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

Visiting The Bread Rack while they are still in their soft opening stage, The Bread Rack is a new bakery which has recently opened their doors at [email protected] — the building along Yio Chu Kang Road also houses an outlet of the Soi19 Thai Wanton Mee, and is also situated opposite Urban Table at ICB Shopping Centre which is just across the road.

Being in soft launch mode, The Bread Rack was serving a limited menu with four types of different loaves and four different danishes available — found myself going for the Almond Croissant which was flaky and buttery with distinct layers in between from the lamination process of making the pastry. The frangipane was also nutty and not too moist; also adequately sweet without being too dominant in flavour and definitely allowed the buttery notes of the croissant to pull through — a pretty good rendition of the almond croissant overall that I actually would see myself having again. The White is also well-pulled here; the cuppa being smooth and creamy with an earthy flavour profile and a medium body — works both as a comforting mid-day cuppa and a morning perk-me-up. The accompanying chocolate chip cookies were also pretty delicious — not too dense and crunchy, yet coming with a melty chocolate chip in the middle for flavour.

It may be early days for The Bread Rack, but I do see some potential in the items that they serve that they will be pretty much a favourite for those residing in the area especially — simple, well-executed danishes tucked away from the buzzy neighbourhood centre alongside well-pulled coffee with loaves to takeaway and enjoy in the comfort of your home. What more can I ask for?

Pretty stoked that there is a new spot for specialty coffee around Ang Mo Kio Central — a rather accessible spot for most given how most other cafes within Ang Mo Kio are well hidden within the neighbourhoods (i.e. AMPM Cafe, The Workbench Bistro etc.). Being a hole-in-the-wall cafe, Brew & Co seems to be a spot catered more towards the takeaway crowds with just a single bench seat in the store itself, and another bench and a two-seater table situated outside. Brew & Co mainly specialises in specialty coffee, so expect the usuals such as Espresso, White, Black & Mocha, as well as specials such as the Dirty Matcha and Orange Espresso alongside other beverages such as tea and chocolate. Pastries available includes croissants, scones, and bagels — just to name a few.

The Raisin Scone comes across as a pretty decent light bite for breakfast, especially after being heated up before being passed to the patron — the scone comes crusty on the outside with plenty of nibs of raisins to chew on; the scone also being sufficiently soft and not particularly dry, served with a pack of Smucker’s Strawberry Sauce that helps to give the scone a bit more moisture and a slight tang. The Orange Espresso is everything that I would have expected — the version here comes with punchy espresso with an earthy body, yet the infusion of orange here gives it a brighter flavour that also gives it a clean finish.

Given the way that Brew & Co is set up, it does work well as a convenient spot for residents around the area to pick up their cuppa before heading to the bus interchange or MRT station to make their commute. Otherwise, it’s a spot that works fine for a leisurely cuppa in the morning especially with the outside seating, which is well-sheltered being within the HDB block itself. With quality cuppa and comforting light bites, Brew & Co is a spot that Ang Mo Kio residents will be glad to have in their neighbourhood, and also somewhere cafe-goers who are into coffee should certainly visit.

Checked out the new Main Street Commissary at Rowell Road — a new cafe which serves up specialty coffee and simple sandwiches, pastries and cakes to go alongside.

The space is decked out pretty simply but with style — minimalist with the use of white walls, concrete flooring and wooden furniture and wooden accents for its wall panelling; especially like how they have a small “porch” area that seems to work as a standing bar as well; a pretty warm and welcoming sight as one approaches the cafe before opening the door. While the pastries and cakes are pretty typical, the Flat White was pretty well-pulled — a smooth, creamy cuppa with a medium body with a fruity flavour profile and a clean finish.

Given how the cafe is in the proximity of other establishments such as Sum Dim Sum, Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant and Jalan Berseh Food Centre, Main Street Commissary is a great spot for a leisurely cuppa after a meal at the various other establishments around it, all in a serene space that one could just immerse themselves in with a book, or just simply work from.

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Being tucked away on the second level of a shophouse, Nirvana Dessert Cafe is a spot that one could easily miss considering how it’s not quite visible on the first level — the entrance being just a flight of steps behind a door that is situated in between Machi Machi and Milk Singapore along Arab Street.

