Singapore, August 2016 – By 10:00am (store opening time), Tai Cheong Bakery at Takashimaya already had 15 patrons in line. So I quickly fell into the queue, before another 10 people quickly joined us.
Egg tarts were freshly baked, right behind this small counter. A man repeatedly poured egg custard mix from a jug into pastry tarts. The ovens were already hard at work.
On the other end, two ladies were busily separating the tarts from tart holders. Now, this was no small task! The cookie crust (though firmer than their flaky pastry sister) is very delicate, and the tart can easily be chipped or dented as they are “popped out” of tart holders. As soon as it became apparent that the tart shell was damaged, the tart was tossed into the trash.
The minimum purchase is a box of 4 tarts ($7.60 per box), and maximum are 4 boxes (16 tarts). The menu is somewhat limited – Egg Tarts, Char Siew BoLo Bun ($2.20/pc), Chicken Pie ($2.80 per pc), Cocktail Bun ($1.80), Sponge Cup Cake ($1.50) and Butter Egg Rolls ($15 per box).
After a 40-minutes wait, I was finally in front of the cashier, just as another tray of tarts was unloaded onto the counter. The tarts were still warm when I received my boxes.
When I got home a half hour later, I couldn’t wait to taste these pastries. I purchased 4 boxes of egg tarts (no, I didn’t eat them all). Only one was slightly chipped during the transport home. Into the toaster, they went!
Egg Tarts were divine! They tasted just like the ones I had in Hong Kong. The egg custard was golden yellow, smooth and sweet. The crust was crumbly and delicate, so I had to be careful as I removed each from the foil tart holders.
Char Siew Bo Lo Bun was a pleasant surprise! The topping was thick and very crunchy. The flavor of the pineapple was buttery and sweet (but not overly sweet either). The bun was soft. The char siew stuffing had just the right among of seasoning, and the portion was very generous – filling up the bun sumptuously.
The Chicken Pies were also very delicious. The golden brown pie tasted delicious and was not too dry. The filling was a combination of chicken and mushrooms. This could be a meal in itself!
Despite Tai Cheong Bakery being over 60 years old, most Hong Kong people know Tai Cheong for serving up “Chris Patten’s favorite egg tarts”. Chris Patten was the last Governor of Hong Kong before the colony was returned to China in 1997. In a way, Tai Cheong is a part of history and a taste of the old Hong Kong. As a native of Hong Kong, I was very excited when I heard about its opening in Singapore.
I am usually averse to queue up for food for more than 20 minutes. However, given that these egg tarts tasted so heavenly, I am already considering queuing up again next week!
Tai Cheong Bakery – Basement 2 , Takashimaya Department Store, Ngee Ann City, Singapore.
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.