Singapore's best pineapple tarts, according to SundayLife!'s panel

True Blue Cuisine’s winning pineapple tarts are based on a Nonya recipe.
True Blue Cuisine’s winning pineapple tarts are based on a Nonya recipe.
D’Pastry owner Patrick Koh and his team of about 10 people churn out 200 bottles of pineapple tarts a day, with a recipe only he and his wife know. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
D’Pastry owner Patrick Koh and his team of about 10 people churn out 200 bottles of pineapple tarts a day, with a recipe only he and his wife know. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Four food experts, 30 brands of pineapple tarts and a massive tart-tasting session later, only three products stood out

With Chinese New Year just round the corner, you can find pineapple tarts just about everywhere and every bakery that churns them out is claiming that its tarts are the best.

A good pineapple tart should have the perfect balance of buttery crumbly pastry and a sweet yet tangy pineapple jam.

SundayLife! went on a hunt for the best pineapple tarts in town by putting a panel of four judges through a blind taste test.

We shortlisted 30 brands from a variety of stand-alone bakeries, bakery chains, restaurants and hotels. The selection also took into consideration popular brand names and recommendations from the judges.

The judges' decision was unanimous: They felt that the best tarts came from stand-alone bakery D'Pastry in Ubi Avenue, Peranakan restaurant True Blue Cuisine in Armenian Street and local patisserie chain Bakerzin.

The panel of judges comprises SundayLife!'s restaurant critic Wong Ah Yoke; food writer Foong Woei Wan; Mr Daniel Tay, founder of Bakerzin (he sold the business in October 2013), who now runs food creation and development company Foodgnostic; and Mr Daniel Chia, president of non-profit organisation Slow Food (Singapore) and culinary and catering lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic.

In the taste test, the judges ate their way through tarts from the 30 brands, scrutinising the taste and texture of both the pastry and pineapple jam.

True Blue Cuisine and D'Pastry have had their winning recipes for 11 years, when they started selling pineapple tarts.

True Blue Cuisine's chef-owner Benjamin Seck, 41, says: "Our recipe is the same one handed down from my great-grandmother. It is typical Nonya style, with a balance of spices. We also crimp the patterns on the pastry by hand."

Such attention to detail is also practised by D'Pastry's owner Patrick Koh, 40.

He jealously guards his recipe too - only he and his wife, Cynthia, 43, know it.

And despite the growing competition every year, they continue to churn out pineapple tarts - about 200 bottles a day - with their team of about 10 people.

Mr Koh says: "Because we are a small shop, we are able to do everything hands on and ensure that the recipe stays with us. We adhere to the highest possible standard."

Big boy Bakerzin has not lost out in terms of quality, even though it is a chain with 10 outlets.

Its Classic Yuan Bao Pineapple Tart - shaped like a gold ingot - was introduced just three years ago, although the chain has been producing pineapple tarts since 2009.

It uses premium Sarawak pineapples, which a Bakerzin spokesman says has the "perfect texture, acidity and natural sweetness".

She adds: "From 2013 to 2014, we saw growth of more than 15 per cent in the sales of pineapple tarts. This year, we're definitely expecting more. We have seen double-digit growth year on year since we started selling pineapple tarts ."

Good pineapple tarts are hard to come by, going by the results of the blind taste test.

Mr Tay says: "After eating all the tarts, we managed to pick only three winners, it's harder than I thought.

"All the bakeries need to continue to work hard to improve. Those that didn't make it to the list, it's like they didn't seem to make an effort.

"For example, it's okay to add flavours such as vanilla, as long as it is meant to enhance the product. It's all about the balance of pineapple to pastry."


Restaurant critic of SundayLife! Wong Ah Yoke and food writer Foong Woei Wan, together with guest judges Mr Daniel Tay, founder of food creation and development company Foodgnostic, and Mr Daniel Chia, president of non-profit organisation Slow Food (Singapore) and culinary and catering lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic, ate their way through 30 brands of pineapple tarts to pick the best ones.

YUMMIEST THREE

BAKERZIN

Where: 10 outlets, including 03-58/59 Jurong Point, and 01-05/6/7 Connexion@Farrer Park; open: various opening hours

Price: $23.80 for 21 pieces

Info: Go to www.bakerzin.com. Order two days in advance, by March 2. Last day of collection is March 5.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

The judges like the soft crust that is not dry.

Mr Wong praises the "balance of sweetness from the pineapple and the spiciness from the cinnamon".

Noting that the pineapple tart is shaped like a gold ingot,

Mr Chia says: "There is a distinctive pineapple flavour and acidity. The crust has a good texture and enough salt."

D’PASTRY

Where: 01-121 Block 3020 Ubi Avenue 2; open: 8am to 6pm daily

Price: From $23 for 48 pieces

Info: Call 6742-7168 or go to www.d-pastry.com. While stocks last.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

The judges like the complex flavours encased in the pineapple tart.

Mr Wong says: “It has a nice acidity, the taste is complex and has a lot of different flavours going on – floral, acidic and buttery. This is not your typical tart.”

Mr Tay gives it the thumbs up: “This tart has a balanced flavour. I would buy this.”

TRUE BLUE CUISINE

Where: Two outlets, including 47/49 Armenian Street; open: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily (closed from 2.30 to 5pm)

Price: $33 for a 300g box

Info: Call 6440-0449 or go to www.truebluecuisine.com. While stocks last. Walk-ins only.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

The crumbly and nicely salted pastry stands out for the panel.

Ms Foong says: “The pastry actually tastes good and has a nice flavour. It is a little bit salty from the butter used. The crust is good, but the pineapple can do with a little more acidity – it is neither sweet nor sour.”

