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

It does seem that fashion brands have been fusing F&B experiences amidst their retail concepts — a recent example being that of the pop-up Coach Cafe by Brawn & Brains Coffee in the Coach Play store at Keong Saik Road. Ralph Lauren’s Ralph’s Coffee however has a more global presence before having their very first Ralph’s Coffee in Singapore with outlets located in major cities such as New York City (where they had their first location globally), Doha, Hong Kong , Tokyo etc.; their very first location in Singapore was set up at the Ralph Lauren store at Marina Bay Sands. That being said, Ralph’s Coffee has expanded their operations with a second outlet that is being set within their store at Shaw Centre along Scotts Road; just walking distance away from Orchard MRT Station. Their location at Shaw Centre is bigger than the Marina Bay Sands outlet; this time comprising of a slightly larger seating space as well. The entire space is set in the middle of the Ralph Lauren store; this effectively splits up the retail space into two sections, flanking Ralph’s Coffee on both sides with the main entrance of the store from Scotts Road directly leading into Ralph’s Coffee instead. Ralph’s Coffee comes decked with the rustic decor of traditional coffeehouses in Europe — the large use of wooden elements, as well as the same that has been painted white provides a chic, old-school look that is timeless against the dark green accents of the cushioned seats and black and white photographs that adorn the walls; quite the theme for Ralph’s Coffee’s locations. For those feeling peckish, the food menu does comprise of a few sandwich options; that being said, the offerings for food are more tuned towards the sweet-tooths with a variety of cakes, cookies and soft serve ice-creams — all these complimenting their beverage offerings such as espresso-based specialty coffee and teas, just to name a few.

One thing to note about Ralph’s Coffee is how they are using their very own blend of coffee beans for their coffee-related offerings here. Ralph’s Coffee calls their blend of coffee beans the “Ralph’s Blend”, with the Ralph’s Blend featuring beans sourced from South and Central America that they claim are from farms “emphasising the use of renewable resources”. They have also described the flavour profile of the blend to be “bold and classic”. Exclusive to the Singapore stores of Ralph’s Coffee is the Ralph’s Coffee Soft Serve; a twist of their original they comes as a vanilla soft serve. It is noted that the Ralph’s Coffee Soft Serve features an infusion of coffee that is brewed using the Ralph’s Blend — here, the soft serve is more on the slightly dense side and is creamy, though there are some areas that contained really tiny bits of ice that was not too much of a disturbance to the entire soft serve itself. The flavours of the soft serve is rich and milky with a subtle yet balanced caffeinated punch that lingers around the tastebuds; not too sweet as well.

We also managed to give the Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookies a go during our trip to Ralph’s Coffee as well; the cookies here are all warmed up before being served to the table. As much as the Sea Salt Chocolate Cookies looking pretty heavy and dense, the cookie is actually rather loose and crumbly hence being rather easy to eat without being particularly jelak. Warming up the cookie meant that the chocolate chips have been melted, resulting in a gooey chocolate ganache that is swirled amidst the crumbly cookie; the inclusion of sea salt adding a hint of saltish note to provide a flavour contrast from the chocolate chip. The Espresso Tonic comes with a slice of orange sitting atop; the beverage is sufficiently fizzy and cold — the orange further enhancing the bold body and fruity flavour profile of the cuppa even further. Ralph’s Coffee is an brand created on the brand image of Ralph Lauren, and it seems that they have indeed stuck to the brand DNA with their F&B offerings — the food items are simple and understated; nothing too flashy or fluffy but also hits the sweet spot being quite balanced for the sweets that we had tried. The slightly higher price point as compared to other specialty cafes are rather expected due to its relation with a prominent fashion brand; that being said, Ralph’s Coffee is certainly an establishment worth making a visit to see what they are all about.

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Hadn’t really been trying out vegetarian spots much in recent times, but found out about the existence of this new vegetarian spot that had recently opened its doors in Jalan Besar. Named So Sweet Dessert by So Green, they are a pretty recent addition to the Jalan Besar neighbourhood being situated at 23 Upper Weld Road just a short walk away from Jalan Besar MRT Station along the Downtown Line. We are not quite certain of which establishment did So Sweet Dessert by So Green actually replaced, though one thing that is known about that particular shophouse unit that it occupied was that it was once tenanted to a bar named The Luxe Bistro at one point of time. Despite its past, the space that is now offer by So Sweet Dessert by So Green seems to have been stripped away of its past — the location now bears a very clean aesthetic in its exterior, while the interior takes on very refreshing look that resembles that of a patio in a garden with faux plants on the mesh grill placed just below the ceiling as well as a faux tree that is located near the entrance; interestingly also features faux durians hanging at random points of the shop. While its namesake actually suggests that the spot is positioned towards being a dessert cafe, it is interesting to note that So Sweet Dessert by So Green does also serve up hot food that is In categorised into sections comprising of Orh Luak / Vegan Orh Luak, Pizza, Burgers with Fries & Salad, Salad, Sides, Baked Pasta / Rice, Pasta, Classic Carbonara, Ramen Soup / Dry Ramen, Pan Mee Soup / Dry Pan Mee and Udon Soup. So Sweet Dessert by So Green also have an extensive selection of Chinese-style desserts, Bingsu and Injelomi Toasts; the range of hot and cold Chinese-style desserts comprises of items sectioned into categories like Durian series, Mango series, Hot Dessert, Pancake and Milk Custard.

