Woodlands residents rejoice — this one’s for you! Woodlands has probably been one of those neighbourhoods that rarely has much being said about the food options around; that being said, it does seem that things have been changing quite a bit with the opening of new establishments such as the likes of Kiang Kiang Taiwan Teppanyaki, Aw’s Signature Minced Pork Noodle, and an outlet of Char Siu Lang in recent times. The Marsiling neighbourhood has also seen the opening of Scoop in the Woods. Situated in between Admiralty and Woodlands would be the new Quasont — the establishment being situated in a neighbourhood mall named 888 Plaza. Quasont takes over the former premises of the now-defunct original location of Sueno Cafe; itself also being just several units away from Wan Shun Kopitiam there. Quasont has made quite a fair bit of change to the shop space; the space now features an earthy tone that is almost close to that of terracotta that is really easy to the eyes — the interior design being kept modern and chic without being particular pretentious. The dining furniture comprises of white cushioned seats and tables with a wooden accent, which blends into the setting really well. Being a bakery at heart, Quasont does have a large display case at the front of the space that displays the many freshly-baked breads and danishes that they have to offer — this includes varieties bread that one can find at a neighbourhood bakery, as well as a line-up of muffins. There are also a number of cakes that are stocked in a separate display chiller at the back of the shop. With all that being said, Quasont attempts to be a one-stop shop as well — the cafe does boast of a hot food menu that is split into Bites, Bakes, Mains and Sweets. Beverages available at Quasont includes espresso-based specialty coffee, as well as a variety of tea.

Having tried their hot food menu and a bake during our visit to Quasont, it is safe to say that Quasont seems to be an establishment that has an upper hand when it came to their bakes. The Cream Roll at Quasont comes in three different flavours — the Cream Roll, Chocolate Cream Roll and the Matcha Cream Roll; considering how we have a preference for vanilla-based desserts over chocolate ones, the Cream Roll was the one that we found ourselves going for. Kept in the display chiller that is located right beside the ordering counter at the back of the cafe, the Cream Roll is served chilled. Think of the item being quite similar to that usual Cream Horn that some bakeries do serve up — that being said, the version that is served at Quasont was especially on point where the pastry is of concern. The pastry for the Cream Roll is one that is similar to that of a croissant — while the pastry for Cream Horns at some establishments tend to be a little bit on the drier side and sometimes a little limp and tough, we liked how the Cream Roll remains light, buttery, flaky and crisp as we chewed into it. The pastry wasn’t all dried out even though we had made or visit to Quasont during dinner hours on a weekday, and the highlight was definitely the smooth, luscious and decadent cream filling that is creamy and perfumes of a rich vanilla aroma that we could not get enough of. In retrospect, the Salmon Fillet is probably an item that cannot be matched against specialty cafes that are specialises in their brunch / hot food offerings. Described in the menu to come with mashed potatoes and lemon butter, one thing we liked was how the lemon butter carried a rich and buttery tang that admittedly paired with both the salmon and the mashed potato well — an element that could seemingly bind all of the elements on the plate together.

While the mash is decent and slightly salted for flavour, the salmon could have been more moist for a better texture — we did like the crisp skin and the saltishness that it carried, while the natural flavours of the fish was also rather evident. We also went for the White (Hot) — this came rather surprisingly well-pulled for a new establishment that seemingly has a core focus on bakes rather than specialty coffee. The cuppa came with quite a good balance of milk and coffee; even came with latte art that is better executed than that of what some establishments would do. Coming with a light body and an earthy and nutty flavour profile, the White (Hot) does serve as a leisurely mid-day cuppa. Woodlands has been an neighbourhood that is probably noted for the lack of a decent cafe for its residents to hang out at — the handful of cafes that had either operated in the past or currently before the opening of Quasont were mostly gelato / ice-cream cafes; this does make Quasont stand out for how it is an establishment the neighbourhood never had. No doubt we do think that there are some tweaks that can be made to further refine their hot food offerings a little further, but Quasont does feel like a spot that Woodlanders can be enthusiastic to have in their neighbourhood especially for their bakes — definitely see ourselves hanging out here for a pastry or two considering how conveniently located they are to us with so much to try!

