British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson once said that she thinks pandan is going to be the new matcha. The flavour is fast becoming a trend in America and the UK, but in Singapore, pandan has always been a mainstay in cuisines here and is certainly no stranger to foodies.
The pandan chiffon takes the cake (pun intended) for being the most beloved creation in Singapore, and it’s no wonder throngs of tourists buy boxes and boxes of the perennial favourite from Bengawan Solo to bring back to their hometowns. In fact, the pandan cake was hailed Singapore’s national cake by travel website of US news outlet CN in 2017. But pandan is also widely available in other forms besides cake, from rice dishes and curries to kuehs, tarts and beverages.
Below are some pandan creations you can savour in Singapore.
There are kaya pandan cakes and then there’s this kaya pandan cake ($8) from d‘Good Cafe. A soft and moist pandan sponge cake that is made with fresh pandan juice is encased in a rich, creamy and gorgeously smooth kaya mousse before it is topped with a layer of kaya jam. The pièce de résistance is the generous sprinkle of house-made coconut crumble for added fragrance and crunch. We can’t wax lyrical enough about this decadent creation. Created by its pastry chef Susy, it sounds simple but delivers such a flavourful, heavenly kick with each mouthful that we think it is one of the best kaya pandan cakes we’ve ever tried — and trust us, we’ve tried quite a few.
d‘Good Cafe is at #B1-56 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238872, tel: 6694 1411 and two other outlets. Visit www.dgoodcafe.com for more info.
The grande dame of Singaporean cooking is known for her bold and innovative approach when it comes to her dishes, many of which have a strong Peranakan influence. Her most interesting dish yet comes in a cocktail glass. The Jade Bangle ($18, available at Violet Oon Singapore Satay Bar & Grill only) is made with aromatic house-made pandan essence, lemak coconut milk and Ketel One Vodka before it is finished with a salted, toasted coconut rim. It goes down smoothly and easily, and in fact, is so addictive, we don’t think you’d stop at one. Violet Oon also serves a mean Pandan Gula Melaka Cake ($13, available at Violet Oon Singapore at Ion Orchard and Jewel Changi), which comprises a light and airy sponge cake infused with fresh pandan juice and layers of buttercream frosting and dessicated coconut tossed in a gula melaka syrup. The smooth brown glaze on top is Insta-worthy, just saying.
Violet Oon Singapore Satay Bar & Grill is at #01-18, 3B River Valley Rd, Clarke Quay, Singapore 179021, tel: 9834 9935. Visit violetoon.com for more info.
Another amazing pandan-infused beverage is this Singapore-exclusive milkshake flavour from fine-casual chain Shake Shack, which made its highly lauded debut in Singapore at Jewel Changi back in April. Made of vanilla frozen custard ice cream blended with pandan and coconut, and topped with gula melaka crumble, it’s so rich, sweet and decadent that we’d even venture to say that it is heaven in a cup. In fact, we guarantee that the first mouthful will make your eyes light up with delight. Just make sure you save space for it because it’s so filling, it’s a whole dessert on its own.
Shake Shack is at #02-256, Jewel Changi Airport, 78 Airport Blvd, Singapore 819666. Visit www.facebook.com/shakeshacksg for more info.
Chalk Farm’s take on the Kueh Salat, a beloved nyonya delicacy, is not only delicious, it’s also very pretty. Its highlight is its base of sticky rice that’s streaked with fresh butterfly pea extract, giving it a whimsical flair. It’s then topped with a thick layer of custard that’s flavoured with freshly squeezed coconut milk and pandan juice and unevenly textured for a rugged feel. Best of all, it’s free of chemicals and is only made with the freshest ingredients. Only a limited number of cakes are produced so best to call them to reserve a slice, or the whole cake, if you so fancy. Another picturesque cake is its Pandan Berry — four pillowy soft layers of sponges made with freshly extracted pandan juice are layered with fresh cream and topped with fresh berries.
Available at #B1-K24 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, Singapore 238859, tel: 6235 2872 and #B1-83M Parkway Parade, 80 Marine Parade Road, Singapore 449269, tel: 6348 2032. Visit thechalkfarm.com for more info.
The pandan tart from this Hong Kong bakery is so green, it’s guaranteed to be a showstopper when you bring it to your next home party. The Singapore-exclusive flavour was first launched in 2017 at its first permanent store in Takashimaya basement but it is now also available at its Cha Chaan Teng at Holland Village. It features an aromatic pandan-infused super smooth egg custard that’s housed in its signature buttery melt-in-your-mouth pastry shell. No preservatives or artificial colouring is used for its vibrant green shade, and only a limited number is baked every day. Best served warm!
At #B2 Takashimaya Food Hall, 391 Orchard Road, Singapore 238872, tel: 8223 1954 and 31 Lor Liput, Singapore 277742, tel: 9828 1954.
The classic Kueh Dadar has been given a new spin by Sinpopo Brand, a brand by the folks behind Awfully Chocolate that’s focused on paying homage to traditional Peranakan culture and cuisine. Its Dar Dar Mille Crepe ($88 for a whole cake) has alternate layers of grated coconut tossed in Gula Melaka with fresh Gula Melaka cream within soft thin Pandan crepe sheets. Sinpopo also has a gorgeous Pandan Kaya Cake ($48 per cake) that’s tantamount to an art piece — slow-cooked fragrant kaya custard is housed between blue pea flower-tinged glutinous rice cake layers that’s covered with a smooth layer of cream.
At 458 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427671, tel: 6345 5034. Visit www.sinpopo.com for more info.
Merely Ice Cream’s special pandan infused ice cream is made with fresh pandan leaves and topped with house-made salted coconut crumble. The result: A well-balanced sweet and savoury mouthfeel that’s a refreshing treat, thanks to the icy rich creaminess that’s punctuated with a crunchy aftertaste. It’s not readily available in store because it was a special flavour concocted for Chinese New Year, but good news: You can call in or email to pre-order and get yourself a tub ($10.90).
At #01-13 Sunshine Plaza, 91 Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189652, tel: 6238 0890 and B1-52 Our Tampines Hub, 1 Tampines Walk, Singapore 528523. Visit www.merely.com.sg for more info.
Joe & Dough’s Gula Melaka Pandan Cake is a crowd favourite and has been a staple offering at this bakery chain since 2014 (fun fact: it was created to celebrate Singapore’s 49th birthday). Its breads, pastries and cakes are handcrafted by its bakers and baked freshly daily, according to Joe & Dough, and only the freshest ingredients are used. This scrumptious cake is no different. A fragrant pandan infused butter cake is slathered with Gula Melaka and then topped with desiccated coconut. A slice of perfection that’s made better when paired with a cup of coffee.
By Joy Fang, August 2019 / Photos: Eateries or Instagram
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