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Malindi Halwa ($10) is a dessert you and I may not have heard of, but it certainly piqued my interest.

Halwa, or Halva(h), is the general term for a dense, sweet confection found across different geographical locations and cultures, notably the Middle East, Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.

I believe Kafe Utu's interpretation is that of East African halwa, a gelatinous flour-based dessert typically prepared with tapioca starch and/or cornstarch. True to its roots, these oblong blocks of Swahili "mochi" are made with dragon fruit juice (hence the vibrancy), hazelnuts, cashew nuts, macadamia, pistachio, and Malindi spices.

The floral sweetness was a bit much for me, although it was slightly offset by the light coconut yogurt and dukkah filo. Nonetheless, its mochi-like texture would definitely appeal to fans of kueh lapis sagu (9-layer kueh), or any Nyonya kueh of the bouncy, gummy variety.

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Maybe you’re thinking: “Carrot cake? Boring. How good can it be?”

Well, shoot those thoughts down and have a go at Kafe Utu’s Lush Carrot Cake ($8). This modest-looking cake is nutty and moist, with a dash of finesse that comes in the form of tangy citrus cream cheese frosting. Spices lurk in the background; you know they’re somewhere there.

Since we’re talking dessert, why not pair it with their Soft Serve Ice Cream ($4)? Flavours rotate occasionally, but if you happen to visit when bittersweet dark chocolate with cacao bits is on the menu, you know what to do.

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Both the Express and Long Lunch sets offer the option of coffee or a dessert, De Chocolate. Upon asking, we were told that it was a brownie. And a fine brownie it was.

It arrived with cream and little morsels of what resembled granola (these had the texture of coffee beans, tasting of corn and chocolate, but I haven’t the slightest clue).

The brownie itself was moist, dense and fudgy, with a crisp exterior. Interestingly enough, there was a spice that lingered after every bite. Instead of clarifying (like a sociable human), I googled “Mexican brownie”, finding brownie recipes containing cinnamon, and cayenne or chilli, maybe even all three.

This may be a tad too rich to enjoy on your own, unless you are in the mood to indulge and/or have the liberty of an extra-long lunch.

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The chocolate salty pie ($6) may not be the most visually enticing dessert out there, but it’s the stuff of dreams.

Lose your inhibitions and just go in on this deep-fried pastry coated in cocoa sugar, filled with warm oozy Valrhona dark chocolate.

It's also not the time to be stubborn and "choose just one". You MUST have the pie with the burnt honey soft serve & sea salt ($6), and share this whole lot with a friend, lest you find yourself with a sore throat (and other sugar-induced ailments).

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Here's my two cents on a couple of goodies from Brother Bird's new croissant lineup. I believe they're available till 15/9.

I genuinely like the concept of the Taiwanese Sausage Croissant Roll ($5) - it's a different yet safe take on the homely sausage bun/roll. This was, however, a bit of a let-down; it was as if they just randomly wedged a sausage into croissant pastry. Some sort of binding agent (it seems the suggestion of adding cheese has surfaced) would've made this less dry, and more cohesive as a whole.

The Blueberry Crumble (filled) Mochi Croissant ($4) is a lot softer in texture, as compared to the other croissants. Not the best of the lineup, and other than being filled with (a forgettable) blueberry jam, the "crumble" aspect seems to be missing.

[Further R&D for this current mochi croissant lineup may very well be in the works, according to their Instagram page. We shall stay tuned.]

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Here's my two cents on a couple of goodies from Brother Bird's new croissant lineup. I believe they're available till 15/9.

The Matcha Pain au Chocolat ($4) instantly became a favourite of mine. Not too drastic a change from its predecessor, the White Chocolate Matcha, but with an added element: rich dark chocolate enveloped within layers and layers of flaky pastry.

The Ferrero Rocher (filled) Mochi Croissant ($5), makes for a decadent teatime treat, being full of sweet hazelnut praline cream with a nutty chocolate glaze. It didn't exactly taste like the famous confectionery though. I would've liked for them to have incorporated more hazelnuts, and maybe even some sort of wafer element?

[Further R&D for this current mochi croissant lineup may very well be in the works, according to their Instagram page. We shall stay tuned.]

In my eyes, mentaiko is matchless. It goes well with almost everything, ice cream included. This limited edition mentaiko soft serve ($6.90) isn't as absurd (or fishy) as it sounds!

First few adjectives that immediately came to mind: umami, sweet, buttery. At times, it tasted as though I was merely eating vanilla ice cream, but in those unassuming moments, spice would creep in, tickling the back of my throat. The addition of furikake sprinkles took the 'savoury' aspect up a notch, helping to tone down the initial surge of sweetness. Yes, I downed the entire cup in a matter of minutes.

If you aim to become an adventurous eater one day and need a place to start, this is it. Baby steps, baby steps.

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If you've never taken a liking to the regular fried yeast donuts we're all familiar with, you should give the kurozu donuts at Kakuida's a try. I would consider them to fall within the category of "cake donuts", but then again they're not super cakey, being soft, dense, and springy with a spongy interior (try poking it, just for fun).

Out of the 3 flavours I tried, the sweet and eggy Original ($1.90) was the best, tasting like a cross between castella cake and Cantonese "Ma Lai Gao". Matcha ($2.20) came in at a close second, with a subtle earthiness that slowly grew on me. As for the Chocolate ($2.20), it was sub-par, having a run-of-the-mill (almost artificial-ish) chocolate flavour I didn't appreciate.

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After much hemming and hawing, I decided to go with my apple-dessert-loving gut and try the 5-Spice Apple Crumble ($14/part of a $60 set menu with Burpple Beyond) with Crème Anglaise. The spiced apple chunks used were of the slightly sour variety, which is always a good sign. However, being served at room temperature did not do this dessert justice.
Cold crème anglaise, or even ice cream (like a classic vanilla bean), would've been more suitable, methinks.

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Being someone who appreciates fine cheese and good dessert, I was immediately drawn to the Gorgonzola & Black Truffle Honey ($10) - vanilla seed ice cream with morsels of creamy, robust gorgonzola, crumble and the supposed second lead of the show, the truffle honey, which unfortunately left little impression on me. While the gorgonzola and ice cream pairing was nicely balanced, something seemed to be lacking. Perhaps if the cheese was incorporated into the ice cream it would've been more of a showstopper.

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The Le Goma ($9), with black sesame roulade, Japanese sesame diplomat cream, and black & white sesame streusel, is essentially its black sesame shuu puff counterpart at Koki, but in cake form. Both have that delightfully distinct nuttiness and aroma. Texture-wise, the cake was fluffy and relatively light, so don't feel (too) bad if you have a whole piece to yourself......

Felt that the crunchy streusel could've done without the dusting of icing sugar but that's just my personal preference. Best with a pot of tea, and I would recommend the Kuki Houjicha or one of the varieties of oolong!!!

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It takes me immense willpower to resist the call of coconut ice cream......but not today, as I gave in to a Koko Classic (2 scoops & 3 toppings for $4.90).

I opted for corn, crushed peanuts and fragrant toasted coconut flakes (10/10 would recommend). Flavour-wise, the coconut could've been more pronounced (think: you could possibly trick someone with a blocked nose into thinking that they're eating vanilla ice cream) but the texture was spot on. Creamy, luscious and with no unwanted icy bits whatsoever.

Very satisfied with the portion size though, and I was even happier to find out that the ice cream came with a generous serving of fresh coconut flesh!!!

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INACTIVE atm, will be back!!

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