1. Creamery Boutique
#01-03, 139 Tyrwhitt Rd, S207557. Tel: 8133-1250. Open daily except Thurs, 11am – 10pm. Last order 15 mins before closing. www.facebook.com/creamerysg
The dessert brand that originated in Bangkok specialises in ice cream and molten-cored cookies. It was founded by a Singaporean and his Thai pastry chef wife. That may explain distinctly local ice cream flavours like Milo Dinosaur (it’s called ‘Miteen’ in Bangkok). The local franchise here is brought in by Tan Chin Wan, 26, and her business partner. Chin Wan, a first-time business owner trained in food science technology, has to date pumped in $150,000 into the store since opening last November and is finally seeing business pick up. The poison of choice for sweet-toothed fiends at this cafe at Tyrwhitt Road is the sensuously engorged lava cookie. Made from flour, sugar, eggs and butter, their cookies, which use the same recipe as the ones in Bangkok, are baked to order and “more on the fluffy side”. There are three oozy cookies to choose from: Choc-A-Lot, Matcha and Red Devil, and 12 flavours of ice cream to go with them. Each crusty disc is served on a skillet straight from the oven, and takes about 15 minutes to bake.
THE LOOK: The small and inviting 20-seater is accented with splashes of vibrant yellow, faux brick panels and cutesy bric-a-brac. It has a nice and homey vibe about it.
The Red Devil, $8.90, feeds two (8 DAYS PICK!)
This saucy saucer the size of a pappadam may not ooze very dramatically when sliced, but it boasts a fantastic mouthfeel. The red velvet cookie is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside and leaks a smooth, creamy white chocolate ganache filling when cut into. It’s also smeared with warm tangy cream cheese, then dolloped with a scoop of rich butterscotch and chocolate cake ice cream aptly called The Heart Stop. Finally, it’s smothered in a delicious house-made chocolate sauce. Each mouthful is a symphony of beautifully balanced flavours.
Brownie Cookie, $8.90, feeds two (8 DAYS PICK!)
The dark horse on the menu here is this non-lava brownie cookie. Like a slightly underdone brownie, it is both light and dense at the same time. Crisp on the outside and gorgeously gooey in the middle, intensely chocolatey and seriously good. We had ours with a scoop of Black Dog ice cream infused with the strong flavours of Guinness Stout. It offers an interesting counterpoint to the sweetness of the chocolate, but its yeasty bitterness may be an acquired taste for some.
Choc A Lot, $8.90, feeds two
Made with 60 per cent dark chocolate, the warm, oozy core is silky and fragrant (see main pic). Perfect with the chewy crunch of the buttery cookie it’s housed in, and the cold rush from the coffee liqueur-infused Piko Piko ice cream crowning it, a deconstructed tiramisu of sorts with coffee fudge. This decadent dessert is one bittersweet ending we relish.
BOTTOM LINE: The lightly oozy, baked-to-order cookies and rich, smooth ice cream here are definitely worth the calories. $
2. Bojio Café
Westgate Mall, 3 Gateway Dr, #02-28, S608532. Tel: 8742-1688. Open daily 11am – 10pm. Last orders 30 mins before closing. www.facebook.com/CafeBoJio
Also going with the flow is 35-year-old Wybron Chan, who’s behind family-run oozy dessert joint Meet & Melt in Tampines and Scape. Although the menu of Instagram-ready thick lava toast leaking oozy fillings at this three-week-old café in the West is similar, the biz is a separate venture that Wybron started with friends. He tells us its colloquial moniker (‘bojio’ is a Hokkien phrase for not being invited) is inspired by friends of food bloggers who would often complain about not being ‘jio-ed’ or asked along on their various culinary escapades.
On offer here are thick lava toasts with 12 different fillings to choose from, including Thai Milk Tea and Salted Egg. You can also opt for the non-lava Melt Toasts (from $12.90), which come drenched with toppings like Ferrero Rocher. Unlike your average Shibuya toasts, which are usually sweetened with honey, the ones here have a more savoury note and, like their ice creams, are made from scratch at the central kitchen at Scape.
