Located at the Food Hall of Takashimaya’s basement level is the Singaporean branch of the famous Tai Cheong Bakery from Hong Kong.
News of the launch of this permanent outlet has been making its rounds among die-hard enthusiasts, evident in the long queue that stretches well outside the food hall and ludicrous waiting time.
Tai Cheong offers classic Hong Kong pastries, such as Cocktail Bun ($1.80), Butter Egg Rolls ($15 per box), and of course, their signature Egg Tart ($7.60 for 4 pieces). But before you can get your hands on any of these, be prepared to stand in line for at least half an hour with dozens of other customers.
For a service that seemingly requires only packing, the queue moves incredibly slowly, and staff at the counter seem to work in an unorganised frenzy. You’ll have to queue to pay at the cashier first, then wait again in line to collect your order at the other end of the counter.
For the patient ones, perhaps the only upside is that it allows an unobstructed view of the chefs hurriedly making batches of pastries through the glass outside the food hall. As a consumer, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing that your goods are freshly baked to perfection.
True to expectations, Tai Cheong’s egg tarts were piping hot upon collection. The crust is fragrant and buttery, reminiscent of Chinese New Year cookies, and significantly different from the usual neighbourhood or Portuguese/Macau fare.
A drawback, however, is that the tarts are a tad too crumbly for comfort, difficult to pry away from their aluminium shells and collapse easily in your hands, making the act of eating a clumsy affair.
The filling is smooth and not annoyingly cloying, a great choice for those adverse to sweet things. Perfectly baked, there are also no traces of the plastic-ky texture that is synonymous with overcooked custard.
The final verdict? Tai Cheong’s egg tarts are well-done and unique, but to queue up for over thirty minutes solely for these is perhaps a little bit of an overkill. When they’re priced at $1.90 each with a minimum order of four, one can say that serving substandard tarts is an unacceptable option.
Getting their other golden-crusted goods in addition to the tarts on your first time there is highly recommended, as you probably won’t find yourself compelled to sign up for another round of the waiting game.
A note: there is a maximum purchase of 16 egg tarts per person, and the last order for these freshly baked tarts is at 9.00pm. Arrive early to avoid finding yourself missing the final batch after enduring aching feet.
Expected damage: $7.60