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Tanjong Pagar Road might be more of an address that is better known for the vast number of Korean dining establishments in the neighbourhood; that being said, it does seem that there has been some Thai dining establishments that had found home at the same address in recent times. Following the opening of NangLen that had opened in the neighbourhood not too long ago, there seems to be have been another Thai establishment that had also sprouted up along the same stretch of shophouses as well. Enter Kin Leaw Chill, which has been in operations for more than a month at the time of the writing of the post when we had made our visit there. Kin Leaw Chill is located at 26 Tanjong Pagar Road; the shophouse that it occupies being the same one that used to house the now-defunct location of Moc Cottage that was a brand by the same folks behind Moc Quan. Kin Leaw Chill hasn’t really changed up much of the interior of the space; in fact, much of the interior stays the same from its time being Moc Cottage with the exception of a few painted walls and some of the ornaments that adorn the space. There is still a rather old-school vibe that is chic and with a Southeast Asian flavour — this especially from the use of dark-coloured wood in its furniture and fittings; there is also a large collection of alcohol that is prominently displayed in the bar area that gives the space a somewhat opulent vibe. Much of its dining furniture though are reused — pretty much the same ones used by the former tenant of the space. Being an establishment that serves up more communal-style Thai cuisine, the food menu at Kin Leaw Chill is split into categories such as Thai Appetisers, Somtum Yum Yum, Kin Khao, Kin Sen, Eggs & Vegetables, Thai Soup, Curry Thai Thai, Seafood, Meat and Desserts. The range of non-alcoholic beverages would include the usual suspects such as the Iced Thai Milk Tea, Iced Thai Green Milk Tea, Iced Thai Milk Coffee and Iced Thai Lemongrass Honey — just to name a few; alcoholic beverages include a selection of beers as well.

One thing that has drawn our attention to Kin Leaw Chill so much that made us want to make a visit was the offering of the Khao Soi here — whilst most establishments in Singapore that serves up the Khao Soi serves a single variant that features only chicken drumstick, Kin Leaw Chill differs by offering its patrons three (3) different meat options to choose from; the Chicken Drumsticks, Softbone Pork and Beef. Our order was for the Softbone Pork variant of the Khao Soi. Turns out, we were told by the lady boss here that Khao Soi is one of their signature offerings here — Khao Soi being Northern Thai Coconut Curry Souo Noodle for those whom have yet to hear about the dish. Kin Leaw Chill does not describe the elements that goes into their Khao Soi here, but it does come with all the usual components including that of the crispy noodles that come above it — it also comes with its condiments such as lime, onions and pickles on the side; we were also recommended to have it with their dried chili as well. Khao Soi has always been known for being a flavourful dish on its own though also one that can get rather overwhelming really quickly due to its rich coconut curry soup that could also be somewhat described as a gravy due to its consistency. That being said, the Khao Soi at Kin Leaw Chill proves to be one that is easy to have — no doubt that it comes with sufficient fragrance and richness from the Thai Red Curry and the coconut milk that went into it in the cooking process; the soup also coming with a thick consistency that coats the broad egg noodles well.

With that being said, there was a good balance struck with the proportion of coconut milk that the entire ordeal did not feel particularly overwhelming — it also helped that the egg noodles here also was springy without carrying any noticeable hint of lye that is typically found in yellow noodles as well. With the addition of the chili and the other condiments, the coconut curry soup does pretty much come to life — the dried chili that is pretty much akin to the Lao Gan Ma-esque chili adds a hint of smoky and earthy note with a spicy kick that really antes up the flavour profile of the Khao Soi; all that while the pickles and onions helped add an element of crunch with a tang and zing that further cuts through the flavours of the coconut curry soup. The crispy noodles does add another dimension of textures with its crunchiness — all that without being particularly greasy, while the Softbone Pork does come with meat that comes off the flesh rather easily. Overall, one of the better Khao Soi that we have had thus far which was also easier to finish. Another dish that we were recommended to try during our visit to Kin Leaw Chill was their Prawn Cakes — available in portions of two (2) pieces or four (4) pieces, these were said to be made in-house and comes with a Thai sweet chili dip on the side. A bite into the Prawn Cakes and we were sold — whilst these do come in a slightly smaller size than what we are used to seeing at other establishments, these Prawn Cakes at Kin Leaw Chill doesn’t come with an overly thick, deep-fried breaded batter nor did the prawn filling come with too much filler. The golden brown deep-fried batter is crisp and light, while the minced prawn meat provided a good bouncy texture and a naturally sweet note; the use of actual prawns being evidenced with the real bits of prawn meat within.

