Move over waffles, thick honey toasts are the trendiest desserts in the capricious food scene here.
The craze for these towering desserts - blocks of toasted bread crowned with whipped cream and ice cream - has reached new heights, with at least five cafes starting to offer them in the past year.
These cafes come after early birds such as Loaves Me Cafe at the Singapore Management University, Nam's Brewing Thai Tea & Coffee in Amoy Street and Watanabe Coffee in Chinatown Point, sparked the trend in 2013.
Thick honey toast, or Hanito as the Japanese call them, was popularised in Tokyo's Shibuya district. The trend has since spread to other Asian cities, such as Bangkok and Taipei.
Thai dessert chain After You started in 2007, while Taiwan's Dazzling Cafe opened in 2009.
Dazzling opened a cafe at Capitol Piazza in April, offering nine variations of honey toast.
The cafe's thick honey toasts are photogenic. Buttered and sugar-coated toast fingers and cubes nestle in a crisp 7cm-tall milk bread shell, which is prettily adorned with ice cream, fruit and sweets. Waiters are on hand to dissect the hefty towers and plate the desserts with finesse.
It is no surprise that Dazzling Singapore sells about 5,550 of its toast desserts a month and has seen a 15 per cent month-on-month jump in its sales since it opened.
The popularity of these overseas cafes has spurred local ones to create their own versions.
One of them is month-old ice cream parlour Dessert Project in Havelock Road. Its co-owner, Mr Gary Soh, 29, went to Dazzling Cafe in Taipei while on holiday last year and decided to offer thick honey toast as a stand-out item in his shop. He sells about 40 of the desserts a day.
He says: "Instead of waffles, we want to be different by having thick toasts as a base for our ice cream. Diners look for novelty. We hope to offer up to 10 flavours, which can showcase savoury ice cream flavours such as truffle, and melon and Parma ham."
At Brew Maison Cafe in Bukit Timah Road, its thick toast dessert, French Cubes, has overtaken waffles and cakes to become its best-selling dessert.
Owner Silvia Suriadi, 48, says of the dessert, introduced two months ago: "It is trendy and eye-catching and can be easily shared in small groups."
Despite more competitors, cafe owners say there is room for the thick honey toast trend to develop.
One of them is Mr Yeo Chern Yu, 24 , co-owner of Stateland Cafe in Bali Lane. It introduced two flavours, matcha and charcoal, last month.
He says many variations of the dessert, from breads to toppings, are possible.
"Unlike other cafes that get their breads from suppliers, I can play around with bread flavours by making them myself."
However, Ms Daphne Goh, 24, owner of Assembly Coffee in Evans Road, thinks that the scene is getting saturated and gives it six months before the bubble bursts.
She says: "Like bubble tea, thick honey toast is having its glory days. We will have to keep anticipating the next food trend." Customers are lapping up the food trend for now.
Teacher Rachel Toh, 34, , who has tried the thick honey toast at Dessert Project, says: "It is sinfully yummy, but for the sake of my waistline, I will have it only once in a while ."
Polytechnic student Sylvia Lam, 17, who has tried such desserts more than five times in cafes such as Dazzling and Stateland, says: "There is always a great photo opportunity before I dig into thick honey toasts and they have a more interesting variety of flavours than ice cream and waffles."
Where to get thick toast
This cafe serves Assembly Brick Toast ($12), which houses a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a 6cm-tall bread block. It is topped with toasted bread cubes, strawberries and almonds. There is a side of lightly tart vanilla yoghurt. Where: 26 Evans Road, Evans Lodge
Open: 8am to 7pm daily except Monday
Info: Call 6735-5647 or go to assembly.sg
Its French Cubes ($8.50) is the best value for money among the ones featured here. Standing at 9cm tall, the toast is a hybrid of thick honey and French toasts. The hollow loaf and bread cubes are partially fried with eggs and butter. Caramel sauce is drizzled on the toast and the cubes are crowned with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and almond flakes.
Where: 01-09B, Alocassia Apartments, 383 Bukit Timah Road
Open: 7am to 10pm, weekday; 8am to 10pm, weekend
Info: Call 6836-2948 or go to facebook.com/BrewMaison
Its thick honey toast has different cutting techniques. These include cutting the bread inside the shell into strips and cubes, and arranging the toast in stacks. Crowd favourites include Mango and Coconut Gelato Honey Toast ($18.90), with mango and coconut ice cream and fruit on bread cubes. Where: 01-85, Capitol Piazza, 15 Stamford Road
Open: Noon to 10pm daily
Info: Call 6384-3310 or go to dazzlingcafe.sg
Standing out from the plain bread used in most cafes is this 80-seat cafe's charcoal and matcha toast. The Charcoal Toast ($14.90) is slathered with liquid marshmallow, salted caramel and topped with coconut ice cream, pistachios and candied walnuts. The toast undergoes two rounds of baking for a crispier texture. Flavours such as Mont Blanc and salted egg yolk are in the works.
Where: 32 Bali Lane
Open: Noon to 10pm, Sunday to Thursday; noon to midnight, Friday & Saturday; closed on Tuesday
This 25-seat ice cream palour serves six flavours of thick toast. Crowd favourites include the Sticky Toffee ($14.90), which has coffee ice cream, crushed peanuts and toffee sauce; and Nutella ($14.90), with vanilla bean and Ferrero Rocher ice cream, chocolate-coated nuts and Nutella sauce. Its 7cm-tall bread blocks are bought daily from an old-school bread shop in Whampoa.
Where: 01-673, Block 22, Havelock Road
Open: Noon to 9.30pm, Sunday to Thursday; noon to 11pm, Friday and Saturday; closed on Wednesday
This article was first published on July 19, 2015.
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