The desserts worth waiting for.
After prepping up my hair for Lunar New Year, (it’s not that I’m superstitious or anything but quite frankly, 2013 hasn’t exactly gotten off on a good start, so I decided to take in this “second chance” to hope for the best) I met Darren for dinner. He wanted to try Omakase Burger at The Grandstand, and despite the inconvenience of getting to the site, I was okay with it. The free daily print, TODAY describes it as the “best burger in Singapore”, and having tried it thrice, I’d say that it’s not the best burger in Singapore. Allow me to rephrase: it’s not the “best burger” in the epicurean sense. It’s not going to get a Michelin star by any means, that’s for sure. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a good burger by many counts – the bun has a smooth silken texture, the meat juicy and tender, and the sauces magically combining the flavors to craft a singular flowing experience, but perhaps the genius of Omakase is its lightness. You NEVER descend into a guilt trip about regretting this and needing to hit up the gym to burn off the calories, even after ordering the Ultimate – you could even eat it everyday, I’d dare say.
With literally nothing else to do at the quiet lifestyle centre, we headed back out into the urbanity and southwards to Vivo City for dessert. Yes, this is yet another Japanese cafe food review… If you’ve been to any commercial shopping and retail district in Japan, chances are, you’ve probably seen this new Singapore entrant and not even realize it, unless you can read Japanese Kanji. Saint Marc Cafe is the biggest business of Saint Marc Holdings, who also owns other restaurant names including Sushi Hakodate Ichiba, Kamakura Pasta and a restaurant, Saint Marc. The company’s first venture overseas was in 2011 when it debuted in Shanghai and now has 3 outlets including Hongkou Plaza (near Shanghai Metro Hongkou Football Stadium station), SML Center (near Shanghai Metro Dapuqiao station and Taikang Lu) and Metro City (near Shanghai Metro Xujiahui station). Unusually for the recent Japanese cafe boom in Singapore, which have centred in enclaves of Japanese food clusters, Saint Marc Cafe’s first spot is the more cosmopolitan mall of Vivo City. As a result, it’s generally the more popular of the Japanese cafes.
For its size, Saint Marc Cafe’s offering at Vivo City is unbelievably extensive, ranging from pastries and parfaits to sandwiches and Japanese desserts. While Darren and I were ambitious with our order, it was barely the tip of the iceberg. As such finding seats can be a problem, but your patience will be rewarded. The staff is a mix of Japanese, Filipino and Singaporean, and are generally amiable. Water, both warm and iced, are self-serve, and while it was a very nice touch, I overall felt that ordering a tea or coffee, despite the additional investment, complemented the food better as a whole. Saint Marc’s trademark is the Chocoro, a soft, flaky croissant with an indulgent chocolate centre – it’s baked at the cafe a few times daily, and if you’re in luck, yours will be heartily warm. Paired with a nice bout of tea or coffee, and it’s the perfect snack. We came pretty late, but it was nevertheless delicious.
Saint Marc Cafe names its traditional Japanese dessert range after historic Japanese cities or districts. We ordered the Gion, which is a variant on the quintessential Anmitsu. For a dessert that Saint Marc isn’t particularly known for, I was shockingly impressed by this. The milky soft serve drizzled in caramel sauce and served with a side of fine crushed peanuts over mochi, azuki red bean and perhaps the best green tea ice cream I’ve had in Singapore, was an indulgent pursuit which I enjoyed every moment of devouring. It’s priced higher (SGD 8.20) than some of the other establishments like MoF and Azuki Sabo which also sell Anmitsu, but I still thought it was worth every penny, particularly when I compare it with Nana’s Green Tea whom I tried just a few days ago, and felt disappointed with it overall.
To top it all off, we’ve the big Little Fuji. Judging by the posters placed just outside the cafe, and a blown-up picture of it on the menu boards, I surmise that Saint Marc Cafe’s trying to market this as a signature, and it might just succeed. With a soft serve ice cream atop a Apple Danish pastry, the dessert resembles the namesake mountain in Japan, and its taste is equally impressive. The sensation of the cold soft serve meeting the warm danish, and drizzled in a sweet caramel sauce is to die for.
Pictures taken with Samsung Galaxy S3