Being a concept behind the same folks of now-defunct Q&Y Kong Style Dessert Cafe previously at The Midtown in Hougang, Nirvana Dessert Cafe is pretty much a spiritual successor to Q&Y Kong Style Dessert Cafe, serving their signature soufflé pancakes as well as waffles, amongst some other dessert items that are prepared in their tiny kitchen in the shophouse. Their soufflé pancakes are one of the more affordable ones around — priced at $9, their soufflé pancakes are pretty affordable and comes at a decent quality for its price; sufficiently moist, the soufflé pancakes were fluffy and airy with a slight hint of eggy sweetness that was pretty fragrant. Coupled with the dollop of pastry cream on the side, the pastry cream helps to add yet another dimension of sweetness to the pancakes. Patrons can opt between chocolate, maple syrup and salted caramel sauce for their soufflé pancakes; our order came with the salted caramel sauce which we did not end up using though — the sauce being a tad heavy and felt rather off against the texture and flavours of the soufflé pancake, and easily became the dominating flavour of the dessert.

Given how Kampong Glam is filled with cafes that caters to different crowds, Nirvana Dessert Cafe is a spot that carries a different appeal — the hidden nature of the cafe being situated at the second level of the shophouse somewhat makes it a secret hangout of sorts only for those in the know. Prices are also pretty affordable, while the quality of the desserts here do resonate the prices pretty well — yet another option for dessert while in the area.

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Opened fairly recently, Sundays Ice-Cream is a new ice-cream parlour which is located along Telok Kurau Road just a stone’s throw away from Cafe de Nicole’s Flower on the opposite side — the ice-cream parlour offers quite a good variety of ice-cream flavours with quirky names such as the Crema Mama, Hazel’s Nut and Avocado Fellow; some of which had piqued my interest even before making the visit here.

Given the number of ice-cream/gelato parlours which had opened recently, we have admittedly been rather exhausted with trying out most of the places where the flavours seem a tad generic and run-off-the-mill. That being said, having tried both the Fifty Shades of Earl Grey and Black Sesame Street here, we found ourselves so spoilt for choice that we eventually ended up with both flavours at one go — the former being really aromatic with its tea notes; almost akin to that of having a rather intense Earl Grey Milk Tea that would certainly captivate those who are into tea-inspired ice-cream flavours, while the latter was an equally punchy flavour with strong notes of roasty black sesame, all that without being particularly heaty and not too gritty. Found the Fifty Shades of Earl Grey to come just a wee bit icy, but it was something lesser of a bother considering how strong the tea aroma was. The Waffle Bite is seemingly an item that was made for people like me — folks who would want to give the waffles a go but unable to finish an entire waffle on my own; the wedge of waffle was sufficiently moist yet with a crisp exterior, and wafts of a lingering buttermilk aroma that was alluring.

It’s location at Kurau Court may seem a little bit inconvenient for some; not the easiest of places to reach. That being said, we were left impressed with the flavours that they have to offer — no doubt lacks the artisanal factor that some places try to play it out especially with the use of botanical or herby elements, but Sundays Ice-Cream does serve up some seriously well-executed ice-cream without being particularly over-the-top. A spot that is worth making the trip for!

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Had always remembered the dessert options at Katong to be the ice-cream ships such as Birds of Paradise Gelato Boutique and The Humble Scoop, but I have kind of forgot about Jin Yu Man Tang Dessert Shop that serves up some pretty decent Chinese Tang Shui (糖水) at The Flow, situated between Roxy Square and Hotel Indigo.

Cannot recall if I actually had this item some time back when I had visited them quite a number of times for various items which I found interesting on the menu (the Ginger Milk Pudding 姜撞奶 being quite the draw here). Nonetheless, the Fried Custard is a hot dessert that would hit those who love their eggy desserts well — it’s egginess is particularly alluring and fragrant, while the yellow custard is rich and smooth; pretty dense and luscious without being overly sweet.

There isn’t much of an option for Chinese desserts in this part of the island, considering much of Katong is all about its Peranakan heritage and a neighbourhood well-known for its cafe and bistros. Jin Yu Man Tang Dessert Shop is an establishment that fills up that void pretty well with its wide variety of Chinese desserts on the menu, and with a comfortable environment with a second floor “deck” that works well as a slow spot to relax away from the jostle of the neighbourhood outside.

