Barely a year ago, there was a sudden hype over traditional sponge cakes (古早味蛋糕) in both Singapore & Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia, with several bakeries setting up new outlets in both locations. Each claimed to be the most traditional & original, like its origins from Taiwan, & long queues were seen outside these outlets then. The fad for traditional sponge cake seems to have died down because you hardly see any long queues at these outlets nowadays. Nonetheless, if you are craving for some springy eggy cake freshly made without using any preservatives, you can get some conveniently across the causeway. Why the hassle to buy in JB you may ask? For cost savings because of our strong SGD of course!
I have tried a total of 4 brands, all located in popular shopping malls frequented by Singaporeans. For a fair comparison, I’m only comparing against the original flavour for all 4 brands, & all were eaten only the next day after keeping in the fridge overnight. Read on to find out more about them, & most importantly, which tastes the best!
1. Original Cake 源味本鋪
Address: Lot MF-18, City Square Mall, Level 3, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Darul Ta’zim, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Open: 10:00 am – 10.00 pm daily
Founded in 2010 in Taiwan, Original Cake has expanded to Malaysia last year in Malaysia followed by Singapore. Barely a year since it started, there are already 11 outlets spanning across 4 states in Malaysia. I remember the JB City Square outlet was opened to much fanfare when it commenced operations in July 2017, with long queues forming in front of the outlet regardless of weekday or weekend. Above photo of outlet was taken sometime in Aug last year on a weekday, & it’s quite evident the crowds were gone less than 2 months since its opening. 😛
Although I heard a lot of raves about Original Cake, being the authentic bakery to start the traditional sponge cake business in Taiwan, I must say I wasn’t wowed by it at all. The cake was rather dry the next morning when we took it out from the fridge. Furthermore, it wasn’t as spongy as I had hoped for. 😦 Heard that the other two flavours – Cheese & Chocolate (20 MYR/ ~S$6.70) are nicer. See if you want to give those a try next time!
2. Le Castella 樂古早味蛋糕
Address: Lot LG-70, LG Level, KSL City Mall, 80250 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Open: 10:00 am – 10.00 pm daily
Officially opened on 1 October 2017 at KSL CIty Mall, Le Castella attracted a long queue on its opening day because of its 1 MYR cake promotion then. Fast forward to late November when I visited the outlet, & there were only a handful of customers waiting in line for the shop tucked in a corner with Tesco hypermarket just opposite.
Just like Original Cake, I thought Le Castella was overhyped too. Besides, it is pricier compared to the other brands (though only 1 MYR more). Cake was neither moist nor bouncy, & seemed quite lumpy. Perhaps its edge over Original Cake is the proprietary chop “樂” on its cake… Duh… 😅
3. Ah Mah Traditional Homemade Egg Sponge Cake 阿嬷老字號
Address: 1st Floor No. 102, KSL City Mall, 80250 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Open: 10:00 am – 10.00 pm daily
Unlike the other traditional sponge cake outlets in Malaysia, Ah Mah Traditional Homemade Egg Sponge Cake is a local Malaysian brand selling the famous preservative-free sponge cake. To date, there are already 40 outlets in Malaysia since its opening of the first shop on 22 April 2017, of which 6 are located in JB. Its first JB outlet opened at JB City Square [inside 棟源 Tong Guan Kopitiam – Lot MF-22 (Inner City), Level 3] last May & the KSL outlet was opened shortly after. The photo above is of the KSL City Mall outlet, sitting in a corner on level 1 just next to VegeMore Cafe.
Ah Mah Traditional Homemade Egg Sponge Cake is my favourite amongst all the brands. Despite being kept overnight in a fridge, the sponge cake remained soft & springy. In fact, as with all other sponge cakes I tried, we didn’t finish them immediately after 1 night as they were all quite big for a family of 3. But Ah Mah’s was the only one that remained soft & fluffy throughout the 2 days, & the aromatic eggy taste was definitely there too. Of course, it helps that this homegrown brand is also slightly cheaper than the other “imported” brands. 😉 I also had a taste of its limited edition Chicken Floss Egg Sponge Cake when my sis bought it that time. Also a 👍！I’ll be more willing to try its other flavours such as Chocolate (18 MYR/ ~S$6) since Ah Mah’s tastes better than the others for the original flavour. 🙂
4. Harmony Bakery 温馨古早味
Address: G-44 Ground Floor, KSL City Mall, 80250 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Open: 10:00 am – 9.45 pm daily
Harmony Bakery is a collaboration between Singapore artiste, Ann Kok （郭淑贤）& her friends in Malaysia, which opened its first outlet in September 2017 at KSL City Mall. Thomas Ong （王沺裁）, was also roped in to be 1 of the brand ambassadors at the outlet’s grand opening then. The outlet is quite easy to find, located just next to the linkway to KSL Hotel on the ground floor.
While Harmony’s original flavour cake wasn’t as dry or crumbly as Original Cake or Le Castella, it was also not as soft & fluffy as Ah Mah’s. Strangely, it tasted better when it was eaten chilled, i.e. right out from the fridge without leaving it outside for a while at room temperature before eating.
Ah Mah Traditional Homemade Egg Sponge Cake 阿嬷老字號 is certainly my favourite amongst them all. Ironically, the 2 famous Taiwanese brands are to the least of my liking. I can’t really tell which is the worse of the 2 though. 😅 Not sure is it because the JB outlets can’t produce traditional sponge cakes as good as their Taiwanese original outlets which are highly raved about by others, as I haven’t tried any in Taiwan before. Harmony Bakery 温馨古早味 was OK but not fantastic.
If you venture further to the food haven of Taman Mount Austin, you would also be able to find Hoki Cake Bakery (福氣本鋪), an established cake shop that claims to be from Taiwan’s Tamsui (淡水老街). I wrote about the bakery last May in my cafe-hop post in Taman Mount Austin then, in the last section of the post. Personally, while Hoki’s original flavour cake was quite nice, I think I would still rank Ah Mah’s as number 1. 🙂
Share your thoughts with me about these bakeries if you have tried them before, particularly if you have tried the other flavours. If you haven’t, try some if you happen to be in JB soon. 😉