The Taiwanese can’t seem to get a break.
Perhaps besides oyster vermicelli, bubble tea and fried chicken chop, I haven’t found anything that’s really good in particular. I don’t count Din Tai Fung as Taiwanese though, seeing as the founder came from China. However, in recent months, I’ve been evaluating my opinion of Taiwanese eateries (a.k.a. Honey Creme and now, Dazzling Cafe) and the trends I’m seeing are worrying.
I’m just going to be upfront about this: Dazzling Cafe is not very good. If you’ve visited Bangkok’s After You Dessert, there’s absolutely no reason you need to brave the several hour-long queues for this. Unfortunately though, I didn’t read any food site prior to visiting, nor have I ever visited Dazzling Cafe in Northeast Asia, so I joined Darren naively to queue for this. Plus, I loved After You Dessert’s Shibuya toast so much that I had hoped this would be halfway decent at least.
Dazzling Cafe looks like a Chinese knockoff of Laduree, pretty in pastel, with French chambermaid uniforms. The staff – a mix of Taiwanese and Singaporean Chinese – attempt to be friendly but are, at the same time, held back.
This was technically, our dinner spot, so we started with a savory: the Scallop and Crab Pasta. Nicely al dente, the pasta was overall, not bad. It was slightly underwhelming, but did the trick.
The Valrhona Chocolate Waffle, made up of tear drop shapes, is good for sharing. Unfortunately, it had no taste.
Normally, I order the most classic dish to give me a basis of comparison. So, we went for the Dazzling Classic Honey Toast. As I forked the first cube toast out of the photogenic dessert and saw a vision of pure whitebread, untainted by any condiments, I knew it wasn’t going to be good. Shibuya toast, by its make and physical experience, is a very decadent dessert by nature. It’s also very tedious to make as well. Anyway, it wasn’t good from the very start. The toast never gave me the lusciousness, richness and decadence of a proper Shibuya toast. It was not buttery through and through, the hints of maple syrup were far and few in between. In addition, the toast was sooo tough, that you required help to surgically dissect the honey toast. Now, I understand that locals make like it crispy but hardness doesn’t equate to crisp level.
I don’t think I’ll ever step into a Dazzling Cafe ever, but the most annoying thing is, they’ll probably open more outlets and people will still go. It’s a supply-demand thing, really. If people continue to be embellished by the photogenic desserts, preferring style over substance, then the market will react to cater to that demand. This kind of place, is definitely not for me. I’m a firm believer that style and substance should co-exist, not takeover each other.