[ Project Xi Bing ] Gin Thye Cake House, Thye Lee Confectionery, Neo Kian Guan Confectionery & Cake (Part 1/3)


Project Xi Bing (wedding biscuits aka wedding cakes) is an initiative by Mrs To-Be-OOPS (which is me!) when it's time to scout for her own wedding xi bings. As there are too many choices when it comes to xi bing, I decided to focus mine on Teochew xi bings. I strongly believe that every cultural wedding traditions and customs are there for a reason. For the Teochews, the little round bean paste pastries (aka dou sha bings) and assorted sweets are given because it symbolises 圆圆满满 (perfect and successful marriage) and 甜甜蜜蜜 (sweet marriage). They are often packed nicely and distributed to relatives and friends. I tried googling on the internet for reviews but they were quite limited. On the other hand, my fiance's parents prefer the old school buttercream cakes. 2 very different types of wedding cakes! As such, my aim is to source around Singapore for xi bing with the BEST DEAL

What will make up the BEST DEAL?

My reviews will be based on 4 main criterias: 
  1. Packaging and presentation of the wedding package 
  2. Pricing of the wedding package
  3. Customer service based on my first hand experience when I visit their store front
  4. Taste of the bean paste pastries (aka xi bing aka dou sha bing) - I will buy one sweet and one savory xi bing (if its available) to taste each time I visit their store front
I would like to disclaim that all these ratings and reviews are based on my own experiences and preferences. You can choose to take it or leave it. Haha.

Which shops will I be reviewing?

  1. Gin Thye Cake House (Part 1/3)
  2. Thye Lee Confectionery (Part 1/3)
  3. Neo Kian Guan Confectionery & Cake (Part 1/3)
  4. Pine's Garden Cake House (Part 2/3)
  5. Thye Moh Chan (Part 2/3)
  6. Tong Heng Confectioney (Part 3/3)
  7. Poh Guan Bakery (Part 3/3)

Here we go!

  • Gin Thye Cake Maker

Gin Thye have a total of 6 branches all over Singapore so its totally convenient when it comes to collection. However, it is best to visit their main branch in Sembawang if you want to enquire about their wedding packages. That is precisely what we did!

Shop front at Sembawang

We can immediately tell that the cake house is very experienced with wedding related packages because the xi bings are all over the shops! 

All the different types on xi bing boxes are on display.
We saw rows and rows of freshly baked dou sha bings at the shop. I got 2 pieces to try, each piece is 80 cents.

Freshly baked xi bings
The freshly baked "Da Lao Bing"
Some samples which were freshly baked.

Alternative packaging for teochew set
Photo grabbed from Gin Thye Cake House

We were attended to by a very friendly auntie. She guided us on xi bing packages for the different dialect groups patiently and attended to our questions promptly. She also showed us about 3 other types of wedding boxes which we could choose from as our xi bing packaging. It was a very pleasant and fruitful shopping experience with Gin Thye.

Brochure for reference
I learn something new while shopping for dou shar bing. To differentiate the sweet ones from savoury ones, check out the sesame seeds on top!

Buying the xi bings off the counter at one of the outlets
Savory xi bings have no sesame on top.

Sweet xi bings have sesame seeds on top.
And back home, it was dou shar bing tasting time!

Savory on the left, Sweet on the right

I cut the pastry into half so you can see the insides. The skin is relatively thicker and denser at the top, especially for the sweet one. The fillings are also relatively dry. I didn't finish eating it.

In summary,
Packaging And Presentation: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Pricing: $24 (For purchases of more than 10 boxes, $20 each)
Cost per piece for trying: $0.80 at Sembawang outlet OR $0.90 at the other 5 branches
Customer Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Taste: 2 out of 5 stars
Additional information: Wedding basket is free for rental if you order from them. 
My personal comment: For me, all was rather perfect with this shop, until I tasted their dou shar bing. This would be a perfect choice for couples who pays more attention to packaging rather than taste.

Address: 423 Sembawang Road, Singapore 758392
Contact number: 6257 1566

  • Thye Lee Confectionery

This confectionery is located very near the 105 Market & Food Centre at Hougang Avenue 1. I was really looking forward to tasting their pastries because my friend highly recommended it to me! So off I went!

The very old school kind of confectionery store.  
The packaging of their xi bings is as per what I see from the many reviews online (for the past many number of years). I think they can consider working on their packaging to keep up with the times.

