Tiong Bahru Bakery first made its foray into our local cafe scene in collaboration with Spa Esprit Group two years ago and fast earned the title of the ‘best croissant in Singapore’ as dubbed by many media heavyweights and food critics. The man behind this successful bakery and its baked goods made from traditional French techniques, is none other than celebrated French baker Gontran Cherrier. Two years later, he is back again in Singapore to introduce more delectable goodies for the fans of Tiong Bahru Bakery.
This humble bakery which used to pack in the crowds since the day they opened their doors at the corner of Eng Hoon Street in the hipster enclave of Tiong Bahru (hence its ‘heartland’ name) has also since launched two more outlets at Raffles City and Tangs Orchard as an answer to the demands for Gontran’s well-loved breads and viennoiseries.
First up on their new menu is the Panini Lunch Set $9.90 which comes with a choice of either Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese or Bacon and Mushroom Curry. We tried both paninis and thoroughly enjoyed the classic combinations of those ingredients put together. The former was my personal favourite while the latter though delightful barely had a hint of curry spice flavour. We think that calling it a Bacon and Mushroom Panini would suffice and it would still be as popular. Each panini also comes with a side of Caesar salad freshly tossed with croutons, bacon and parmesan cheese and so well-dressed that even those adverse to salads would be happy wolfing this down.
Also new are these two hot dog viennas- Spicy Pork Hotdog with Black Sesame Vienna and Chicken Hotdog with Pepper Vienna $5.30 each. While the price may be a tad steep for plain ol’ hotdog buns, these are actually hardly plain and neither are they run-of-the-mill. For starters, its hearty size is almost justification enough for its price, next would be the fluffiness of that sesame/pepper bread and finally how the thick overlaying melted cheese ties it all together so beautifully. The chicken one actually packs a punch with its subtle spread of dijon mustard while the pork hot dog tasted somewhat like smoked cured chorizo.
From the same people behind home-grown ice-cream brand Creamier at Lor 1 Toa Payoh, comes a new soft-serve dessert concept located in the heart of Chip Bee Gardens. And almost an entirely different concept it is indeed as compared to their predecessor, as Sunday Folks serves mainly just 6 flavours of soft serve ice-cream and a range of cakes which changes routinely. Rest assured however, their famous crisp eggy waffles are still on the menu.
The space itself is much more luxurious than the cramped few seats there were in Creamier, with this being a lot more spacious and airy, sitting roughly 40 people quite comfortably. The interior too while minimalistic, bears some attention to details with vases of flowers on each table, light brown wooden furniture complimenting the cream-coloured walls, creating an overall cosy and comfortable feel.
A few weeks back, I did a feature on the overview of the 21st edition of Singapore Food Festival (SFF) 2014, which is happening from 11 – 20 July. Thanks to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), I was invited to attend the official launch of the festival which took place at Chinatown Food Street last Friday and caught a glimpse of what the Singapore Chinese Dialect Heritage Feast had to offer.
This event, which saw us being entertained by a “flashmob” of samsui women, policemen in shorts and street hawkers from the olden days, definitely set the tone for an exciting week long of gourmet festivities spanning across our different cultures and heritage, brought together by a common theme of “A Walk Down Memory Lane”.
And a walk down memory lane we certainly did as this heritage feast featured 20 of Singapore’s Chinese dialect dishes that have been lost in translation or just lost over the years as our country evolved and grew increasingly cosmopolitan and westernized. From Traditional Hakka Yong Tow Foo to Abacus Seed and Rickshaw Noodles, we were being transported to the good old days of roadside stalls and pushcart hawkers via our taste buds.
A couple of us crazy girls decided to embark on our cafehopping trip at 9am on a rainy Saturday morning. Reasons being, this discreet and hidden gem of a cafe only opens on selected
weekends (word has it that it is only Saturdays now!), we heard that practically everyone was making plans to visit it that same weekend and knew that it had such a cosy space that was way too small to accommodate a crowd. So we went there bright and early to secure a table and mind you, we were still not the first to arrive when we reached.
There is nothing not to love about this place. It has a cutesy name- Whale & Cloud, the route to the cafe feels like an adventure itself, entry is only via the door along the back alley, you have to knock on it before the door is opened for you and when it does, it feels like walking into a whimsical wonderland of trinkets thrown together for that homely feeling. The red bricked wall, the vintage Cathay cinema seats, the bakes on sale for the day sitting on an oven top and the stalks of Baby’s Breath adding a touch of femininity to the place- clearly the owner takes pride in the details and it shows at every corner of the cafe.
Although we were told that the owner bakes her own cakes and cookies to sell sometimes, the ones we had last week were from Kisses Bakery instead. Not complaining because I got to try their Red Velvet Slice $4 and amazing Carrot Cake $5 that was so moist and rich with that layer of thick cream cheese. I would have ordered a few more to takeaway if I was going straight home that day! Not sure if the owner will eventually decide to bake her own or cater from Kisses Bakery but either way, there will definitely be sweet treats on the table when you are there (while stocks last!).
Other items on sale at Whale & Cloud include chocolates, bags of coffee beans, cooking books and even Kinfolk which the owner has brings back from her trips overseas so almost everything here is technically “limited edition”.
Partnering Health Promotion Board (HPB) for their Healthier Dining Programme, Dian Xiao Er is rolling out a new menu come 18 July 2014, which will feature healthier dining choices, focusing more on nutrition and portion, without compromising on flavour or taste. In addition, informative features such as calorie contribution labels, healthier choices logos and recommended calorie allowances are also tagged to the dishes for consumers to make informed choices when placing their orders.
Not just that, this Chinese restaurant chain is also one of the first in the industry, to switch over to rice bran oil for their cooking. Believed to be high in anti-oxidants, Vitamin E and cholesterol-inhibiting compounds, Rice Bran Oil is one of the healthier cooking oils in the market. The flavour is also rather subtle so you can hardly detect the difference in the food as compared to if regular vegetable oils were used.
Two weeks back, we were given the opportunity to sample some of the dishes that Dian Xiao Er would be introducing in their upcoming menu and here are some of our favourites.
Starting with the soups, the Double-boiled Wintermelon Soup w Conpoy $7.30 and Double-boiled Black Chicken Soup $7.30 were easily the crowd-pleasers with their comforting warmth and herbal-y touch. The Stewed Crocodile Soup w Sweet Almonds & Chuan Bei $7.60 on the other hand, while a bit difficult to get used to at the beginning (especially for foreigners), turned out to be the most nourishing of the lot and is supposedly extremely beneficial for lung problems and joint pains. I was a tad hesitant to take a sip but was glad I did because truth be told, it did not taste anything out of the ordinary. It was just a bowl of really good soup packed with collagen.