It all started out with a piece of cake. After baking and cooking for family and friends for over 10 years, baker and theatre actor Juwanda Hassim opened his own cafe called The Fabulous Baker Boy selling his signature cakes alongside fried chicken and waffles. His first cafe opened in Fort Canning but had to cease operations when circuit breaker measures kicked in April, coinciding with the end of the lease.
Well, The Fabulous Baker Boy has finally re-opened and it’s located right at the heart of the lively, cultural and arts-focused neighbourhood of Kampong Glam. Nestled at The Aliwal Arts Centre, the cafe has expanded to become a multi-concept, full-service bakery, patisserie, cafe and restaurant serving its famous signature cakes, all-day breakfast as well as healthy, soul food with a twist.
What twists? Well, the updated menu has been inspired by Juwanda’s friends, old family recipes and his travels over the years with a hint of fabulosity that is unique to the cafe-owner.
Staying true to the namesake of the cafe, The Fabulous Baker Boy serves up hot and fresh baked goods, patisserie and cakes that have been perfected with love and care in the women-empowered kitchen with Juwanda’s older sister Hanita Hassim as the sous chef. The diverse kitchen staff includes ex-restaurant female chefs, fresh female graduates out of Shatec, and women who have been financially slighted due to the pandemic.
Coming out hot of the brand new ovens are the Sourdough toasts baked daily,from handmade in-house yeast made daily by Juwanda almost ten years ago. By using the same recipes and methods today, the sourdough toasts are one of the softest you can find in Singapore, with the fluffy and airy sourdough centre surrounded by a surprisingly soft thin crust.
The Sourdough toast set (S$4) comes with the choice of either a berry jam compote, butter or marmalade spread. The sweet marmalade and berry compote are also made in house, and pack a punch even when lightly spread across the toast. Fans of all things sweet will enjoy the berry compote, and those who love something unique and different will find it in the marmalade.
Head into any new cafe and the safest thing you could probably try is French toast. No one can mess up toast and berries, but Juwanda takes it to the next level. Aptly called ‘Heart Attack’ (S$16), this french toast is double fried, served with cream on the side and paired with a generous amount of mixed berries or bananas – take your pick. The double fry method keeps the toast soft and fluffy, and gives the toast a donut-like texture that is different from most french toasts. For those weary of sugar, note that Heart Attack coms decorated with an overwhelming amount of sugar on the side, so if you’re conscious of your health, you might want to steer clear… or at least steal a bite from your friend. But apart from the heightened sugar level, Heart Attack is a pretty dish that’s perfect for your next Instagram post and its donut-like texture will have you changing your perception of French toast being an easy, safe dish.
If you’re craving for all-day breakfast, The Fabulous Baker Boy serves up a hearty Western Fab Fry Up breakfast. Consisting of smokey beef sausages, confit mushrooms, home style roast potatoes, grilled tomatoes, eggs the way you want it and two slices of sourdough toasts, the Fab Fry Up isn’t cheap – S$28.50 – but it is bound to fill you up for the next meals. Now that’s what we call an all-day breakfast.
Of course, the one dish that fans have been missing is The Fabulous Baker Boy Fried Chicken And Waffles (S$24), a well known Southern American dish that might sound strange to those not familiar with the fan favourite dish that mixes well, fried chicken a waffle, a typical breakfast or dessert staple. For starters, topping off the crispy waffles are succulent chicken pieces in a delicious garlic marinade and are deep-fried to golden perfection. With soul food being quite a rarity in Singapore, fried chicken and waffles are truly a special treat for those who come and visit. The Fabulous Baker Boy uses only fresh chicken, and it shows in the quality of the chicken when you dig in. The chicken is soft, tender and sweet on its own, and when you pair that with their signature waffles and drizzle syrup all over, it’s truly an explosion of all things sweet and savoury. While delicious with every bite, our only wish is that the skin of the fried chicken was crispier, to give the dish a little bit more texture.
Keeping to the category of meats, The Fabulous Baker Boy serves up Duck Confit (S$24) that is delicious to the bone. Duck isn’t easy to cook, and The Fabulous Baker Boy does it just right. Cooked for almost 4 hours, the meat of the duck is tender and easily slides off its bones into a light secret gravy.