Xi Bing package with the box
Photo grabbed from https://youdecidelor.wordpress.com/ with permission

Upclose of the item inside the package
Photo grabbed from https://youdecidelor.wordpress.com/ with permission 
Sadly, I had a very unpleasant experience with their staff. When I enquired about the wedding packages, he was not keen to answer my questions at all. The only relevant question he asked me was "When do I need them?" After which, he took out an empty wedding box and a booklet which contained photos of their various products for me to look through. I asked for permission to take some photos. He rolled his eyes and commented "What is there to take?". He then took out a name card, threw it onto the booklet and asked me to "go there and see". I really don't know what's "go there and see" because there's only the name, address and telephone number on the name card. I continued to flip through the booklet and I heard yet another comment "Nothing at the back, all for praying not for wedding." in a rude tone when I was looking at the page of the Guo Da Li basket.

Photo which I took from booklet
Annoyed, I decided to stop looking and told the other staff, a more friendly uncle, that I want to buy some dou shar bings home to try. While waiting for my purchase, I saw the rude staff staring at me from the corner of his eyes. I left the shop shortly after I paid, feeling nothing but anger and discomfort.

Rows and rows of freshly baked dou shar bing.

Spot the rows of wedding baskets which are available for rental.
Again, when I'm home, it was dou shar bing tasting time. Similarly, they used sesame seeds to differentiate sweet and savory pastries.

More crispy, evidently.
Taste wise, Thye Lee dou shar bing is indeed very yummy. As you can see from the cross section of the pastry, the skin is not as dense and flaky with many layers. The sweet dou shar bing is not too sweet and not too dry. I love their bing!

In summary,
Packaging And Presentation: 2 out of 5 stars
Pricing: I don't know because I did not ask. Too annoyed
Cost per piece for trying: $3 for 5 small pieces
Customer Service: 0 out of 5 stars
Taste: 4 out of 5 stars
Additional information: Rental fees for wedding basket is $20 if you order from them. A refundable deposit of $50 is required.
My personal comment: I have to admit, their dou shar bing is very very yummy!!! But they fare badly for customer service for my case. I will not consider them for my big day because I will be reminded of the angsty and rude staff I met. Not worth my time and effort travelling all the way to Hougang.

Address: Blk 108, Hougang Avenue 1, #01-1283, Singapore 530108
Contact number: 6288 9514

  • Neo Kian Guan Confectionery & Cake

Although they have been around in the market for many years, I don't see much reviews about their wedding packages. My guess is they are more like an old traditional shop (aka 老字号) so their customers will go directly to them and order from them if needed.

Once I stepped into the shop, I knew wedding business is not really their priority. Instead, there were more of those traditional sweets in the shop. I tried to purchase dou shar bings for trying but was told that they do not sell it off the racks. It will be made upon ordered.

I managed to have a very fruitful chat with Mr Neo on wedding traditions for Teochew family. He was showing me a booklet with photos of his products. I was given a namecard (this time not thrown at me) which contains their website. Mr Neo was telling me I can go there to have a look at their products. The photos which were shown to me at the store front is exactly the ones on their website. 
Screenshot of http://www.nkgconfectionery.com/wedding.html

(Update as of 16/11/15) Happy to receive this xibing from a friend whose cousin just gotten married! Lol! Now I get to do a proper taste review! 

On first hand of looking at the da bing, I was a bit appalled and even wondering if its chao tar. However, it actually taste good. Not too dry and has some crisp. The box even came along with the 2 dried pessimons and another 2 dried fruit (which I haven't figured out what it is). The packaging and entire feel of the bing is very old school and rustic.

In summary,
Packaging And Presentation: 2 out of 5 stars (based on image from website)
Pricing: They have a few packages, ranging at about $16 to $24
Customer Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Taste: 4 out of 5 stars (Update as of 16/11/15)
Additional information: No wedding basket was seen around the shop so I didn't enquire. 
My personal comment: I prefer to choose a shop whereby I can taste the dou shar bings off the racks. It gives me the guarantee that they have been doing these pastries on a regular basis. Not much reviews are available on the internet too. So I find it a bit risky although this shop have a long history with pastry making.

Address: Blk 7, Hougang Avenue 3, #01-50, Singapore 530007
Contact number: 6382 4352

That's all for part 1. Stay tune for part 2 and part 3 whereby I will be covering Pine Garden's Cake, Tong Heng Confectionery, Poh Guan Bakery and Thye Moh Chan. =)

Link to Part 2 of Project Xi Bing : http://mrandmrsoops.blogspot.sg/2015/08/project-xi-bing-pine-gardens-cake-and.html
Link to Part 3 of Project Xi Bing: http://mrandmrsoops.blogspot.sg/2015/08/project-xi-bing-tong-heng-confectionery.html

Still xi-bing-ing,
Mrs To-Be OOPS


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