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Pretty much a space of a collaborative nature, Culture Spoon is a spot that hosts multiple F&B brands under one roof that operates from their premises at different timings with Cultured Backyard serving up cakes and pastries, Quarter Life Coffee Roasters serving specialty coffee, The Tea Affair serving up tea, and with Wok with Man, Mamilani Home Cook and Luci’s Kitchen al at helm in the kitchen for hot food all at separate days and timings of the week.

We visited Culture Spoon mid-day for dessert and coffee — found ourselves being pretty much spoilt for choice since all the bakes looked so good. Settled for the Black Sesame Tang Yuan — an entremet that features white chocolate, black sesame and chocolate-coated rice pops; the white chocolate mousse on the outside coats the black sesame mousse within, with the former being just aptly sweet and compliments the roasty black sesame mousse within that carries just quite the oomph without being particularly heaty. The chocolate-coated rice pops beneath provide a good crunch for a variance of textures against the smooth textures atop.

Must say that despite being a spot that serves up quite a variety of food, the desserts selection at Culture Spoon is certainly worth the visit alone — we were equally impressed with the neat Chestnut Shortcake; a cake that features light pastry cream similar to a Strawberry Shortcake that takes inspiration from the Mont Blanc with distinct layers of chestnut mousse and sponge cake with nibs of chestnut for a firm bite. We also came across a choux puff that was on display during our visit there — something which I would most certainly make a revisit for considering my love of choux puffs.

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Checked out the new Sowl Coffee at Woods Square — pretty much a godsend for folks in the Woodlands area because of the sheer lack of specialty cafe options in the area offering espresso-based coffee and pastries.

Opted for the Pain au Chocolat which was pretty decent overall — flaky and buttery with melted chocolate in between; something which works well for a good light bite with a cuppa on the side. Flat White is brewed from beans roasted by Six Four Coffee for now — a blend of beans of Colombian and Brazilian origin; carried an earthy note with a light body which is good for a slow mid-day cuppa.

For the longest time, there seems to be a void when it comes to specialty coffee places in the North — the lack of cafes in this part of the island serving up decent espresso-based coffee have pretty much gotten us used to travelling out to other areas for the cafe experience. Sowl Coffee fills up this gap perfectly; despite the lack of hot food being served due to the space it occupies, it is a pretty deserving spot for a neighbourhood that has a lack of choices — somewhere which residents in the North and the office crowd of Woods Square would certainly appreciate having in their backyard!

Being an item offered on a limited run, the Beni Haruka Satsumaimo Tart (i.e. Sweet Potato Tart) is yet another Tarte by Cheryl Koh creation that showcases the fresh produce from Japan — the tart itself being only available from 11 December 2020 to 31 December 2020.

Smaller than the average tart that Tarte by Cheryl Koh offers and priced at $11, the Beni Haruka Satsumaimo Tart comes with elements such as Beni Haruka Sweet Potato sourced from Chiba Prefecture in Japan; also the main star of the show here, alongside sweet potato mousse, light cream and maple-flavoured meringue. A pretty light and mellow tart in terms of its general flavour profile, the sweet potato within comes in a shade of pastel yellow, and is light and fluffy — bears almost of a consistent texture with the mousse and maple-flavoured meringue, carrying a light earthiness and sweetness; the earthiness running at the back of tongue without being too jarring for a dessert. The maple-flavoured meringue was also not particularly heavy; carries a comforting sweetness that is reminiscent of the maple syrup that we so ever enjoy with our pancakes to help to compliment the sweetness of the sweet potato — all of the elements gelling up together by the light cream that helps to neutralise the flavours of the two elements.

Tarte by Cheryl Koh has been a place where we had always been impressed with their use of fresh produce in their tarts — there is nothing too fancy with the tarts that they produce here, showcasing the premium ingredients sourced from around the world all atop a delicate tart base that cracks so ever neatly, and holds up well to all of the heft on the top without being too crumbly or wet. It is little wonder how they had since garnered a following, and its a spot that always comes to mind for us when craving for some refined desserts whilst being in the Orchard area. Looking forward to other creations such as these — the Beni Haruka Satsumaimo Tart being one of their offerings which seem to provide more complexity than their usual line-up that certainly was a pleasant surprise worth making the trip for.

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Dropped by Wheeler’s Yard since we were exploring the hawker choices within the area; not much of a place that I would make a special visit down by my own considering how Whampoa/Balestier is not quite a neighbourhood that I do visit; but definitely helped that the vibes here do suit the festive season very well.

