Cheap & Good

Food review: Swiss rolls of goodness at Rich & Good Cake Shop

The Kaya Swiss Roll is soft and eggy and filled with fragrant green coconut jam.
The Kaya Swiss Roll is soft and eggy and filled with fragrant green coconut jam.ST PHOTO: NATASHA ANN ZACHARIAH

The instant I see it on Instagram, I know I have to have one.

In the picture, four slices of pandan-green Swiss rolls, swirled with kaya, are prettily plated. And before I know it, I am standing in line for a Kaya Swiss Roll at Rich & Good Cake Shop in Kandahar Street.

The queue of seven people is not the sign that tells me the roll will be delicious. Instead, it is the smell of the shop's baked goods, which wafts as far as three shops down.

I head home with a 30cm Kaya Swiss Roll ($8) and the moment I have my first bite, I regret that I did not buy at least another.

Soft and eggy, the roll has an equal ratio of sponge cake to kaya - neither overwhelms the other. The fragrance of the green coconut jam is still strong after a few hours. Each roll yields about 12 slices.

  • RICH & GOOD CAKE SHOP

  • 24 Kandahar Street

    open: 9am to 5pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday and public holiday, tel: 6294-3324

    Rating: 4 stars

Almost two decades ago, former primary school teacher Lily Liu, 73, opened two cake shops, in Bedok and Ang Mo Kio. She had honed her baking skills through cake-making classes and often baked for friends.

But business did not go as planned and she closed those shops and moved into a shop in the Kampong Glam area in 1998, because the rent was lower.

In those days, the area was quiet but now, she gets a steady queue of regulars, tourists toting guide books and newbies, like myself, who have discovered this gem late.

The shop set-up is as basic as it gets. Place your order with the staff standing at the table by the glass door entrance and she will pack your order.

Although I head to the shop for the Kaya Swiss Roll, I am distracted by the variety of other flavours. Bestsellers include the D24 Durian Roll and Mango Swiss Roll (both $8). I opt for the Green Tea Swiss Roll ($8), filled with red beans, and the Mandarin Orange ($8) one, which I had to return to buy as these were sold out on my last visit.

I have stuck mostly to Swiss rolls offered in bakery chains and found favourites. Bengawan Solo has a delicious salty-sweet Pandan Cheese Roll, while BreadTalk's pillowy, all-white Hokkaido Snow Roll has a smooth cream filling.

But Rich & Good's rolls are just different. The crowd-pleasing factor is that they taste so fresh - the rolls are made in limited quantities every morning from 6am and the flavours come through strongly.

The Mandarin Orange Swiss Roll has bits of orange in the cream, while the Green Tea roll is aromatic and does not have an overpowering bitter taste.

Mrs Liu says the rolls will last up to three days in the fridge or up to two weeks in the freezer. Frozen rolls have an ice cream-like texture.

She says her daughter Jeanne, who is in her 40s, now runs the business. That is happy news for me - my new love affair with this Swiss roll bakery will not be short-lived.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline 'Swiss rolls of goodness '. Print Edition | Subscribe