Food News, Lifestyle

Food Review: Swensen’s Fusion Dishes – Deborah Tan

A great number of people turn their nose up whenever the words “fusion” and “food” are put together. Unlike founder Denise who views all fusion dishes with suspicion, I am quite forgiving. If done sparingly, some dishes do lend themselves quite well to “fusion-ing”. Laksa pesto pasta is one such dish. Another fusion dish that I like is the rice burgers at Mos Burgers. There is nothing sacrilegious about combining the foods from two (or more!) cultures into one dish. In fact, the region of Southeast Asia is swimming with fusion food. Take the Vietnamese bahn mi for example, definitely French-inspired. Singapore’s very own kaya toast is most certainly a fusion food as well.

You probably have a instinctive feel about whether a fusion-dish works or not, so this isn’t a piece about whether you should or should not eat fusion stuff. I like to put chilli padi into my spaghetti bolognaise. Who am I to judge?

If you are as forgiving as I am, culinarily speaking, from now till 31 October, 2013, you can pop down to Swensen’s to try its version of “fusion” food. I went for the food tasting a couple of weeks ago and here are some of my favourites:

1. Spiced Maple Waffle Chicken, $14.90

Spiced Maple Chicken Waffle

What is it?
Four beautifully fried pieces of chicken stacked over a Belgian waffle.

Where’s the fusion bit?
The maple syrup. It’s chilli-padi infused maple syrup so it’s sweet with a bit of kick!

I can definitely wipe out the entire dish by myself. The chicken was fried just right, retaining its juiciness. There is only one small piece of waffle but, you know what, it’s just nice cos the meat will fill you up. Served with a side of butter cream and mixed greens, this dish is a must-try for fried-chicken lovers.


2. Crispy Cereal King Prawns, $19.90

Crispy Cereal King Prawns

What is it?
Four (if I recall correctly) huge king prawns coated with a special batter made from cereal, bread crumbs and spices.

Where’s the fusion bit?
It’s a lot like the cereal prawns you can find at cze-char stalls at kopitiams except that this batter isn’t as thick and as oily as the hawker’s version. They come with a side of steak-cut fries and mixed greens.

Firm, fresh and definitely full of bite! If you asked me which one I prefer, I’d be hard-pressed to make a choice. I love that the cereal coating isn’t oily at all. This dish is very addictive if you love your seafood. I feel my mouth watering just thinking about biting into one of these big fat juicy prawns.

And once you’re done with your main course, it’s time to tuck into Swensen’s yummy sundaes. For this period, you get to enjoy a $1 off your sundaes if you go with the recommended main-dessert pairings. But you know what? It’s dessert so I say you go with what you want. Life’s too short to be stuck with ice cream you don’t like. So … I highly recommend these two creamy treats with a strong hint of local in them.

Salted Gula MelakaˇHeaven1. Salted Gula Melaka Heaven, $9.90 (left)
It’s like salted caramel, Southeast Asian style! The fragrant aroma of gula melaka is immediately detectable the moment you scoop up a spoonful of this yummy salted gula melake ice cream. Decorated with chocolate balls, diced almonds and chocolate bits, this dessert is guaranteed to make your problems go away – at least temporarily. You’ll feel happy just eating it.

chendol delight2. Chendol Delight, $9.90 (right)
If you thought the sundae above sounded magical, this one here is simply orgasmic. It’s chendol ice cream drowned in gula melaka … TWICE THE STUFF I LOVE! Except if I were to order this again, I would ask for no red beans. This sundae comes with attap seeds and chendol jelly … it’s like eating frozen chendol without the shaved ice. Yums!

These offerings will be available at all Swensen’s restaurants from now till 31 October, 2013. To find a Swensen’s near you, click here.

Material World was invited to a food tasting session and all opinions are the author’s own.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits and loves anything with gula melaka … ANYTHING. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.


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Food News, Lifestyle

Magnum P.I – Which Magnum Tastes The Best? – Deborah Tan

They are everywhere.

Every day, as I drive home, Magnum teases me with its ads of its two new ice cream flavours, Pink Marc De Champagne and Black Espresso. For an ice cream that isn’t gourmet or “designer”, Magnum does a pretty good job selling them at a price higher than the average cone. Its use of supposedly premium ingredients and large portion seem to justify the price tag. Magnum is really what people call, “Affordable luxury”. You can eat it every day and you won’t burn a hole in your pocket … though you might have to change your jeans to a bigger size after a while.