We did manage to try some of the items from the hot food menu of So Sweet Dessert by So Green; in particular, the Tom Yum Seaweed Pan Mee and the Truffled Minced Meat Dry Pan Mee which are both items that are being listed in the Pan Mee Soup / Dry Pan Mee section of the menu; these were unfortunately rather un-memorable and did not really leave an impression with us. It does seem that So Sweet Dessert by So Green is pretty much stronger when it comes to their dessert offerings; and especially so with the Durian series while at it — doesn’t take much for one to wonder why they have actually placed faux durians hanging from various points within the establishment that hints of their signature offerings. Having skimmed through the menu on the various items in the Durian series section of the menu, we eventually found ourselves going for the Durian Mousse — for those who just cannot get enough of durian flesh within the usual durian mousse, So Sweet Dessert by So Green does offer the Durian Double Shot that is essentially the Durian Mousse with an additional scoop of durian flesh that works especially great if one were to share the dessert amongst a group of three pax and above.

There are durian mousse that we have had from other establishments in the past that were mildly disappointing — this is especially so when the establishment serves up the mousse layer too icy or too bland / liquid. One can feel icy bits within the Durian Mousse from So Sweet Dessert by So Green, though this seems to be intentional considering how the durian mousse itself is already quite heavy on the pungent notes of the King of Fruits — the icy bits seemingly being there just to keep the entire dessert chilled and cool which keeps those flavours at the optimal level. Despite ordering the Durian Mousse that comes only with a single portion of durian flesh, we did feel that it already came with sufficient durian flesh to go around the entire bowl; a good proportion of durian mousse and durian flesh that not all establishments would manage quite as well. Having a little bit of the durian flesh with the durian mousse, the durian flesh helps to further enhance the flavours of the entire bowl of dessert, as well as to provide a fibrous texture gives some contrast to the durian mousse as well. At $7.80, it is probably not the most wallet-friendly offering, though one that is well worth the money to satisfy the cravings of any durian lover out there. Apart from Durian Mousse, other dessert items that caught our eye include more standard offerings like the Black Glutinous Rice, the Classic Milk Custard and the line-up of “pancakes” that are essentially identical to the crepe roll offerings that most Chinese-style dessert shops tend to serve up — things that we would probably fine ourselves trying if we were to revisit So Sweet Dessert by So Green in the near future!

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Patisserie CLE is a name that some might find rather familiar — this is especially for those whom are staying in the East, since much of its presence had been concentrated around that part of the island since its inception. There has been a period of time where Patisserie CLE had once operated as a cafe with a dine-in concept when they were based out if a particular shop unit at the former Paya Lebar Fire Station located not too far away from Paya Lebar MRT Station; that being said, the outlet has since ended its operations and Patisserie CLE had pretty much become a takeaway concept ever since with its only location at Lucky Heights in Siglap. It seems that the folks at Patisserie CLE are ready for expansion and had also decided to step out of the East for the very first time — their newest outlet being located at River Valley Road around the same stretch of shophouses where one can find ZAMAS River Valley Restaurant at the time of writing (another new outlet at Dairy Farm is also said to be in the works). Like their outlet at Lucky Heights, the River Valley Road outlet is one that is meant for takeaways — seating is however made available for patrons to rest their legs while waiting for orders to be ready for collection. The interior of the space does seem to be decked in a minimalistic fashion with some use of natural elements and pastel colours, though the counter itself carries a checkered look that gives the space a bit of character. Much like Patisserie CLE in the past, their display chillers are well-stocked with patisserie items such as entremets and tarts, while danishes and other French viennoiserie can be found in the display case beside the counter. Beverages available at Patisserie CLE at River Valley Road includes espresso-based specialty coffee, tea and sodas.

One of the tarts from Patisserie CLE that is a best-seller and also probably a must-try item would essentially be the Orh Blanc Tart, which is one item that has also been mentioned quite a number of times on social media before. Based on the description card placed prominently in front of the various items in the display chiller, Patisserie CLE mentions that the Orh Blanc Tart comes with elements such as baked coconut cream,
yam paste, candied gingko nut, Chantilly cream. One look at the Orh Blanc Tart and it would also be obvious on why the item is actually named this way — the name of the item itself being simply a word play of “Orh Nee” which translates to “yam paste” and “Mont Blanc” which refers to a French dessert that usually features chestnut cream.

Digging in to the Orh Blanc Tart, the Orh Blanc Tart can be described as almost similar to what one would expect out of a Mont Blanc but with the yam paste being the main star of the show; the yam paste here carrying a smooth texture — not too grainy, which also hints of earthy notes without being particularly greasy or sweet. This is accompanied with baked coconut cream and Chantilly cream that comes beneath; the Chantilly cream providing a neutral note that gels everything together, while the baked coconut cream helps to add a bit of fragrance that adds on to the yam paste. All these sat above a tart base that was decently executed — not too dry and brittle, and one that also was able to hold up the weight of everything above without being overly crumbly. While the addition of gingko nut is usually a must for traditional yam pastes, Patisserie CLE has interestingly included a candied gingko nut to the Orh Blanc Tart — replicates the candied chestnut that one can usually find in the classic Mont Blanc. During our visit, we had also tried the Apple Nutmeg — an entremet that features caramalised apples and nutmeg that is shaped just like an apple that seems to be a Christmas special; a rather well-executed entremet in our opinion. Patisserie CLE is one name that seems to have earned itself quite a reputation throughout the years; the co-owners do have quite solid credentials, but it is ultimately the quality of their bakes that brought the brand this far. Looking forward to the opening of their Dairy Farm location; this is especially so since this would be their first proper dine-in location in a while — would give some of their other offerings a go again when that happens!