The Thai Crispy Omelette with Minced Pork here on the other hand does seem to come a little thicker than that of usual Thai crispy omelettes that we have come across at other establishments — this makes for a fluffy but airy omelette that is still sufficiently crisp, yet also not as greasy as thinner ones that tend to soak up the oil around the edges. There is also no undesirable notes of overused oil with the Thai Crispy Omelette with Minced Pork, while the minced pork does seem to be more of clusters of minced pork that is hidden in several pockets around the omelette instead. The Basil Minced Pork with Green Noodles is one that is a rarer find here — the green noodles being the Jade Noodles which is also more commonly known locally as spinach noodles; the pairing making it the dish a less carb-intensive way to try out their Basil Minced Pork as compared to the Basil Minced Pork with Rice. With all being said, it does feel that Kin Leaw Chill is one of the few establishments around the island that serves up Thai cuisine with a character of its own; the variety of dishes available at Kin Leaw Chill does make them stand out from the many Thai dining establishments that are located all across the island — this is considering how it carries some rather unique dishes on their menu here. There is also a strong emphasis in serving up food that is made from scratch through the heart — the Prawn Cakes being a product that is testament to this. Prices of their individually-sized rice and noodles range around $8 to $19; the lowest-priced being the Pad See-Ew, while the highest priced item being the Crab Noodles. With its unique offerings and so much sincerity in its food coupled with its warm and friendly hospitality, Kin Leaw Chill is an establishment that is worth making a trip for especially for those whom are into Thai cuisine!

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For those whom have been following the happenings in the local F&B scene for a while, CH叉R (or otherwise known as Char) might be a name that some might have come across previously. Char, which first started out in Guillemard Road around a decade ago was an establishment that is well noted for their Char Siew and was also awarded with the Michelin plate in 2016 to 2018 — these folks had subsequently made their move from Guillemard Road to Jalan Besar; there was also one point of time where they also had operated out of a stall located at Timbre+ One North named Char Express, though that extension of the Char brand from their days at Jalan Besar was quite a short-lived one. Char might have closed down their restaurant operations at Jalan Besar in late 2023. That being said, these folks have made their comeback; albeit in the form of Char Express being located in the basement of CIMB Plaza at Raffles Place. Char Express occupies a unit right beside the dine-in area of Robochef, and is now run as a takeaway kiosk instead. With their range of meats being prominently displayed at the front of the stall, Char Express serves up four (4) different varieties of roasted meat at their kiosk at CIMB Plaza; namely the Signature Char Siew, Roast Duck, Roast Pork and Soy Sauce Chicken. The meats can be ordered in ala-carte portions either as half or whole birds for their Roast Duck and Soy Sauce Chicken, while the Char Siew and Roast Pork are sold ala-carte in a specified weight. Patrons can also opt for rice bowls; there is also an add-on that allows patron to opt for a set which comes with either Onsen Egg or Cold Spicy Cucumber and a drink of the patron’s choice from the dispenser behind the counter.

Having previously been to Char during their days at Guillemard Road, we had been impressed by both their Char Siew and Roast Pork that influenced our decision to order these two meats for our order of the Double Meats Rice Bowl during our visit to Char Express at CIMB Plaza. Unlike the iteration of Char Express that had existed at Timbre+ One North in 2017, the rice bowls in their current form are kept more simple; they had done away with extra elements like the tofu and fish skin — instead, the rice bowl simply features a bed of rice, the choice of meats that one had opted for, as well as stalks of Bok Choy. Those whom require mustard sauce and chili can request for them at the counter. One thing that Char has been describing about their Char Siew over the years is how their Char Siew is being prepared “using a combination of modern cooking science with traditional roasting” — the quality of the Char Siew has been kept fairly consistent from the first time that we had tried them all the way until now; employing the use of the sous-vide cooking method, the Char Siew here comes all melt-in-the-mouth and soft with all the fibres of the meat completely broken down. There isn’t much effort needed to chew past the sweet and sticky glaze that forms a slightly crusted layer on its surface; some might find the glaze a little too sweet for their liking, though this has always been the way that Char has served their Char Siew since their days at Guillemard Road. Their Roast Pork has also been pretty consistent to what we had experienced in our previous visits to Char; something that we had always liked about it was how it comes with a good ratio of lean meat to fatty parts that provides just enough bite whilst still being all juicy but not overly gelatinous.

The savouriness of the spice rub used was also exactly on point; gives it a good flavour without being overly salty, while the blistered skin was light and crackling crisp like how it should — the mustard sauce complimenting the meat especially well. The stalks of Bok Choy provides a slight crunch that provided a balance to the entire bowl, creating a more wholesome experience. Considering how they had just set up shop at CIMB Plaza and having operated only just for a couple of days, it does seem that Char Express does have some kinks to sort out when it comes to their POS system — the POS system does seem to be lacking of the option to add-on the drinks and the cold spicy cucumber as a set to the rice bowl, which got us to cancel that option since it was taking a little long for them to figure out what was going wrong with the system. While we do understand things like that do happen at newly-opened establishments, we thought it could have been better managed considering how Char Express does have experience in the running of a restaurant operation prior — something which should have been lesser of a struggle when compared to entirely new F&B establishments entering the local F&B scene for the first time. Prices of the rice bowls at Char start from $7.10 for a single type of meat; the Double Meats Rice Bowl which we have had is priced at $8.80 — no doubt slightly pricey for a roast meat rice bowl but well worth the price considering this isn’t the typical type of roast meats that one would be able to find in a hawker centre / coffeeshop stall. A good option for a quick lunch grab for those looking for something fancier, yet still wallet-friendly for a meal that costs under $10 in the Central Business District.

