Tiong Bahru Bakery
Today is on a bakery. Tiong Bahru Bakery. Sounds plain? It might be so, but there is substance involved. Very class as well.
I went there last week with my parents. Interestingly, this bakery was opened, and is still run by, a young French guy, name below the signage, has Chinese for that, and is run in the heart of old Singapore, Tiong Bahru no less. It is also a sit-in cafe as well and is stocked with good coffee and even better tea too(which I will touch on later with much pleasure). The atmosphere was also quite surreal, as if you had been transported from the Singapore old town into a funky little bakery in France. It was quite crowded that day, giving the bustle the bakery needed to hold up its atmosphere, and French-esque techno jazz was playing. Don’t ask me if this is a proper genre, I just said it because that was what it sounded like.
This shop was a really interesting find, as it has only been open for a few months. Yet it is already full house during Sunday tea time. Goes to show how much kick this place had. Now, on to the food!
This is what most customers come to the bakery for. Les croissants, c’est bon. At $2.7 for one, it really hit the sweet spot. Good bread for good money. But that is secondary to what the tastebuds say, and they said yum. Handmade and baked with tender loving care, these croissants are one of the best in Singapore.Let me give you an overview of how the croissants were. First thing I noticed, and liked, was that the outer crust was not crumbly and flaky, unlike many other shops. Although it comes off nice from the bread, it does not crumble in your fingers, and this gives the mouth something substantial to chew on (Pic below). Cracky but not crummy is the best way I can describe it. You have to try the pastry yourself to experience the difference.
Croissants are quite buttery, and this one was no exception. But this bakery made use of their butter oh so well. The high temperature bake gave the croissants a rather “deep” and full aroma. The meat of the pastry being more chewy than many others also helped bring the croissants to another level. The dough is the main attraction here. Instead of flimsy, flaky bits of dough mixed with air, here we actually get full-bodied dough, spongy and with character. If the crust is the appetizer, the dough is the main course. This is the part which sates your palate and fills your stomach. Oui, the best pastry that day.
Here are the three dessert pastries my mom bought. The lemon pie (bottom left) we ate there, and the apple crumble (bottom right) and almond square (top) we ate back at home. The apple crumble was good. I was amazed at how the bakery managed to pack so much flavour into a square not thicker than an inch. Down side was that it became too sweet for my tastes, though the cinnamon and apple and vanilla flavours blended so well. The almond square was not very special, only so-so. Not something I would go to the bakery for. Lastly, the lemon pie. Full-on lemon sourness in the lemon paste (a bit of a starchy texture, not unpleasant) held in hard baked crust. Well, the lemon paste was definitely made of real, fresh lemon, that I am sure of. The lemon tang did not fail to make my tongue recoil a little, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Overall, the desserts were good, but the price may dismay some: none are less than $5.
And finally, mocha, coffee and tea respectively. There is a coffee and tea counter right at the entrance I had mocha, and that was $6.8, but I felt both cheated and let down by the coffee brewer. The two tastes, chocolate and coffee, were there, but they were fighting each other for dominance in the drink, and that left a bitter taste in my mouth. The problem with the mocha was the lack of balance, and it was basically a rough mix of chocolate and coffee with no regard at all to the result. It was only called mocha because it had coffee and chocolate in there. I felt that there was not much respect for the drink as a mocha, and that really spoiled it, resulting in much less satisfaction than expected.
The coffee, on the other hand, was good. No problems there, good, rich coffee the way it should be made.
The tea was the knockout for me. Called the “pearl of the Orient”, it was not overblown. The tea was the perfect blend of various tea leaves, but what I could make out was mainly the green tea and Osmanthus (Chinese 桂花) parts, though there were many other supporting flavours than really gave the tea great aroma and taste. My mother thought there was a trace of vanilla in the tea, and I did not disagree. As my family left the bakery, I resisted the temptation to wrap the tea bag in a tissue and bring it back home to savour again after watching it spread its wings in steamy swirls of vapour. As for the tea’s origin, I saw a stock of different Gryphon tea boxes at the counter, so that was probably the company that supplied the tea. I did a little research, and I guessed right. Gryphon tea company was Singapore based. Makes me wonder where the boss is from…
All in all, a great place to have tea and enjoy great pastry, though maybe not the best location to have a conversation or sit back and relax due to the tight quarters and hustle and bustle of the bakery. Do expect to spend more than $10 a person for a pastry and beverage as stuff there are not cheap. But it is still worth a go, as the pastries there are really true to the art of baking, and do not cut corners in making a good pastry. So, if you ever have a little time to spare, and a bit more than a little extra budget for afternoon tea, go to Tiong Bahru Bakery and have a blast with their pastries. I assure you the experience is more than worth it.
Tiong Bahru Bakery
56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-70 Singapore
Daily: 8am – 8pm
(Closed on Tue)