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One of the new places that has popped up and received much attention during the last week seems to be Ugly Cones X Asylum The Coffee Library. Located at the basement level of Wisma Atria at Orchard, Ugly Cones X Asylum The Coffee Library takes over the former premises that was tenanted by the now-defunct SWIRLGO Omakase Gelato Lab. A concept by Asylum Coffeehouse which is situated at Jalan Besar which is known for their quirky F&B concepts such as HAUS217 as well as Absurdities; an interactive dining experience which takes over the operations of Asylum Coffeehouse in the evenings, Ugly Cones X Asylum The Coffee Library is yet another one of those slightly more abstract concepts; though still one that is more toned-down to better suit the masses considering its location. As one would have expected from the name, Ugly Cones X Asylum The Coffee Library houses two concepts — Ugly Cones which serves up ice-cream, as well as Asylum The Coffee Library that serves up coffee; specifically bottled cold brews. Both concepts are decked really differently, with Ugly Cones being just a boxed out area with a hole where orders are served out of; orders are to be placed through the self-service kiosk machine at the side. In contrast, Asylum The Coffee Library has a walk-in area that resembles that of an old-school library with wooden shelves filled with books, cold brew coffee bottles, and their roasted coffee beans that are sold in tin cans; one would be able to speak to their staff to make an order. It is noted that there is no dine-in space available at Ugly Cones X Asylum The Coffee Library; this essentially makes them a takeaway spot.

Ugly Cones is really unique in a way that it is a concept that strays away from being a typical ice-cream / gelato parlour set-up. One very obvious thing here would be the lack of a display chiller or any form of interaction between the staff and the patron; a very different approach to how ice-cream / gelato parlours are usually run. The ice-cream also does not really take centre stage too; the concept stays true to its namesake considering how the cones are pretty much its focus. Offering patrons ice-cream in the form of Combo sets, the mainstay in all the Combo sets is actually their Original Umami Cone. For Combo 1, patrons get to have one scoop of ice-cream to be paired with the Original Umami Cone — Ugly Cones only offers three different flavours of ice-cream, and there are only two add-ons being listed on the menu; both being chargeable add-ons for both Combo 1 and Combo 2. For those looking to try what Ugly Cones has to offer, the Full Combo would be the one to go for — comes with two scoops of ice-cream of the patron’s choice, as well as all add-ons included. For our order, we went with the Combo 1 — the Original Umami Cone with Mizuame Vanilla ice-cream, as well as the Japanese Jelly add-on. The menu actually does describe the elements which are being featured in their different flavours of ice-cream that are available at Ugly Cones — the Mizuame Vanilla ice-cream being a flavour which comprises of Hokkaido Milk, Madagascar Vanilla, and Mizuame; Mizuzame being a Japanese sweetener that is being made from starch.

True to its namesake, the cones are being served in a format where they were more like waffle bowls served in an oddly shaped gelato cup rather than the typical waffle cone offering that we are more accustomed to at most other ice-cream parlours — in fact, it would also be not too correct to call this a waffle bowl considering how the bottom of the cone is not actually flat; the folds made to the waffle to fit the gelato cup actually being rather prominent to say the least. One could definitely tell that they have added savoury elements to the cone here but we can’t quite put a finger to it — it does deliver on the “umami” aspect quite well as promised in its namesake however. The Original Umami Cone went quite well with the Mizuame Vanilla ice-cream that was milky, rich, smooth and creamy that came with a slight hint of vanilla aroma without being overly sweet despite the addition of a sweetener. The Japanese Jelly turns out to be bits of slippery grape jelly that provides a fruity sweetness that further gave the item a contrast of flavours and textures. We also tried the Gula Melaka Moon Brew — their bottled cold brew coffee brewed using a fast extraction process that is said to result in a more well-rounded flavour; the Gula Melaka variant being an outlet-exclusive to Asylum The Coffee Library at Wisma Atria. Overall, a rather interesting concept with equally intriguing offerings that remains to be seen if it will gel well with the shopping crowds of Orchard Road considering its rather “mysterious” and “secretive” ways of operations.