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Caught wind about a rather new addition to the Balestier neighbourhood while scrolling through social media the other day; there hasn’t been much of a change in the stalls operating within Balestier Food Centre for quite a while, so the opening of Kinta Hainanese Chop & Rice is one that can be described as fairly interesting for the location itself. Situated in a shop space that is almost right smack in the middle of the food centre that also faces out towards the main road, Kinta Hainanese Chop & Rice is neighbours with the stall serving up Japanese-Korean cuisine at the time of writing of this article. Kinta Hainanese Chop & Rice is a stall that is fairly noticeable considering the use of bright red in its signage, as well as the LCD display that scrolls through the name of the stall and the menu of which it offers. Whilst seemingly a new name in the local F&B scene here, Kinta Hainanese Chop & Rice isn’t one that is unfamiliar with the F&B scene — a quick check online for its social media profiles does indicate the establishment being in operation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; in fact, Kinta Hainanese Chop & Rice had previously existed at least in Mount Austin in Johor Bahru. The menu at Kinta Hainanese Chop & Rice can be said as one that is roughly similar to that of other establishments serving up Hainanese Western fare — the menu being split up into categories such as Hainanese Omelette Chop Rice, Hainanese Western Grill Set and Sides & Add-ons.

Whilst we do love our western dishes served on hotplates, the availability of the Hainanese Omelette Chop Rice was one that seemingly attracted our attention more — there has been an increasing trend of stalls serving up their version of authentic Hainanese-style western fare in recent years, though such establishments can still be considered a rarity even in current times. We were drawn towards the Crispy Pork Cutlet Omelette Rice when we skimmed through the menu here — there is something about Hainanese Western-style cuisine they can never be quite as authentic as one that comes with pork cutlet; Kinta Hainanese Chop & Rice describes the dish to come with elements such as Crispy Pork Cutlet, Hainanese Glace Sauce, Special Omelette and Japonica Pearl Rice — some waiting time is required as all of the elements are prepared only upon order, and patrons will be issued with electronic buzzers after payment that would be used to page them to collect the order once it has been prepared. The Special Omelette here turns out to be what some establishments would call the “Tornado” Omelette; more of a soft and fluffy layer of egg that comes atop of the bed of rice beneath. It also comes with a particularly creamy note of flavours that is almost akin to a creamy scrambled egg dish, though the egg is cooked just about right; whilst not being runny, it does come thin without the moisture being lost and thus was fairly easy to eat. The Japonica Pearl Rice is also well-executed; lightly sticky but not overcooked in a way that would have become too mushy. Whilst some of such omelette rice dishes might feel a tad dry from the lack of sauce and how the egg is being done, the Crispy Pork Cutlet Omelette Rice here works really well with how generous they were with the Hainanese Glace — this would be that sauce that typically accompanies the Hainanese-style pork chop at other establishments.

Here, we found that the Hainanese Glace comes with a heavier note of onions and the Worcestershire sauce that is typically mixed into the ketchup sauce. This meant that the variant here comes more savoury with a mellow tang from the tomato-based elements instead; something that is a little different (and more balanced, in our opinion) from most that we have tried. The consistency of the sauce is suitably dense, and while it comes with strips of carrots, onions and chunks of pineapples, they were not the most generous with these here. The pork cutlet here can be described as pretty on point; the meat has been tenderised and comes thin so that it is easy to chew through — we also note that the meat does retain its moisture, and also comes coated with a golden broken bagger that is free from grease. Truthfully speaking, our experience with the Crispy Pork Cutlet Omelette Rice at Kinta Hainanese Chop & Rice was not anything life-changing; whilst the pairing of Hainanese Glace and its Special Omelette can still be described as unique, one can still argue that the trend of “Tornado” Omelette is probably way past its time. That being said, we found the Crispy Pork Cutlet Omelette Rice to be a pretty comforting and wholesome offering nonetheless; aptly portioned, and truly satiating. Prices of the individually-sized mains at Kinta Hainanese Chop Rice range between $5.90 to $18.90; the lowest priced being the Sausage Luncheon Ham Omelette Rice from the Hainanese Omelette Chop Rice section of the menu, while the priciest would be the Special Aged Rib Eye Steaks (180 - 200 grams) from the Hainanese Western Grill Set section of the menu. Considering how much we liked the Crispy Pork Cutlet Omelette Rice that we have had, it is likely that we would keep their Hainanese Omelette Chop Rice offerings in our minds if we find ourselves in the neighbourhood again.

