Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The 10 best sweet treats in Singapore from guardian.co.uk

Award-winning baker Dan Lepard reveals the best of Singapore's many pastry shops and cake stalls, where you can indulge in everything from delicious Chinese custard tarts to delicate French macarons

Wives Delight cakes in Loong Fatt Eating house, Singapore
Wives' Delight cakes ... Loong Fatt Eating house has been making them the same way since the 70s. Photograph: Dan Lepard
Every time I walk out of Changi airport's air-conditioning into the humid outdoors, there's a sweet and slightly fermented aroma that hits me on the first breath. A dozen visits to Singapore and I'm still startled by it. Within the hour, I barely notice it. But later, if I'm walking past a tiny bakery in Chinatown, like the ones that sell egg custard tarts on Sago Street, the combined effect of the sugary toasted aroma from the baking and that aromatic Singapore air can be overwhelming. So much so that it instantly triggers my carb craving and I'm immediately queuing to buy a cake.
There are sweet things to buy almost everywhere – in a run of shops on the street, in the basements of shopping malls and the hawker stalls – and they encompass most of the cultures in Singapore. Predominantly, you'll see Chinese, Malay, British and Indian bakeries or cake stalls. More recently, French trained or influenced pastry chefs are affecting the look and flavour of some of the local recipes.
The sheer number of bakeries and cake shops in Singapore can partly be explained by the significance of sweet gifts in local life. Where we in Europe might offer alcohol as a gift to our hosts, in Asia cakes and sweets are often given. For a Singaporean without time or space to bake at home, cake shops provide a solution to an etiquette dilemma.
Home-style recipes dominate much of what's available. Once, the ingredients used to make these cakes and sweets were expensive, so a recipe that combined sugar, butter or oils, spices, and refined flours and grains were made infrequently at home unless you were wealthy. Today's intensive agriculture and relative wealth have made the ingredients much more affordable – but what has vanished is the time to cook and bake them. So many of the shops have stepped in and offer something similar to what would have been baked at home. Here are some of my favourites:

1. Xi Di Li for sweet breakfast doughnuts

This stall faces on to Sims Avenue, and covers no more than a few square metres, yet somehow they mix, fry and serve up delicious cakes in this tiny space. Go in the morning, around 10am, and the first of the day's sweet morning buns, called Ma Jian, will be hot from the fat and ready to eat. They taste like slightly sweet, firm and chewy doughnuts, deftly shaped into something looking like two oblong madeleines joined at the waist and sprinkled with sesame seeds before being plunged into the fryer. At 70 cents (about 31p), they're a bargain for breakfast.
• Xi Di Li, on Sims Avenue between Lorong 27 and 25a Geylang

2. Thye Moh Chan Cake House for peanut brittle

Thye Moh Chan cake house, SingaporePhotograph: Dan Lepard
In a slightly rough and vaguely alarming ramshackle setting, this sweet shop makes really good peanut brittle, a very traditional Chinese sweet. The morning I went everyone was wrapping gift boxes of brittle for the weekend. Very little English spoken, so pick and hand sign for the amount you want.
• Thye Moh Chan Cake House, 53 Lorong 27 Geylang

3. Hock Khong for coconut buns

This large, cool open dim sum tea house is very basic, with red plastic garden chairs, ceiling fans and formica tables, and the kitchen area appears to be dotted among the seating. Come 10 in the morning they start to serve soft coconut yeast buns and sweet red bean puffs. Go up to the counter, choose what you want then go to a table and the staff will bring it to you.
• Hock Khong, cnr Lorong 27 Geylang and Sims Avenue

4. Loong Fatt Eating House for Wife's Delight

My friend Jiong took me to this large old cafe that has been making these cakes since the 1970s. A vast open kitchen is set back 10 metres from the seating space at the front of the shop, strewn with odd tables and chairs, while a line of customers snakes down the middle. The cakes, Tau Sar Piah, are a bit like an Eccles cake would be if it were cooked on a griddle, and the flaky pastry used is curious. It's made by taking two walnut-sized balls of dough, one loaded with lard and the other plain, then they're patted together, rolled up, patted and rolled again to make a bespoke puff pastry to cover each cake. A sweet paste of cooked winter melon and sesame is spooned inside and the dough wrapped around it à la Eccles. Baked in a blazing hot plate and flipped once to scorch both sides, the cakes are served piping hot.
• Loong Fatt Eating House, 639 Balestier Road