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The basement of Marina One has certainly become a bustling area ever since the opening of Shenton Way MRT Station along the Thomson-East Coast Line; linked directly through the underpass from the MRT station’s exit, the basement of Marina One had seen an influx of tenants that had moved into the segment between the walkway leading up to Shenton Way MRT Station and Marina One East Tower. With F&B establishments opening up one after another in the basement of Marina One, one of the tenants which have had a delayed opening for quite a while would be Tangyuan. Tangyuan is definitely one of the more peculiar additions to the surrounding neighbourhood — while most establishments in the Central Business District seem to be more focused on serving up food items that are good for an entire meal considering the office workers around the ‘hood, Tangyuan has its focus around Chinese desserts mainly in the form of Tang Shui; not too surprising considering its namesake. The space could be said as simply decked, though there are efforts in providing patrons with some level of comfort with the use of cushioned booth seatings as well as interestingly-shaped tables and rattan-esque chairs that gives it some character. The menu at Tangyuan seems to focus a lot on hot and cold dessert offerings — examples of the former include Homemade Sesame / Walnut / Peanut / Almond Paste, while some examples of the latter include Mango Pomelo and Snowy Taro Ball; just to name a few. For those feeling peckish, there is also the Specialty Herbal Tea Set where one would also be entitled to a snack item; think baked mozzarella sweet corn, a variety of fries and roasted chicken wings etc. for something savoury. There are also Bingsu, as well as fruit salad with complimentary yogurt / coconut milk that is sold by weight.

Considering how we have tried the savoury items by ordering the Specialty Herbal Tea Set which we had also paid an extra charge to upgrade our beverage to the White Blue Mountain Coffee, we would say that the highlight here is most definitely the Traditional Dessert items — the Specialty Herbal Tea Set which already costs $9.80 with the savoury snacks without the $1.50 add-on for Blue Mountain Coffee is particularly exorbitant since the savoury snacks do feel like something that is commercially sold and heated upon order; the White Blue Mountain Coffee can also be said to be rather forgettable considering how they brew their coffee using a hotel buffet-style espresso machine that although grinds fresh coffee beans that are filled up in one of the compartments, but is otherwise automated where the amount of milk and water is being added.

Moving our attention to the Durian & Black Glutinous Rice, we did like the cheeky name it carries in Chinese — named 榴莲忘返, it is a wordplay on a Chinese idiom that meant “indulging in pleasures so much that one forgets to return”. The item comes with coconut milk, a scoop of durian purée, a scoop of black glutinous, as well as some cornflakes / rice puffs that are sprinkled atop. The coconut milk here is the main driver of the dessert item; comes with a distinct fragrance and sweetness while the black glutinous rice here comes sticky and with an earthy note with a very light hint of sweetness, providing a contrast of flavours to the dessert. The durian puree is quite smooth here, though we did note that it was a little bit on the dense side and not quite as fibrous as what we would have expected; that being said it does carry a strong, pungent note of flavours that is signature to the King of Fruits — should do well enough for those whom usually a durian to their desserts. The addition of corn flakes and rice puffs add a crunch factor for an added texture; an additional detail that they have definitely looked into during the designing phase of the desserts. While the Durian & Black Glutinous Rice is priced at $7.20 — also the most expensive item for the Traditional desserts items that they have, the hot Traditional desserts such as the single-flavoured homemade pastes are priced between $3.80 to $4; patrons also do have the flexibility of going for a lower / no sugar option as well which does sound interesting and suits the health-conscious. While we would say that we are likely not to return to Tangyuan for their savoury fare served with the Specialty Herbal Tea Set, we guess we would probably return some other time to give their hot Traditional Dessert offerings a go just to see what they are all about.

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Was scrolling through social media and found out about a Lian Hup Heng that seemed to have just recently opened its doors at Amoy Street Food Centre. Not much has been mentioned in its social media pages, though it seems to be a bakery as suggested by their Instagram handle with the bio indicating that they serve up cakes, cookies, tarts and pastries. Turns out, Lian Hup Heng is actually situated at the second level of Amoy Street Food Centre; there are located in the same row of stalls which Daylight Coffee and Han Kee Fish Soup are located in the food centre. On first look, Lian Hup Heng already does give off some rather hipster vibes especially with the choice of colours and font type which they have opted for their signboard — a very bright, red colour signboard with a font that has a typeface similar to that of Comic Sans in a way. One will also notice the display cabinet that is stocked with the various bakes and pastries which are available for the day at the storefront — something that quite reminded us of Cat in the Hat Bakery at Golden Mile Food Centre; the range of bakes that are offered on the day of our visit includes a number of tarts, brownies, croissants, as well as financiers. Having been attracted by what Lian Hup Heng has to offer when we skimmed through the lineup of bakes on a visit made to Amoy Street Food Centre by chance, we found ourselves going for both the Orh Nee Tart (i.e. Yam Paste Tart) and the Almond Financier; the former being due to us being lovers of anything with yam / taro, while the latter was to give more of what they have to offer a try. It is noted that Lian Hup Heng does not actually have plates (disposable or non-disposable) to serve their bakes for dine-in; all orders would be served in a cardboard takeaway box by default.

Between the two items that we have tried, the item that left the strongest impression for us was undoubtedly the Orh Nee Tart — it was difficult not to be attracted by this offering even from how it looks; the Orh Nee filling here looks all smooth and luscious and is definitely so in terms of the texture and mouthfeel that it brings. The Orh Nee filling is also noted to come with an evident earthiness that is all reminiscent to the actual Orh Nee that one would come across in Chinese restaurants; it is also moist enough and thus not too dense nor difficult to swallow, nor did it felt overly sweet either. The Gingko Nuts help to add a slight hint of bitterness and a soft bite that cuts through the earthiness; a classic combination even for the usual Orh Nee that is served up at Chinese restaurants all around. The tart base was actually pretty well-executed; even better than some of the tarts that we have come across at specialty coffee joints or at some artisanal patisseries — holds up well to the fillings without being soggy, while being crisp without shattering into a mess with crumbs all over the place. Meanwhile, the Almond Financiers are decent; not overly greasy too a little bit on the dense side — not too sweet with a slight crispness coming from the toasted almond flakes over the top. Overall, with their bakes being priced below $4 an item — these are some pretty well-executed bakes that matches well against what some cafes and artisanal patisseries offer; the sizes being albeit smaller but the pricing of the items does seem to take that into account anyway. Given the circumstances and our impression of the items that we have had, it does seem like Lian Hup Heng is a name to keep a lookout for in the F&B scene in the long run!

