Le Castella, the Taiwanese brand best known for its light-as-air Japanese-style sponge cakes, has arrived on our shores.
Their castella cakes are similar to Japanese sponge cakes, and are famous for being light, fluffy, and wobbly. They do not contain any preservatives.
When they first expanded overseas and opened an outlet in Seoul, they attracted hours-long queues. The situation here is pretty much the same at the moment — people queue up just to place their orders (Le Castella Singapore does not accept phone or online orders at the moment) and return hours later to collect their cakes. The queue alone to place your order can take anywhere from one hour to five hours.
We could smell the distinct eggy fragrance of the cakes throughout the time we were queuing — something that made the wait that much more agonising.
All cakes at Le Castella are freshly made on order, and come piping hot from the oven. And 58 eggs reportedly go into each batch of cakes, which are cut into 10 large pieces, with each individual slab measuring approximately 23cm by 13cm — the staff at Le Castella actually use rulers to help them divide each batch of cakes evenly.
The cakes are also made using halal-certified ingredients, and co-founder Ahmad Adam, 25, says that they are working on attaining their halal certification.
The outlet here currently offers two flavours — Original ($9.90) and Cheese ($11.90) — with a third one, Chocolate, to be launched soon. According to Adam, they also have plans to launch exclusive, limited-time local-inspired flavours.
That said, their bestseller is the cheese castella cake.
Now, the important question: do the cakes live up the hype?
The cakes — we tried both the original and cheese — were indeed light, pillowy, and fluffy, especially when hot off the oven, but they sink quickly and lose a lot of puffiness and wobbliness when they cool down. We enjoyed the original, which reminds us very much of ‘ji dan gao’ with its delicate eggy flavour. However, the cheese castella disappointed, since the flavour of the cheese was way too subtle.
These cakes should preferably be eaten warm, but there are no seats at Le Castella and the cakes’ size makes it difficult for on-the-spot consumption.
We think prices are justified, though, especially for the original castella. At a mere $9.90, the slab of cake can be shared between six to eight people. So no complains there.
Regardless, don’t expect queue times — up to five hours — to abate any time soon, especially right now when it’s all the rage.