The appetite for Japanese desserts has swelled exponentially in Singapore over the last few years, and it’s not difficult to see why. The distinct character of Japanese baking technique makes for gratifyingly fluffy breads and exquisitely artistic pastries. With roots in nineteenth-century anpan culture, today you can find as many different types of Japanese bread lining the shelves of a traditional bakery as there are stars in the sky. That’s because, more than 150 years later, Japanese bakers have become increasingly experimental in their alchemical yeast-raisings.
Whether it’s a transplant baker born and raised in Osaka or a Singaporean wizard-in-the-kitchen who flew over to Kyoto to be trained, there are dozens of quality local culinary figures now wheeling and dealing in the fine art of Japanese baking. Many of them labour away in the kitchens of restaurants, but more than a few have recently struck out on their own to found their own independent bakeries. And that’s to say nothing of the second- or third-generation bakeries that first opened their doors decades ago.
But, fundamentally, the craft remains the same. Driven by the desire to find sweet, inventive ways of expressing themselves through their desserts, these are the bakeries in Singapore that Vogue has found to be the best at doing what they do.
1 / 5
Is this bakery home to the best cream puff in Singapore? It’s certainly up there with the greats. The chou a la crème crackles and crunches (thanks to some artfully placed nougatines) as you slice into it, then absolutely melts as you pop it into your mouth. This bakery sticks to the basics, contenting itself to be the master of its craft, in whatever sweet form that shapes up to be.
Try the mille-feuille or the white-chocolate-and-marscapone figaro for a delightfully delicate bite to eat. Enjoy it fully, knowing that the ingredients that have gone into the making of your treat have been sourced thoughtfully—the flour is from Japan, the butter from France. Sadly, it’s closed until later this month in order to fully settle into its brand-new River Valley location. Until then, we’ll just have to content ourselves with dreams of getting our hands on their fluffy, aromatic bread once again.
2 / 5
Oishi Pan Bakery
Having been well-established for more than half a decade, Oishi Pan Bakery is an artisanal bakery that has gone the distance. With its three outlets scattered around the island, the company still retains a humility and lightheartedness in its bakes. (The team describes their cream puffs as “dreamy and creamy like clouds.”) There seems to be endless variety at Oishi Pan, from an oreo cheese bun (“a bun that makes your day!”) to the Mediterranean sun-dried tomato salty bread (“Chef Randy’s favourite”).
A traditional confectionary shop with daily bakes, Oishi Pan also prides itself on its vegetarian breads, made without eggs—sourdough, ciabatta, rye bread, and more. Absolutely unmissable, however, are the matcha red bean loaf, with its gorgeous swirl curling through the bread, and the castella cake, in either original, cheese, chocolate, or matcha-chocolate flavour.
3 / 5
Cake café Kura is hidden away in central yet obscure commercial development The Helencia—but it is well worth the meandering walk. Run by co-owners Koo Jee and Rachel (their names joined together in a portmanteau forms ‘Kura’, which happens to mean warehouse in Japanese), the venue serves up desserts that are nearly too pretty to eat, but too delicious not to.
Their signature Blackforest, for example, is a perfect and unexpected orb of cherry compote and chocolate sponge enveloped in silky 70 percent Fleur De Cao Chocolate Mousse, resulting in a bite that is luxurious without overwhelming the palette. Look out for their frequent seasonal specials—for Lunar New Year just gone by, Kura is offering a delightfully tart dessert made from clementine apricot and yuzu curd, available till the end of the month.
4 / 5
Sitting pretty on Tras Street is Nesuto Patiserrie, a boutique bakery about to turn four. Helmed by founder and pastry chef Alicia Wong, Nesuto is best known for fusing delicate Japanese flavours with refined French technique. Dedicated fans (whose comments you’ll notice on the brands’ Instagram where they introduce new cakes and pastries on the regular) are especially ensnared by their exceptionally airy and fluffy Japanese sponge.
Alongside the pretty desserts, the café itself is awash with pastel tones and minimalist décor, and is a sight to behold. A must try is their extravagant take on a Japanese classic, which sees Hojicha ganache and Hojicha Chantilly sandwiched between layers of Hojicha soufflé chiffon sponge, topped off with Hojicha tea specks for extra flavour and flair.
Nesuto, 53 Tras St, #01-01, Singapore 078992
5 / 5
Some Japanese treats charm with their veneer—sparkly, beautifully decorated little items of food art that live on your Instagram before they do your stomach. At Asanoya, however, the wow factor is much more understated. The bakery comes straight from Japan to our shores, with the several outlets around the island serving as testament to its main draw—this humble spot has perfected the art of Japanese bread. Cut into a loaf and you’ll see what we mean, everything from the swirly patterns, the fluffy texture and the rich, balanced flavours stand out from the pack.
Their best-selling matcha and salted egg croissant is irresistible, bringing together an unexpected flavour combination to reinvent the wheel. If that is not your cup of tea, take your pick from any of their unconventional loafs, like fruit rye sourdough or orange earl grey tea.
Asanoya, 15 Queen Street, #01-03, Singapore 188537