You know you’re a true Gen Z when the first mention of Chin Mee Chin Confectionery is met with a “Huh?” and not “I remember going there!”. It’s been more than two years since Chin Mee Chin closed and Singaporeans had to bid goodbye to their old-school-style kaya buns and bakes, but clearly, their legacy has withstood the test of time.
My mum once told me that you can usually judge the quality of food based on how long Singaporeans are willing to queue for it—and she is right. The snaking queues in front of the humble, kopitiam-style eatery boasting of a cheery blue, white, and red exterior told me that I had to set my bar high. And I definitely did.
What I tried
I always save the best for last, but this was so good, it deserves the top mention. Breakfast is a meal I take with utmost seriousness, and my main gripe is that most places don’t do a hot drink gao enough for my liking or mess up the kaya-butter ratio.
Either way, reserved were the highest of hopes for Chin Mee Chin, to which their Toast (S$2.20) blew me away completely. We’re talking soft brioche toasted over a charcoal fire, upon which the velvetest homemade kaya rests along with a perfect square of slightly melted butter. You might call me melodramatic, but if the toast asked me to elope in Las Vegas, I’d gladly accept.
Of course, it doesn’t really count as breakfast unless you have your toast with its two best friends. Chin Mee Chin’s Toast Set (S$4.90) will make the long trip to the East worth it—I thought, wrongly, that there’s nothing more satisfying than dunking your toast into soft-boiled eggs mixed with pepper and dark sauce until I took my first sip of kopi C.
Gao, flavourful, and so aromatic, I was pretty sure my eyes transformed into cartoonish pink hearts. The only thing about this Toast Set that upset me was that there isn’t one for me to devour now, tomorrow, and then every day after that.
Joining Chin Mee Chin’s menu is the Cream Horn (S$2), a buttery, flaky pastry filled with vanilla buttercream. It’s highly raved and worth trying for that creamy, sinful dose of nostalgia. Just a heads up: the cream will melt (read: quickly!) under Singapore’s blazing sun, and the superstar shine is lost the minute it gets messy.
I’ve made my love for sugary food a huge part of my personality, so you’ll know my expectations are going to be sky high with Chin Mee Chin’s sweet treats. The Cheesecake Brownie (S$2.60), Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart (S$2.20), and Gula Melaka Coffee Chiffon Cake (S$2.60) were up for scrutiny next.
Love at first sight? Nah, at SETHLUI.com, I believe only in love at first bite, and then raving about it to anyone who will (or will not) listen. The Cheesecake Brownie was a decadent juxtaposition of creamy savoury and sweet flavours that’ll melt in your mouth and leave you starry-eyed. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart was a close second, with a crunchy tart shell and rich chocolate filling elevated by peanut butter. Forget seconds; can I tapau 10 of these?
Maybe you’re in the mood for something sweet but significantly less cloying—the Gula Melaka Coffee Chiffon Cake will come to the rescue. It’s moderately sweet, with a bouncy texture and delicate airiness that all our parents will love.
If sweet food isn’t your thing, we can’t be friends. We can, however, agree that Chin Mee Chin’s Hae Bee Hiam Bun (S$2.20) is a dream come true. Sink your teeth into a buttery bun as soft as a cloud, stuffed with homemade hae bee hiam that explodes in your mouth in flavourful bursts of umami and spice. I do wish that the filling was more generous, but there’s little to complain about something this affordable and delicious.
There’s a reason why Chin Mee Chin has seen snaking queues all week—I’m quite certain you might see me there again soon. Yes, it’s old school, but old is gold, and buttery. It might not have the original vibes it used to, but I’m confident that they’ll be able to hold their own in the East’s saturated food scene. Exceptionally so, if I do say so myself.
Expected damage: S$4.50+ per pax
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