With one of those delightfully tacky ‘trying-too-hard-to-sound-French-and-failing’ names (that are everywhere in Singapore), it’s hard not to feel a smidge of disdain towards Le Cafe & Oui Patisserie. French name; Hong Kong-style, Western-style and local menus; owned by the Singapore-based Onion Group… Talk about an identity crisis.
But snobbery aside, I actually really like this place. It’s always open when I want it to be, and the staff are very earnest and helpful. A lot of them are PRC and, whilst their English may be somewhat limited, their willingness to assist is exemplary. And they sell bo lo buns, which is always a redeeming feature.
Occupying a large space in the corner of Peace Centre – at the intersection of Selegie Road and Sophia Road – Le Cafe never seems to get that full, but always seems to be doing a good trade. It’s a functional local cafe – clean, no frills, but customer-centric. As I said, I actually really like this place…
Le Cafe & Oui Patisserie
1 Sophia Road, Peace Centre, #01-01
Open 07:00-23:00 daily
The first thing you notice when picking up one of these buns is how light they are. For me, this is always a worrying sign. And, indeed, one of the key downfalls of Le Cafe’s bo lo buns is that the base is too soft, and yields too easily to the bite. It’s a shame, as the crust is really quite tasty. It’s nicely granular, and produces a satisfying crunch when you bite into it. A subtle egg glaze adds nuance to the sweetness. All things considered, this is a pretty good bun.
A bit of a novel concept, these things look like a cross between an egg tart and a custard bun. Their size is what first caught my eye. Big and fat, they boast a bun-like casing that tries to play the role of pastry, but fails. Too thick and soft, it reduced the custard filling to little more than a puddle (rather than a reservoir). Given that the filling itself was a little too subtle – bordering on bland – the overall effect is one of tasteless mushiness. An interesting idea which, unfortunately, falls short on execution.
Le Cafe is like an old friend – reliable, steadfast and not boring (but not particularly interesting, either). It’s a safe bet. It won’t wow you with anything, but it probably won’t disappoint too much either.