Lowercase might have since been closed not too long ago, but it does seem that the Prodigal brand still lives on strong for now — the folks, whom also run Ought Coffee that was previously located at YMCA has brought the Ought Coffee into its new digs at Peace Centre. For those whom are aware though, Peace Centre had been sold off through an en bloc sale that happened some time back in December 2021 — with the upcoming redevelopment of Peace Centre, it also new be that this is pretty much a temporary move for the folks at Ought Coffee / Prodigal Roasters. Ought Coffee occupies the space previously tenanted to LiHo Tea, which had subsequently been taken over by a burger shop at the ground floor of Peace Centre facing Selegie Road; much of the space still remains rather recognisable from how it was being laid out during its days as LiHo Tea, with the espresso bar and counter space being exactly where the ordering counter used to be when it was still LiHo Tea. There is actually a dedicated dine-in area within Ought Coffee, much like how things used to be when the space was still LiHo Tea as well — think a mix of different types bench seatings alongside coffee tables. Since Ought Coffee is an establishment which primarily focuses on their specialty coffee offerings and also does not have a fully-equipped kitchen, Ought Coffee only serves up a couple of bakes such as brownie and slices of loaf cakes for its food offerings. As for its beverages menu, expect espresso-based specialty coffee, as well as drinking chocolate, Houjicha and Matcha-based beverages.

Since there were pretty much only just three types of bakes that were available during our trip to Ought Coffee over the weekend, we ended up going for the Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake to be paired with our order of the White here. The Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake is something simple and comforting; pretty much a sliced loaf cake that isn’t too dense — comes with the right degree of crumbliness, and is fluffy enough with a browned crust over the top. The browned crust has been drizzled with the right proportion of lemon glaze that gives it a zippy note and a slight tang amidst the sweetness of the sugary glaze. Coffee has been a major part of what Prodigal Roasters / Prodigal Cafe had been all about all these while — glad to say that Ought Coffee’s White was especially on point and one of the more impressive ones which we have had of the late; creamy, smooth and with a good proportion of milk to coffee, we really liked how complex the flavours of the cuppa was with its almost tea-like notes and fruity finish that makes it especially different for a cuppa that contains milk. It is a little sad knowing how Lowercase had since closed for good, and yet Ought Coffee itself is a temporary establishment that is due for closure in just a couple of months. That being said, I guess it is also pretty much all about treasuring Ought Coffee for what it is now, before we will say hello to the folks of Prodigal Roasters / Cafe in yet another form hopefully not too long after Ought Coffee’s slated closure …

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Went past the all new Croissand Cafe when the establishment has yet to open its doors and made a mental note to check them out once they had opened its doors — Croissand Cafe is located at City Gate Mall, which is a short walking distance away from Nicoll Highway MRT Station on the Circle Line. It takes over the premises that was one tenanted to a now-defunct Y-Tea near the taxi stand of the building along Jalan Sultan, though there were subsequent tenants that had moved into the space before it eventually became Croissand Cafe. It is a little easy to miss Croissand Cafe from the outside as one passes through the area; the glass facade facing the main road does seem a little reflective, and it is not immediately obvious despite a decal indicating the cafe’s name being stuck on the window to provide a certain degree of noticeability to passers-by in general. The interior space of Croissand Cafe can be said as simple and chic; it wouldn’t be quite right to say that they had went for a minimalistic look though there seems to be attempts made to align to that — what is more evident would be how it is made to look somewhat cosy, yet with the adoption of a largely monotonous colour scheme to keep things simple overall. The namesake of the cafe might sound cheesy without context, though it is likely referring to themselves and their focus on croissant sandwiches on the menu — a word play that fuses both the words “croissant” and “sandwich” into one. Apart from croissant sandwiches though, there are also section le in the menu at Croissand Cafe that are dedicated to Fusion Pasta (available only from 11am to 5pm), Overnight Oats, and Desserts. Beverages available at Croissand Cafe includes the usual range of espresso-based specialty coffee, a range of Iced Refreshers, and Hot Brewed Tea sourced from TWG Tea.