There wasn’t much dessert options available at Wheeler’s Yard save for the waffle and the cakes apart from this item. Serving their own rendition of an Orh Nee in a deconstructed form, the Crazy About Orh Nee features elements such as Yam Ice-Cream, Yam Cubes, Pumpkin Purée, Gingko Nuts, Coconut Cream and Homemade Butter Crumbs, the dish is a rather conservative attempt as a plated dessert considering the composition of the elements involved, though rather expected coming out of a cafe. Being a seemingly predictable dish, the Yam Ice-Cream carried a slight earthy note without being too sweet — well-balanced with the light coconut cream that results in a flavour that replicates that of Yam Paste and giving it a slight richness as well. The cubes of yam provides a bite, while the pumpkin purée came fibrous — personally would prefer the yam to be a little softer while the pumpkin purée to be more of a mash, though it could be an attempt to add a more textures to the dessert. The gingko nuts gave a slight bitterness for a flavoural contrast — also an element usually found in the traditional Yam Paste, while the homemade butter crumbs gave a slight cookie-esque crunch for a slightly western touch considering how its supposed to be a modern variant of the classic Teochew dessert.

Personally not too much of a fan of Wheeler’s Yard considering that there are many other places that does their food from scratch that appeals to me more, which explains why I hadn’t been pretty much here all this while, but I can tell the reason why some have them as their cafe of choice — the food is generally faultless with a few standouts that are actually pretty good (don’t kill me, but the Truffle Fries are rather decent for folks who are easily satiated with their truffle oil). The strongest draw factor however has to be their decor — that rustic, industrial look within an old warehouse just looks so apt; cosy and pleasant without being too jarring especially against the minimalist, white interiors that cafes absolutely love of the late. It’s undeniable to say Wheeler’s Yard has come quite far since being the new kid on the scene; from a Instagram checkpoint, to a favourite of its own audience that it appeals to — a place good for casual brunch, occasions and catch-ups alike that one should check out at least once.

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Not sure when Hoshino Coffee had included Mille Crepes in their menu, but since I am quite into Mille Crepes I thought it would be good to give their rendition a try.

Available in quite a few flavours such as Chocolate, Matcha, Strawberry and Vanilla the Mille Crepes here aren’t quite the Lady M sort that features delicate layers of thin crepes slathered with vanilla-infused pastry cream; the Lady M version possibly being the most quintessential one of all Mille Crepes I have had. That being said, Hoshino Coffee’s rendition is not too shabby — the crepes are slightly thicker and drier than that of Lady M’s but they are still rather light compared to other variants I have had , while the pastry cream is still satisfyingly rich and smooth, and perfumes of an aromatic vanilla fragrance. No doubt Lady M’s version does hold a place in my heart, but Hoshino Coffee’s rendition is a pretty decent alternative option that I would go for Mille Crepes where Lady M is not available.

That being said, I wished the service staff at Hoshino Coffee Bedok Point could be more attentive to the details — especially so when it comes to the plating of the cakes. Visited the Capitol Piazza outlet just a week before this, and the service was meticulous for a joint like themselves; the Mille Crepe coming to the table with a misaligned cake liner and the end of the spoon touching the cake at the Bedok Point outlet just really ain’t the best they could have done. Some things that they could hopefully pay more attention in somehow ...

Having not tried the donuts from Simple Cafe because they were simply sold out during my first visit there, we found it hard to resist ourselves from getting one when we made our subsequent return visit recently.

Recalled that there were quite a number of flavours offered previously; the Kaya variant being one that really intrigued me considering my love for Kaya Butter Toast. That being said, there were only two flavours which were being offered at Simple Cafe on the very day we made our visit — Milk Tea and Vanilla. Opting for the former, we found the donuts here to be very good — coming in the Bombolini form that had recently been very popular, the bread comes light, fluffy, chewy and firm; dusted with sugar on the exterior for a slight sweetness. Inside, the donut comes generously filled with milk tea cream; the cream itself carrying a distinct, roasty hint of tea aroma — creamy and smooth and also being pretty decadent overall.

Still pretty much in love with the Taiwanese vibes at Simple Cafe — a very minimalist, yet relaxing vibe that is homey and puts one at ease. Their bakes and cakes are still pretty stellar — one of those cafes which I will always think of heading to for some quality cakes and coffee whenever I am in the West!

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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