Raymond Tan didn’t have an oven until he moved to Australia from Malaysia in his late teens. It was 2006, and he started making technique-heavy pastries most weekends. Since then, the self-taught baker has gone viral; made countless cakes to order; taught baking workshops in New York and London; and caught the attention of Vogue and MoMA in New York.
In 2020, Tan opened his first bricks-and-mortar Raya – a cakeshop-slash-cafe serving modern and imaginative cakes and pastries. The menu takes plenty of inspiration from his Southeast Asian roots. Kuih – a petite, glutinous dessert common in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – is the signature here. Find it in flavours such as savoury angku (mung bean paste); bingka ubi kayu, a cassava cake; and talam pandan, a pandan and coconut cream cake. And many of them are vegan.
You’ll also find cakes available by the slice. There might be sweet spinach cake with yoghurt cream and pomegranate; black sesame chiffon cake; and honey pecan tea cake. If you enjoy something lighter, the pandan chiffon is the way to go. Tan’s been taking custom cake orders for years, and you can still pre-order a whole one online if one slice isn’t enough.
There are jumbo cookies too, weighing in at 120 grams each, with flavours such as double choc chip and walnut; miso, pistachio, sour cherry and dark chocolate; and blackout caramilk with sea salt. There’s also the crowd-favourite ondeh – a green, coconut-covered cookie made with pandan cookie dough and gula melaka (palm sugar).
On the savoury side, there might be spicy Malaysian chicken-and-potato curry pies; and house-made breakfast brioche rolls filled with soy-and-white-pepper scrambled eggs, caramelised onions and grilled Spam.
Inside, the cafe is warmly lit, with pale wood furniture, a banquette along one wall, a communal table, and an open kitchen with stainless-steel pots, pans and baking trays piled high. It’s the perfect spot to indulge in teh tarik (a milk tea popular in Southeast Asia), a mug of matcha from Zen Wonders or a cup of coffee from Come Back to Earth, one of Tan’s favourite cafes.
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