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REVIEW: Are the egg tarts and food at Tai Cheong Bakery worth queuing up for?

Besides being famed for its egg tarts, this bakery from Hong Kong also has cha chaan teng staples like French toast, macaroni soup, and beef brisket curry rice in its first dine-in outlet at Holland Village. Read our review to see if you should join the long lines.
 

Image: Tai Cheong Bakery

If you didn’t already know, Tai Cheong Bakery has recently opened a dine-in concept at Holland Village. This is the Hong Kong’s bakery second outpost in Singapore, but their first dine-in branch in the world as they don’t have a sit-in eatery in Hong Kong. As such, the menu is completely new, offering familiar and comforting cha chaan teng style food.

Their first Singapore outlet is a small food kiosk selling just their famed pastries and is located at the basement floor of Takashimiya at Ngee Ann City. If you’ve had the chance to pass by the area, you would have seen the perpetual long queue. And it’s no different at the Holland Village branch.

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Here, there is a takeaway counter if you just want to take away their pastries. For dine-in customers, there is a separate queue you will have to join. The eatery doesn’t accept any reservations, and you are seated on a first-come-first serve basis. We had the opportunity to try out a few of their signature dishes and their famed tarts to see if they are worth joining the queues for.

THE FOOD

We first dug into the Three Egg Macaroni Soup with Luncheon Meat ($8.50), which has elbow macaroni sitting in a rich tomato and chicken broth. The dish is topped with three eggs (all their egg dishes feature three eggs) and crispy strips of fried Spam luncheon meat. It’s simple, fuss-free, but done really well with the three elements going well together. Comfort food at its finest. Break the yolk immediately when the dish arrives, if you want a creamier soup consistency. If not, the tomato soup tends towards the sweeter side, with only a slight tangy aftertaste.

If you love scrambled eggs on toast, you will love the restaurant’s take on this. The Scrambled Egg Toast Stack with Chicken Chop ($9.50) is an Insta-worthy stacked tower of scrambled eggs, homemade buttered toast and lightly seasoned chicken chop sitting on a bed of mushroom sauce. Flavours are light here, and there aren’t a lot of seasoning used so you can taste the natural flavours and fragrance of the ingredients. The chicken chop for instance, was only seasoned with black pepper and salt.

One of our favourite dish was the French Toast ($6.50). It was pan-fried slightly, rather than deep fried, to give the toast a slight crispiness on the outside for that bite and to avoid making it too oily. The toast was still incredibly fluffy on the inside. A large slab of butter sits on the top of the toast, which melted fairly quickly so you can an incredibly buttery mouthful on the first bite. You can choose to have it with real maple syrup or dulce de leche. We had it with the former and it was delicious, but we’re sure the French toast would go just as well with the sweetened milk.  

The Three Coloured Silky Eggs with Rice ($9.90) is rice dish that is topped with an egg omelette (made using three eggs) with a choice of two meats and blanced kailan. You can go for these combinations: Roasted Pork and Prawns, Roasted Pork and Beef or the Roasted Pork and Crispy Pork Belly. We had the Roasted Pork (char siew) and Crispy Pork Belly (sio bak). The char siew could have been caramelised a bit more and was a bit too salty for our liking, while the sio bak could have been a bit crispier. While the meats were disappointing, the egg omelette was exceptionally fragrant and had an almost silky texture.

Unlike the curries we are familiar with, the curry in the Beef Brisket Curry Rice ($10.90) is on the sweeter side with none of the heat or piquancy we have to come to expect. Nonetheless, this Hong Kong style curry was still thick, rich and fragrant, possibly thanks to the addition of peanut sauce. The beef brisket was tender, and managed to soak up the flavours of the curry. The rice is served on a separate plate.

THE TARTS

The famed Egg Tart ($1.90) had a deliciously rich and buttery crust that we just couldn’t get enough of with a smooth and soft egg centre that complemented the crust perfectly. Eat it when it’s hot to get the full impact of the flavours. If you decide to take away the tarts, it is highly recommend that you heat up the egg tarts before you eat it.  

The Durian & Cheese Tart ($3.60), a just-for-Singapore pastry, is only available for dine in and take away at the Holland Village outlet (it is not available at Takashimaya). We love that we could taste the durian pulp (they used D24 durian) in between the thick cheese so you know you are eating genuine durian and not just the flavour. The fibrous filling was nicely balanced and not overwhelming durian.

The Coconut Tart ($2.50) was very sweet, very buttery and very aromatic. The shredded coconut filling was not too coarse. While this was nothing compared to the egg tart, it is a good option if you want to end your meal on a sweet note.

VERDICT

Simple, delicious comfort food at inexpensive prices. Definitely worth queuing up for if you have the time. The best time to avoid the crowd would be a weekday before lunch. But if you are there during the weekends, expect to queue for up to two hours.

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