Sugar Rush: 3 new Taiwanese dessert joints to try

Towering blocks of sweet toast! Pudding in a hawker centre! Refined ‘ice kachang’! Three new Taiwanese dessert joints give us a sugar rush. 

1. Dazzling Café
1. Dazzling Café
29 Apr 2015

1. Dazzling Café

#01-85, CAPITOL PIAZZA, 15 STAMFORD RD, S178906. OPEN DAILY NOON -8PM.
LAST ORDERS 7.30PM.

Ready, set, snap. Expect to go giddy shooting everything that lands on your table here, ’cos this popular cafe chain from Taipei has some seriously Instagrammable desserts. Famed for its Shibuya-style honey toast and mochi waffles, Dazzling Cafe has opened an ultra-feminine joint at the refurbished Capitol Theatre that should be the next hangout for tai-tais-in-training. (Incidentally, the cafe chain was started by a Taiwanese socialite.)

The local franchise is owned by 22-year-old Malaysian Serene Tan, whose family is in the manufacturing and F&B business in China and Malaysia. She says of the cafe which she has pumped $1.3 million into: “There are other places selling honey toast in Singapore, but our unique selling point is ambience and presentation. A lot of furnishings in the cafe are customised and we serve our food using 40 different types of plates. We have ‘luggage chairs’ in our VIP room [only accessible to the owner’s friends, unfortunately] that cost $2,500 each. And each wood-mounted menu costs $50.” Serene plans to open three more outlets here, five in Malaysia and at least five more in Indonesia. And to ensure service standards here are as good as those in Taiwan, she sent eight local staff to Taipei to train at various Dazzling Cafes. She also has four Taiwanese wait staff on her team here.

1. Dazzling Café
1. Dazzling Café
29 Apr 2015

1. Dazzling Café

THE LOOK: The two-storey outfit (the second level isn’t open yet) is indeed very pretty — even though it’s all a bit like an obiang Ladurée. It sort of feels like you’re having tea in a giant dollhouse. The girls will love it, but dudes will feel a little out of place here.

SAVOURY STUFF: Besides its signature desserts, the café also serves up various Japanese-style pastas like the cod roe-and-seaweed-flecked Mentaiko Spaghetti ($18.90), and the exclusive-to-Singapore Spicy Tom Yum Spaghetti ($22.90), which we found too salty. The cafe will also shake up cocktails concocted by a Taiwanese mixologist. And there are plans to have in-house bakeries in future outlets, focusing on Japanese-style soft breads.
 

1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets
1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets

Mango and Coconut Gelato Honey Toast ($18.90) - ORDER THIS
Dazzling’s toast is served as a large block. Half a loaf of bread is hollowed out, the insides cubed, stuffed back in and toasted. A server will help saw through the outer crust after you’re done Instagramming it so that you can get at the delicious cuboids of flavour inside. The portions are huge and three ladies can easily share one.

This number is specially created for the Singapore branch and features deliciously rich yet light coconut gelato that goes perfectly with fresh sweet mangos and creamy custard. The honey toast comes in three degrees of “doneness”: soft, normal and crispy. Crispy has the texture of a bread stick, which we found a tad hard; soft feels too underdone. Stick to normal — it yields a good crisp crust and the right level of pillowy softness within.

1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets
1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets

Cheddar Cheese Danish Honey Toast ($17.90)
While not the most photogenic offering here (it’s served as two cut-up slices), we love the combination of sweet custard melding with savoury cheddar and the crunchy yet airily light Danish.

1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets
1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets

Matcha with Azuki Bean Honey Toast ($19.90)
A must-have for fans of green tea. Wait for the ice cream to melt a little before popping a golden cube, lusciously soaked with rich matcha sauce and cream, in your mouth.

1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets
1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

1. Dazzling Café: The Sweets

Valrhona Chocolate Waffle ($12.90)
Gorgeous to look at but disappointing, flavour-wise. Each petal-shaped slice is stuffed with a gelatinous mochi (extra $2), which gives it an interesting texture. While the rice ball was nicely chewy, the bland waffle was dry and thin with the consistency of cardboard. Pity. Let’s hope it’s just teething problems.

BOTTOM LINE: The desserts here (mostly) taste as good as they look. Bring your camera, appetite, and a few hungry girlfriends.

2. Like Pudding Beancurd
2. Like Pudding Beancurd
29 Apr 2015

2. Like Pudding Beancurd

#01-76 GOLDEN MILE FOOD CENTRE, BLK 505 BEACH RD, S199583. OPEN DAILY 9AM-10PM. LAST ORDERS AT CLOSING. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/LIKEPUDDINGBEANCURD

Despite its moniker, what’s offered at this fortnight-old Taiwanese dessert hawker stall isn’t bean curd at all. In fact, they should just call it Like Beancurd Pudding instead. The wobbly cups, which come in various flavours, don’t even contain any soy — just eggs, New Zealand milk powder and “pudding powder”. It’s just plain old pudding, prepared Taiwanese-style. Confusing much? This family-run business at the hawker centre opposite Golden Mile is headed by patriarch Chen Hsien Yi, 56, who emigrated to Singapore from Taiwan with his wife and three sons 20 years ago. He came out of retirement to help set up the biz for his two younger sons, Li Wei, 21, and Ping Hui, 22. “I used to sell household goods,” says Mr Chen. “When my sons expressed an interest in starting a business, I thought this might be a good idea.”
 

