Photo credit: Awfully Chocolate
Are you almost always the one in-charge of including quaint cafes and local must-try treats in your itinerary when you travel? When in Singapore, there’s no missing out on Awfully Chocolate — a heaven for sinfully good desserts with a local touch. So, leave your 14-day diet plans behind as we delve into the sweet, sweet journey of Singapore’s chocolate empire with its founder, Lyn Lee. Lookout for her favourite flavours and try them all when you’re in town too!
Bite into chocolatey goodness with a taste of tropical bananas
Once a playful idea from a group of like-minded friends, Awfully Chocolate was birthed by a sense of adventure and ambition. But it wasn’t just another chocolate factory — Awfully Chocolate prides itself on serving authentic chocolate desserts made with a local touch, down to the type of bananas used.
The Chocolate Banana cakes alternate between Pisang Mas and Pisang Raja, different kinds of bananas found only in small-scale plantations. Photo credit: Awfully Chocolate
“Our bananas are actually bought from small farms in Malaysia — Singapore doesn’t have plantations anymore but it would have been the same kind if we did. And if you try all the chocolate around the world, I’d like to think that Awfully Chocolate has developed a distinctively Singaporean taste!”
The cake that started it all
“When we opened, we only had one cake — the original All Chocolate Cake. Then we added the Chocolate Banana Cake and Chocolate Rum and Cherry Cake. For 10 years, we only sold these three flavours!”
She adds, “These are the three flavours that started the brand, and even though they aren’t fancy, they’re my favourite. They’re not too sweet or creamy; the kind of cakes you can have every day and not get tired of.”
Lyn’s vision of the perfect chocolate cake came true when she created the original All Chocolate cake. Photo credit: Awfully Chocolate
Even though Lyn faced questions about her limited choice of flavours, she hung on to her belief that quality trumps quantity and she was not disappointed.
“My mother-in-law was chatting with a lady at the store one time and found out it was her third time buying from Awfully Chocolate that week! Turns out, the cakes were for the lady’s mother who was suffering from terminal cancer. She couldn’t, and wouldn’t eat anything else except our cake. When I heard this, I thought, this is it. This is the reason I do what I do.”
Giving back to her hood
But if there’s anything Lyn loves as much as chocolate, it’s her neighbourhood, Katong, known as the enclave for Peranakans, who are ethnic Chinese with Malay influences. Besides being the place where Awfully Chocolate opened its first shop, Katong holds a special place in Lyn’s heart. So, when she found out about the gentrification plans for her neighbourhood in 2013, she couldn’t remain silent.
Over the years, Sinpopo has blended old and new, both in its interior and recipes. Photo credit: Awfully Chocolate
“We opened Sinpopo in Katong as a protest! We loved being in the food heritage district of Singapore and were friends with a lot of old-time guys. With the gentrification coming, a lot of the traditional businesses were forced to close. That’s why when Sinpopo first opened, we made it look like a coffee shop to preserve the beauty of tradition.”
While Sinpopo offers Peranakan food which seems slightly far-fetched from Lyn’s chocolate dreams, it intrinsically stands for everything Awfully Chocolate believes in — to present local tastes in a unique yet familiar way.
The sambal in the Nasi Lemak platter was created by a Hainanese guy from the finance team — the chefs only modified it a little! Photo credit: Awfully Chocolate
“Our tastes are familiar, but not a replication of your grandmother’s cooking — because everyone has their own idea of what their grandmother’s food tastes like. We’re all about coming up with new recipes with our inspiration always being, to keep our food locally relatable.”
From chocolate to Peranakan food, what’s in store for you?
On top of the already-wide range of chocolate products from truffles to beverages, Awfully Chocolate has also recently launched six new signature cake flavours — Chocolate Praline, Chocolate Tiramisu, Chocolate Espresso, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, Caramel Brittle & Sea Salt Chocolate Cake and Dark Chocolate Ganache Black Rice Cake — that are sure to please your palates whether you’re into sweet or bitter chocolate.
Of the new signature flavours, Lyn loves the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Espresso cakes the most. Photo credit: Awfully Chocolate
If you don’t want to wolf down an entire cake on your own, you can get slices at Ninethirty restaurant (by Awfully Chocolate) — and only when you dine in.
Address: 131 East Coast Road, Singapore 428816
Telephone: 6345 2190
Mon – Thurs: 12:00pm to 11:00pm
Sat: 9:30am to 1:00am
Sun: 9:30am to 11:00pm
Fri and Eve of PH: 12:00pm to 1:00pm
After two decades of triumphs and rough patches, Lyn remains optimistic, nimble and relentlessly injects innovation into Sinpopo and Awfully Chocolate to stay relevant. So, when you’re in Singapore and the chocolate craving hits, get yourself a slice of the classic chocolate cake that started it all for Awfully Chocolate, or dig into its new signature series. If you like what you taste, share the sugary-love and get some chocolate bars or cookies for your friends and family back home! As for Sinpopo, pop over for a different and satisfying Peranakan meal followed by a stroll around Katong to soak up the heritage vibes. Most importantly, don’t hold back — because what’s a holiday without some guilt-free indulgences, Singapore style?
Read about the journey of other local brands and its founders here.