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

Very lucky to have someone who understands my taste buds so well to gift these lovely croissants to me while we are kinda stranded at home due to the dine-in ban that came in force with the return to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) — wouldn’t have expected to be able to savour Bacha Coffee’s pastries at the comfort of home.

Bacha Coffee’s packaging has never been short of exquisite which makes it perfect for gifting — the standard box for six comes with a glittery gold cardboard base, while the box comes thoughtfully with cut-out flaps that can be used as a handle for hand-carry; transparent plastic windows on the side so everyone can get a peek of what’s in there. Have always been a fan of Bacha Coffee’s flavoured croissants — the Orange Almond being my favourite and probably the first ones I have tried before the queues started to form at the ION Orchard branch; also their very first outpost in Singapore.

If I were to pick, the Kaya Croissants will be my favourite of the two — probably because it is the only flavour that I have come across so far that comes with molten cream being stuffed within. Bacha Coffee’s croissants come coloured — the Kaya one coming with alternating stripes of green and is topped with desiccated coconut; taking a bite on the croissant reveals the tiny air pockets within the pastry, and is still lightly crisp. That being said, it is how that earthy yet sweet custard filling that caught our hearts here — the Kaya filling being all smooth and creamy akin to the ones made from scratch from other specialty cafes; nothing gloopy and gritty like the commercially made ones, while the deep and earthy notes of Gula Melaka(?) gives it a rich flavour without being overly sweet. The Almond Coffee features the same pastry, though instead comes filled with a almond frangipane that is spiked with a caffeinated boost — also pretty delicious.

Looking forward to return to Bacha Coffee when dine-in resumes; while the queue at their ION Orchard outlet is pretty crazy to say the least, I quite miss that relaxed yet exquisite (albeit exaggerated too) vibe from the music to the decor — not to mention their range of flavoured coffees and croissants that somewhat hits the taste buds for me. But meanwhile, just let me savour on these first …

We were actually on the way to Tarte by Cheryl Koh just when the news for the return of Phase 2 with no dine-in was first published on the various news sites — and since it was le favourite place of a certain friend that I was with that day, we decided to go all out on orders here; two pax to two tarts, two plates desserts and two drinks.

The tarts at Tarte by Cheryl Koh are often talked about but the plated desserts section hidden in their menu is also worth a mention — the same menu also features some sandwiches for those who are feeling peckish; yes, Tarte by Cheryl Koh is a one-stop shop from savouries to sweets these days.

Given how Tarte by Cheryl Koh is a brand under the Les Amis Group, and how Cheryl Koh is the current head pastry chef of Les Amis Restaurant, it’s a little difficult to give the Grand Marnier Soufflé a miss — after all one of Les Amis Restaurant’s famed desserts would be their different variants of the soufflé (also an item we missed during our visit to Les Amis Restaurant for the Le Menu Été Dégustation, which didn’t include the soufflé by default) featuring seasonal produce. The one served in the menu of Tarte by Cheryl Koh stays true to their concept - featuring an orange marmalade alongside Grand Marnier and Creme Anglaise. Unlike another rendition of an alcoholic soufflé which we previously had at now-defunct Soufflé, the Grand Marnier is beautifully infused in the batter with this one — that warm, airy and fluffy soufflé is perfect here in terms of texture, while the Creme Anglaise (poured in by the staff for theatrical factor), essentially light custard, gives the soufflé a complimenting richness whilst provides a light touch of sweetness. The orange marmalade is a classic combination to the Grand Marnier — zingy, yet with a bitter undertone for a slight flavour contrast that matches that of all the other components.

Can’t really make comparisons between this and the soufflé from Les Amis Restaurant — but this is one soufflé that is pretty well done and worth its price at $18 before prevailing charges. Tarte by Cheryl Koh isn’t all about tarts — and their plated desserts do deserve a mention too.

