Bryan Koh is a food bon vivant, epic traveller and an all-out mellifluous storyteller. A year after releasing two cookbooks, the 34-year-old author and cake boss of Chalk Farm fame has decided to launch his “other cake company”. Named Milk Moons, Koh’s new venture is whimsical as it is bold.
Milk Moons’ press release waxes lyrical, declaring Milk Moons are real. It is the name of a full moon in the month of May, bringing with it the meaning of renewal and abundance. “The name itself can evoke other things: mystery, purity, magic. For these reasons, it captured the spirit in which siblings Bryan and Dawn Koh (co-founders of Chalk Farm and graduates from Le Cordon Bleu and Cornell University) conceptualised their new cake shop. That the venture’s first seeds were sown in May is a happy coincidence,” says the company’s profile.
This happy coincidence has indeed birthed a cake and pastry collection like no other. To be bought at Takashimaya’s Food Hall from 17 November 2017 onward, “there are the chocolates and caramels that cradle, the kueh of Southeast Asia that comfort, and contemporary cakes with Asian fruits, spices and herbs, inspired by Bryan Koh’s writing expeditions around the region, that hope to enchant.”
We spoke to the excitable Bryan Koh himself to find out more about his new “luscious and playful yet sharp and chic” cake shop.
Tell us more about this new venture.
Milk Moons is a cake shop and I can’t seem to run away from that. But Milk Moons’ offerings are a bit more Asian, in terms of texture, tastes and ingredients used, which is quite exciting. There will be some kueh and of course, cakes with very Asian flavours. We hope to provide something with heart and soul, which people would be able to look at and try, and concur that a lot of deliberation went into the creations.
Which are your bestsellers so far?
Of course that would be our kueh salat [a two-tiered Nyonya delicacy]. Our durian salat and our kueh ko swee are always on offer too. For the cakes, we’ve got a few interesting pieces. We’ve got the chocolate cake — a very good solid, comforting cake. We’ve also got a lemon cake with lavender and olive oil, which is extremely good. There’s also a lovely pandan cake with durian inside — we’ve put together two layers of pandan sponge with a layer of durian flesh and custard in between.
Were all the recipes developed by you?
I would say most of them are. I mean, of course, if you are talking about a Victorian sponge, then that’s set in stone, more or less. So, I can’t really say that I did anything substantial to its original recipe. Even if I did tweak it, I had to consult its template. But I would say, yes a lot of the recipes are mine. For example, the pandan cake with durian flesh inside is something I came up with in our test kitchen in Admiralty. That, and the lavender-lemon cake.
Who are your guinea pigs for new recipes?
Family and friends. They love the pandan and durian cake a lot. So, that’s also why I was confident to put it out there. We are actually still in the process of [perfecting] the filling of it. Making sure that it looks good too.
When you see someone eating your cakes and pastries, do you wait and see their reaction?
No, I think that’s a bit spooky. But I am very open to what people tell me. So we’ve been very blessed by people who are very loving and forthcoming. Some have told us that they’d like some stuff to be a little spicier or a little richer — these are great comments because then we can try our best to do something it to make it better.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve eaten?
When I was in Burma, I was actually served a salad made from buffalo skin. I was astounded by how tasty and palatable it was though.