Here is another article that nobody asked for. I, in all my extra millennial-ness, am here to present a showdown of Mr Bean’s finest wares—his pancakes. Just like my Starbucks pastries showdown, we went to a particular outlet of Mr Bean’s at Poiz Centre, gleefully ate all his pancakes and ranked them.
The beauty of writing an article like this is that no matter what I love or hate the amiable soya bean man, there will always be a line when the morning rush hour rolls around. So, before you staunch Mr Bean supporters heckle me, know that for this showdown I brought our Editor-in-Chief, Zat, who also happens to be an ardent fan of Mr Bean as a judge. So, this is all serious food reviewing, ohkur?
On a rainy and humid (what’s new, Singapore?) Tuesday morning, I made my way to Mr Bean’s Potong Pasir outlet. This is one of the few spots that have a seating area with fancy-schmancy high chairs, and I was, as they say, livin’. Seeing as there were some limited edition and new flavours such as the Mao Shan Wang Pancake (S$4.90) and Matcha Red Bean Cream Cheese Pancake (S$2.40), we used these new-fangled creations to fill in the spots of some of the missing flavours.
Now, having told the auntie in smattering Chinese that I’ll be buying more than 10 Mr Bean pancakes and being on the receiving end of her slight irritation, we began our foray into Mr Bean’s pancakes.
1. Peanut Butter Pancake
Nicole: The peanut butter in this pancake was impressive. Distinctly not the ang moh grind-it-yourself-at-a-bulk-store-kind but a hunky, coarse with the whole-peanut-still-there kind.
Perhaps, this Peanut Butter Pancake (S$1.60) embraced the term ‘rustic’ a little too much and found itself unceremoniously stuck in between my teeth and the roof of my mouth. Still, I would eat this in a quick and desperate pinch.
Zat: First impressions: the peanut butter had a mix of chunks and a glorious molten-esque texture. I don’t like peanut butter because if it’s not the right consistency, it sticks to the roof of your mouth—not an ideal situation at all. But overall, a decent attempt.
2. Red Bean Pancake
Nicole: I have to say that though I’m always all for carbs on carbs anything, but, this wasn’t doing it for me. The same excellent Mr Bean pancake, yes. Cloying, starchy red beans—no.
However, you have to give credit where credit is due. Mr Bean is a man who knows his red beans well, and this pancake was filled with ground azuki beans that are just a little more hifalutin than the pedestrian red kidney bean.
Zat: The Red Bean Pancake (S$1.30) is sweeter than I remembered. Maybe Mr Bean can bring down the sweetness a notch, but the ratio between the filling and pancake is not too bad.
3. Kaya Cheese Pancake
Nicole: She’s a beauty queen, and she knows it. This Kaya Cheese Pancake (S$2) is precisely what you expect from Mr Bean, and it delivers.
A hefty rectangle of President Cream Cheese (you know they mean business) and a thick, almost too generous lick of kaya—it’s a combination that is so simple it works. I’ll take this any day. ‘
Zat: I loved the Kaya Cheese Pancake because it’s a worthy mix of sweet and savoury.
A complex flavour in a small pancake? Yes. Shantay, you stay. Visually, when cut, it’s stacked one on top of the other, is good looking and not at all shy to flaunt it. Although both are texturally similar, the taste is sufficiently different. A slightly older kid who loves his dessert will appreciate this.
4. Chocolate Pancake
Nicole: Let’s begin with the disclaimer that I didn’t expect much from this Chocolate Pancake (S$1.40). I don’t require French coverture or 60% Valrhona, no, I know better than to expect that at this humble kiosk. But even with the bench set reasonably low, this Chocolate Pancake just couldn’t. It’s merely a paltry swipe of chocolate that had an artificial twinge—*faints on to the chaise lounge*.
Zat: The chocolate is a classic starter kit for Mr Bean’s pancake. After all, you can’t go wrong with chocolate, am I right?
Here, chocolate rice is used and to be honest; it wasn’t what I remembered it to be. It’s a huge bunch of nothing. The flavour is mild and very 1996. Meaning, using this type of chocolate would pass in 1996, but honey, it’s 2020, and we have to upkeep standards. Perhaps, a dark chocolate custard would help improve the situation.
5. Hazelnut Pancake
Nicole: Aaah, the humble man’s version of a Ferrero Rocher. The Hazelnut Pancake (S$1.80) pulls no stops when it comes to chocolate. The chocolate is baked into the pancake batter, so each bite was fragrant and that filling is everything you ever dreamed of.
Melty, with good-quality chocolate and hazelnut brittle(!), what more could you want? Mr Bean delivered, and you’ll notice that they call this the Hazelnut Royale, and indeed this regal pancake takes the crown.
Zat: The pancake batter is mixed in with chocolate, so it has this defining brown hue that visually sets it apart. When cut, the chocolate sauce within flows like the river even Willy Wonka would approve.
There are chunks of hazelnut brittle inside so texturally, it’s already far superior to the chocolate iteration. It’s sweet, but not overpoweringly so and does remind me of a classic, oft-loved Ferrero Rocher.
6. Cheese Pancake
Nicole: Given that its Kaya Cheese cousin scored so well on the report card, you’d think the Cheese Pancake (S$1.60) would do reasonably well. Apparently not. While this Cheese Pancake was by no means bad but damn it, Janet, I was rooting for you. We were all rooting for you!
Zat: Dear Mr Bean,
A sad wedge of cheese does not a Cheese Pancake make.
7. Matcha Red Bean Cream Cheese Pancake (New)
Nicole: I can safely say, no one loves matcha more than me.