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Had been wanting to make the return visit to Venture Drive Coffee at Vision Exchange, but the thought was lingering for quite a while since they are located quite a distance away from the places that I would usually be hitting.

Introduced after I had made my previous visit when they had first opened, the White Cold Brew is pretty well-executed. Despite coming unsweetened, the White Cold Brew is nothing short of being rich, earthy and nutty with medium body — one that gave quite a caffeinated punch that would work well as a perk-me-up.

Pretty stoked that they had tied up with the folks of Lemuel Chocolate to serve up a selection of their desserts at the premises — I am a fan of the various chocolate desserts that bean-to-bar chocolatiers Lemuel Chocolate creates, but bummed by how Lemuel Chocolate at The Star Vista does not have a dine-in area, while their Westway outlet is too out-of-the-way and features a rather small dine-in area. It is not the first time that I am having their Signature Chocolate Tart, but it was still as good as ever — served out of the chiller as-is, I liked how the Signature Chocolate Tart isn’t exactly the tart that features a rich chocolate ganache. In fact, it feels like you are having a slab of chocolate straight from the bar; especially so for the layer of chocolate hidden within the tart itself — one that carries a bittersweet flavour at just the right notch, whilst not being “heaty” nor overly sweetened, and instead, focuses on the notes of the cacao beans used. The chocolate mousse atop provides a smoother texture and a slightly sweeter note, but I really love the shards of chocolate chip that they have included over the top that provided a good crunch. What makes the Signature Chocolate Tart so good here is how it never felt monotonous — a rarity for a chocolate-based dessert, considering how Lemuel Chocolate had always surrounded its branding around chocolate education, and it’s emphasis on using cacao beans from different origins — also the same way that most specialty cafes that are part of the third-wave coffee movement work.

Places in the West are hardly talked about, but Venture Drive Coffee is one of the places to hit for specialty coffee around the area — these folks certainly know their stuff, all that whilst seemingly supporting fellow local brands for tie-ups that is worth commending. A spot that would work for a leisurely cuppa in the West without straying to far away from the centralised area of Jurong East where JEM, JCube, Westgate, Jurong East MRT Station and Jurong East Temporary Bus Interchange is.

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Mention “patisserie in Jurong” and the first spot that comes to mind for me would be Lee’s Confectionery — there is always a thing about it here that brings me back even though it’s a little far flung from wherever that I am usually headed to, but it is probably how down-to-earth, earnest and unpretentious they are that strikes a chord with me; not to mention how they are pretty wallet-friendly for what one would be getting.

Sharing the same name as the singer who sang “Believe”, the name of the dessert is probably just a coincidence — more so due to the composition of the ingredients used, which includes fresh black cherries, white chocolate and vanilla cheesecake cream in a choux pastry. Dine-in patrons will be served with a sour cherry sorbet as well.

If anything, the Cher is likely to do well for those who loves desserts that features fresh fruit elements and one that also carries a sour-ish tang. The fresh black cherries filled within the dessert does it job here; adding a slight zingy note to the dessert along the sour cherry sorbet — the cherries fleshy, while the sorbet was of a good consistency that was sticky without being too watery. The white chocolate and vanilla cheesecake cream was smooth without feeling aerated; instead of bearing a sweetness, it attempts to neutralise the zippy notes of the cherry with a neutral note, whilst just lightly salted by the powdered pistachio(?) sprinkled over the top. The chou that encases everything else was crisp and light — gives the dessert a particularly delicate feel without throwing the other elements (which are also of a light nature) off-balance. I also liked how they have included the cherries on top of the pipes vanilla cheesecake cream here – allows one to experience the fruits included here in it’s more purest form.