If birds aren’t your favourite types of meat, then give the BBQ Beef Ribs a try. For S$30, feast on dry brined, slow roasted grass-fed beef finished with a smokey, sweet and tangy BBQ sauce served with fries, onion rings and apple slaw. The ribs are cooked overnight, for over 12 hours, so we cannot emphasise how soft and tender The Fabulous Fat Baker’s Beef Ribs are. Again, they like to remind us that they’re more than just baked goods, because they can do their meats well too. The soft and moist BBQ Beef Ribs together with the crispy potato fries, onion rings and crunchy apple slaw marries the best of both textures and tastes of sweet and smokey. As a little sidenote, the BBQ Beef Ribs taste more sweet than smokey and the sauce is pretty heavy. This is a dish that can make you feel queasy very easily if you gobble it all down. Take your time with the ribs and enjoy it bit by bit.
Pasta lovers may not have much of a choice here at The Fabulous Baker Boy – mainly because it’s not a very popular dish associated with soul food where meats, potatoes and dark leafy greens reign supreme. However, like what Juwanda said on the cafe’s official website, he cooks things that he loves to eat and more often than not they’re inspired by his travels, old secret recipes and people that inspire him. And so, Ju’s Prawn Pasta was born. Inspired by a friend of his, Ju’s Prawn Pasta (S$24.50) sees tiger prawns cooked in a secret crustacean cream (we’ll give you a hint, it includes prawn heads and more) together with spaghetti, topped off with chilli flakes, garlic and grated parmesan. The spaghetti soaks up all the good cream so this is a thick, flavourful pasta dish with buttery-like textures that will send cream lovers straight to heaven.
Last, and definitely not the least, are the cakes and really, a good reason to visit if soul food isn’t your thing. With over 20 cakes available, including a banana chocolate sponge cake filled with a Swiss meringue peanut butter cream and covered with chocolate ganache (otherwise known as the Nutty Monkey) and classic local cake – carrot cake – with a few twists by adding coconut, cranberries and vanilla, sour cream and cream cheese frosting fittingly called ‘Big Lub’s Carrot Cake’. While The Fabulous Baker Boy is the perfect place for cakes and coffee when catching up with old friends or for an escape from the bustling activities down Arab Street, the cakes are named after celebrity divas and divos like Beyonce (lemon and yogurt sponge cake), Barack Obama (coconut cream cake filled with cream cheese buttercream and pineapple jam) and even Singapore’s very own Hossan Leong (a 10 layer butter torte, filled with hazelnut praline covered, covered in chocolate ganache and sea salt chocolate crumbs on top), the flavours are just as quirky as they sound.
If there’s one thing you must get when you step foot into The Fabulous Baker Boy, it’s 100% the FAB Red Velvet cake. Going for S$10 a slice, The Fabulous Baker Boy’s red velvet cake is rich and puts other red velvet cakes to shame. A true classic from the 1950s, this cake is delicate yet so full of flavour, with thick layers of cream cheese between each layer of red chocolate cake. The extra hint of fabulosity in the FAB Red Velvet Cake is the extra layer of Chocolate Ganache that coats around each slice. Using only Valrhona cacao – the kind of chocolate powder ideal for making truffles, mousses and hot chocolate – the FAB Red Velvet Cake is luxurious and is THE perfect marriage of chocolate and cream cheese that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
From fresh baked goods, delicious all-day breakfast, meats that melt in your mouth and cakes made to perfection, The Fabulous Baker Boy’s reopening is something cafe-hoppers should rejoice for. The pink and white retro-styled and artistic interior of the cafe makes it a welcoming and relaxing place for friends and family to catch up and hang out on slow weekdays or relaxing weekends. The cafe currently seats 70 people and whilst walk-ins are available, reservations are recommended. Be sure to come in early if you’d like to try out popular dishes like the Duck Confit and BBQ Beef Ribs as they tend to sell out completely as early as noon sometimes.
Centering women empowerment and community building, the cafe also takes online food and cake orders where friends and people who are out of work due to COVID-19 can make ends meet via delivery fees. In time to come, the cafe has plans to grow its own plants outside their cafe and host educational programs on how to grow their own produce. Cooking classes for children will also be available some time in the future for little ones who love learning and getting messy in the kitchen without mummy or daddy having to clean up after them.
The Fabulous Baker Boy is located at the Aliwal Arts Centre, 28 Aliwal St, #01-01, Singapore 199918 and is open 930am to 630pm on Tuesdays to Sundays.