At this rate, my blog will become next to useless if I keep posting about time-sensitive events after they are already over, or close to it. Case in point: Good Food Month’s Night Noodle Markets. But hey, I have a decent excuse (reason?). Not being in the country until after half of October had passed is kind of a big contributor, and couple that with exam study (yes, I actually do care about my academia) and you have a recipe for many delayed posts.
But even if you mised out on this year’s range of let’s do dessert, there’ll always be more opportunities to go next year – as was the case for this year, from last year. That was a confusing sentence.
Anyways, you’re all here to look at pretty pictures of deliciously guilty sugar hits. So let’s all take the jump.
Recommended Let’s Do Dessert Destinations: Flying Fish, Shangri-La, Azuma Chifley
Unlike last year’s momentous (and some would say monstrous) achievement of 17 (yes, seventeen) out of a possible 19 sugar hits consumed by yours truly, I was only able to partake in four desserts this year. In retrospect, my waistline and more importantly, my wallet are most thankful for this treatment. As usual, all desserts are $20.
Let’s take a walkthrough.
The Cortile – Intercontinental Lobby Lounge
As Brown Brothers is a specific sponsor for Let’s Do Dessert, their wine naturally makes an appearance to pair with the sugar hit. The usual disclaimer about my lack of expertise at wine applies – but we can all agree that dessert wine is pretty easy to break down. The variant served here is as fizzy as champagne but much sweeter. Makes sense. Sugary enjoyment.
The Gianduja Chocolate Lolly Cake is quite a complex dessert; pastry chef Youssef Aderdour really pulled out all the stops for this one. Five distinct layers of cake with elements on and around. As for taste, I found it to be a case of “it looks better than it tastes”. The lolly cake itself was in fact too candy-like, and overall tasted like several kinds of candies mashed together. I couldn’t really taste much depth to the cake, and the surrounding elements did not help as they tasted like rollups.
In the end, the tastes and textures were too generic and candy-like, surprising for a cake of such complexity but such was my palate. Leaves a fair bit to be desired – or perhaps it really is so pretty that my taste expectations got ahead of themselves.
While unfortunate, I did not expect every dessert to be a winner. It only improved from hereon out though
Next up is a classic favourite of many, Azuma always entices due to its unique East meets West theme. As expected, we had to make a booking quite far in advance to secure this sugar hit. Even then, we had to wait outside for a few minutes just because they were so packed. That’s Azuma for you.
I’ll just let that description sink in. It’s quite a read, so take your time. What surprised me at first is that the East Meets West dessert bento box is very similar to Azuma’s offering last year. That said, there is an emphasis on the humble kumquat this year.
On the drink side, we’re actually served with umeshu instead of the usual Brown Brothers wine. I’m not sure how Azuma gets away with this considering BB sponsors the event, but kudos for doing something different. While I don’t have preferences for umeshu (plum wine, btw) over BB dessert wine, I appreciated the break – considering that the other 3 hits I’ve had all featured BB wine.
The kumquat compote is actually friggin delicious. It looks just like a fruit salad, yet flavours were boldly sweet and citrusy, yet not overtly too much of either. Well-balanced is what I could call it. That’s the end of the hype there – as good as it is, it is just a fruit compote. That said, Azuma executed it very well.
As for our dear mochi friend, the story is decent not great. The glutinous rice layer is actually a bit too thick, and the flour dusting on the top was quite distracting from the delicious (yes, it’s awesome) macha & kumquat ice cream within. My feelings are thus mostly positive.
I was most surprised by the mascarpone & kumquat yogurt pot. The flavours were deliciously dairy (heh); thoroughly enjoyable stuff. I could eat a lot more than what is already provided. Distinctly Western in flavour yet with that Asian fruity infusion of kumquat. They’re making it work quite well.
With the previous three elements of the bento box, the gateaux chocolate cake has a hard act to follow, and unfortunately doesn’t really succeed in doing so. Not really the cake’s fault – it just didn’t fit very well with the rest of the dessert paradigm, being very Western in its flavour profile – thick, dark chocolate which is really not an Asian hallmark.
It just didn’t fit.
Overall, a pleasant dessert from Azuma which befits their sugar hit precedence.
The Lobby Bar – Shangri-La
Considering how Shangri-la easily took the top spot in last year’s sugar hit “shootout”, I was very much looking forward to seeing what they could whip out this year. Expectations are as high as the lobby bar is refined and beautiful (what a segue in to the B+W pic up top :P)
And here you have it ladies & gentleman. It does call back to last year’s design motifs, especially with the lollipop, but made with different ingredients this time. Anna Polyviou really is brilliant at making desserts – something you can see the moment it lands on your table.
Eating methodology? Left to right.
The creme graffiti lollipop tastes what it looks like – an explosion of funky chocolatey flavour in your mouth. It’s full of sweetness permeated by the crunch & melting texture of the chocolate coating. It’s just great!
A textural change is marked by the passionfruit curd & honey thyme pear. It’s basically a mini-parfait with sour and sweet components which both enrich the palate while cleansing it of the lollipop earlier. It’s a strong component of the overall dessert, which leads us very nicely to the pièce de résistance…
This beauty works purely because of a splendid marriage of texture and flavour. The crunchiness of the delice and the richness of the salted caramel, as usual, impresses. How can it not, especially as it’s presented so well? I felt kind of bad digging my spoon into it, but it was a crime I had to commit.
The BB wine provided for the Shangri-La dessert is less fizzy (almost flat) and much sweeter than the one at Intercontinental. I didn’t end up finishing it but I had friends who were more than happy to do so in my stead
Shangri-La outdid itself this year, but by Jove, I cannot actually label this the best dessert out of the four I’ve had. That honour belongs to…
And welcome to the debut of my new watermark! Good things come in pairs
But enough of that – Flying Fish wins this year’s dessert out of the meager four that I had for one simple reason: it best balanced the tenuous competition between textures and flavours. Where there should have been crunch, there was crunch. Where there should have been cream, there should have been cream. Where I didn’t know I even wanted to taste this flavour, I tasted the flavour.
You may not be sold on the beet sorbet, you may not be sold on the presentation which could just look like dirt, but then you’re just missing out.
It’s one of the best desserts I’ve had…in my life. Being pedantic aside, I just…can’t fault it.
Oh yeah, and there was also wine. Totally important *ahem*
Mightily impressed by this year’s dessert quality. I cannot wait to see what 2014 will bring.
And people, keep an eye on Flying Fish.