Lee’s Confectionery is one of those places that places a lot of emphasis and heart in the items that they serve — the intricacy and level of detail placed in their desserts is something that not a lot of patisseries can match; even so for those that are located in town. It’s location is more of a surprise for those in the know, and the almost unmarked shop unit makes it pretty much of a hidden hideout that it seems to intend to be. With prices of their desserts reasonably priced at $9 for takeaway and $10 for dine-in (served with a scoop of ice-cream), Lee’s Confectionery is undoubtedly still the gem in the West worth making the trip for just like what we have mentioned in the past — an earnest establishment with a passion for the craft, whilst bringing such exquisite desserts to the masses through its reasonably-priced items.

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A couple of years ago and Yishun only had a lone ice-cream parlour — still remembered making the trek down to Holy Cow Creamery back when it was probably the only ice-cream parlour that the north had. Fast forward to 2021, and Yishun is now home to several ice-cream parlours such as Hyogaki, No Horse Run and Bloom Artisan — Overscoop is yet another new ice-cream parlour which has found home at Junction Nine.

While there are quite a number of flavours to choose from, which included the Mango, Strawberry Cheesecake, Honeycomb and Lychee Sorbet, there is one flavour that seemingly stood out the most to us — the Moutai Liquor. The use of a Chinese liquor is probably a first, and strays away from the use of Western liquor of the likes of Bailey’s and Rum for an alcoholic ice-cream flavour. Whilst the ice-cream flavour started off pretty mild at the start with its milky base, the booziness from the Moutai builds up slowly as it starts to perfume itself round the taste buds, and grows stronger over time — something which we found pretty alluring for how soothing, yet with coming with an alcoholic kick, and bound to be a flavour that will be well-loved by those who are into alcoholic ice-cream flavours. It also pairs surprisingly well with fruity flavours such as that of the Lychee Sorbet, or the Apple Crumble which we had opted for — something that those who love fruity alcohol can consider, though the Apple Crumble felt a little generic here. While the caramalised apple added a good sweetness and a soft chew that matched well with the Moutai Liquor ice-cream, it was marred by how it lacked structural integrity; unable to hold the weight of the scoop of ice-cream above it.

Yishun has no shortage of ice-cream parlours with their own twist — since the days of Holy Cow Creamery where they have offered pretty unique flavours such as Mr Potato Head and Miss Saigon, to the botanical-inspired flavours and sourdough waffles that Bloom Artisan has to offer, as well as the Pandan-infused Waffles and Milo Sauce that appears on the menu of No Horse Run. Overscoop adds to the list of such places in this very neighbourhood — the Moutai Liquor ice-cream being the flavour I would go for again. A neighbourhoodly ice-cream joint that residents around the area would appreciate having in the neighbourhood!

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Sunset Railway Cafe is a spot that bears a little bit of nostalgia for me — had visited them when they first opened at Clementi Arcade and is one of the few places that utterly enjoyed working on some school projects at a location not too far away from school, whilst enjoying some Peranakan kueh and local coffee. Still remembered how they were a little empty during the weekday afternoons back then, but they are now only opened four days a week, and only from 8am to 3pm — pretty surprised to find the cafe being ar maximum capacity when I made the trip on a weekend morning; glad to see how they seemed to have turned into the friendly neighbourhood coffeehouse that residents cannot get enough of.

My fondest memory of the food served here would probably be the Pulut Tekkan; think of it as a deconstructed Kueh Salat where the Kaya mousse is served on the side from the blue pea flower-infused glutinous rice. Wasn’t quite intending to go for that this time round however, and was attracted to the Kueh Ambon instead. Liked how the honeycomb layers are so distinct in this one — the light sweetness of honey perfuming through the entire kueh as one tears of layers of its soft, chewy interior to savour; satisfaction indeed especially when paired with a cup of Kopi on the side for breakfast.

It’s been a long while since I have returned, but those warm and friendly vibes are still in its truest form — bonds formed over the years with regular patrons from the neighbourhood surrounding it, it is little wonder how Sunset Railway Cafe had seemingly become a favourite hangout with the residents around. No doubt it is located a little far flung away from the more common areas of Clementi, but I guess that is also why this makes Sunset Railway Cafe not just simply an eatery, but also a community surrounding the folks who patronise them regularly.