We have actually ordered one of the croissant sandwiches during our visit made to Croissand Cafe, but the item which ended up stealing the limelight of the show during the visit turns out to be the Fluffy Castella Pancake with Maple Syrup & Butter. This was an item which actually genuinely got us very curious on what exactly it was supposed to be, considering how it mentions “Castella” and “Pancake” in its name and was actually listed as an item on the Desserts section of the menu which mostly comprises of Buttermilk Waffles — the Fluffy Castella Pancake with Maple Syrup & Butter being quite the odd one out here. While we placed the order for the Fluffy Castella Pancake with Maple Syrup & Butter at the counter, we were told that the item would require a minimum waiting time of 25mins for it to be served. Patrons ordering the Fluffy Castella Pancake with Maple Syrup & Butter and the various Buttermilk Waffle items also do get a choice to add-on a single scoop of gelato or double scoop of gelato at an additional costs of $5 and $8 respectively. Turns out, this was a giant Castella Pancake that is only baked on the spot to ensure that the diners enjoy the item at its optimal quality. The Castella Pancake comes with a beautiful crack that is perpendicular to each other, forming a cracked centre that allows for a knob of butter to find home within; the maple syrup being drizzled all over the Castella Pancake, with the flow of it following the ridges formed by the cracks.

This was warm, jiggly, incredibly fluffy and soft; there is definitely quite a number of eggs that went into the preparation of the item for how it wafted of an eggy note throughout — does remind us of those wobbly Castella Cakes which was a trendy item a couple of years ago. The icing on the top of the cake here had to be the sweetness of the maple syrup and saltishness of the knob of butter here — a classic combination of flavours that no doubt is comforting; just the right elements to finish things everything off. To be really honest, Croissand Cafe is one of those spots where we did not really bear much of an expectation on their food and beverages before we had made our visit. That being said, their Smoky Masala Chicken with Emmental Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes Croissant was an item that actually impressed us a fair bit considering how we aren’t quite folks who like croissant sandwiches to begin with. Their croissant weeks to be light, flaky and buttery; roasted slightly for a bit of crispness as well — we particularly liked the Masala Chicken; some of the chicken chunks do come with a bit of light wok-hei somewhat, but it was the hint of spices for the masala that really worked for us here. The choice of Emmental cheese does seem to be a factor well considered as well; something that is more neutral tasting to bind all the elements together without adding an extra saltishness that would have made things taste too heavy. With prices ranging from $7 to $9 for its croissant sandwich offerings and all the way to $16 for their Fusion Pasta, patrons do seem to be able to have the ability to choose the items that best suits their budget at Croissand Cafe; an interesting spot in the area to check out.

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The Jalan Besar / Boon Keng neighbourhood does seem to be rather happening of the late these days — we have written about he opening of the new Moonchild at Jalan Besar which is a concept by the same folks behind Atlas Coffeehouse, Colombus Coffee Co., Apollo Coffee Bar, Neptune and Supernova recently; we have also been tipped off about the new opening of Muted. at Lavender Street which is just a short distance away from Moonchild. Turns out, Muted. is located along the row of shophouses that are now managed by Coliwoo — apart from Muted., the same row of shophouses does also found themselves home to other F&B concepts such as KAEN that seem to have moved in fairly recently as well. Muted. is an ice-cream parlour that seemingly does their own flavours in-house; something quite worthy of a mention considering the sheer number of ice-cream parlours that seem to serve up ice-cream that is supplied to them. The space Muted. occupied does seem to be pretty large; the layout of the shop can be said as spacious, with the space being divided into two sections — the counter area where the display chiller and espresso bar is being located, and a proper dine-in seating area at the back that features definable and chairs; there is also seating capacity for dine-in at the counter area considering the wide aisle that divides the counter and the bench seating by the wall on the opposite side. Muted. offers a good variety of safe and adventurous flavours of ice-cream; think flavours like Soy Gula Melaka and Hokkaido Cookies, just to name a few — their ice-creams being served only in cups (there is no cone option here). That being said, one can also opt for their ice-cream to come in the form of an Affogato (i.e. served with an espresso shot), or with their Buttermilk Waffle. Beverage options available at Muted. includes espresso-based specialty coffee, as well as matcha and drinking chocolate.

Skimming through the display freezer for the various flavours which they have to offer on the day of our visit, we found our attention drawn towards three of the more adventurous flavours which they have in-stock; this would be the Earl Grey Sakura, Evergreen Sorbet and the Soy Gula Melaka. Since there were only two of us that made our visit to Muted. on the day of our visit, we thought it would be better for us to just stick with two scoops of ice-cream instead; our final choice of flavours would be the Earl Grey Sakura and the Evergreen Sorbet — this is given how one is milk-based ice-cream while the other flavour is a sorbet which allows us to try both varieties at the same time. The Earl Grey Sakura is described on the description card at the display chiller to have comprised of elements such as single origin black tea. This flavour is rather interesting considering how their variant sees a fusion of Earl Grey with Sakura — the more commonly found flavour combination of Earl Grey would have been Lavender in most circumstances. The base note here hints subtly of that similar to milk tea, though it isn’t too overly milky and was light-tasting; the more prominent note that provides a contrast of flavours here would be that of the Sakura-infusion. Whilst some may find the typical combination of Earl Grey Lavender to be a little “soapy”, the Sakura provided a floral note that was pretty rose-like in its finish for a twist.