2. Like Pudding Beancurd
2. Like Pudding Beancurd
29 Apr 2015

2. Like Pudding Beancurd

THE SCOOP: “In Taiwan, they don’t sell pudding in ready-to-go cups like we do,” says Mr Chen, who spent a year fine-tuning the recipe with a Taiwanese chef pal. “They’re usually prepared in big vats like bean curd and scooped into bowls.” The puddings are preservative-free and can last up to six days in the fridge.

2. Like Pudding Beancurd: The Sweets
2. Like Pudding Beancurd: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

2. Like Pudding Beancurd: The Sweets

Grass Jelly ($2; extra $1 for toppings) - ORDER THIS
The pudding is slightly firmer and less silky than your a average Lao Ban bean curd. Some may like the mouthfeel, others may find it too stiff. We think it’s okay. There are five flavours available: chocolate, matcha, grass jelly, egg, and milk. The grass jelly is our fave. It tastes a lot like the more expensive gui ling gao (tortoise jelly). Slightly bitter with a fragrant herbal aftertaste.
 

2. Like Pudding Beancurd: The Sweets
2. Like Pudding Beancurd: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

2. Like Pudding Beancurd: The Sweets

Milk Pudding ($2; extra $1 for toppings)
Light with a lingering creaminess. Goes especially well with the accompanying packet of cream. You can choose to have it plain or with homemade toppings. The red bean and gelatinous globules of taro, sweet potato and konjac jelly aren’t too sweet and give the pudding a satisfying bite. Give the Chocolate pudding a miss. It’s diluted and not rich enough.

BOTTOM LINE: While we won’t go out of our way just to eat this pudding, it’s not a bad way to end a meal if you’re in the area. However, $3 is a tad pricey for a hawker treat.

3. Yili Pao Pao
3. Yili Pao Pao
29 Apr 2015

3. Yili Pao Pao

TWO OUTLETS INCLUDING #B2-05 ORCHARD CENTRAL, S238896.
OPEN DAILY 11AM-10PM. LAST ORDERS AT CLOSING. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/PAOPAOICE

It’s shaved ice but it’s not ice kachang. It’s kinda smooth and creamy but it’s not ice cream. “It’s in between ice cream and shaved ice,” says Singaporean co-owner Marcus, 37, who opened the franchise of the popular stall from Taipei’s Shihlin Market with the Taiwanese boss’ daughter (the latter has relocated to Singapore to oversee the expansion of her father’s business). “I grew up in Taiwan ’cos my parents moved there to work,” says Marcus. “This dessert was sold near my neighbourhood back then. It’s a family-owned business that’s been around for 60 years. The daughter is more business savvy and she decided to expand, so here we are,” adds Marcus who has a day job he prefers not to disclose. He recently opened a second outlet in Lorong Ah Soo and sells around 150 cups a day at each store. He has pumped in about $100,000 so far into the two joints. He says: “Ideally, we’d love to have an outlet each in the north, south, east and west!”

3. Yili Pao Pao
3. Yili Pao Pao
29 Apr 2015

3. Yili Pao Pao

WHAT IS IT? The ice kachang/ice cream hybrid tastes like richer, smoother and denser ice kachang. “Ice kachang ice is very coarse, this is much finer. Our customised ice-shaving machine uses special blades to get this consistency. You can’t get this quality with a normal ice shaver,” shares Marcus. “Other Taiwanese shaved ice desserts are made from fruit syrup-flavoured ice blocks,” he tells us. “That’s why they rely heavily on toppings for flavour. You can eat our dessert with or without toppings ’cos our ice is blended with real fruit puree,” he adds. Except for taro, all the raw ingredients are shipped directly from Taiwan and mixed here.

3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets
3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets

Strawberry & Mango Shaved Ice ($4.95 for two flavours; extra toppings from 45 cents)
We really like the combination of these two fruits. The sweetness of the mango, balanced with the tang of the strawberry creates a harmonious blend. The fruit purée in this is quite evident.
 

3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets
3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets

Wumei Shaved Ice ($4.95) - ORDER THIS
The wonderfully smoky, sweet and sour Wumei-flavoured shaved ice, made from smoky sour plum, is an acquired taste you’ll either love or hate. We found it fragrant and quite refreshing. Apart from the Milk & Egg flavoured shaved ice, none of the other 10 flavours here contain egg or cream. However, they’re still quite smooth and creamy with a pleasant texture.
 

3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets
3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets
29 Apr 2015

3. Yili Pao Pao: The Sweets

Peanut Shaved Ice ($4.95)
We’re told this not-too-sweet concoction is a hit with customers, but we found that it tastes oddly like watered-down peanut butter. We don’t like it on its own, but it goes well with crushed Oreo cookie topping.

BOTTOM LINE: Firmer than a Slurpee, lighter than ice cream. Choose the fruity flavours, which are a fun and refreshing way to meet your daily fruit quota. Not bad.

Report a problem