how La Vie is primarily a patisserie instead of a specialty cafe that is part of the third-wave coffee movement, it’s probably a good attempt to serve up specialty coffee after all.

La Vie is probably a spot that works well for cafe-lovers looking out for places that does their own bakes — especially that which carry a slight appeal where it comes to the “instagrammability” factor; dainty, intricate cakes with bold colours and wacky apparatus (i.e. the Bailey’s Tiramisu; served in a flower pot). A pretty chill spot to consider for cakes and coffee along the Jalan Besar neighbourhood, especially considering the locality where they are situated at that is further away from most other cafes in the area.

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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