WORTH A MENTION

BENGAWAN SOLO

Where: 40 outlets, including B4-38 Ion Orchard, and B1-78/9 Parkway Parade; open: various opening hours

Price: $19.80 for a 330g box

Info: Call 6756-9113 or go to www.bengawan solo.com.sg. Order at least five days in advance, while stocks last. Last day of collection is Feb 18.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

Mr Wong likes the buttery and thin pastry of the pineapple tarts.

Mr Tay says: “I can smell the cheese in the pastry. The flavours are balanced and there’s a nice colour on the crust. This is a tart I can eat again.”

GLORY

Where: 139 East Coast Road; open: 8.30am to 9.30pm daily; and at all FairPrice, Giant and Cold Storage outlets, various opening hours for the supermarkets

Price: $13.20 for 25 pieces

Info: Go to www.gloryfood.com.sg. Order three days in advance, by Feb 6. Last day of collection is Feb 14 at East Coast. While stocks last at supermarkets.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

Ms Foong likes the fragrance of the pineapple filling, Mr Tay praises its moist texture and Mr Wong says the pastry has a nice crumbly texture

HARRIANNS

Where: Three outlets, including 01-01A Bugis Junction; open: 7am to 9pm daily

Price: $14 for 20 pieces

Info: Call 6238-1200 or go to harrianns.com. Order by Feb 12, two days in advance. Last day of collection is Feb 17.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

Mr Tay feels that the pineapple is a tad overcooked, adding that overcooking the jam will give a darker caramelised colour to the pineapple.

Ms Foong says: “It is not bad, but the crust is a bit dry. There isn’t much sugar in the pineapple topping, so it is not too gummy.”

INTERCONTINENTAL SINGAPORE

Where: Man Fu Yuan Chinese Restaurant, Level 2; Tea Hut, Level 1; open: Man Fu Yuan, noon to 10.30pm daily (closed from 2.30 to 6.30pm), Tea Hut (till Feb 15), noon to 9pm daily

Price: $38+ for 20 pieces

Info: Call 6820-8519/8520 or go to singapore.intercontinental.com/festive. Order two days in advance, last day to order is Feb 15. Last day of collection is March 5.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

The panel likes the balanced flavour of the pineapple – both sweet yet tart.

Mr Tay says: “I think there is added colouring in the tart. However, I like the pleasant flavour of the pineapple.”

KELE CAKES

Where: Five locations, including Takashimaya Square, Ngee Ann City, Basement 2; open: 10am to 9.30pm daily (till Feb 17)

Price: $19.80 for 31 pieces (promotional price till Feb 8, thereafter it is $22.80)

Info: Call 6710-7886 or go to kele.sg. Order up to three days in advance, by Feb 8. Last day of collection is Feb 17.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

Ms Foong notes the balance in the pineapple to tart ratio, as well as the buttery crust.

Mr Wong says: “The crust is soft and crumbly, but it also has a milky taste. I like the texture of the crumb.”

PAN PACIFIC SINGAPORE

Where: Pacific Marketplace, Pan Pacific Singapore, Level 1; open: 7am to 10pm daily

Price: $58+ for 32 pieces

Info: Call 6826-8240 or go to www.pacificmarketplace.com.sg. Order three days in advance, by March 3. Last day of collection is March 5.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

The judges note the pleasant pineapple taste with the right amount of acidity. This is a good option for those who like bigger portions of pineapple topping.

Mr Wong says: “The acidity comes through as you chew on it, it gets more and more acidic and finishes off nicely. Similarly for the sourness, as you chew on the filling, it gets more sour. The crumb is quite nice too.”

POH GUAN CAKE HOUSE

Where: 531 Upper Cross Street, 01-57 Hong Lim Complex; open: 8.30am to 8pm daily

Price: $19 for about 30 pieces, $28 for about 48 pieces

Info: Call 6534-0136. Order by Feb 8. Last day of collection is Feb 14.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

The judges like the pineapple’s tartness, paired with the crumbly pastry.

Mr Chia says: “The pastry is rather pale-looking. However, I like that the pastry crumbles nicely and is not too soft. It could do with a little more salt to balance the tartness of the pineapple.”


Artificial-tasting pastry, weak pineapple flavour and a bizarre orange-tinted crust.

Those were some of the comments from the panelists on pineapple tarts that did not make the cut in the blind taste test. Some of these tarts came from household names such as Balmoral Bakery, Smiling Orchid, Dona Manis Cake Shop, Thye Moh Chan Cake House and Prima Deli.

Long-time establishments Balmoral Bakery and Dona Manis Cake Shop are known for their old-school confections such as rum balls and cream horns, while Thye Moh Chan is associated with Teochew-style mooncakes and tau sar piah (mung bean pastries).

A major gripe among the panelists was the use of butter and oil in the pastry, which had an “artificial taste”, yielding odd milk-like or vanilla flavours.

Ms Foong Woei Wan had this to say of the tarts from one well-known bakery chain: “The pastry has a milky taste, which is more suited for children.” Mr Wong Ah Yoke added: “It just tastes sweet and the pineapple does not come through.”

The judges also faulted some tarts for lacking punch in the pineapple filling. Mr Wong said these tarts tasted “flat”.

Mr Daniel Tay thought that some of the famous tarts used poor quality pineapple filling from baking supplies chains.

The unusual appearance of some of the tarts also gave pause to the judges. One batch of orange-tinted pastries prompted Mr Chia to remark: “The tart’s pastry reminds me of pillow-shaped prawn crackers.”

One tart left the judges dumbfounded. While Mr Tay detected a coffee aftertaste, Mr Chia noted a “semi-fermented flavour”. Ms Foong said: “It’s like eating a very spicy mooncake-like pill. It has a kind of Mandarin orange rind taste.”