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Back to the favourite place after yet another week; was pretty surprised to find that they had one last Kaya Donut sitting in the display shelf when we made our visit during mid-day on a weekend afternoon — and since it had been quite a while since we have had one of these, we ended up going straight for it.

The Kaya Donut is everything that I had remembered it to be; soft and fluffy donut that is dusted with sugar, whilst being stuffed with a Pandan Kaya filling which is made in-house — the very same one which comes with their Classic Pancakes at the East Coast Road outlet. Their house-made Kaya is one that I absolutely adore — absolutely fragrant from the Pandan which they painstakingly extract the juices from; all that with a smooth consistency without the viscosity and density of the commercially-made ones, which I find to be utterly delicious. As an afterthought, perhaps one could try dipping the donut’s bread into the long black to replicate those nostalgic vibes of eating Kaya Butter Toast soaked with black coffee — though again I probably would just do having it as-is, considering it’s not everyday that I come across the Kaya Donuts here.

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Being one of the two ice-cream parlours which have moved into the shops at the foot of Blk 55 Chai Chee Drive recently, La Creamery is an ice-cream parlour that prides itself over its artisan ice-creams that are made fresh in small batches in-house on a daily basis. Apart from carrying some noteworthy ice-cream flavours such as the Lemongrass & Ginger and White Chrysanthemum amongst others, the establishment also interestingly serves up Honey Thyme Cones and Pu-Erh Waffles, aside from the standard Classic Waffle that is also on the menu.

It was pretty clear for us on what item was to be ordered here — what are the chances that one will be able to find Pu-Erh Waffles being served up at an ice-cream parlour? The Pu-Erh Waffles were pretty well-executed here; the buttermilk waffles here were plush and fluffy — whilst wafting of a buttermilk fragrance, it also perfumes of a light tea aroma that lingers around the taste buds that did not attempt to overwhelm the ice-cream that we have picked. Our choice of ice-cream were the Lemonade Sorbet and the Jasmine Osthmanthus — the former was nothing short of zippy and refreshing, and would work great as a palate cleanser, while the latter was impressed us with its distinct floral body and tea-esque finish amidst the smooth and creamy milky base that would appeal to those who are into floral flavours and tea lovers alike. In fact, we pretty much loved everything that was on the plate that we actually wiped everything clean in less than 5 minutes.

Whilst looking like almost any other ice-cream parlour with a pastel pink colour scheme on the outside, La Creamery is something more than the usual — it’s infusion of botanical elements may be in-line with what is popular amongst ice-cream parlours to serve up to their patrons these days, but they have looked past the usual flavour combinations and also have offered a tea-infused waffle to set themselves apart from the crowded scene of ice-cream parlours. With ice-creams that are churned in-house, and waffles and cones which are also made from scratch, it is undeniable how La Creamery is a place where passion for the craft runs deep; and this sincerity shows in the food that they serve. A spot that one should check out especially if around the east side; wishing them all the best in what has to come!

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PPP Coffee at Funan is one of those places that I would visit in a heartbeat — a central location that serves up pretty good coffee and some rather interesting light bites and unique concoctions of specialty coffee. Had been eyeing on the recently-launched Espresso Soft Serve for quite a while already, so it was definitely something on the list when we had to make our visit to Funan to replace a cracked screen protector for the phone (yes, I have regular spots for almost everything 🤣)

The Espresso Soft Serve is something that we utterly enjoyed — think smooth and creamy soft serve that tastes almost like a well-balanced coffee milkshake; aptly sweet and sufficiently milky but carries a slight earthy undertone from the espresso used. Also liked the consistency of the soft serve here; not too dense nor icy — also liked how it wasn’t too “watery”, which made it feel very well-executed. The Espresso Soft Serve also comes with almond brittle and granola bits — both helping to add a crunch to the smooth soft serve; the brittle especially adding a complimenting nuttiness to the whole dessert.

