Dazzling Café: A melting pot of cultures
Those who frequent Taiwan would most probably be familiar with Dazzling Café: it's Victorian decor, pastel hues, and picture-perfect desserts have made the chain popular amongst locals and tourists alike. Brought onto our shores by the Savoury Creations group last April, Dazzling Singapore has been commanding equally large crowds for its renowned Shibuya-style Honey Toast and Japanese-Italian savoury pastas. In fact, Dazzling's among the first to bring the now trending Shibuya toasts to our shores.
The flagship store is housed in the newly-renovated Capitol Piazza, sporting a delicate colour palette of white and tiffany blue - perfect for a spot of tea with friends. On its opening weekend, it reportedly took hours to get a seat! Thanks to the overwhelming response, Dazzling Singapore will be opening its second outlet coming March this year. To celebrate that, we were invited to taste several of their signature items.
First off, the queue's markedly shorter when we visited on a weekday. Not that they had no patrons; rather a steady slow stream that ensured everyone got a seat almost immediately, and did not feel pressured to clear the table for others. That made dining much more comfortable and enjoyable. We started lunch with an order of mentaiko fries, which really tasted as decadent as it sounds. The creamy roe sauce was rich and creamy, retaining the characterstic salty-spiced flavour without being overpowering. Don't expect intensely good fries, and Dazzling's crisp ones will be more than satisfactory.
Mentaiko Spaghetti in Cream Sauce (S$18.90++) - Cod roe, white wine cream sauce, dried seaweed flakes
If you'd like something more filling, the mentaiko spaghetti makes for a fantastic main. The same flavourful mentaiko paste here thinned with a touch of cream, resulting in a more subdued flavour that's no less delicious. We especially like how smooth the Japanese-style cream sauce was, keeping the dish light on the palate without sacrificing on flavour. Paired with al-dente spaghetti - albeit a tad on the harder side - and topped with more ebiko, this was nothing short of addictive.
Singapore Exclusive Tom Yum Tomato Spaghetti (S$22.90++) - Shrimps, squid, mussels, basil, homemade tom yum tomato sauce
Alternatively, go for the tom yum pasta's that's exclusively created for the Singapore diners. Tom yum pastas have been slightly in vogue - in Singapore at least - of recent, yet while we've tried almost every rendition we come across, none has ever impressed. That Dazzling's did came as a huge surprise. We absolutely loved their take on this Thai flavour, beautifully incorporating the spice into the tomato-based sauce. What ensued was a sauce that's savoury, sweet, tangy, and boasting a lovely punch. If anything, we'd like the herbs and spices to be a tad stronger.
Singapore Exclusive Mango and Coconut Gelato Honey Toast (S$18.90++)
Any visit to Dazzling would not be complete without trying their famed Honey Toast. Topped with a variety of fruits, sauces, ice cream, or velvety whipped cream, their Shibuya toast selection is by far the most extensive and enticing. We had the (uniquely Singapore) mango toast, which came with dollops of mango cream, mango sauce, and a generous scoop of coconut gelato. The cubed bread was neither as buttery nor as crisp as their competitors; and the bread 'box', perhaps meant only as a scaffold, was similary more chewy than toasted. Still, the tropical flavours were delightful - nail the toast and this'll be a stellar dessert.
Hazelnut Chocolate Honey Toast (S$19.90++)
The crowd-favourite hazelnut toast fared much better: crisper toast, a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce, and a scoop of ice cream encased in a luscious fountain of whipped cream. Dig into that sinful mountain of dairy, and you'd get cubes of toast adorably stuffed with chocolate sauce. The cream may look overwhelming and a little frightening, but it really does contribute to the dessert and round up the multitude of textures and flavours. Besides, if you're already having ice cream, chocolate and toast, you might as well go the whole nine yards.
With the abundance of alternatives, the island's pioneers of Shibuya toast may no longer be the best around - but don't discount it just yet. With convenient locations, great mains and desserts at reasonable prices, as well as the lovely ambience, it's an amazing place to spend some much-needed down time.
15 Stamford Rd #01-85
Opens daily from 12pm to 10pm