5. Kim Choo Kueh Chang for Peranakan sweets

Pea flower cake, Kim Choo Kueh Chang, SingaporePea flower cake. Photograph: Dan Lepard
Do ask about the sweets and cakes in this family shop, bakery and museum as some of the staff speak excellent English and know the history in detail. The first floor is home to a small museum and restaurant accessed via a narrow staircase to the left of the store, while the ground floor shop feels like an apothecary with biscuits and pastries in tall screwtop jars. Look out for the soft rice cakes swirled with blue, a Peranakan wedding sweet called Pulut Tai Tai. Though it looks as vivid as a dye from a bottle, it's actually the extract from a native blue pea flower. Their version of a chocolate muffin, made with a complicated overnight cornstarch ferment is gluten-free and soft textured with a rich, deep chocolate flavour.
• Kim Choo Kueh Chang, 109 East Coast Road.

6. Regent Hotel for yuzu soufflé

The ground foyer of the Regent Hotel is quiet and utterly calming, so even if you're tight for cash this is a very pleasant and refreshing oasis to visit. The Regent Hotel's pastry chef, Phillip Lee, adds to the vast banquet on offer with a delicate soufflé that combines the sharp mandarin flavour of the Japanese yuzu fruit folded through a rich custard. Lee often takes traditional Chinese flavours, like the ingredients from a Chen Teng soup – dried longan, pandan leaves and rock sugar – and uses them to flavour an afternoon tea cake, or turns black sesame or red bean paste into delicate French macarons. Inventive and remarkable baking.
• The Regent Hotel, 1 Cuscaden Road

7. Mandarin Oriental for classic French patisserie

Patisserie in Singapore is vastly better than in London, and young pastry chef Ruben Jan Adrian, fresh from Pierre Marcolini's chocolaterie in Brussels and the kitchens of Pierre Hermé in Paris, is one of the chefs making this happen. Last Christmas he had the most beautiful spiced stollen on sale and a curious and excellent pannetone studded with crimson-stained sugared almonds. This Easter he had hot cross buns and handmade Valrhona chocolate eggs. If you take a seat in the fourth-floor Axis bar, you can watch the stonking great build for the Marina Bay Sands casino complex: think Meccano construction on an epic scale. Sitting in cool bliss with a stand of delicate tea cakes, tarts and a pot of tea, you can become a tranquil James Bond gazing at Casino Royale being built.
• The Mandarin Oriental, 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square

9. Puteri Mas for durian puffs and jackfruit muffins

The best place to buy durian cream puffs is at Puteri Mas, situated in one of the restored colonial buildings in Joo Chiat Road, an area that is calm during the day and a bit more racy at night. The shop is nothing special, fluorescent lit with almost no seating. But these puffs will challenge your taste buds. I quite like durian, the armadillo-skinned fruit with a weird rotted aroma, on its own or in ice cream. But these cream puffs filled with durian pulp, though undoubtedly fine, I find too hard to swallow. Whereas the jackfruit muffins they sell here, with a deep golden yellow crumb and flavoured additionally with freshly grated coconut, can be eaten without effort.
• Puteri Mas, 475 Joo Chiat Road

10. Leung Sang Hong Kong Pastries for custard tarts in Chinatown

There's some debate about the best sweet egg custard tarts in Chinatown. Leung Sang tends to feature often in the top list, and their thick crisp pastry is lovely, not too oily, and the filling gently puffed. But if you walk around the corner, maybe two or three shops back into Chinatown, there are a few pastry shops that make tarts where the filling is more dense, with a creamy texture. Sago Street and the area immediately around it is great for takeaway food, and there are tables out the front of many shops to eat at.
• Leung Sang Hong Kong Pastries, 18 Sago Street

Chinese Communist Party Brutal persecution of Falun Gong in China 中共残酷迫害法轮功

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dragon Boat Festival 2012 / Duan Wu Jie 2012 / 端午节 2012

(Photos by me, and words courtesy from - http://sgholiday.com/calendar/dragon-boat-festival/)

June 23, 2012 is Dragon Boat Festival or Dumpling Festival! It  falls on 5th day of the 5th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, which is Jun 23, 2012 in western calender.

Dragon Boat Festival is a festival celebrated by Chinese as well as many others of Chinese origins, including those living in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Vietnam.Dragon Boat Festival is a festival celebrated by Chinese as well as many others of Chinese origins, including those living in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Vietnam.

Dumplings tied in a branch...these can fill my stomach for a few days!

