When it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, there are plenty of options in Singapore – from traditional to modern and fusion. Last weekend, The UrbanWire went to three Chinese dessert spots that hit the spot! And, here is our experience.
1. Tian Wang Dessert
Known for its Mao Shan Wang (MSW) durian desserts, Tian Wang Dessert is a must-visit for durian lovers.
This dessert cafe, tucked away in a row of shophouses, is a two-minute walk from the Jalan Besar MRT station. You know you are approaching the cafe when you see bright neon lights and smell a strong durian scent.
The cafe is mahjong themed, and its walls are mainly covered in mahjong-tiled wallpaper. Definitely ‘Instagram Worthy’! In fact, the main neon signage reads “Huat” (which means prosperity in Hokkien).
For those who are unfamiliar, mahjong is a tile-based game that originated in China in the 19th century. It is also a fun and enormously popular pastime for many Singaporeans.
Looking at the menu, I was spoiled for choices. So, I decided to get two dessert dishes!
I ordered the Chendol as it was a crowd favourite. And since the cafe is known for its durian desserts, you can choose to top it off with a scoop of fresh durian.
Fun Fact: Chendol is a traditional Asian dessert widely enjoyed by the Southeast region and carries different names to it — Cendol, Chendol, or even Chendul. Many locals think that it is a Malay dessert that originated in Malaysia or Singapore, but now you know!
I have to confess, I will never miss a chance to eat durian (that’s how much I love it). So for my second dessert, I ordered the Mao Shan Wang (MSW) Durian Mousse.
Topped with a dollop of fresh durian, the dessert was creamy and especially satisfying. If you find the MSW Durian Mousse, which costs $9 a bowl, a little pricey, you can opt for the D24 Durian Mousse instead, which costs $6 a serving.
Tian Wang Dessert will make a great place to host your friends from overseas as they can have a taste of the “notorious” durian fruit, which is one of Singapore’s most beloved fruits.
What we liked: Relatively generous serving of desserts
What we don’t like: The dishes are a little pricey for someone on a budget
Where to find: They have a branch at 145 Jalan Besar
2. No Horse Run Gelato
Located in the heartlands of Singapore, this hidden gem adopts a traditional and Singapore-themed design using old-school rooster plates, coffee mugs holding cutleries, and signages in Singlish.
The name of the store “No Horse Run” is a direct translation from the Hokkien phrase “boh beh zao”, which means incomparable, and being in a league of its own. Just like the wide variety of interesting ice cream flavours they offer, from cereal milk to creative mixes like yoghurt speculoos.
Apart from serving ice cream on classic buttermilk waffles, they offer Pandan Gula Melaka waffles (a flavour inspired by the Peranakan culture). For sauces, you can choose one from the four complimentary sauces (Classic Maple Syrup, Childhood Milo, House-made Jam, and Caramelised Cookies).
Knowing how tasty gula melaka is, I ordered the Pandan Gula Melaka waffles with a scoop of Lemongrass Pandan gelato.
The waffles were fragrant and sweet and the ice cream was rich and velvety, with very distinct aromas of fresh pandan and lemongrass. I chose to eat my waffles with maple syrup which seems like an overdose of sweetness, in hindsight.
This uniquely local dessert spot is perfect for those looking to indulge in gelato and waffles, with a twist! Also, it is rather instagrammable.
What we liked: Fusion done right incorporating traditional flavours into their waffles and ice cream
What we don’t like: Not sure if everyone would appreciate the unique ice cream flavours
Where to find: They have branches at 160 Yishun Street 11 and 50a Choa Chu Kang Loop
3. Ah Chew Desserts
If you are a fan of traditional Chinese desserts or culture, this is the place for you.
The founder of Ah Chew Desserts has always been fascinated by traditional Chinese arts and crafts, and its heritage. It is no surprise that this interest was incorporated into the cafe’s design and concept.
When you first arrive, you will be greeted with a traditional signboard with Chinese calligraphy that introduces the name of the cafe – Ah Chew Desserts. Traditional wooden furniture, Chinese lanterns, and Chinese tableware also add to the overall traditional ambience.
Their menu is mainly written in Chinese (with English translations on the side). It offers a wide selection of traditional desserts such as the Black Glutinous Rice Paste and Ginger Soup with Rice Balls. They are known for their desserts with a slightly modern touch such as the signature Durian Sago and Mango Sago dishes.
Although I frequent the cafe, this is my first time tasting their Hawaiian Papaya Boiled with Fresh Milk which can be served hot or cold. I would recommend this bowl of papaya goodness if you are craving something milky and rich in flavours.
Ah Chew Desserts opened my eyes to the different types of traditional Chinese desserts I did not know existed. Keen to have a first-hand taste of it? Check it out and let us know what you think.
What we liked: A wide variety of local and traditional desserts such as red date soup, green bean soup, and yam paste
What we don’t like: It can be difficult to get a table during peak hours, especially after dinner
Where to find: The cafe has two branches at 1 Liang Seah Street and 181 Thomson Road
Proofread by: Danial Roslan, Kimberley Caleon and Lim Ke Wei