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The glaciers you might see in Iceland, the powdery touch of fallen snow, and the twinkling of lights on a Christmas tree – those are some of the favourite things of architect-turned-café owner Ivan Tan. “I’ve always wanted to be in the F&B line,” says Tan, 29. “What I learned in architecture came in handy when I was designing the dining experience here.” Different materiality provokes different memories, and he works sentimentality into his designs.
With a rose-vodka-lychee dessert named chrysalism, a word which describes the feeling where you’re indoors and it’s raining outside, he wants to recreate that cosy feeling one might feel. “The appearance of the dessert resembles raindrops rolling down a window pane.” Another word, epiphyte, which means plants that grow on other plants, is taken as the name of the café. “It’s the idea of us as a café that is attached to the community,” says Tan. Within the café, you’ll find little jars filled with moss and ferns littered about.
These miniature greenhouses are available for sale. No wonder then that some guests are confused when they see what seems to be a terrarium in the cake fridge. In fact, the ones that need to be kept chilled are made from pistachio sponge, dark chocolate croustillant, cream, and dried rose petals. The emerald, featuring plum compote, plum liqueur, and vanilla mousse, is draped in a glaze that is crystalline and turquoise. In a glacier, water molecules absorb all wavelengths of light except for blue and green. If some parts of a glacier appear white, it is because of hidden fractures, which reflect light.