Food Picks: Pantler, Xi Yan and Teppei Japanese restaurant

Pantler in Telok Ayer Street serves chic and fancy cakes and pastries. -- PHOTO: PANTLER
Pantler in Telok Ayer Street serves chic and fancy cakes and pastries. -- PHOTO: PANTLER

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Comforting desserts such as waffles and cupcakes are all well and good but sometimes, I want something a little more fancy.

The latest place to go for this sort of treat is Pantler in Telok Ayer Street. Its name comes from a most fascinating job from days gone by. A pantler is the person in charge of the bread and pantry in a grand household.

Pastry chefs Matthias Phua and Tomoharu Morita, both of whom used to work at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo and Joel Robuchon Singapore, are the self-styled pantlers. Their house is more chic than grand, but their wares are very fine indeed.

My favourites are the seemingly simple offerings.

The Ricotta Cheese Tart ($8.50) seems plain, but the silky-smooth filling has hints of saltiness that contrast beautifully with the sweet, biscuity base.

Another beauty is the Pantler Roll Cake ($4.80), with a pillowy sponge that has just the right amount of sweetness, which is to say very little, and a lush cream filling.

A little more fancy is The Tropics ($9, right), a sweet pastry case with almond cream filling and creme patisserie.

Brightly coloured fruit, which can include decidedly non-tropical raspberries and grapes, and more local dragonfruit and mango, top the tart. The chefs use seasonal fruit, so the tarts do not always look the same.

Although there is a danger that all these elements will add up to a very sweet dessert, the chefs are judicious with the sugar and the stars of this treat, the fruit, are allowed to shine.

Yatsura ($8.50) is a must for chocolate lovers. This dark, glossy beauty is one of the signatures at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo.

Dark chocolate mousse and crisp hazelnut feuilletine sit on hazelnut dacquoise. Smooth in parts, crunchy in others, it is a study in contrasting textures.

Do not leave the patisserie without trying the Choux Creme ($5.50), a craggy choux puff filled with velvety creme patisserie.

I love how the filling makes soft peaks when

I drag my fork through it.

Licking my lips, I plot my next visit.

Where: Pantler, 198 Telok Ayer Street MRT: Telok Ayer Tel: 6221-6223 Open: 8.30am - 8.30pm (weekday), 10.30am - 5.30pm (Sat), closed on Sun Info:

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Dinners at Xi Yan are intimate affairs, sort of like dining in the home of a friend who skilfully blends flavours from different Asian cuisines and plates them all beautifully.

Its casual offshoot, Xi Yan Shaw at Shaw Centre, serves more homey fare, but with the same kind of flair.

I am thrilled by the idea that I can have its Custard Tang Yuan ($4.80 for two) any time I want. This is my favourite dessert from the Craig Road restaurant, but it is not always available there.

The springy glutinous rice flour balls are filled with candied melon, white sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, salted egg yolk and butter. They meld together beautifully, sweet and savoury playing off each other. Lightly sweetened ginger broth and a chunk of soft sweet potato complete the dessert.

Where: Xi Yan Shaw, 03-12/13 Shaw Centre MRT: Orchard Tel: 6733-3476 Open: 11.30am - 3pm, 5.30 - 9.30pm (last order), daily

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Anyone who has tried to book seats in the scruffy, hot and stuffy Teppei Japanese restaurant at Orchid Hotel will know it is well nigh impossible, unless they are very lucky or have connections.

The chef, Teppei Yamashita, recently opened Teppei Syokudo at Takashimaya Food Hall, where fans of its bara chirashi, called Kaisendon ($16) here, can have their fix without angsting, waiting or sweating.

It is the standout among the selection of rather prosaic Japanese take-out food. Large chunks of raw salmon, tuna and white fish top lightly tangy rice. There is also a scattering of salmon roe and daikon sprouts.

The fish is marinated in shoyu, which is supposed to impart umami. I would prefer a lighter hand with the Japanese soya sauce, to better appreciate the fish.

Still, at $16, the amount of fish is generous. A little more rice and it would be perfect.

Where: Teppei Syokudo, B2-07-7-3 Takashimaya Food Hall, 391 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard Open: 10am - 10pm daily

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The proliferation of Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore has been one of the best developments on the food scene here in the last few years. I am a firm fan of the cuisine, but never used to be able to get a satisfying fix.

Moc Quan at UE Square and Mrs Pho in Beach Road have changed all that. Both serve excellent Vietnamese food and after a recent lunch at Moc Quan, I have put it on my list of favourite restaurants here.

Its Banh Mi Thit ($6.50), the classic Vietnamese baguette sandwich, offers different types of charcuterie, all with different textures. A pork cold cut with chewy skin captivates me, as does the rough hewn pate. The baguettes, baked in-house, should be more crisp, but is defeated by Singapore's humidity.

Other things worth ordering include Com Tam ($7), a juicy pork chop and steamed egg served with rice. The mixed Pho Bo ($9.50), with beef balls, slices of brisket and beef and assorted offal, is one of the best I have had here.

Where: Moc Quan, 01-23 UE Square Shopping Mall, 81 Clemenceau Avenue MRT: Clarke Quay Tel: 6736-0123 Open: Noon - 2.30pm (Mon), 11am - 9pm (last order) (Tue - Sun) Info:

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