Got to know about the existence of Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice when we were going around Hong Lim Complex Market & Food Centre one day; it has been a while since a new food stall had sprouted up at Hong Lim Complex Market and Food Centre anyway. Located at the second level of the food centre, Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice takes over the former premises that had been vacated by BurGrill — a stall that used to be best known for serving up western fare and Rosti at the food centre. Along the same row of stalls as Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice at Hong Lim Complex Market & Food Centre would also be Midas Every Touch Is Gold — a stall best known for their baked rendition of the Roti Prata. Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice is a stall that one is unlikely to miss; the bright red signage is definitely one that stands out amongst the other stalls within the food centre. Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice describes its offerings as “a local, comfort fast food”; as the stall’s namesake suggests, Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice is a stall serving up fried chicken rice plates as well as chicken wings. Patrons do get the option of add-ons as well — these would include the Lava Egg, Cabbage and Coleslaw. Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice does serve up two variations of fried chicken rice plates here — one being the Wings Meal, and the other being the Cutlet Meal; the latter does sound like a good option to go for for those whom are not too willing to deal with the chicken bones that would come with the drumlets and wings that comes with the Wings Meal.

The Wings Meal is described in the menu of Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice to come with elements such as two (2) drumlets and two (2) wings on “chicky rice” with “pickled CCB” and a Chicken Melon Broth — the cheeky description does suggests about the establishment’s slightly playful nature. Food was prepared surprisingly quickly; no buzzers are being issued here and patrons would be required to wait in line and collect the food once it has been prepared. Considering how the focus does seem to be on the chicken wings here, we went straight for the drumlets and the wings first — freshly fried only upon order, the fried chicken comes piping hot with a crispy batter on the exterior and is juicy and tender inside; the flesh falling off from the bones pretty easily. We liked how the batter was not particularly thick, while the fried chicken also did not feel greasy as well. It is noted that there does seem to be a light not of umami-ness coming from the meat; likely to have been marinated with fermented beancurd / shrimp paste for that slight flavour twist that got us yearning for more. The “Chicky Rice” turns out to be flavoured rice that is similar to that of what is usually served with Hainanese Chicken Rice — this is one really well-executed version where the rice isn’t too wet and is distinguishable to the grain; it is also savoury from the chicken stock with a slight gingery note that makes it especially easy to eat.

Despite being flavoured, the Chicky Rice also pairs well with the chili sauce on the side — that zippy chili sauce that would usually accompany Hainanese chicken rice; the chili packing a fiery punch and would tingle the tastebuds of those whom have a slightly lower than moderate level of tolerance to spiciness. Meanwhile, the “pickled CCB” refers to the Japanese-style pickled cucumbers that are sliced thinly and carried a crunchy tang that resets the tastebuds from all the fried stuff, meat and carbs, while our addition of the Lava Egg sees a Japanese ramen style soy-marinated egg that comes with a molten egg yolk with a slightly savoury note. The “Chicken Melon Broth” refers to the bowl of soup that came on the side; one with clean flavours, though something that we can actually do without anyway At the price point of $5.80 without the Lava Egg, the Wings Meal does seem to be rather reasonably-priced; portions of the food are actually pretty adequate, and it does seem that the folks at Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice had placed quite a bit of attention to detail to create something familiar to the local tastebuds yet unique to themselves. Needless to say, Nanyang Fried Chicken Rice is one stall which we would find ourselves patronising more often — their offerings being something which we would think about when craving for something familiar, sinful yet comforting without all the fuss!

It seems that the residents around Anchorvale Village are pretty much spoilt for choice when it comes to dessert choices around the building that had recently seen the opening of a number of F&B establishments within the compounds. Whilst we had written about the new outlet of The Better Scoop there not too long ago, there is yet another new dessert shop that had opened their doors right across from The Better Scoop. Meow Desserts had opened for business fairly recently — taking up a shop space that is located along the same stretch of shops as the Burger King outlet there, Meow Desserts does sport quite an interesting cat-themed interior. The shop does seem to be split into two sections; the front-of-house area is where one can find the display chiller and the self-service POS machine where one can place their orders directly from. Most of the dine-in seatings are however located behind the area where the self-service POS machine is at. With walls that are painted in a shade of light green, somemore the walls are also adorned with faux plants with more faux plants hanging from the ceiling — this creates an almost garden-like dining environment that is made even cuter with the use of ornaments, wall fixtures and cushions featuring cats; all in-line with the theme of the establishment. Considering the name of the establishment, it is to no surprise that the core offerings at Meow Dessert would be their line-up of Durian Desserts; that being said, there are sections dedicated to Soya Bean, Grass Jelly, Cold Dessert, Hot Dessert, Small Bites and Egg Puddings as well — quite a decent variety to cater to those whom may not necessarily like durian well enough.

