Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tuxedo Cafe @ Carlton Hotel

One of the things we remembered deeply during our Europe trip is the coffee and pastries experience we had in Vienna and Rome. Asking around for recommendation from the locals and figuring out what is written on the menu in these cafes was something we have done every 2-3 days during our 3 weeks trip.

With the appearances of Paul Bakery, Maison Kayser and Tiong Bahru Bakery, one can't help but to be curious about the croissants, bread and pastries these guys offer.

Tuxedo Cafe

With all the hype about croissants, there is actually one convenient place that offers fabulous crossiants which can be found at Carlton Hotel Singapore's latest addition, Tuxedo.

Tuxedo, in a simplistic black and white theme, offers a casual environment for coffee, pastries, cake and sandwiches.

Tuxedo @ the lobby of Carlton Hotel

The cafe offers a decent selection of hand-pulled Italian coffee ranging from Espresso to Macchiato and non-coffee drinks will be delighted to know that the cafe offers a selection of tea and juices.

The Coffee Menu

Leading the team of bakers at Tuxedo is Carlton Hotel's newly appointed Chief Baker, Andrew Loong who picked up his skills in European style bread-making from the tender age of 18. He specialises in French-style breads and pastries. Hence it is no surprise Tuxedo features a decent selection of bread including bagels, baguettes, focaccia, sourdough, multi-seed and walnut breads, croissants and danishes, baked fresh everyday.


One of the must-trys of Tuxedo is the hotel's very own lobster pie ($5.00++). However, non-seafood lovers like us and vegetarians will be glad to know that the cafe serves chicken pie ($3.80++) and mushroom quiche ($4.50++). While the famous western chicken pies of Raffles Hotel is on the creamy and peppery side and the chicken pies of M Hotel contains chunks of chicken meat, Tuxedo's version has a nice balance of chicken bits and potatoes. The pastry has a slight sweetness and in general the pastry is light and fluffy.

Pies & Quiche

As mentioned in the introduction, Tuxedo serves a wide range of hand-pulled Italian coffee and Cafe Latte ($7.30++) is recommended. Alternatively if you have a sweet tooth, the Hot Chocolate ($7.30++) is an option for non coffee drinkers.

Iced Chocolate & Latte

With bread freshly baked everyday, it is no surprise that Tuxedo serves good sandwiches. Focaccia with Ham and Cheese is a refreshing treat. What we like about the sandwiches is of course the freshness of the bread, the juicy Roma tomatoes, the combination of bitterness and saltiness from Rocket Salad and Ham ($9.50++).

Focaccia with Ham & Cheese

Now here is the main highlight, croissants.

Croissants lovers will be glad to hear that the croissants here have a decent web of flaky golden brown layers. While we personally find Paul's outstanding in its buttery fragrance, it gets soggy after a few hours; the croissants found in Maison Kayser suffer a collapsed structure. Lately, the croissants from Tiong Bahru Bakery has been rated to be the best croissants in town by several media, but don't be surprised that newcomer, Tuxedo is not too far off. In fact, it is the least oily among all the croissants we had so far, and at the same time retain the airy texture.

Although the plain croissant ($3.50++) and pain au chocolat ($3.50++) showed a slight collapsed structure, we suspect this could be caused by the pressure exerted when the staff halved them. The reason for making such a comment is because the almond croissants ($3.50++) we had for our take-away have distinctive even thin layers. The paper bag that was used to keep them overnight, has very minimal oil stains on it.


The towering 4-layers black and white Tuxedo Cake ($5.80++ per slice, $42++ for 1 kg) is definitely the highlight of this cafe.

If popular "Sacher Torte" is originated at the Vienna locations of the Hotel Sacher. This could be Tuxedo's definition of decadent chocolate cake whipped up with premium Valrhona chocolate.

What we find it unique for the Tuxedo Cake lies in its texture. To a certain extent, it has a density similar to a brownie but yet it is moist and soft without the need to be warmed up. To a certain extent, we thought that the texture is similar to eating a sticky date pudding. In addition, the cake is drizzled with milk chocolate infused with a tangy flavour.

Tuxedo Cake

Coffee house culture is something that is very distinctive in European countries such as Italy and Vienna and though our local definition of coffee culture is the typical kaya toast with a cup of Kopi, it is interesting to switch our attention to cup of cuppa with the freshly baked pastries, gourmet sandwiches or even the signature Tuxedo cake.

Before signing off, special thanks to Ms Leung Yi Wen, Marketing Communications Manager and Ms Tricia Quak, Marketing Communications Executive for the invite and warm hospitality

Carlton Hotel Singapore
76 Bras Basah Road
Singapore 189558

Operating hours:
7am to midnight (Sunday to Thursday)
7am to 1am (Friday and Saturday)
Tel: 6415 7887
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery

Ang Ku Kueh (红龟糕 - Red Tortoise Cakes), something that most of us have grown up with but has eventually got overshadowed by prettier desserts such as entremets, chocolates and even macarons. Kuehs has now been defined to be "Bengawan Solo" after the opening of many branches around Singapore, convenient within our reach; and over time we have long forgotten the laborious task of making kuehs from scratch and by hand. Frankly speaking, having organised a baby shower a few months ago, it is sad to hear that most of my friends have grown to live without this sweet treat and eventually not like it anymore.