THE LOOK: The smallish interior with counter seats is dominated by a simple black and white palette. There’s a ‘Hall of Fame’ wall featuring polaroids of their photogenic desserts.
Original Lava Toast with Mentaiko, $17.90, feeds two (8 DAYS PICK!)
It seems like we’ve entered some odd gastronomy purgatory when this plate lands in front of us. But the wonderfully complex mix of sweet and savoury flavours and textures is surprisingly good. A thick golden brick of toast drizzled with mentaiko (spicy cod roe) sauce sits in a nest of bonito flakes. It is then torched at the table to give it a deliciously smoky kiss. When sliced, a pink stream of seafood-infused mentaiko mayonnaise oozes out, drenching the buttery toast in salty lava. While we can’t quite taste the palm sugar in the Gula Melaka ice cream that comes with this, the blend of hot and cold and crunchy-creamy textures works well.
Raclette Cheese Toast, $18.90, feeds two
There’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into pillowy buttered toast smeared with cheese. It’s even better when it comes with a side of showmanship. Half the fun of eating this is watching a stringy stream of gooey cheese flow from a wheel of Swiss raclette onto your plate. However, we didn’t quite fancy the taste of the raclette cheese. It had an oddly bitter aftertaste that didn’t complement the sweet and creamy notes of the Speculoos and Charcoal ice cream that accompanied it.
BOTTOM LINE: Choose wisely from the menu and you’ll be rewarded with the surprisingly yummy pairing of toast stuffed with gooey savoury sauces and sweet ice cream.
3. Kooks Creamery
#01-02, 211 Serangoon Ave 4, S550211. Tel: 9006-8748. Open daily except Mon. Noon – 10pm Sun & Tue – Thu; noon – 11pm Fri & Sat. Last orders 15 mins before closing. www.facebook.com/kookscreamery
Anchored beneath a block of HDB flats is this year-old corner ice cream store helmed by the Kuah sisters, Sue-Maine, 28, and Sue-Lynn, 30. ‘Kooks’ is an amalgam of their surname and ‘cookies’. Sue-Maine, a marketing exec by day, handles promo and publicity for the shop while older sis, Sue-Lynn, tends the store full-time since giving up her job as a visual merchandiser and designer. Inspired by similar desserts they tried while holidaying in Thailand and Korea, the sisters, who’ve sunk over $100,000 into the biz, underwent a three-day gelato course here and spent a year fine-tuning their molten cookie recipe to achieve the right consistency. The quality of the 20 types of gelato here is great: very creamy and bursting with lush, mouth-watering flavour ($3.60 a scoop), including a wonderfully perfumed Earl Grey.
THE LOOK: Simply furnished with a light industrial aesthetic, the small and brightly-lit café features naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling, copper pipe art and an easy-to-read, fuss-free menu overhead.
Kooks Signature Lava Set, $8.50, feeds one
This is food porn at its finest. Baked to order from raw balls of dough stuffed with chocolate ganache (each order takes about 10 minutes), the cookie first caves under the weight of the ice cream as a server plops a scoop on it, then sexily splits apart, spewing a torrent of oozy warm chocolate. As photogenic as it is, the palm-sized cookie is way too doughy and thick. Couple this with the richness of the chocolate ganache within and the cafe's recommended pairing of the luscious brown butter ice cream and it’s all a bit overwhelming. We recommend pairing this cookie with the light and zesty Raspberry Lychee Sorbet (above pic) instead. The refreshing zing of the berries adds a nice counterbalance to all that richness.
Matcha Lava Set, $8.50, feeds one
It looks like our dessert went full Poltergeist on us. Yes, it’s matcha, but green sludge oozing out of anything isn’t very appetising. Again, the texture of the cookie is too dense. While it benefits from the slight bitterness of the tea-spiked molten white chocolate ganache centre, this has just one note: sweet. Our server recommended pairing the cookie with coconut gelato, but the delicate flavour of the coconut was drowned out by all the other ingredients on the plate.
