When we returned to Mad About Sucre at Teo Hong Road recently, we didn’t intend to write another review. There are reasons why we don’t write two reviews of the same place: we just want to enjoy the food on repeated visits, no photos, no memorizing the menu, no work; and two reviews of the same place confuse Google, which will treat your website as spam. But after the meal, we were so moved we had to review it.
We have visited Mad About Sucre several times. This in itself is a great testimony to the patisserie because there are so many new cafes and restaurants popping up.
But this time, we tried the savory food menu. At first, when we heard about the menu, we were deeply dubious. The patisserie is opened by James, and siblings Lena and Eric Chan. As a French patisserie, it is fantastic, probably the best patisserie in Singapore, because Lena has been trained by top sugar decorators of the world. But savory food? Does the food justify the steep price tag? How are the chefs trained? What are the origins of the recipes? In short, we were Doubting Thomases.
The savory food menu is designed by Eric with no formal culinary training. He eats all over the world and documents his meals in detail, filling up TWENTY ONE food journals. He cooks a lot at home and for 18 years, he learns from French and Italian grandmothers of his friends in Europe. Training from grandmothers is the best kind of training—you are whacked on your knuckles with a rolling pin when you make a mistake—but we still doubted the menu.
Cooking at home is different from serving food at restaurants. How would homely food translate to good restaurant food? You want the best for your family; you use the best ingredients and you take long hours to chop, peel, mince, pulverize, boil, simmer, bake, sear, fry. How would Eric as a home cook handle the restaurant?
Answer: He does everything exactly the same at the restaurant as he would at home; this doesn’t make commercial sense at all because the effort is Sisyphean. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus is punished by the gods. He has to roll a gargantuan boulder up a mountain. But when he achieves his task, he watches it tumble down and has to start over for eternity.
When Eric told us his stories about how the food is cooked, I thought of Sisyphus. (By the way, we mostly do anonymous reviews, but although this isn’t anonymous, we were not treated differently from other customers. Eric, James, and the staff explain the food to every customer, like how a fine-dining restaurant would do.)
Back to Eric’s food stories. He flew all the way to Norway to discover that the wild Norwegian salmon was too lean. Finding it unethical to buy them, he flew to Iceland to find other sources. He worked throughout the flight from Europe to Singapore to write the menu for the shop. He arrived in Singapore at midnight, and a few hours later, he started cooking. And he has to do this every 3 months when the menu changes with the season.
The food, including sauces, is made from scratch and they are slow cooked. No preservatives, no artificial flavors. Take for instance the smoked wild salmon salad ($33). The wild Norwegian salmon is smoked for 6 hours at 35 degrees—it tastes out of the world! Very clean, slightly sweet. My eyes popped wide-open like those Taiwanese variety shows; those celebrities are faking it, but my reaction was geninue.
Lemon zest is pulverized to powder, which is dusted on huge prawns, beautifully grilled. All of which are tossed in homemade vinaigrette of summer lemon, calamansi, olive oil, and French organic honey. The sweet baked pita bread undercuts the richness of the vinaigrette. The most amazing thing of the salad: NO SALT. The salad depends wholly on the integrity of flavors.
120g of French foie gras is in this linguine aglio olio ($42), speckled with florets of broccoli. This Italian-meets-French dish is very rich and delicious. There is some jus from the foie gras at the bottom—we drank it all.
The sashimi-grade wild Norwegian fresh salmon ($36) is slathered with Spanish garlic, and saffron hollandaise. They use baking techniques for the hollandaise, and they over-beat it to give it that impossibly creaminess. Saffron is directly imported from a 120 year-old Parisian shop, the only shop to sell this label of saffron.
Besides the Summer savory menu, we also tried the Summer cakes. The cakes are even better than the ones we had previously. Inspired by childhood memory of skipping stones on pond, Le Caillou ($12.80), meaning “pebble,” consists of dehydrated bbq blood orange, mandarin orange, pecan nut, Caribbean rum, on pecan-milk chocolate shortbread. It is a delicate swirl of nuttiness and fruity fragrance on the tongue, with a sweet undertone of rum.
There is only one word to describe the chocolat noir ($12.80): orgasmic. It’s a perfect balance of Mexican 66% dark chocolate and French 100% dark chocolate, counterpoised with meringue on top. The tart is almost molten-like, melts in your mouth, not on your hands.
Both the savory and sweet food are innovative and healthy. The food, so delicious, and the stories Eric told, so heartwarming, made me tear. (Ask him about his 5-year plan for his employees.) There is so much heart, personality, passion, and love, all of which are translated into the food and pastries.
Mad About Sucre will probably not be in the Michelin Guide this year, but it should. Last year, Mad About Sucre was on the Best Desserts 2015. This year, it will be on at least 2 lists: Best Desserts, and Best Cafes. And maybe even Best Restaurants.
Mad About Sucre Singapore
27 Teo Hong Rd, Singapore 088334
T: +65 6221 3969
T-Sat 12.30pm-10pm, Sun 12.30pm-5pm
Overall rating: 4.094/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.