Like a kid in a candy store, I step into Janice Wong Singapore eager to stuff myself silly with sweets. It’s all over the decor: rainbow-coloured chocolates line the walls, rows of ice cream stack in corners, and mochi, bonbons and other kaleidoscopic confections line the counters. Even the tabletops are made from swirls of chocolate, sealed in resin and glass. But at this new flagship of the city’s renowned dessert dame, savouries get their day in the sun, too.
The savoury side of the menu takes a leaf from modern Chinese cuisine. Dim sum and noodles are all made in-house, using different types of flour that range from high-gluten to gluten-free cornmeal. The Hot Explosion XLB, or xiao long bao, comes in four flavours: whisky pork, truffle cheese chicken, foie gras pork cherry, and shrimp ebi kombu ($15/four pieces, $21/six pieces). They sound innovative yet don’t justify their hefty price tags, even if each long comes with four amazing sauces, like a housemade XO one. They’re simply not refined enough: their skins either stick to the wax paper and break, or tear at a slight tug from chopsticks.
The noodles, thankfully, fare better. Handmade with low-gluten flour, the scallop somen ($22) has the delicate consistency of mee sua and balances out the other, stronger flavours in the bowl: salted egg yolk sauce, fish roe, sakura ebi, and a generous portion of scallops. The Crispy Charcoal Nest ($22) has noodles similar to sheng mien in texture and is drenched in hot collagen soup with a side of fatty pork belly. Leave them swimming in the rich pork and chicken broth for longer, and you get softer noodles. However, the accompanying ‘mushroom paper’, on which a Henry David Thoreau poem is printed, left me scratching my head. All I want is a comforting bowl of hot noodle soup, not a lesson in literature.
A trip to any Janice Wong establishment wouldn’t be complete without ordering her signature desserts. Head straight for the cassis plum ($24) – the dessert goes from crunchy to brittle to creamy, and is tart from the yogurt and yuzu without being too sour. The Tsujirihei green tea tart ($20) is even better. There’s no overbearing sweetness and milkiness in the warm, molten centre, only good matcha. Paired with a jasmine rice sherbet that zings with lemongrass, the Japan-meets-Thailand combination works surprisingly well together. It’s a creation I’d like to think only someone like Janice Wong could pull off. She’s undeniably remained one of Singapore’s best dessert chefs – but as for the savouries, we think there’s still more work to be done.
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