Tuesday 2 September 2014

2am:Dessert Bar Singapore review: Asia's best pastry chef?

With it being Louise’s birthday, and both of us dessert lovers, I had no choice but to treat her to the 2am:Dessert Bar in Holland Village run by Janice Wong. Janice has been voted Asia's best pastry chef two years previously and has also worked at some of the biggest restaurants including Per Se, L20 and Alinea, so I was expecting good things from my surprise.

The room itself is very modern with curved stone and dark panels, high chairs and small booths, a very nice setting overall and fitting to the concept of the creations. Speaking of which, these are not your typical desserts and emphasise modern techniques with liquid nitrogen, a pacojet and tweezers used to plate the finished product in many cases. The desserts themselves also often need a thoughtful palette as you cannot expect a simply sweet dessert but rather multiple layers of texture, tastes and temperatures.

The focus is desserts but there is a small mains option but we skipped these. I don’t believe that the chef was there on the night and perhaps this has something to with the overall balance of the dishes.

We ordered two desserts as the portions are relatively small for the price you pay, opting for the chocolate H20 and Popcorn. Alongside this we ordered a cocktail called Hawaii Will Sink (~$16).

Chocolate H20

Chocolate H20 ($19) consisted of a frozen mousse made of just chocolate and water with no added fat to ensure  a pure flavour from the 65% Valrhona, inside the centre was also frozen caramel. The mousse was soft and maintained creaminess without any actual fat whilst caramel sauce was drizzled on top and the whole thing sat on a base of chocolate crumb, praline and caramel mousse. The flavour was pure without becoming too rich and when the flavours became slightly too overwhelming a tasty yuzu sorbet cleansed the palette ready for more. Despite this the sorbet became too strong when mixed together with the other elements and basically left a taste of emptiness on the tongue partly due to the chocolate not being bitter enough nor the caramel being salty enough. The sorbet eaten on its own was very good but the other elements still lacked something and it did not wow us.


Popcorn ($17) did have a better taste and brought to mind the flavours of a bag of popcorn. The problem with deconstruction for many is would you rather have the expensive separate elements or the original thing and in this case a bag of popcorn was my choice. Interestingly on a plate full of various elements with both desserts there was very little crunchiness and this plate called out for it as the popcorn powder disappeared without a trace. Working left to right from salty popcorn parfaits to sweet was an interesting idea though but without a doubt the sweet parfait lacked flavour whilst the salty was very good. A couple of pieces of warm caramel coated popcorn would have been a great addition even just to add a strong flavour and texture to compete with the very sour passionfruit sorbet which was far too strong, unbalancing the whole dish similar to the yuzu sorbet previously mentioned.

Dessert wise I wonder if the head chef would be happy with what we received as it was far from the standard expected from respective level restaurants and various elements lacked oomph to stand out. In a dessert bar you do expect some guiltiness and the powerful sorbets took that away leaving you with a sterilised palette on exit. Also as the bar was so quiet and you are separated by a small counter some chat with what is actually happening would be nice for a customer to engage in the process. Sitting at the counter also has its drawbacks with such a concept restaurant though, as seeing all of your expensive dessert being selected from plastic cartons or premade in squeezy bottles perhaps does not fit such a model.

Hawaii Will Sink
Surprisingly Louise’s cocktail was fantastic and had us impressed. Essentially a liquid nitrogen poached meringue that you took a bite of had basil and coconut flavour followed by a slurp of the pineapple cocktail at the same time formed the flavours of a pina colada in your mouth. Very good!

Overall we were not disappointed in 2am Dessert Bar just a little let down as maybe our expectations were too high but we are unlikely to return. Oh and one more thing, be careful of the white shelf on the stairs, this is an art piece of marshmallow that being a white guy in an Asian country I almost stuck my head to on the way out, and yes, it does feel gross.

Rating: 6/10
Expect to Pay: $15-20 for a dessert (do note the minimum spend of $15 per customer on weekends, so you are unable to share a plate)
Would we go back: perhaps but unlikely
Any Freebies: No

21a Lorong Liput
Holland Village
Singapore 277733
Tel: 6291 9727


1 comment:

  1. Good review! It looks like a good place to have a quick desert. What I felt by looking at the pictures is that it was too little in quantity as well. So a less quantity is also a minus point.