Considering how the core offerings of Meow Dessert, we found ourselves gravitating towards their Durian Mousse + Maoshanking offerings. Meow Desserts actually serves up two (2) variations of their Durian Mousse + Maoshanking — one being the single scoop, and the other being the double scoop; the scoop actually refers to the number of scoops of Mao Shang Wang Durian flesh that comes with the Durian Mousse + Maoshanking. We made our order for the single scoop variant. The item comes served in a format that is pretty much how its namesake is — a dollop of Mao Shan Wang durian flesh coming atop durian mousse. Digging into the dessert itself, the durian mousse was actually fairly on point; it is smooth abs sufficiently dense — all that whilst carrying a prominent and pungent note of the king of fruits that is sweet and buttery; definitely a hit with durian lovers. The addition of the scoop of Mao Shan Wang durian flesh in the meanwhile adds on to the durian mousse even further — not only does it enhances the flavours by adding another dimension of pungency of the durian to the desserts, but also adds a textural contrast with it fibrous mouthfeel whilst at it.

During our visit, we had also given the Mochi – Mango with Maoshan King Mousse a go as well. This would be the variant that comes with mango mochi skin that would otherwise differ from the Mochi — Durian with Maoshan King Mousse. Apart from coming with a “snow skin” similar to that of mooncakes, there is a rather faint note of sweetness from mangoes that matched well with the pungent notes of the Mao Shang Wang Durian filling within. Considering the variety of items of which Meow Dessert offers on their menu, we wouldn’t think that we are able to give a holistic overview on their offerings. That being said, their durian offering are pretty decent in general and shouldering for those whom are durian lovers. Would probably give their non-durian offerings such as the Black Sesame Paste and the Mango Pomelo Sago next time that we are here.

It does seem that the opening of modernised Nanyang-Kopitiam-themed cafes have really gained some pace since a couple of months ago — those familiar with the local F&B scene would note the opening of more outlets of the locally-established brands that had entered the Nanyang-themed Kopitiam segment fairly early on such as that of Qi Li Xiang, Nan Yang Dao and The Hainan Story. There have been many other brands that had entered the scene of the late, which includes that of New Nanyang, Kopi 1930 and the fairly new Ipoh Town Kopitiam — all of which appearing in the local F&B scene in the first half of 2024. One Nanyang-themed Kopitiam that seems to have been kept away from the spotlight though seems to be that of WangLee Cafe 旺利茶室; this could have been due to the location of the establishment itself that is tucked slightly deeper within the Toa Payoh neighbourhood. Located at Blk 92 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, WangLee Cafe is situated fairly close to Toa Payoh Palm Spring Market (93 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 Market & Food
Centre) — one can also find other notable dining establishments like Tims Restaurant & Cafe and Shrove Tuesday in the same ‘hood as well. The interior design of the space does bring back some nostalgic vibes of the old-school kopitiams with its mosaic tile walls and the use of coloured panels and faux window shutters on its feature wall; the use of the standard shade of green that one can find at Nanyang Kopitiam-themed cafes and the wooden furnishings further adds to that vibe. The food menu at WangLee Cafe includes that of mostly noodle dishes — the only rice dish on the menu being the Braised Pork Rice, while the only toast item is the Home Made Kaya Butter Toast. Beverages available at WangLee Cafe would include canned drinks, as well as local-style Kopi and Teh.

Considering the lack of the usual Nasi Lemak / Mee Siam Ayam Goreng Berempah on the menu of WangLee Cafe, we found ourselves gravitating to their more homely food offerings — the Mee Hoon Kuey is available in both dry or soup variants at WangLee Cafe, and patrons whom are looking to have an alternate choice of noodles for this dish can opt for the You Mian. WangLee Cafe does not describe on the elements that come with their dishes inn its menu; that being said, it can be observed from our order that the Mee Hoon Kuey Dry does come with broad pieces of hand-torn noodles, sous-vide egg, some greens, anchovies, minced pork and some crackers — all of which coming in a pool of dark sauce. While it is noted that a Chilli Pan Mee does has a place in the menu at WangLee Cafe, it is noted that we weren’t asked if we would like to have chili with our order. Giving the Mee Hoon Kuey a toss, we also mixed the sous-vide egg into everything else in the bowl as well. With the addition of the sous-vide egg that came with a runny yolk, the flavours of the dark sauce has mellowed down quite a bit to become just savoury enough to aptly flavour up the Mee Hoon Kuey — the consistency of the sauce also being silkier as well. While the Mee Hoon Kuey does come pretty broad: the thickness came just about right that gave a soft bite without being too chewy at the same time. The anchovies provided a saltish crunch that provided a contrast of texture and flavours to the sweet entire bowl, while the meatballs gave a soft, meaty bite that gives some balance to the carbs with the greens providing a more wholesome feel for the dish. The addition of the crackers that seem like some form of tidbits does seen to work well as compared to if they had used garlic chips; provides a crisp texture without carrying a heavily sweet or saltish note that would have thrown the dish off balance.

