BreadTalk (Lipton Circus).

BreadTalk. We’ve been there a few times. And on every visit I’m strangely drawn to the polished, round buns, the cheesy breads, the flaky danishes – but each time, I come away disappointed – like a sad, slightly singed moth. The pastries at BreadTalk have a strange, hypnotic allure – well, apart from the heavily marketed claypot chicken which honestly looks quite terrifying. They sit under clear, glass boxes, well-lit and elegantly arranged – plump and tempting. There’s a bewildering array of pastrified goodness – ‘flosss’ buns, steam cakes, things I hadn’t really heard of before. And they all look rather delicious.

But I’ve visited BreadTalk not once, not twice, but thrice – and I’ve always come away disappointed. Take the pear danish: beautifully shaped to match the contours of the poached fruit, trimmed with flakey pastry around a light bed of custard…but the taste? Bland. The price? Rs. 150. Why go there so often if you don’t like it, you ask? Well, because I was genuinely determined to discover what all the fuss was about; the first time I blamed by dissatisfaction on my own poor skills of selection, but after a second and third visit it became apparent…BreadTalk just isn’t that good.

I know there’ll be differing views to this, accusations of bias and so on, but I maintain that this behemoth franchise is distinctly average – not to mention disproportionately placed in a buth kade dominated city. There’s just something not quite there, despite BreadTalk being quite physically everywhere. It’s franchise overkill. With enormous spaces on Lipton Circus and Park Street, you wonder why a random Singaporean pastry shop is given such prominence in a city where it’s the malu paans, petti kades and Fabs that abound. Taste wise, this upmarket take on the unassuming shorteat just isn’t better than or even equal to our local pastry kings Fab or Sponge – or even our roving kades on wheels. And it costs a whole lot more. I’ve received far greater happiness from a humble hunk of malu paan than I’ve ever received from a BreadTalk bun – including their golden nacho cheese (Rs. 160), which admittedly isn’t bad.

I don’t know. People clearly like BreadTalk judging by the sheer string of cars lacing their driveway, but it’s not our favourite place. For better value for money and taste, try Paan Paan.

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