I’ve been playing a game of hide and seek with KOKI Tamagoyaki for a while, albeit in my own mind. Twice I’ve come too late for there to be any of their choux puffs. But this time I’m here – five minutes before the teatime offer ends, when the shelves are full of the goods. Yes.
Koki is, as the name suggests, a tamagoyaki place – serving the square-pan, rolled, mildly sweet Japanese omelettes with a range of toppings. Except that even now its dessert options – choux (or ‘shuu’) puffs – are already overshadowing the egg dish. (Honestly, take a look at the Burpple reviews of the place. How many tamagoyaki pics do you see? Precisely.)
And now I am here to add to that in my own small way. The dessert may be called ‘shuu’, but there are… some differences between them and the usual choux. For one, they’re bleeding enormous. Somehow the glass case makes them look dainty, so it’s only when I take one out of its paper bag that I realise I won’t be eating all three of them. Not even close.
Neither is the bulk all due to pastry. In fact, the pastry is but a thin shell of choux, holding on tight to its airiness and lightness. On the top, a trick not unlike the Hong Kong bo luo bao – a croquant crown, equally crunchy and chewy with a hint of caramelisation. Then within it…
… an avalanche of thick custard cream. Seriously, the puffs are packed with the stuff – I eat mine (coffee flavoured) with increasing alarm, faced with a mounting containment crisis. If I hold it too tightly, or lift it off the foil wrapping, it starts glooping out from below. If I tilt it a little, it pours out of the hole I bite in the top. With every bite it splurts and smears all over my hands and face. (I will not comment on how wrong that sounds.)
My terror is compounded by the fact that I don’t want to waste any of the filling, because it really is good – chilled, smooth and subtly flavoured. The pointed bitterness of the coffee filling adds interest to a vast backing chorus of egg yolks, cream and sugar. Even better, though, is the black sesame puff – the sesame pops vividly in the croquant crown, little nibs of saltiness and fragrance from toasting which is echoed in the more mellow custard. (I will say nothing about the maccha, because I didn’t have any of it. But judging by my dad’s expression, it was pretty good.)
So – a blend of creative skill and generosity, such that the teatime special ($12 for 3 puffs) can really feed a small office of 5 or 6. Naturally, there is room for a suggestion or two. Maybe if they would pipe in the filling from the top, so it doesn’t leak. That would also make an opening for a thick straw, to suck up the custard – like a dessert version of a guantangbao. You know what, I’ll try that next time.
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City, B1-179
Hours: Daily, 10am – 10pm