When I say love, I don’t just mean matcha drinks that only have a sprinkling of matcha powder and green food colouring. No hun, I like it so bitter and strong it can rival black coffee. Needless to say, I’m undoubtedly and annoyingly harsh on matcha-flavoured anything.
Yet, I did not scoff at this limited edition Matcha Red Bean Cream Cheese Pancake. A little more than chump change for this one but when Zat and I took a bite, we looked at each other, and a “Nice, eh” escaped our lips. It’s so hard to impress food writers, but boy, were we impressed.
Zat: Surprisingly, this is good. There’s a hint of salt in this pancake which balances the sweetness. It could have failed spectacularly, but it didn’t.
8.Egg Mayo Pancake
Nicole: Oy vey, this Egg Mayo Pancake (S$1.60) is just like The Game of Thrones finale—an utter disappointment.
Egg mayo is something I put on the pedestal and is (in my opinion, at least) idiot-proof. Given the stellar performances from the Hazelnut Pancake and the Matcha Red Bean Cream Cheese Pancake, the egg mayo should have been a piece of (pan)cake.
A meagre portion of egg mayo that’s assaulted with an aggressive amount of pepper and metallic-y tasting mayo. This one needs to sashay away.
Zat: Looks-wise, this won’t be scoring points anytime soon. The colour of egg mayo blended with the colour of the pancake batter. It’s literally yellow-on-yellow crime.
Make no mistake, this ain’t no tamago sando. The pepper peeks out slightly, but this could do with ten times the creaminess and a bit of tender love and care. Why do you hate egg and mayo, kind sir?
9. Tuna Pancake
Nicole: Tuna sandwiches hearken to early mornings of youth, in stiff uniforms with sleep still dancing in our eyes.
A nostalgic choice and they got me. Creamy and spilling over with tuna filling, it was a Ratatouille moment where I was right there on the dining table at the crack of dawn trying to have some breakfast in between forty winks.
However, the tuna might have taken a nap in this one, with the cream taking centre stage instead.
Zat: The filling is rather generous in the Tuna Pancake (S$1.60). However, I would love it even more with some chilli sauce, though. But, like the Egg Mayo Pancake (S$1.60), this feels very 90s—like you’re stuck in the past, but not in a retro, fashionable way.
The flavour is mild; it needs more of a ‘tuna’ taste to it. But I reckon a kid with no bias of food standards would enjoy this. An adult, not so.
10. Honey Baked Chicken Ham & Cheese Eggwich
Nicole: Okay, no shade but this baby tried to be a McGriddle à la Mr Bean—a valiant effort, I must say.
Though the egg was slightly overcooked on this Honey Baked Chicken Ham & Cheese Eggwich (S$3.30), if you were rushing to work this would hit the spot especially when eaten still warm and fresh off the griddle.
Zat: Even before biting into the Honey Baked Chicken Ham & Cheese Eggwich, I know it needs a hit of chilli sauce. The flavours meld too much together when it should be a bit more distinct for a better eating experience.
Sure, the egg on top is novel; and the cheese is a nice touch. But I would have loved this with more ham and reverence to taste profiles.
11. Mao Shan Wang Pancake (Limited Edition)
Nicole: The Mao Shan Wang Pancake wants an entrance and indeed, makes one grand, extravagant arrival. You need to wait for ten minutes to have this prepared and delivered in the box to you—no plebeian paper bag hor. If the Cat King wants a stately affair, that’s what he’ll get.
The durian is authentic, with a strong aroma wafting from the box before I cut this open. Now, the durian did blend in a little too much with the pancake, but in this case, we love and appreciate that quality.
Thick and creamy, what a little gem of a pancake.
Zat: The Mao Shan Wang Pancake comes in a special box, which makes sense since it is sold at quite the premium at S$4.90 AND you need to wait for it. But if you’re a durian aficionado, this will not disappoint. The durian is fragrant, it’s creamy, and it’s worth every calorie. Just don’t, you know, eat ten of them.
Rating: 6/10, 8/10 if you love durian.
Verdict: This is what you should order
🏆 Matcha Red Bean Cream Cheese Pancake 🏆
What can I say, I love my matcha and when it’s done right—it’s a winner. Though it’s not the Uji matcha that costs an arm and a leg a pop, this pancake is a simple, down-to-earth creation that I inherently approve of.
🏆 Kaya Cheese Pancake 🏆
There was a time when simple snacks excite and delight me. This Kaya Cheese Pancake is the epitome of that feeling and after many years of patronising Mr Bean, remains my top favourite flavour of the lot.
There’s a certain measured complexity in pairing the slightly sour cheese with fragrant kaya. Some may say it’s a risk—well, I say it’s a risk well-taken. Like I always say, when in doubt, Kaya Cheese.
Mr Bean can be found in most malls and is easily accessed when you’re on your way to work or coming home after a long day when all the food places are closed. Reliable and ever-present, Mr Bean is the constant in our fast-moving, cut-throat F&B landscape.
We can all agree that Mr Bean in an institution in Singapore. It’s an integral part of our gastronomic lexicon that we sometimes for granted but will dearly miss if it were to one day pull a Gong Cha.
Although Zat and I might be overly critical of some of the pancakes, that won’t stop me from buying them at my home today. Not to mention, Mr Bean even has their Wholegrain Mixed Rice Bowls (that are a fraction of the cost of those salad places, sis), Millet Grains Soy Porridge selections and tantalising, seasonal pancakes—need I go on?
That, my friends, is just the sheer power and impressive hold Mr Bean has on all of us.
51 Upper Serangoon Road, Poiz Centre, #01-08 , Singapore 347697
51 Upper Serangoon Road, Poiz Centre, #01-08 , Singapore 347697