Durian fever continues with the Singapore debut of Bangkok bakery Phoenix Lava, a brand famous for its molten core buns that ooze gooey fillings after a round in the steamer. Set up in a little store with limited seats at Raffles Xchange, the place that’s perpetually packed on weekdays, this new arrival has already attracted the attention of OLs and fans of everything lava.
During our weekday evening visit, the cheery, yellow-and-white space sported a sizeable queue of office workers waiting patiently to bring home the baked goods. But we’re pretty sure the line was a result of the buns being steamed as the orders came in, so if you’re in a hurry, you’d best swing by before rush hour or take ’em chilled to pop in the microwave or steamer at home.
On the menu, it’s a simple line-up of five lava buns — you won’t find some of the original Thai items here — with flavors like durian, ($3.80/one, $18/box of five), salted egg ($3.50/one), Japanese nama chocolate ($3.50/one), Uji matcha ($3.50/one), and sesame charcoal ($3.50/one). If you’d like to try them all, get the assorted box at $16 for one of each.
The brand also claims to use only natural coloring from flowers and plants (like beetroot for the chocolate bun’s reddish hue).
Naturally, durian is the most popular choice — they’re even shaped like durian seeds — and the filling is made with Monthong (Golden Pillow) durian flesh. However, we preferred the chocolate one for its bittersweet notes — the durian filling lacked the usual thick creaminess and pungent oomph we’ve come to associate with the fruit.
As for salted egg, well, suffice to say liu sha baos are so prevalent here that we’re spoilt for choice. And this version can’t quite compete with the dim sum specialists.
Oh, and those who prefer their lava buns thick and rich may be disappointed by Phoenix Lava. The molten core of these renditions lean towards the smooth, liquid end of the spectrum, with mild flavors and a chewy exterior that’s a tad too thick, making the ratio of filling to bun slightly disproportionate.
But hey, if oozing lava buns are your favorite snack, head over to Raffles Place MRT (avoid those peak hours!) to sample one yourself.
Phoenix Lava is at #B1-32/33 Raffles Xchange, 5 Raffles Place
6636-4368, Mon-Fri 10:30am-9pm
MRT: Raffles Place