Meanwhile, the Evergreen Sorbet is said to have comprised of elements such as cucumber, lime and mint according to the description card; a combination that we are pretty much a fan of considering how refreshing it could potentially be. This was a good palate cleanser, though we do admit that it makes for an oddball combination with the Earl Grey Sakura in the same cup when everything is melted down — the Evergreen Sorbet carries that cooling, refreshing and zingy notes that we had somewhat expected from our previous experiences from such combinations, though there was a particularly “green” taste that one usually associates with vegetables in its opening notes as we dig in further into scoop of sorbet. One thing we do like about the ice-cream and sorbets at Muted. would be the texture — their ice-cream does come smooth and creamy without being too dense or heavy in flavours; probably something that they have looked into to cater to a larger audience; the sorbet are also not too icy and carries sufficient flavour with a clean finishing note. Given how they have executed their ice-creams with an emphasis on creating something unique flavours whilst not forgetting to also offer something more conventional for those who wish to stay on the safe side (and yet, still with a premium twist), Muted. does make for quite the destination with an aesthetic appeal in its interior as well — a great addition to the ‘hood since ice-cream options just aren’t aplenty here as well.

There hasn’t been much interesting developments in the cafe scene at the Cassia Crescent for quite a while since then; that being said, it does seem that a new cafe named Second Floor Lab Gelato has found home in a shophouse unit not too far away from Sweet Garden Dining Cafe. The unit which Second Floor Lab Gelato occupies is around the same size as Sweet Garden Dining Cafe; one that is almost twice the size of an average shophouse space that most cafes in a similar setup operate out of. For its interior, it seems that Second Floor Lab Gelato has pretty much went for an approach that is simple but with a rustic approach — there is some stylistic details that suggest that an English-cottage style look is being attempted in the way that it is furnished; there is also ample space set aside in between table to ensure privacy amongst different group of diners as well. In a time where it is increasingly common for gelato parlours located in the neighbourhoods to serve up ice-creams that are sourced from suppliers, Second Floor Lab Gelato is a rare location that churns their own gelato that makes it all the more worthy of mentioning — there is also an effort to switch things up for their patrons by offering a “Creative Gelato of the Month” flavour. Apart from serving up gelato in cups, they also do serve up their gelato with an Apple Crumble or Plain Waffle. Another thing worth noting about Second Floor Lab Gelato is how they also do serve up innovative bakes which they have created in-house. Beverages available at Second Floor Lab Gelato includes espresso-based specialty coffee, and tea served in a pot.

Despite by being one spot that at best identifies itself as a cafe at heart given the entire outlook and setup, we like how there is quite a level for attention to detail being placed in the service that they provide at Second Floor Lab Gelato — whilst serving the Dill Cheesecake to our table, the staff gave us a little introduction to the elements that goes into the Dill Cheesecake just like one would get in a fine dining establishment. We were told by the staff that the base of the Dill Cheesecake would be a Hazelnut Feuilletine, while the two layers of dill-infused cheesecakes are sandwiched by a Dulcey Chocolate Crunch; the same also tops off the layer of Dill Cheesecake above while cream is piped above it — presumably to add on to the aesthetic appeal of the cake. The idea of a Dill Cheesecake may sound off as a dessert item but there to be told, it was one that was a sound decision that really made sense. One could definitely taste a hint of the aroma of dill at certain parts of the cheesecake — and this isn’t quite as odd as what it sounds on paper since cream cheese and dill are already a combination typically found in Lox bagels that also tend to feature smoked salmon.

The texture of the cheesecake here itself is smooth; very much akin to a New York-style cheesecake to say the least and not particularly jelat since most of the other elements like the Hazelnut Feuilletine and Dulcey Chocolate Crisp adds a dimension of nuttiness and caramel-y chocolatey flavour to the entire composition. In retrospect, the other elements helped to add texture to the dessert; the Hazelnut Feuilletine gave a crunch while the Dulcey Chocolate Crisp provides a crackling crispiness given how thin it is; we just weren’t too much of a fan of how the dill cheesecake layers sliding around since the Dulcey Chocolate Crisp was rather smooth and lacked the friction to hold the integrity of the cake when sliced upon. Another item which we gave a go was a scoop of their Gochujang Strawberry gelato paired with their Buttermilk Waffle — the buttermilk waffle is somewhat fragrant but likely appeals to those whom love their waffles soft and plush; that being said, it is the Gochujang Strawberry (which is also the listed “Creative Gelato of the Month”) that truly shines here. The flavours already sound bold in the namesake but truly lives to the expectations — it starts off almost akin to any Strawberry-flavoured gelato with that light tang of strawberries; not particularly milky nor tasted of artificial flavourings. The tangy notes slowly transition into the earthy notes of the bean paste in Gochujang as it reaches the finish, and ends off with a tinge of spiciness that tickles the tastebuds albeit unexpectedly, though mild that it should do well for those whom are tolerable to a lower level of spiciness in general — quite creative, yet well rounded off. Second Floor Gelato Lab does present itself as a humble and cosy nook with some bold and innovative ideas with a dedication to serve its creations being made from scratch — somewhere to add to the list to check out for sure!

It has been quite a while since we have last checked out the hawker centre at Tekka Centre — our last visit there was actually made before the food centre had been closed for their renovation and repair works that had seen the food centre closed for a period of time. It does seem that the food centre had seen a bit of movement when it came to the stalls that are operate within; quite evident would be in the area where most of the Chinese-run stalls are being situated at — some of which being occupied by stalls that serve up Indian cuisine. Was passing through the food centre and noticed that Yong Sheng Cooked Food seemed to look a little different than what we knew it to be in the past — the stall which used to serve up mixed economy rice had since stopped selling what they had used to offer; the stall is now being converted into a dessert stall with the name “scoops & sweets.” being pasted over the display case where dishes available was being prominently shown previously. Being a stall that is focused very much on serving up local desserts, scoops and sweets. offer pretty much the standard variety of hot and cold desserts that one can expect in a hawker centre setting — think items like the Ice Ice Kachang, Burbur Cha Cha, Chinese Cheng Tng, Warm Tau Suan and many more.