During our visit to WangLee Cafe, we had also given their Home Made Kaya Butter Toast a go as well; the toast might have been all iced thin for the rendition of the Kaya Butter Toast here, but there was an adequate spread of Kaya and butter that gave it a good balance of sweetness and saltishness. The butter is served chilled so that it does not get too melted down, while the home made Kaya here comes perfuming of a pandan fragrance without being overly sweet — itself coming with a paler shade of green that likely suggests the extraction of pandan juice via panda leaves instead. Equally lovely was the lightly crisp texture of the toast as well. Going for the Iced Kopi during our visit to WangLee Cafe, the Iced Kopi comes with a frothy appearance like how one would expect it to be from a Malaysian Nanyang-themed Kopitiam establishment; the Kopi having a thick body without being particularly sweet — provides quite the caffeinated kick that one would expect. One thing notable about our visit to WangLee Cafe is how neighbourhood-ly the spot is even despite being a rather newly-opened establishment; there seems to be quite a bit of rapport built where folks behind the counter do interact and have small talk with the elderly patrons during lull periods; they also do seem to take extra care of elderly patrons here which creates a rather heartwarming vibe even for other patrons within the establishment as well. Prices are surprisingly kept wallet-friendly to keep things accessible to its patrons as well; the lowest-priced individually-portioned main dish costs $3.80 here, being the Economic Bee Hoon Set — the priciest item in the meanwhile would be the Braised Pork Rice and Chilli Pan Mee at $6.80 that can be described as wallet-friendly. With such positive vibes and quality of food at reasonable prices, WangLee Cafe is likely a hangout spot for residents around the area in time to come!

One of the places that we had managed for find out whilst going around the Chinatown neighbourhood recently was Tang Ren Jie Desserts — this turns out to be a fairly new addition to the area, with the establishment taking up a recently renovated shophouse unit along Mosque Street. The facade of the shophouse has been kept relatively simple; one thing to note is how the entrance to the shophouse is set slightly into the shophouse itself, thus creating a wide patio area that Tang Ren Jie Desserts has used to display their food menu to entice potential patrons that are passing by the area — there is however an old-school wooden signage with carved with the shop’s namesake in gold paint that hangs above the doors to help create a nostalgic vibe. Inside, Tang Ren Jie Desserts have kept the space rather simple; apart from some signages that relates to lucky greetings that one can find on the wall, the entire space is decked in a way that is more functional than for form with dining furniture that comprises of wooden accents — a look that is easy to the eyes especially with bright lighting and the white walls that are also painted brown up to half-height here. Being a shop that specialises in their offerings of Hong Kong-style desserts (i.e. Tong Shui), the menu is split across categories such as the Durian Series, Coconut Series, Shaved Ice Series, Hot Series, Milk Series, Ginger Milk Pudding Series, Soy Beancurd Series, Mango Series, Sago Series, and Grass Jelly Series. It is noted that no beverages are being served at Tang Ren Jie Desserts during our visit.

Skimming through the menu, we were initially drawn to their offerings in their Milk Series and Ginger Milk Pudding Series of the menu, though we were informed that these were unavailable when we made our visit during the early afternoon on a weekend as they were still in the midst of preparing the items. Considering so, we went for the Chaozhou Taro Paste from the “Hot Series” section of the menu instead. While the menu at Tang Ren Jie Desserts does not describe on the elements that comes with their Chaozhou Taro Paste, it is noted from our order that the Chaozhou Taro Paste does come in a form that is not too different from the usual yam paste that one would typically have at other establishments — the item comprising simply just yam paste and Gingko nuts. With that all being said, the Chaozhou Taro Paste comes with a velvety smooth texture that sets it apart from most of the yam pastes that we have had from other establishments around thus far — one that does not feel particularly lacquered in oil, yet coming with texture that less grainy as well. The yam paste also comes with a slight hint of milkiness amidst the earthy notes of yam that was almost more akin to that of taro filling found in taro hand pies served at fast food restaurants — all that without being as sweet nor artificial at the same time. The addition of Gingko nuts also helped to provide a contrast of slight bitterness and a soft bite for a bit of variance in textures.