Waiting to be steamed
Ang Ku Kueh as well as Nonya Kueh looks seemingly similar in most of the market or neighbourhood confectioneries, I haven't really pay attention to how good it can be and one of the better ones I have tried would be a shop in Alexandra. Believe it or not, I was craving for Peanut Ang Ku Kueh and Peng Kueh during my pregnancy but because it is so rare to find good ones and that all taste about the same to me, I just make do with what Yuan can find, be it from a humble shop in food centres or gifts from baby showers.

Freshly out from the steamer
For overseas readers who are curious what Ang Ku Kuehs are, it is basically a small glutinous rice flour pastry with sweet filling such as mung bean, peanut or coconut in the centre. The Chinese often associate longevity with tortoise and hence eating these tortoise shells-like kueh are considered auspicious items. Interestingly, if these are presented as gifts during baby showers, it will tell you the gender of the newborn. For obvious reasons, the pointed ones symbolises the birth of a baby boy while the flattened ones for baby girls.

Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery
Hence, when I received an invitation from Gavin to visit a traditional nyonya cake shop that has been around for the past 30 years. I was simply delighted. Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionary started off in a home kitchen in 1968 before moving to a proper shop in Bedok in 1987 which is also the time when they started making Ang Ku Kueh. However, during that time, this shop only serves as a manufacturing platform and the Ang Ku Kueh are distributed to small retailers for sale. In other words, Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery has spent many years optimising their recipe and their reputation is built by word-of-mouth. They only started selling their Ang Ku Kueh and Nonya Kuehs when Gavin's mum took over this shop in the 90s.
Savoury Kueh
To increase the variety of what this shop offers, they introduced savoury kueh such as Peng Kueh (Glutinous Rice Cake), Ku Chai Kueh (Steamed Chive Dumplings) and Soon Kueh (Steamed Turnip Dumplings); and also Malay fritters in recent years.
Moulding them into shape
This shop places strong emphasis of freshness and hand-made; and we were very lucky to have some hand-ons, wrapping the Ang Ku Kueh with the respective fillings. Talking about hand-made, I am sure some of my readers would have remembered a variety show, Man versus Machine (妙手钢厨), hosted by Cai Lilian (蔡礼莲) where the show mentions about efficiency and quality. Well, there is definitely inconsistency when we talk about things that are hand-made and Lek Lim's Ang Ku Kueh makes no exception.
Ang Ku Kueh Filling
Wrapping the Ang Ku Kueh looks seemingly easy but to have an even and thin skin makes it very difficult for newbies like us. In addition, the glutinous dough is prepared everyday, 5am in morning by Gavin's mother and how soft and chewy depends greatly on the kneading process and of course, the recipe itself.
Kueh Making
Next up, wrapping Pulut Inti in the banana leaf. Yuan adores the glutinous rice, sticky yet the individual grain of rice can be felt distinctively. In addition, each bite has fragrance from both the coconut milk and brown sugar.
Yuan wrapping the Pulut Inti
It is amazing the amount of kueh this shop churns out everyday and Gavin never seems to run out of things to show us how the kueh are being made.

Hand-made Kueh
In general, the fillings for the Ang Ku Kueh are coarse and generous, providing a crunch with every portion of the chewy skin. While Yuan prefers his peanut to be loosely packed with sugar, I gave a huge thumbs up to the peanut filling for being a thick, rich and crunchy peanut paste. Indeed something very different from what I had previously. As for the skin, there is a slight inconsistency, the peanut ones for that day was simply divine... In short, generous crunchy peanuts filling with soft chewy skin.

However,  the skin for the Mung Bean ones were too thick to my liking. Apart from the Peanut Ang Ku Kueh, Kueh Lapis is my next favourite for the soft and chewy texture.

No prizes for guessing it right, Yuan's favourite among the selection is the Kueh Salat. I think he can gobble up the entire tray of glutinous rice.
Lek Lim's Nonya Kueh

Thumbs up to the soft, springy skin for the Soon Kueh and Ku Chai Kueh, though I would have prefer more filling for the Soon Kueh. As for the Peng Kueh, this has been something I eat regularly and the fragrance of the rice filling falls short in my expectation. 

Lek Lim's Savoury Kueh

Kueh making is a dying trade and given how laborious it is to handcraft them, we are seeing less of it being hand-made.

To a certain extent, Lek Lim's Kueh has a nostalgic taste for me and in general, better than the ones made in factories. Though most people would have conveniently make do with what is available in big names such as Bengawan Solo, the experience is different eating Lek Lim's Nonya Kueh. For me, when I peel the individual layers of the colourful Kueh Lapis, I can't help to think of those days when I return home from the market with my grandmother.

