2am: A New Time for Janice Wong’s Desserts
By Thammika Songkaeo - Tuesday, Sep 09, 2014
It’s unclear what you’re supposed to notice first, stepping into 2am: the newly added bar, the chocolate tables (as in tables made of chocolate, yes), or the array of talented (and good-looking) culinary crew. But that ’s vintage Janice Wong at her partie s, with edible table and installation art. The owner of 2am Dessert Bar recently re – launched her brand and restaurant, not with a new name, but with renewed vigour and aspiration. It’s quite dizzying, in the most positive way. The edible signs surrounding guests tell them that Janice is up to something sneakily awesome. You want to go into 2am wearing black and feeling badass, but you can feel also like a nerdy chemist.
2am is known for its molecular desserts and, more generally, an exclusive, creative emphasis. A cake is never just, say, yellow cake with icing, but it must be a sugar foam, sea mousse, or coffee cloud (you get it), and it shall make you think that only a ridiculously calculating automaton could concoct it. But Janice’s presence reminds you that actually a human is behind the work.
“I needed to re-invent ourselves. So this partnership with Manoj M. Murjani , allows me to focus on the canvass, and just create. Operation and expansion plans will be left to my more capable and experienced partners.” Janice clarifies her “re-invention” of her brand.
So what did this creatively provocative human, Janice Wong, come up with at her re-launch in her seven-year-old dessert bar in this same Holland Village location ?
The first is a nori marshmallow ceiling. Remember when our ancestors were dehydrated in a cave and drank from stalactites? That’s about 150% of what Janice’s nori ceiling makes you feel like you’re doing. Guests pinch off a piece of the marshmallow roof and just suck it from their fingertips. The result is melting foam surrendering to the heat of your tongue. It doesn’t taste too much like seaweed. It’s more like eating a gummy cloud.
For those who prefer something more literally solid, Janice also has gummies that come on coral reefs. These aren’t your Haribo Bears – clearly not because they look more like randomly shaped particles resting on coral reefs in the sea. They’re also thinner than gummy bears, and the fruity tastes are less emphasized.
After sweets, we ate savouries. The Mushroom Garden, a playground of coffee dirt, foie gras, mushrooms, and crispy thin bread. Good, but not as fascinating as a seaweed ceiling.
2am teased us with Janice’s ideas, but it was her own announcement, of her partnership with Manoj, Founder of Singapore luxury brands The Wellness Group (TWG) and TWG Tea Company, that made us really wonder what’s awaiting 2am’s future.
“So what’s the new brand?” We asked. And in the middle of the black, dark kitchen, she said “Colourful.” But it made sense as she elaborated. Janice is growing 2am to be something more than a badass dessert bar. She’s about to have three 2am babies in total: the first is 2am as the sexy restaurant that we saw, the second is a retail sweets factory (to be colourful), and the third is a family-orientated 2am eatery (which won’t be until a while). The last one is worth watching, in particular.
She’s expanding locally and internationally, with near-future plans in Marina Bay and Japan. And she’s all over the world to get ideas.
Alas, with every expansion opportunity comes the quality control question, and we asked Janice honestly how she would ensure that 2am doesn’t turn into another mass-market brand. Her reply wasn’t too optimistic, but perhaps it was the most realistic and impressively unselfish: “You can’t have everything… How can you inspire more of the world if you have only one shop?” Here might be the woman who uses food not for her own fame, but as a way to inspire others, even at the cost of her own venture’s image.
Let’s pray that 2am’s expansion will bring its team all the best. It’ll be a while before we know just how mass nori ceilings should be.
21A LorongLiput (Holland Village)
Tuesday to Friday 3pm to 2am
Saturday to Sunday 11am to 2am (open for brunch).