Hello Makan Kakis!
This week, we welcome the last woman standing in the Top 4 of the Masterchef Singapore Season 3 kitchen, Mum of three and Nutrition & Food Science Teacher, Sharlene Tan! Hot off her exit from the culinary competition, she joins me to talk food and what’s next for her in the aftermath. An avid foodie, she also has a bumper crop of makan recommendations to share with us in the coming weeks, starting with a unique bake that marries a buttery tart shell with Teochew orh nee! Catch up on all the delicious details in our podcasts below or read on…
- Click to listen/ download podcast of our post-Masterchef chat with Sharlene.
- Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s unique East-meets-West bakes!
Sharlene recommends we try the orh nee tarts from a very small, obscure bakery located in the basement of a service apartment block along Beach Road. Run by an elderly couple – the auntie does most of baking and the uncle mans the cashier and packs your orders – June Bakery specialises in tarts, orh nee being the highlight.
Traditionally a teochew mashed yam dessert, June Bakery has turned it into a tart, where East meets West. Somehow, this fusion style works!
The June Bakery Orh Nee tart comes in two versions (all tarts cost just $1.50 and are small enough to fit in your palm – good for one person). In a nod to tradition, one is topped with 3 little ginkgo nuts.
The other version is topped with a little ball of chewy mochi.
The tart shell is crisp and delicate, very buttery, crumbly and melts in the mouth. The fragrant yam paste filling is smooth and creamy, but not too sweet.
Sharlene also recommends their creamy cheese tarts, which also comes in special flavours including black sesame and strawberry. Only the black sesame version was available on the day I paid June Bakery a visit, along with the original cheese flavour. Just like the orh nee tarts, these were made using the same delicious tart shells.
The original cheese tart boasted a tangy, sweet and savoury cheese filling that was almost mousse-like in texture. Kissed a golden brown outside from its bake in the oven, the tart was fluffy and aerated on the inside.
The black sesame version had an added nuttiness with a little disc of mochi inside for soft and chewy texture.
Besides their best-selling tarts, you might want to try June Bakery’s other bakes, like the custard puff. Piped into a flaky pastry that resembles a mini butter croissant, the creamy filling is smooth, sweet and perfumed with vanilla.
The almond croissant is also quite a treat – crowned with crisp almonds, toasted and caramelised sugar. If you prefer something more savoury, they had two pastries on offer. For a classic choice, try the curried potato triangles. Tender potato cubes pack lots of aromatic heat inside their puff pastry homes. The mushroom and veg rolls were a revelation. Encased in puff pastry rectangles, shitake mushrooms, carrot and bangkwang (chinese turnip/ yam bean) made for a yummy filling reminiscent of popiah! Lots of umami came from the meaty mushrooms and lots of white pepper bumped up the spice factor.
During peak hours, be prepared to wait and even queue, as Uncle is very meticulous. Unhurried and methodical, he takes your order, gathers bakes off the shelves and packs them for you, before collecting payment. Also, as a two-person operation, obviously there are limitations to how much they can produce daily, so they only stay open till they sell out, which is often before 12 noon.
To avoid disappointment, Sharlene recommends you get there early for your pick of what’s available for the day, fresh and hot out of oven. I noticed that even at 7am, the phone was ringing off the hook from regulars calling their orders in for pick up. Auntie, who was watching her tarts in the oven and answering the phone, was very obliging and even apologetic that they’ve had to raise their tart prices from $1.30 to the present $1.50.
Sp another good tip to avoid queues or disappointment is to call ahead! I’ve already made plans to return for what I didn’t get to try: sweet potato tart, strawberry cheese tart, apple crumble and muah chee!
7500A Beach Rd, The Plaza, #B1-321, Singapore 199591
Open Mon – Fri: 7am – 2.30pm
Tel: +65 9731 3002