Also, if you happen to be in Bedok area, don't give the piping hot spring rolls amiss. If you are wondering where are the photos of those spring rolls, well they didn't make it safely back home. We finished all up on our way back.

Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery
Block 84 Bedok North Street 4
Singapore 460084
Tel: 6449 0815

Operating hours:
4am to 6pm (Monday to Saturday)
4am to 2pm (Sunday)
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Grand Hyatt Singapore 2012 Mooncakes

In celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Grand Hyatt Singapore presents a selection of traditional and snowskin mooncake flavours. This year's four new snowskin flavours which the Grand Hyatt chefs have created are: Custard with Salted Egg; Sea Salt Caramel Truffle; Mung Bean with Coconut Truffle; and Kopi ‘O’ Truffle.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Mooncakes 2012

Similarly to last year, Grand Hyatt Singapore offers a variety of 8 snowskin mooncakes, making their diners spoilt for choices. Kopi "O" Truffle with a touch of contemporary and traditional may earn a thumbs up for the strong Kopi "O" fragrance, finished with a strong alcoholic kick. Custard with Salted Egg may be a favourite for people who fancy the classic combination from the Hong Kong Egg Custard Mooncake. Sea Salt Caramel Truffle did leave an impression during the tasting for the distinctive pairing of sweetness and saltiness among the newcomers.

Lychee Martini Truffle

Martini lovers will know that Grand Hyatt Singapore offers not only offers one of the largest selections of martinis in Singapore but has also won numerous awards for being the best bar in Singapore. In addition, with the hotel's signature martini, the lychee martini, it is no surprise that their snowskin counterpart won our hearts for the smooth and flavourful gauche. Apart from Lychee Martini Truffle, best sellers such as the Black Sesame Yuzu Truffle, the Champagne Truffle and Durian are retained in the selection.

Baked Mooncakes Grand Hyatt Singapore

Grand Hyatt Singapore has retained the flavours for all their 4 traditional baked mooncakes for the past 3 years and roasted melon seeds are incorporated into all 4 flavours to provide the additional crunch and fragrance. With the usual suspect such as White Lotus with Roasted Melon Seed and White Lotus Double Yolk with Roasted Melon Seed, the hotel's selection also includes Red Lotus Single Yolk with Roasted Melon Seed for those who prefer a stronger taste and Sesame Lotus Single Yolk with Bamboo Ash for the beauty conscious.
Red Lotus Single Yolk with Roasted Melon Seed, White Lotus Double Yolk with Roasted Melon Seed

The hotel retains the same packaging as last year. An acrylic box with a classic symbol of the Chinese character of the hotel but instead of orange, it is red for this year.

Sesame Lotus Single Yolk with Bamboo Ash

Listed below are the prices for our selection of mooncakes.

Grand Hyatt Mooncake Order Form 2012

The shop at mezza9 is located on the mezzanine level of Grand Hyatt Singapore and is open daily from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. To place an order, kindly contact the shop at mezza9 on +65 6887 5492 or e-mail

Grand Hyatt Singapore
10 Scotts Road
Singapore 228211
Tel: 6887 5492
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mooncakes by Purple Sage

Unveiling Purple Sage's first ever Mid-Autumn project - Traditional Mooncakes of three. The number three because of its sacred significance of fertility and good luck. Three in Chinese, "san", is also similar to the word "birth" and "alive". Hence a beautiful gift of good fortune and great tastes.


We are honored to be able to sample these 3 flavours. Lotus Paste with Double Yolk and Melon Seeds, Jade Custard, Low Sugar Black Sesame White Lotus with Single Yolk. Overall, I felt that the moon cakes lacked the fragrance except for the pandan fragrance which out shines the other 2 flavours. Further the lotus paste sticks to the teeth and could be improved. Nonetheless special mention must be made for the Jade Custard. The pairing of pandan and custard for moon cakes is quite good. I also like the design of wrapping the egg yolk with black sesame and in turn wrapped by lotus paste.

To place an order with Purple Sage, you may download the order form via the URL here.

Special Thanks to Min Ru for the opportunity to sample these moon cakes.
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Charlotte Grace Cupcakes


After reading the article on the Sunday Times, we decided to try the Charlotte Grace Cakeshop located in the heartlands of Toa Payoh. We bought the Double chocolate and Cookies and Cream. What's different from the rest is the chocolate cream topping rather than icing sugar or cream cheese. Further to the delight of chocolate fans, molten chocolate awaits you as you bite the cake. Overall, it is somewhat similar to eating chocolate cream cake rather than the typical cupcake. Hence this may appeal to those who dislike cupcakes for the icing sugar.


Charlotte Grace Cakeshop
Blk 85c Lorong 4 Toa Payoh #01-376
Opening hrs 10am-10pm closed on Sundays
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