I’ve had my eye on this place for a while now.
But for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what was all the hype about. It’d close prematurely, presumably because it had sold out all its dough, literally. Despite the snaking lines this evening, it was still at least, opened and accepting walk-in customers rather than, you know, closing early.
The place in question is Bun Master. Along with Barcook and Baker Talent, these Asian-style bakeries are defending the turf against the wave of European-style bakeries that have entering the market in the past few years, and quite successfully I might add. Indeed, they’ve been well received in the suburbs as opposed to big western names like Maison Kayser, Paul and Gontran Cherrier’s Tiong Bahru Bakery which remain largely confined to the affluent districts of Singapore and the city centre. No one really cares or know where these local chains are popping up from, but their silky soft breads and unbelievably low prices are certainly winning the popular vote. Like Barcook and Baker Talent, Bun Master also takes its marketing and branding from a hybrid Taiwanese-Japanese aesthetic, complete with katakana and/or bopomofo characters and keywords like “人気” (“ninki” and “renqi” in Japanese and Chinese meaning “most popular”) and “一番” (“ichiban” and “yifan” in Japanese and Chinese meaning “the best”) to excite the random passer-by. It works well, given the insatiable appetite in Asia for anything that suggests an association to Japan Inc, even if it’s not actually Japanese.
The variety at Bun Master is by no means inspiring – similar looking Japanese-style soft buns with various custard fillings ranging from cheese to egg and milk. It is however, very reasonably priced. In fact, one could even describe it as cheap, very cheap. At just SGD 0.90 per bun, and occasional flash sales of SGD 0.50 per pastry, it’s like the “Taobao” of bakeries, and it inspires a lot of orders.
The bakery’s supposed signature milk bun was nowhere to be seen, and “sold out” on confirmation with the crew, so I decided to move with the orders cautiously and chose the Cheese Custard Bun and the seemingly most popular one of the moment, Molten Custard Bun. It seemed vague, but the Chinese translation said it all: 流沙包.
You know the buns are really very good when you bring it home after a excruciating 20 minute wait for the bus, a corresponding 20 minute bus ride, and a 30 minute shower, and the Molten Custard Bun’s egg custard is still runny, moist and molten. Hands down, this was the best liu sha bao! I couldn’t say the same thing for the Cheese Custard Bun, which for me, after the sensation of the Molten Custard Bun, tasted like a lesser version of Barcook Bakery signature Raisin Cream bun (without the raisins). Still, at just 90 cents a piece, who’s complaining?
This is my new favorite bakery..until the next fad comes up.