There are quite a number of specialty coffee stores in City Hall, but PPP Coffee is one that comes to the mind whenever I am looking for a spot to sit around and chill with a cuppa at hand — liked how they do carry items such as the coffee-infused Ondeh Ondeh, as well as Papa’s Iced Coffee (iced latte with coffee jelly) that makes for something different from the usual. The Espresso Soft Serve is one item that adds on to the list of things I would order again the next time I am here.

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Chanced upon the new Oriental Desserts at Temple Street — this new shop serving up Hong Kong-style Chinese desserts is strangely located along the same line of shophouses that houses the popular Mei Heong Yuen Dessert. Turns out, Oriental Desserts isn’t an entirely new player in the F&B scene — they do operate another outlet at Blk 271 Bukit Batok East Avenue 4, though not much information can be found about the outlet online (guess the only way is to head down then?). The interior decor features a mix of contemporary and vintage elements — an attempt to throw in a nostalgic, oriental look amidst a cafe setting; there is also a feature wall that depicts the various coloured mosaic walls of MTR Stations in Hong Kong, similar to that of Egglette & Dessert at Burlington Square.

With a rather wide variety of Chinese desserts on the menu, we were quite spoilt for choice having to decide if we wanted to go for the Steam Egg series, the Double Boil desserts, Grass Jelly or Sago-based desserts — just to name a few. We ultimately decided to go for the Beancurd with Black Sesame; a decision made because we couldn’t decide between having a paste and beancurd since it featured their Black Sesame Paste atop the Soy Beancurd.

The item is the best of both worlds — the Black Sesame Paste was actually smooth and creamy in terms of texture; rich with its roasty fragrance but not overly gritty and doesn’t cause an itch in the throat considering the inherent “heatiness” of black sesame. The Soya Beancurd was nothing short of the smoothness that was highly promoted by the “uncle” who gave us multiple recommendations whilst we skimmed through the menu; so delicate as it slides effortlessly when one pushes a spoon in to the bowl. The Soya Beancurd also comes sweetened with sugar syrup — just about the right amount if this were to be purely the version that featured the Soya Beancurd itself, but the sweetness here seem to run into the black sesame paste especially towards the end, thus overwhelming the black sesame paste with a rather flat note of sweetness.

Given how its neighbours are seemingly always crowded despite being the larger establishment, Oriental Desserts does make for a good alternative for Hong Kong-style Chinese Desserts albeit with a more limited menu (no shaved ice here) — especially considering the quality of its items, and how the spot is still relatively unknown, thus emptier at the point of writing this post. That being said, I am pretty keen to have the Soy Beancurd on its own again — they do serve up a rendition that seems comparable to some of the more reputable hawkers around; one that I would be glad to have again.

There is really no shortage of great indie cafes and food establishments in this part of Bedok — already well serviced by Percolate Coffee, Hay Gelato, Nakhon Kitchen, Nangfa Thai Kitchen and the market and food centre at Blk 216, Man Tang Hong Desserts now joins Lick D Cream as the newer F&B establishments which had recently opened in the vicinity.

Unlike most shops serving up traditional Chinese desserts where the decor usually carries a hint of nostalgic oriental elements (apart from the eye-catching sort and slightly exaggerated look which Smile Desserts and Sweet Hut carries), Man Tan Hong Desserts have seemingly opted for a clean, minimalistic design that involves pastel pink walls, terrazzo-esque tables and wooden platform benches decked with cushions that feels more cafe-like — a look which we found to be soothing and welcoming. Man Tan Hong does serve up a decent variety of hot and cold desserts, such as Rock Melon and Watermelon Sago, Burbur Cha-Cha, and Black Glutinous Rice.