BOTTOM LINE: We can’t say we’re crazy about the sweet cookies here, but we may return for the luxuriously creamy gelato. $
4. Le Castella
#B1 -32, 10 Tampines Central 1, S529536. Tel: 6636-8655. Open daily 10am – 10pm. Last orders 30 mins before closing. www.facebook.com/LeCastellaSG
Le Castella first opened in Taipei a year ago and is famed for its ethereally light Japanese-style sponge cakes. It created quite a stir on social networking platforms when its franchise outlet landed in Korea months later. The queues for the cakes can go up to an hour long there. But the queue at its Singapore outpost in Tampines One mall, which opened on May 10, is even worse. The wait for a piece of cake here was about 90 minutes on the first day and has since ballooned to an eye-watering three hours. And you have to stand in line the entire time, though the owners say they plan to implement a pre-order system soon where customers can take a number and collect the cakes later. There’s currently no limit to the number of cakes you can buy, but that will likely change too, to about four cakes per person. The wait is crazily long because kitchen operations aren't stable yet — the ovens malfunctioned just days before opening day, and during our preview, the cakes were a little bit burned and the cheese filling did not quite ooze. Still, when done right, Le Castella's cakes are supposed to boast an oh-so-sexy wobble and a gooey cheddar filling. Each fluffy, pillow-sized slab is made from almost 60 eggs. The 7cm-tall edible sponges are then cut into roughly 23cm by 16cm blocks (which feeds up to eight pax) and boast a distinct quiver that’s the stuff of food porn dreams.
The castella cake originated in Portugal and was later popularised in Japan as a ‘Western sponge cake’. Its beauty lies in its simplicity — it’s usually made up of just four ingredients: eggs, flour, honey and sugar. Le Castella’s elfin Taiwanese lady boss, Lele, who came up with the recipe and is here to oversee the kitchen for a while, partnered Singaporeans Ahmad Adam, 25, and Rayner Ling, 24, to bring the brand over here for a cool $300,000. Rayner happens to be one of the franchise owners of popular yoghurt chain, Ilao Ilao, while Adam’s family is in the palm oil business.
Using specially imported ingredients from Taiwan, and made by Singaporean chefs, the cakes are baked in six giant ovens onsite and served steaming hot. Part of its allure is in the showmanship. Each pillow-sized slab takes an hour to bake and is wheeled out of the kitchen every 15 minutes, stamped with the brand’s logo and cut up into smaller blocks. Cakes don’t get any fresher than this. Lele says her castella is more more wobbly than usual “because of the [baking] technique”. There are only three flavours available here: Original, Cheese and Chocolate, the latter will be launched a little later on (there are plans to offer a pandan or kaya flavour cake in future). The bakes have no preservatives and are best eaten piping hot, especially the cheese-stuffed one.
THE LOOK: The decor at the takeaway kiosk (which isn't quite a cafe) accented with floor-to-ceiling faux wood is all about pared-down simplicity. Sadly, unlike its overseas branches, there is no open kitchen here to watch the cakes being made (the baking process is hidden from view). Instead, you can only witness the measuring, stamping and slicing of the puffy baked blocks.
Le Castella Original, $9.90
This turned out a bit better prepared than its over-baked cheesy counterpart (below), even though it still falls short in terms of its promised height and wobble. That being said, the plain sponge here is wonderfully light and delicately perfumed with the fragrance of all those eggs.
Le Castella Cheese, $11.90 (8 DAYS PICK!)
After numerous failed attempts owing to equipment malfunction, we finally managed to visit the store exactly one day before its official opening. Even then, there were issues with the quality of the cakes. The steaming batch we got ended up pretty badly singed around the edges and bottom. It was also not as puffy, wobbly or oozy as seen in the videos of the ones from Korea and Taiwan. It's not bad flavour-wise — a bit like an eggier, richer ji dan gao (traditional Chinese steamed cake). This is crowned with unfortunately burnt Parmesan cheese. Thankfully, the sponge itself is still quite billowy and fluffy. And the too-modest layers of cheddar crammed within add a pleasant sharpness and complexity, even if it isn't gooey enough in our slightly overbaked block. We suspect this will taste much better when baked properly.
BOTTOM LINE: Beneath all that hype is a simple, comforting and fairly tasty cake that we wouldn't mind eating it were served to us. But would we stand for hours in line for a slice? Probably not. $