Chocolate fountains are springing up in hotels. Not only are they yummy, they can also be fountains of health
By Magdalen Ng, 05 June 2005
CHOCOHOLICS, rejoice. Apart from cocoa-laden cakes and ice cream, you can now indulge in towers of pure chocolate at some hotels.
SWEET SURRENDER: A chocolate fountain like the one at The Line in Shangri-La Hotel is loaded with up to 10kg of chocolate daily.
Triple 3, The Buffet Restaurant in Meritus Mandarin, was the first to launch a chocolate fountain here in 2000.
Since then, at least five others have sprung up, including La Terrasse in Orchard Hotel and Cafe Biz in Traders Hotel, which serve the sweet treat as part of their buffet spread.
Most resemble multi-layered wedding cakes with flowing chocolate, though the one at Meritus Mandarin is shaped like a spinning wheel.
Marshmallows, pastries and fruit like strawberries, bananas and pineapples are typical condiments that you can dip into the molten dessert.
The Courtyard in The Fullerton Singapore has even set up a separate chocolate buffet on Fridays and Saturdays.
It serves 60 to 100 guests on each of these two days who have to make reservations to be sure of a seat.
Chocolate fountains at these hotels are usually loaded with up to 10kg of French, Swiss or Belgium dark chocolate daily containing up to 64 per cent cocoa.
And there's a good reason for the indulgence.
Quoting the March issue of Forbes magazine, Mr Laurent Bennant, the pastry chef at Meritus Mandarin, says chocolate consumption has been growing by 25 per cent a year in China and South-east Asia.
Not only is it yummy, the concoction can also be a fountain of health.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in June last year reported that dark chocolate contains five times as much antioxidant activity as blueberries.
Antioxidants can protect against major ailments such as heart disease and cancer.
For those who worry about hygiene issues, hotels here say staff are on hand to make sure children do not stick their fingers into the flowing chocolate, and that no one dips a half-eaten strawberry back into the fountain.
At The Line in Shangri-La Hotel, the marshmallows, strawberries and cookies served with the chocolate fountain are skewered in advance so that physical contact with the fountain is minimised.
After every meal, the leftover chocolate is poured away, and the fountain, essentially a multi-tiered metal tray, is dismantled and soaked in hot water before it is cleaned in a hot dish washer.
Chocolate lovers have no qualms giving themselves up in sweet surrender.
Student Kady Yeo, 18, who has sampled most of the chocolate fountains in town, says: 'It's simply fantastic. If money wasn't a problem, I'd go every other day.'
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Hot chocolate spots
Shangri-La hotel, Orange Grove Road, Tel: 6213-4275
When: Noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm daily
Price: Lunch ($41 for adult, $21 for child), dinner ($65 for adult, $34 for child)
Ambience: You'll feel your mood lift as you step into this restaurant awash in cheery orange and white hues.
US-based interior designer Adam Tihany turned the old Coffee Garden into this spanking new eatery in March this year.
Choc fix: This five-tiered fountain is loaded with French chocolate and is served with homemade marshmallows, strawberries and cookies.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 - Those who have a sweet tooth will love this smooth and slightly milky confection. Its velvety texture goes well with both the crunchy cookies and soft marshmallows.
Orchard Hotel, 442 Orchard Road, Tel: 6739-6708
When: 3 to 5pm (Mon to Fri) and 1 to 5pm (Sat, Sun and public holiday)
Price: Weekdays ($20 for adult, $12 for child), weekends and public holidays ($25 for adult, $14.50 for child)
Ambience: The dim and cosy interior is good for a quiet get-together with friends. If you are in a group with more than six people, you'll have to ask in advance for a bigger table.
Choc fix: The four-tiered fountain is served with fruit like papaya, strawberries and honeydew.
Rating: 4.5 - The rich Gastro Rondo and Barry Callebaut chocolate from Switzerland and Belgium respectively is blended to luxurious perfection.
Traders Hotel, 1A Cuscaden Road, Tel: 6831-4374
When: Noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10pm, weekdays; 11.30am to 5pm, 6.30 to 10pm, weekends
Price: Lunch ($28 for adult, $14 for child), dinner ($38 for adult, $19 for child), weekend brunch ($32 for adult, $16 for child). For Fri, Sat, Sun and public holiday, dinner is $42 for adult and $21 for child.
Ambience: The Wave, the main art piece in the lobby made of etched sea moss glass and stainless steel, is a take on a moment of reflection in a busy lifestyle.
This is what you get when you dine here, a brief respite from the bustling crowd.
Choc fix: Though the chocolate fountain has only three tiers, it makes up for its lack of height with a large variety of fruit like banana, dried apricots and rock melon.
Rating: 4 - The consistency of this fragrant melted dark chocolate from the Netherlands is just right.
The Fullerton Singapore, 1 Fullerton Square
Tel: 6877-8129 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations
Open: 8 to 11pm, Fri and Sat
Price: $28 per adult or $36 with a glass of dessert wine, and $16 per child
Ambience: This is the perfect place to chill out with friends after a hard week's work as you sink into the comfy sofas.
A pianist and vocalist stationed on the second floor will ease your cares away with soothing jazz pieces in the evening.
Choc fix: The 1m-high, five-tiered fountain is served with pastries, fruit and marshmallows.
Rating: 4 - Dark chocolate fans will surely get a kick out of the melted French Valrhona chocolate. Goes extremely well with the pineapples.
TRIPLE 3, THE BUFFET RESTAURANT
Meritus Mandarin Singapore, 333 Orchard Road, Tel: 6831-6271 for reservations
When: Noon to 2.30pm and 6.30 to 10pm daily
Price: Lunch ($45 for adult, $27 for child), dinner ($55 for adult, $33 for child)
Ambience: The floor-to-ceiling windows offer a great view of the pool, while the chandeliers at the entrance add a grand touch.
Choc fix: The only pinwheel-like fountain, it comes with seasonal fruit including strawberries, honeydew and guava.
Rating: 3.5 - The Valrhona dark chocolate could have been slightly thicker.
All prices are subject to a 10 per cent service charge and prevailing taxes.
Times mentioned are when the chocolate fountains are available.