A little known fact is that there is not a single person living in Singapore that doesn’t like pancakes. It’s true. Really, it is! I for one would never, ever turn down an opportunity to eat Singapore-style pancakes; the only niggle I have is that they’re all pretty much the same. This is a source of comfort in times of distress, but can be a little mundane when you want to spice up your life a little. Or a lot.
You can imagine my surprise – no, delight – then when I came across AAA Pancake in the badlands of Bendemeer (or Boon Keng, if you’re that way inclined). At first I had to do a double take – curry puff? No, too big. Pastie? No, this is Singapore you idiot. And the sign says pancake. But not like any pancake I have ever seen – these things are crimped. How inspired! Talk about creativity. Innovation. Sheer culinary brilliance, all crimped into one.
AAA Pancake also goes beyond the mundane peanut, red bean and coconut offerings and tempts customers (and potential customers) with a wide variety of exotic flavours. There’s chocolate; there’s salted bean; there’s pandan, coffee, and cheese; there’s lotus paste and, of course; there’s the peanut, red bean and coconut staples that will keep the older generation happy and sated. And because they’re made to order, you’re never (or are rarely… or are less likely to be) put in the frustrating position of your first choice being rejected and having to compromise. Wahey.
The lotus paste pancake (80 cents) was the first one I ate, and a little overwhelming it was too. What I quickly realised was that you really need to choose your filling carefully – really carefully – because it tends to dominate every single bite. The pancake shell is very much a secondary consideration – more a frame than a foundation. Personally I like this arrangement. It made me feel like I got my money’s worth; the only drawback is that it can be a little overwhelming at times. Especially if the filling falls a little short of expectations, as it did in this case.
The pandan pancake (80 cents) came second, and turned out to be a much more satisfying ‘cake overall. Fantastic colour, no?! A bit sickly, a bit nuclear, a bit like the Incredible Hulk wrapped in pancake batter. A perfect way to start the day.
Looks aside, I found this to be absolutely delicious. It tasted tropical, if you know what I mean. Delightful, subtle, coconutty, kaya-like sweetness; close your eyes and you could almost feel the sand between your toes, the waves crashing on the beach, the coconut palms swaying in the breeze… Talk about a full-on sensory experience! Forget the pancake, this filling was good enough to eat by itself.
Next up came another winner – the coffee pancake (80 cents). Richer than I expected, this thing was the more grown-up counterpart to the pandan. The richness made it taste almost chocolatey, and it was so good I was left salivating for more.
Finally, I ended my pancake-fest with the humble chocolate pancake (80 cents). The filling of this thing surprised me. I was expecting a paste (a la pandan, coffee and lotus), but instead this one was made with a spoonful of chocolate sprinkles. Although I was sceptical at first, it ended up being a rather satisfactory arrangement. Semi-melted sprinkles are a million miles better than the semi-frozen ones that usually adorn ice cream, believe me. What did disappoint, however, was the effect of the sprinkles on the pancake itself. As they melted, they seeped through the pancake, causing rather ugly brown blobs (or stains) to form, which in turn made this thing seem a lot messier to eat than it really was. Not a huge problem as it was gone in about three bites, but the more sensitive (not to mention sensual) eaters out there can consider themselves warned.
Overall, AAA Pancake lives up to its triple-A name. It’s imaginative, innovative, and interesting. The pancakes are well-executed, and because of the (relatively) huge range of flavours available, there really is something for everyone. Crimped pancakes! Geni-aaarrrrs!
#01-08, Bendemeer Market and Food Centre, Bloc 29 Bendemeer Road