There was no doubt in us getting the Yam Paste (Orh Nee) when we skimmed through the offerings in their menu. The Yam Paste (Orh Nee) here comes with hand-mashed yam, Gingko nuts, pumpkin purée and coconut milk — also comes with complimentary cup of Pokka Oolong Tea on the side to “refresh the palate”. While looking like as though it was doused in copious amounts of coconut milk on first look, digging into the hand-mashed yam paste was telling of why it is so in the first place — the yam paste here comes really sticky, and evidently hand-mashed since there were still bits of chunky yam within of different sizes; nothing close to the velvety smooth, commercially made ones. While this may be a deal-breaker for some, the sucker for handmade yam pastes with love and effort in me really appreciated this as a fact. The yam paste itself also carried a very distinct earthy note without being particularly saccharine — mixing it with the coconut milk will result in a smoother paste that is rich with a light fragrance; the pumpkin purée lends a hint of natural sweetness to the yam paste. The Gingko nuts also comes with a soft bite, without being overly bitter.

Whilst being an establishment with a modern look, Man Tan Hong Desserts seem to be a place where a lot of attention has being placed in the details — from how they serve up Pokka Oolong Tea to allow patrons to cleanse the palate for the Yam Paste (which works especially well if one is trying more than one dessert here at one go), to the execution of their desserts in general, Man Tang Hong Desserts is pretty much on track for being a spot for some well-made traditional Chinese desserts served in a modern setting. Being dedicated to serving their patrons with painstakingly hand-made desserts made from the heart, this is one spot that traditional Chinese dessert lovers should check out!

As one who utterly enjoys Nyonya Kueh, there was no doubt that I would have included The Brewing Ground back to the “to revisit” list after noting down their latest addition to the menu — the Kueh Platter, which consists of 2 pcs Kueh Kosui, 2 pcs Ondeh Ondeh, 1pc Rempah Udang, and 1 slice of Kueh Salat.

Previously only available on weekends, the Kuehs are now available as both ala-carte order individually, or as a platter on a daily basis. Needless to say, the Kueh Platter is the one to have for those looking to try all the Nyonya Kuehs that they have to offer — the Kueh Platter is also well-sized enough to be shared between two as well; great for those intimate tai-tai tea-time sessions.

Starting the platter off by having the Ondeh Ondeh first, we noted how the Ondeh Ondeh here seems to be slightly firmer than most — the Kueh itself felt less chewy despite being not too sticky (there isn’t an awkward situation where the kueh got stuck between the teeth; and unlikely to be so), though it still pretty much nailed it where the explosive action of the Gula Melaka filling within eagerly bursts out of the glutinous rice ball. The Kueh Kosui was however, the softest and chewiest of the lot — no doubt simple considering how these are Gula Melaka-infused “rice cakes” (according to the description on their menu); perfumes of the distinct earthiness of the Gula Melaka without being overly chewy to the extent that it gets stuck between teeth, and not being overly sweet whilst at it. The Rempah Udang comes encased in a pandan leaf; essentially hae bee hiam (aka spicy dried shrimp sambal) sandwiched in between glutinous rice, there was a distinct hint of fragrant spiciness in between the slightly sweetened glutinous rice. That being said, we felt that the Rempah Udang would fare even better if the umami notes of Hae Bee Hiam is further amplified in this rendition. The Kueh Salat is possibly our favourite — the layer of Pandan mousse over the top was nothing short of creamy and rich; almost having a very thick layer of homemade Kaya being slathered atop and set on the blue pea flower-infused glutinous rice.

Truth to be told, it’s probably unfair to pitch The Brewing Ground’s Kueh Platter against most other establishments that serve up Nyonya Kueh with actual Peranakan roots tied to them — The Brewing Ground is after all a specialty cafe, and the fact that they are serving up items like these that speaks of the neighbourhood that it is located in is a commendable attempt. No doubt there is some room for improvement for some of the items within the Kueh Platter (not that they were bad in any way), but if we had to pick, we would gladly have the Kueh Salat and Kueh Kosui any time. Pretty glad to be back here again; a tranquil environment to spend the afternoon away …

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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