Manna from Heaven or Just Rojak?
The HYPE team taste tests a spread of local flavours paired with unlikely partners to commemorate the nation’s 55th birthday.
The inviting storefront of Butterknife Folk has its ceiling decorated with Singapore flags to signify the local spirit. Story and photos by the HYPE Team
November 24, 2020
You’re craving rojak, but the stalls selling it are closed. You want some pineapple tarts, but it’s nowhere near Chinese New Year. The last time you had White Rabbit candy was when you were 10. Imagine having all these local delicacies in the form of ice cream…
Introducing Butterknife Folk, an artisan gelato shop that aims to redefine what ice cream tastes like. From unconventional recreations of hawker delicacies like rojak (local fruit and vegetable salad), to seasonal delights like muah chee, the mad scientists at Butterknife Folk find all these best tasted frozen in a cone or cup, melting luxuriously in your mouth. And after tasting eight of their creations, frankly, we’ve got to agree with them.
Kopi Gao: Mellow – But Still Packs A Punch
Who says kopi gaohas to be hot, when you can have the mocha-brown appearance and smooth texture of the Kopi Gao ice cream looking just like the kopi tiamstaple.
Differentiated by taste, kopi gao is bitter from sip to swallow, whereas the ice cream starts with a bitter kick before subduing into a sweet aftertaste. Unlike mainstream chocolate ice cream, it doesn’t over-sweeten the blend to tame its bitterness; a perfect balance for even non-coffee drinkers to appreciate!
Eat it in a cup, just like how you would a cup of kopi gao. You can even drink it once it’s melted. Compared to coffee ice cream renditions, Kopi Gao ice cream trumps the lot, coming in second only to the original piping hot cup of kopi gao.
Kaya Toast: Where Hot Meets Cold In Delectable Fashion
The occasional buttered toast popping up from its brown coating entices you to discover what lies beneath this otherwise unassuming ice cream.
The taste of kaya is unmistakably present, leaving a hint of coconut in its place. You’ll discover small chunks of buttered toast within your first few bites, adding a savoury splash into the ice cream’s overwhelming sweetness. It floods your taste buds for a fleeting moment before the kaya takes over, just like the actual kaya toast! Eat it in a cone to simulate the crunchiness of toasted bread.
The piping hot prospect of a freshly toasted plate of kaya toast is irreplaceable. But the ice cream variant is definitely more than adequate to satisfy our late-night craving for this traditional local breakfast fave.
Rojak: An Eclectic Mix Of Flavours
The signature rojak sauce and the sizable you char kway chunks may seem intimidating, but rest assured a brilliant sensory experience awaits.
Colloquially-dubbed “eclectic mix”, Rojak is a bizarre flavour. The arresting nature of the you char kway (Chinese breadstick)drizzled with peanuts and rojak sauce is remarkably similar to its hawker centre origin.
The rojak sauce comprises sugar and lime, adding zest and sweetness to the fruity green apple flavour with hints of cucumber. Red specks of chilli adorn the texture, providing a spicy tinge; a surprising addition to the Rojak’s multi-dimensional flavour.
Take note, this jam-packed flavour is distinct and strong so it may get slightly jelak (overwhelming or nauseating) after a while, hence sharing it may be your best bet.
White Rabbit Candy: Milky Way To A Creamy Soft Serve
If you’re looking for something that will never go wrong, the White Rabbit Candy ice cream is the flavour for you! In terms of appearance, it closely resembles vanilla-flavoured ice cream. Creamy, rich and smooth, it strikes the perfect balance between milky and sweet, though easily mistaken for Hokkaido milk rather than the authentic White Rabbit Candy.
Pair this flavour with a cone and you’ll get a delicious mix of crunchiness and creaminess. While falling short of replicating White Rabbit Candy’s unique taste, it does taste good as an ice cream flavour, so no complaints here!
Huat Ah! – Chinese New Year Arrived Early
Looks may deceive you, and from afar this banana-like yellow ice cream looks like a typical mango flavour with bits of mango thrown in. What gives it away is the occasional appearance of pineapple fibres.
A sweet zing of pineapple races through our taste buds the moment we take our first spoonful. Digging through the pineapple tart ice cream was a journey on its own.
One bite we’d discover the chunks of pastry resembling the flour-base of the tart, and the next nibble surprises us with pineapple fibres which really emphasised the pineapple aftertaste. We’d suggest a cup for this one to make it CNY all year round.
Muah Chee: Cup Of Gooey Goodness
Dusted with crunchy peanut crumbs, the Muah Chee ice cream is a treasure trove of glutinous rice bits nestled in a velvety ice cream scoop.
At first bite, it is sweet and mellow, accentuated with the nutty fragrance of peanuts. As you dig deeper, you’ll unearth generous bits of muah chee that are not too sticky but enough to capture its delicate flavour. Try for yourself the refreshing contrast in its texture, as the smooth ice cream segue into chewy glutinous rice!
This local rendition of mochi ice cream is best enjoyed in a cup, just like how it’s done at a good old pasar malam (night market). Though it may become jelak after a bit, we’re all here for this splendid flavour pairing!
Orh Nee: The Modern Adaptation Of A Traditional Dessert
As much as we love the ice cream cone, the thick and rather heavy yam taste that is the centrepiece of the Orh Nee flavour makes it best enjoyed in a cup.
The ice cream iteration of this taro dessert ain’t too shabby at all! Embedded in the scoop are swirls of traditional orh nee (yam paste) and chunks of candied gingko nuts, a regular accompaniment in the original.
The flavour boasts an authentic orh nee taste reminiscent of the same thick, pasty dessert you would find at Ah Chew Desserts or a Chinese Teochew restaurant. The gingko nuts add a chewy mouthfeel, so yam aficionados will have a great time devouring this. Opt for the sampling set if you aren’t a yam fan.
Tiger Orchid Brew: Chilled Ale In All Its Glory
If you’re a beer lover and fancy a refreshing dessert in the afternoon, try the Tiger Orchid Brew ice cream. As with beer, the first scoop is refreshing, albeit an acquired taste.
While it is innovative to incorporate the beer brew with the subtle floral note of Singapore’s national flower, because of how jelak it tastes towards the end, a cone may be too overwhelming so we recommend opting for a cup instead. Be sure to eat it quickly as once melted, it bears an uncanny resemblance to oil that has been drained from fried chicken; not exactly appealing.
Be it in a cup or cone, all of their ice cream flavours are $5 a scoop, $9 for a double. Or if you want it fancy and eat your ice cream in a waffle bowl, it’s an added $1.20.
Butterknife Folk has a wide array of other flavours including Chilli Crab, Tau Huay Zui (soybean milk) and even Chicken Rice, so be sure to check their Instagram story (@butterknifefolk) to see their daily pickings before heading down.
muah chee sounds yummyyyy