April 10, 2013

Dolce Tokyo ~ A Sweet Japanese-Italian Cafe @ 313 Somerset

What's in a name? 'Dolce' means 'sweet' in Italian and the name of Dolce Tokyo seems to be whispering promises of sweet Japanese desserts in my ears. True enough, this latest cafe to set its heart at 313 Somerset, serves that and much more!

Wow! With a wide variety of desserts from Japanese's Zenzai (red bean dessert), Mitsu Mame (jelly cubes), Kaikigori (shaved ice) and Sundaes to Italian-influenced Panna Cotta, Creme Brulee and Chocolate Brownie, dessert lovers are spoilt for choices! As I approached the Japanese-Italian cafe which is situated at the open unit next to Uniqlo, the window display of droolicious looking desserts certainly grabbed my attention.

But Dolce Tokyo is more than just a dessert place. A flip through the menu revealed its extensive offerings of mains courses, all looking set to capture my tummy first, before capturing my sweet tooth. I'm amazed that the seemingly small kitchen is able to cope with such an ambitious menu!

For starters, Mixed Crostini ($18) is a good choice to sample a variety of tastes. The platter of multi-grain bread is freshly baked daily and grilled to a golden crunch before given toppings of Dolce Tokyo's signature tomato concasse, chilled shrimps, salmon roe, tamagoyaki egg, smoked salmon, unagi and smoked skipjack tuna. Sharing these with your dining partner might be a good idea too, and I imagine a playful game of Jankenpon before that. If I win, I get to first choose the crostini I want lol :p

The wide selection of All Day Breakfast items at Dolce Tokyo featuring sweet and savoury pancakes, hearty English breakfast sets and even Japanese style sets with onsen egg, seems almost a guarantee to have something to perk you up at any time of the day. Just by looking at the beautifully presented Smoked Salmon Ben ($20) on toasted bread will open up the sleepiest of appetite, and the pairing with poached eggs, cheese and Hollandaise sauce brought forth a nice combination of flavours. A tinge of disappointment though, as the overdone poached egg failed to reveal any runny egg yolk during my visit. The side salad is a refreshing accompaniment, with a choice of creamy wasabi or balsamic vinaigrette for dressings.

Making its debut as the first Japanese main course of the evening was the colourful Hiyashi Chuka ($17) . The somen is served chilled together with tamagoyaki egg, sliced cucumber, carrot, ginger, takuan, wolfberries and Gammon ham. A cold sauce of shoyu and mirin is then poured over, creating a very refreshing dish to combat the recent hot weather. Light on the palate and easy on the tummy, I feel so healthy eating this dish!

Somen so reminds me of summer times in Japan, especially when it's served cold. An interesting version would be the nagashi somen, where thin wheat flour noodles flows in the icy waters within a long flume of bamboo. Diners will pick up the somen with their chopsticks as it passes, before dipping it in a lightly flavoured sauce and finished it in one slurp. So fun right? But we had much fun with our somen too! Instead of just simply mixing all the ingredient together, we tossed it the lo hei way! Huat ah!

If you prefer warm dishes, this sizzling Unagi Egg Toji ($17) will certainly satisfy you. Pieces of eel are simmered in tasty broth with egg, sliced shiitake mushrooms, wolfberries and cherry tomatoes. Do order an additional Fried Rice and Miso Soup set ($5.50) to make it a complete meal.

Unagi don is one of my favourite Japanese food and Dolce Tokyo turns it a notch higher with their Unagi Fried Rice Set ($17). The eel is well coated in a delish sauce and served over a bed of fried rice, instead of the usual white rice. The hotstone bowl not only keeps the rice warm, but created crispy burnt rice at the bottom as well. Simply enjoyable!

The Omu Curry Rice Set ($17) looked tempting with the cheerful yellow omelette laying in its pool of curry gravy. Japanese curry leans toward a subtle and sweeter taste, so please do not expect any heavily spiced version. The curry tasted pretty decent, what I like is the carrots, potatoes and onions that were stewed in it. It goes very nicely with the soft, fluffy egg and rice, spelling comfort food in every mouthful.

Both the Unagi Fried Rice Set and Omu Curry Rice Set includes a choice of Grilled Garlic Shrimp, Teriyaki Pork Belly or Pork Chorizo Skewer and 3 Side Accompaniments which changes daily, definitely hearty enough to fill any hungry souls out there.

My recommendation for the choice of skewer? Go for the Teriyaki Pork Belly! Tenderly braised and then grilled to a smoky aroma, the chunks of meat were very well-marinated and juicy with fats that melt in the mouth.

If you come to Dolce Tokyo, you cannot leave without ordering their cakes! All the cakes are served in these quaint bird cages specially imported from Japan which are indeed a novelty in presentation and will probably send some girls into photo taking mode. You're spared of my self-shots only because my camwhoring friends are not with me lol.

But what makes the cakes a must order is their taste and texture. Using only premium ingredients, the cakes are made fresh everyday. I particularly love the Macha Black Sesame Cake ($11.50). Black sesame paste is sandwiched between layers of green tea sponge cake which is absolutely light and fluffy in texture, but supremely rich in flavours without being too sweet. The macha goma crumble crowns the cake as the definite winner.

A selection of Chocolate Fudge Cake ($13.50), Macha Black Sesame Cake ($11.50), Yuzu Cake ($11.50) and Carrot Cake with Macha Infused Cream Cheese ($12.50) is currently available. Prices are rather steep for a slice, but what we're paying for is the high quality. If you order any all-day breakfast, ala-carte or set meal, there is an option to top up the cake at only $8.90. It is an option I would surely take advantage of.

For a sweeter treat, go for the Kakigori ($8 - $11). Vanilla Soft Serve is doused with sauce on crushed ice and comes with Konnyakyu Jelly, Kanten Jelly, White Fungus and Wolfberries. Sauce flavours range from Yuzu, Macha, Mango, to Strawberry, Chocolate and Kuromitsu for you to choose from.

When the best of both worlds ain't enough, go for the best of many many worlds! The Dessert Bento ($19.90) may look a bit messy on the presentation, but it is certainly great for a tasting portion of the Panna Cotta with Mixed Berries, Shiratama with Azuki and Kanten Jelly, Abekawa with Green Tea Gelato, Gyuuhi and Cake of the day, all in one box.

What I like about Dolce Tokyo is the contemporary and casual vibes it exudes. It's a cafe where I would feel totally comfortable dining alone, spend some relaxing time with friends or rest my feet after hours of shopping, while pampering myself with delectable treats and a cup of macha latte. The cakes alone is reason enough for a return visit soon :)

Thanks to Daniel Ang for the delicious invitation.

Dolce Tokyo
Address: 313 Somerset, 313 Orchard Road #03-23, Singapore 238895
Contact: +65 68365612
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DolceTokyoSG
Opening Hours: Sun - Thu 11.30am - 10.30pm / Fri - Sat, Eve PH 11.30am - 11pm

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