Zong Zi: Chinese Dumpling

Zong zi (粽子) or simply zong is a traditional Chinese food popularly consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival, hence the name Chinese Dumpling Festival. Zong zi is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling.

Origins of Dragon Boat Festival / 端午节

Dragon Boat Festival is said to commemorates the sacrifice of Qu Yuan, a legendary Chinese poet. In Mi Lo River around 2000 years ago, he drowned himself to protest against the rulers and to stop corruption. As respect to the poet, people throw dumplings into the river to stop fish from feeding on the poet’s body as well as make noise to scare the fish away.

Does this dumpling look good? There are meat, chestnut and mushrooms inside...

Duan Wu 2012 / Dragon Boat Festival in Singapore
To celebrate Duan Wu 2012 Festival, Singaporean organized dragon boat races, symbolizing searching for Qu Yuan’s body on the river. In the past, dumplings are said to be thrown on the river to drive away the fishes from the legendary poet’s body. Nowadays, Singaporeans prepare the rice dumplings as a delicacy, which made this festival is also known as the Chinese Dumpling Festival of Singapore.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival 2012 !

2012 端午节 快乐 !
Happy Chinese Dumpling Festival 2012 !
Happy Duan Wu Festival 2012 !

Movie about Falun Gong 有关法轮功的电影

Cute Buns at Square Buns Junior

Square Buns Junior
1 Raffles Place
#B1-03D One Raffles Place S048616
Tel: 65338289

Cheese and Strawberry, Cheese and Apple...they look cute!

Cheese and Almond, chocolate and almond...

Melting cheese, chocolate fudge....

So many cute little square buns, so many choices!

 Square Buns Junior @ 1 Raffles Place 
Here are my choices! Only $1.40 each. Reasonable price.

Bluebeery and cheese...too sweet! 

I am not sure what was this flavour... chocolate or coffee?

CCP Brutal persecution of Falun Gong 中共残酷迫害法轮功

Swiss treats in Singapore! SWISS BAKE!

 Swiss Bake 
Founded by our Managing Director, Mr Xavier Baumgartner; a Swiss from the Canton of Zug, and Pastry Chef for more than 30 years who has won numerous awards in his pursuit of culinary excellence.  
Come and enjoy the Swiss experience at our Swissbake shops. An assortment of premium quality bread and confectionery, freshly produced by our dedicated team at Swiss-Treats 
From - http://www.swissbake.com/
Swiss Bake at Raffles MRT

The breads are different from our local breads. With European taste...

Looks nice, but a bit expensive...


I bought this. It had a taste of cinnamon.

Inside of the bread...

Looks hard? But actually this bun is soft and fluffy.

Apple pie

Cranberry bun

 Look at the cranberry inside! 


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Peranakan Food - Chinta Manis: "Sweet Love" in Singapore

Inspired by the rich tradition of Peranakan food and culture, Chinta Manis is Singapore's first truly authentic Peranakan Café and Patisserie. 

(Peranakan Chinese and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Indonesian archipelago of Nusantara during the Colonial era.)

Meaning "Sweet Love" in Malay, Chinta Manis combines both heritage and innovation by serving a range of Nyonya Kuehs and Desserts, Western Cakes, Savoury and Sweet Pastries, local Peranakan delights. 

(From - http://www.chintamanis.com.sg/chinta-manis)

Chinta Manis  authentic Peranakan Café and Patisserie.


 authentic Peranakan kueh, Ondeh Ondeh, agar agar

Kueh Lapis (Cakes of many layers)

I bought Ondeh Ondeh and Rainbow Agar Agar

Rainbow Agar Agar (Jelly) ... So colourful!

Ondeh Ondeh (Sweet Potato Glutinous Rice Balls)

Inside of the ondeh ondeh

$0.70 for ondeh ondeh, $0.90 for rainbow agar agar...

Lapis - layered cake

Nasi Peranakan Istimewa - this costs $7.80!

Nasi Lemak Istimewa - this costs $4.90...

Nyonya Mee Siam - $4.80

Assam Laksa costs $4.80...

Assam Laksa 

I am not sure what is this. Some sort of glutinous rice dessert.

Chinta Manis 'Pandan Chiffon '

Chinta Manis 'Pandan Chiffon '

Chinta Manis 'Pandan Chiffon '

Mango Sago Agar Agar and Chendol Agar Agar

Mango Sago Agar Agar


Chendol Agar Agar

Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) Around the World! 法轮大法(法轮功)在世界各地!