Being folks whom absolutely can’t give a good Chendol a miss, it is needless to say that the first agenda on the list was to give their Chill ‘In Chendol a try after spotting it being listed on the menu. Whilst not all menu items do carry a naming with a twist, it is interesting how they have done that for the Chendol at least — they also describe the Chill ‘In Chendol to be “Flavourful and Homemade” on the menu as well. We were originally not too impressed with how the Chendol Jelly looked when we had noticed the bucket containing it behind the counter; it looked a little bit bright and somewhat commercially-made though we might be wrong with this. Digging in to the Chill ‘In Chendol though, our impression of the entire dessert changed — this does seem like one of those Chendol out there that aces on the entire deal, but just simply on one element. No doubt the shaved ice does come with a consistent texture — the red beans are earthy and also came with a good bite to balance in between those that prefer their red beans in the Chendol to be less “mashed up”; not too sweet whilst at it as well. The highlight to us for the entire bowl was the Gula Melaka; there was definitely sufficient Gula Melaka drizzled that came with it to go around the entire bowl — just thick, gloopy and rich with a deep, earthy and caramel-y note that was oh-so-good. At $2.50; it’s a pretty reasonably priced offering that works for that wallet-friendly after-meal sweet treat — most definitely with checking out especially if around three Little India area!

Lee’s Confectionery’s cessation of business was one that seemed to have been felt by the cafehopping scene and the residents around Jurong for quite a bit — the establishment being one of those rare gems in the far West alongside their unique creations is something that seems to be deeply-missed by those whom have been to Lee’s Confectionery before. It does seem that the folks have been working on a new concept ever since; Nickel is a concept conceived by the same folks behind Lee’s Confectionery, though this time situated at a more centralised location in the island. Nickel is located at Middle Road; despite being situated in the city this time around, there is still some level of obscurity in the surroundings that it has chosen to operate at — the establishment being tucked at a corner of a dead-end road between where the former TMC Academy was at along Middle Road and the iconic David Elias Building that has since been preserved; not a spot particularly known to have been occupied by F&B tenants in the past. Whilst Lee’s Confectionery was a more simple set-up that was also of a cafe-like nature, it seems that the direction taken for Nickel is more towards something a little more upscale — the lighting comes with a yellowish hue being slightly on the dim side to evoke a certain vibe; the look of the space can also be said as raw with its use of concrete-esque finishing for the walls, floors and ceiling that is matched against wooden furniture and fittings. There is a deliberate sectioning done for the dine-in space; the seats towards the front of the space are mostly counter seating while proper dining table and chairs suitable for groups are located towards the end of the space. Visiting Nickel during its soft launch phase, there are only a limited selection of items available; this includes a small variety of danishes that are baked freshly in-house, as well as plated desserts similar to what they have offered previously when they are Lee’s Confectionery in the past — the items offered being on a rotational basis as daily specials. Beverages available at Nickel includes espresso-based specialty coffee, drinking chocolate, and artisanal brewed tea.

Offered as a rotating special on the day of our visit to Nickel, the Matcha Sesame Choux with Matcha Yuzu Ice-Cream was an item that is not being listed on any menu nor being displayed in any way during our visit to Nickel on a weekend afternoon. Instead, the item is being mentioned to us in narration — this also meant that we did not have a visualisation of how the item would look like until it is served to the table. On first sight, the Matcha Sesame Choux with Matcha Yuzu Ice-Cream looks like an item where they had somehow forgotten about the sesame — turns out, one can actually find sesame paste filled within the choux as one slices it apart. It is noted that the choux here is actually served in a way that the pastry is sliced into half; not an encased pastry with the filling piped in. Still, the pastry itself was crisp on the exterior yet light and airy within.

The matcha filling and sesame paste was an interesting combination of its own — there was some sort of nuttiness going on from the roast-y notes of the sesame that matches with the inherent bitter undertones of matcha that is so familiar, yet kinda foreign but complimenting. That being said, all gets even more appetising as one reaches the Matcha Yuzu Ice-Cream; it is clear that the dominant notes of the dessert is Matcha and this is very much a Matcha-based dessert at hearty but the use of Yuzu provides a light tang that keeps things interesting and refreshing from the main element of the choux pastry here. We also tried the danishes that they have to offer — something that they introduced at Lee’s Confectionery during its later stages of operations which was not too sweet, yet buttery with well-defined layers. Lee’s Confectionery was an establishment with humble roots that garnered a loyal following over the years with their innovation, execution and attention to detail — Nickel does seem like a continuation of Lee’s Confectionery birthed out of the experience and growth through said establishment; a more mature form to take the brand to further heights without having been tied to its roots. We look forward to what Nickel has in store for us as it enters into its official opening and full launch of its menu — certainly a name in the local F&B scene to keep a look out for!

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