But which Magnum tastes the best? Out of curiosity, we at Material World decided to conduct a taste test of all the Magnum flavours we can find at the supermarket. Our selection included the two newest flavours along with (1) Magnum Classic, (2) Magnum Almond, and the strangely titled (3) Magnum Gold?! (yes, the punctuation marks are part of the name). Each ice cream bar was rated according to three criteria: shell, ice cream, and both eaten together.


Material World plays Magnum P.I

Magnum Black emerged the winner of this taste test, garnering two votes as the Favourite out of four. Magnum Gold was the grand loser of this test, garnering two votes as the Least Favourite Flavour.

Below the comments by each of the tasters:

Magnum Classic
Smooth vanilla bean ice cream covered in thick Belgian chocolate shell

Magnum Classic

Voted “Favourite” by Lili

Denise: “The shell tastes intensely chocolatey! But I like the vanilla ice cream best – tastes smooth and ‘premium’.”

Lili: “The contrast between the shell and the ice cream makes this a really nice dessert. Not too overwhelming. Just right.”

Vanessa: “The shell is too sweet and the ice cream tastes slightly bitter. I find this very flat and unexciting.”

Deborah: “Too plain and simple an ice cream to waste calories on.”

Magnum Gold?!
Smooth vanilla bean ice cream with sea salt caramel swirls and a Belgian chocolate shell coloured gold. Okay, can someone from Magnum please explain what’s with the “?!”

Voted "Favourite" by Vanessa Voted "Least Favourite" by Lili and Deborah

Voted “Favourite” by Vanessa
Voted “Least Favourite” by Lili and Deborah

Denise: “This is my second favourite. I think the caramel taste comes out strongly – a good thing for me. Shell and ice cream complement each other very well!”

Lili: “Too sweet!”

Vanessa: “The sweetness is just right and I like that the caramel isn’t too overpowering. It’s subtle and nice.”

Deborah: “Too cloying! Everything just tastes like burnt sugar inside my mouth. The ‘sea salt’ bit of the ‘sea salt caramel’ is totally missing from this.”

Magnum Pink Marc De Champagne
An extremely pink ice cream bar (gender marketing, anyone?) with swirls of Marc de Champagne inside ice cream of the same flavour. Marc de Champagne is not Champagne. It’s the solid remains of grapes after the juice is pressed from the fruit. These remains are also used to produce pomace brandy

Voted "Least Favourite" by Denise

Voted “Least Favourite” by Denise

Denise: “Taste artificial, like fake strawberries.”

Lili: “Refreshing on the palate because of the berry flavour. The alcohol taste is barely discernible.”

Vanessa: “I guess because of its alcoholic nature, it’d be great for dinner parties with adults …” [Note: The three of us gave her a “Whaaaaa…” look]

Deborah: “It’s just too pink for me. You do get that whole alcohol bubbling into your nose feeling but it hardly tastes like Champagne, or any fine beverages. It could be beer for all I know.”

Magnum Almond
Like the Classic, except this one has crunchy almond bits embedded into the shell


Denise: “I don’t like nuts.”

Lili: “I don’t like nuts with my ice cream, makes it too tiring to eat.”

Vanessa: “This is my second favourite! Love the almonds! It’s like having toppings with your ice cream.”

Deborah: “The contrast in textures is a big plus for me. I love mixing crunchy and creamy together. My second favourite.”

Magnum Black Espresso
Swirls of espresso coffee in smooth vanilla bean ice cream covered in a dark chocolate shell

Voted "Favourite" by Denise and Deborah Voted "Least Favourite" by Vanessa

Voted “Favourite” by Denise and Deborah
Voted “Least Favourite” by Vanessa

Denise: “The shell is intensely flavoured and the coffee flavour comes out powerfully. I’m not usually a fan of coffee ice cream but this one works.”

Lili: “This is my second favourite. I like the shell and the swirls of espresso in the ice cream.”

Vanessa: “The ice cream is too sweet. Overall, too many strong flavours fighting each other. You don’t know which one to focus on.”

Deborah: “This is love at first bite! Great way to eat my coffee and get my caffeine fix. Could be psychological but I do feel more alert immediately after eating this!”

The Magnum ice creams featured were paid for by Material World and this taste test was conducted at no one’s request. All opinions are our own. Magnum ice creams are available at supermarkets and 7-Elevens islandwide.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and hopes to see more flavours of Magnum hitting Singapore soon. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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