This article was first published on ASIA 361 and written by Goh Guo Hua.
Chef Juwanda Hassim, the fabulous baker boy himself, brings a new labour of love to the centre stage. No stranger to the limelight, to rousing applause, he debuts a new performance for a new season. Having dived headlong into a confectionery adventure after a long theatre career tenure, Chef Juwanda embarks now on a new season of this venture. With expanded premises, he ups the ante but continues with honest value by whipping up a brand new spread of mains to pair with his already well-known repertoire of pound cakes.
Not veering far from his grounding in the entertainment industry, Chef Juwanda also now accommodates a gallery and a corner for livelier performances in his expanded teashop. Now a full fledged restaurant, The Fabulous Baker Boy is still located at the base of Fort Canning Hill along River Valley Road, in an area also known as the Foothills of Fort Canning.
Ever eager to play the good host, Chef Juwanda piled us with lovingly prepared starters as the party started. Rolls of luscious smoked salmon begged to be put close to my own like an ardent lover’s lips. The meat balls were delicious enough, draped by a savoury cream sauce.
The evening kicked off with two versions of salads and a chicken consume. The former was standard salad fare – an excellent way to clear my conscience before tucking into the decadent pound cakes that was worth every calorie and the hands down raison d’etre of this establishment. We had the Scottish Smoked Salmon Salad (S$16) and the Wild Mushroom Salad (S$14) of rocket and tomatoes drizzled in balsamic vinegar and topped with an egg.
The chicken consommé (S$8.50) comes from a stock that took 24 hours to prepare and certainly tastes that way. The flavour was hearty and just like what grandma would prepare if you had a cold.
The Steak Frites (S$25) and the Duck Confit (S$21), both classic café staples and their inclusion is essential to every casual dining venue, especially The Fabulous Baker Boy, which has an airy, relaxing and languishing-the-Sunday-away feel.
This Fried Chicken and Waffles (S$21) was the dish that The Fabulous Baker Boy will be known for. Despite the odd pairing of sweet and savoury, of entrée and dessert, this presentation definitely passed muster. Although maple syrup was used, the taste imparted was closer to honey. The natural restrained sweetness of the maple syrup complimented the wholesome salty flavour of the moist chicken juices that oozed from every bite. If it gets too heaty, the side of coleslaw will cool you right down so that you can take another munch, because you won’t be able to just have just a few.
The Battered Fish Burger (S$14.50) was another hands down winner. Blow the whistle and raise this high, because I will return to The Fabulous Baker Boy for this. This is essentially fish and chips in a bun. However, aside from that, aficionados of fish and chips know how difficult it is to find that perfectly fried fish. It’s not just about holding a fillet in hot oil. If you don’t hold it right, it’s like the capital offense of murder by drowning in my opinion.
The Almond-crusted Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce (S$22) has a nice crunch with the addition of a golden crust of almonds. It reminds me of the petite pave detailing of jewellery where little gemstones are packed close together and spread across an entire surface area.
Some like General Trajan, Darius the Great and Queen Victoria have busts made in honour of them. Others, like the inimitable Pamela Oei, of “Dim Sum Dollies” fame, have their name immortalised in a cake. The “Pam D’Or”, is a tasty tribute made from four layers of the spongiest butter sponge cake, deliciously coated with a latte swiss meringue butter cream and dusted with Valrhona chocolate shards. I was impressed with the explosion of flavours that managed to still maintain very light, enough for me to wolf down two slices without reaching for a glass of water.
Come for the cake. Come for the recommended dishes. Come for the upbeat and whimsical personality Chef Juwanda imparts. This is a great place to while away a weekend, or a weekday off with great food in an place that leaves a warm feeling in your belly as well as your heart.
The Fabulous Baker Boy
70 River Valley Road
Tel: +65 66948336
Opening hours: Daily except Mondays; Tue to Thurs: 11 am to 10 pm; Fri and Sat: 11 am to 11 pm; Sun : 10 am to 5 pm