Meanwhile, the Mango Treasure from the “Mango series” section of the menu features elements such as Mango Sago, Mango Cubes, Taro Balls and Mango Popping Balls — the mango mousse itself does come with a decent level of sweetness and is consistently smooth. Mango cubes provides a soft bite that helps to enhance the texture and the flavours of the dessert, while the mango popping balls provide a bursting sensation for an additional contrast of textures. The sago pearls does come with a bit of bite; itself being rather well-executed, and the taro balls does come with a good chew as well. Overall, a bowl of mango-based dessert that comes at an appropriate level of sweetness and coming with all the elements which are crowd-pleasers that gave the Mango Treasure its own appeal. Having only tried a small variety of desserts of which Tang Ren Jie Desserts have to offer, we did feel that the quality of their desserts are pretty good — no doubt some purists might find their Chaozhou Taro Paste to be a little bit different to the ones that are typically served elsewhere, we do find it to suit our palate nonetheless. The prices of the desserts across the Hot Series, Milk Series, Ginger Milk Pudding Series, Soy Beancurd Series, Mango Series, Sago Series, and Grass Jelly Series sections of the menu ranges from $3.20 to $8.80; the lowest-priced item being the Original
Soy Beancurd while the highest-priced item is the Mango Treasure that we have had. Looking forward to return to Tang Ren Jie Desserts again to give the items on the Milk Series and Ginger Milk Pudding Series sections of the menu a go another time; definitely a spot worth considering for some after-meal Tong Shui in the Chinatown area.

One of the spots that we had been passing by while it was still under renovation was Coi Je Cafe 财爷冰室; located along Upper Cross Street, Coi Je Cafe is one of the latest additions to the neighbourhood in Chinatown. The shop unit of which Coi Je Cafe had occupied is fairly noticeable; the spot is right across the road from Hong Lim Complex, whilst the stretch of shophouses where it is located at is where one can also find Chiew Kee Noodle House and the outlet of The Community Coffee - Roastery there. Coi Je Cafe does have quite a prominent shop facade; the signage is brightly lit and comes with a background with an orange hue — definitely one that would intrigue passers-by whom are looking around whilst going about the area. Inside, the same shade of orange adorns the walls; one can also find plenty of posters being hung on the walls of the space as well, with one wall towards the end of the cafe filled with lucky greetings in Chinese. Otherwise, the furniture and fittings can be described as more towards the functional side of things; the dining area comprises of seats mostly catered for groups of two (2) and (4) pax with dining chairs of an orange-coloured cushion that provides patrons a comfortable dining experience. The menu at Coi Je Cafe comes with a decent variety of dishes that one can go for; describing itself as a traditional Hong Kong restaurant, the menu is split into categories such as regular rice dishes, baked rice, curry tomato egg rice, toasts, buns, small dishes and fried chicken wings. Beverages available includes that of Hong Kong-style Milk coffee and tea, Ovaltine, Lemon Sprite, Lemon Cola, Lemon Barley Water and Iced Longan Red Date Goji Berry Honey — just to name a few.

We did find the menu at Coi Je Cafe to come with dishes that is not only just with a traditional Hong Kong influence, but the menu also does seem to consist of a number of dishes that also has a Portuguese touch that is prevalent in Macanese cuisine. With that being said, one of the items that had caught our attention whilst skimming through the menu was the Nostalgic Pineapple Sweet & Sour Pork Rice; something that felt particularly comforting and familiar to us. While the menu at Coi Je Cafe does not describe the elements that come with each dish that they have to offer, the Nostalgic Pineapple Sweet & Sour Pork Rice comes exactly like how one would expect a Sweet & Sour Pork Rice dish to have been presented from a coffeeshop stall serving zi-char style dishes. It can be observed from our order that the Nostalgic Pineapple Sweet & Sour Pork Rice came with chunky pieces of pork that has been stir-fried with pineapple, capsicums and onions in a reddish sweet and sour sauce; all accompanied with a serving of rice on the side. Digging into the Nostalgic Pineapple Sweet & Sour Pork Rice, we found that the sweet and sour sauce here is something to die-for; most places would have the flavours of the sauce slightly muted down and the punchy yet balanced notes of both sweetness and tanginess just struck a chord with us. We also liked how they provided quite a generous portion of sauce that was ample to go around with the entire portion of rice that as served on the plate. Aside from the sweet and sour sauce that impressed us, the stir-fried chunks of pork were equally intriguing; the whilst carrying a light crispness on the exterior, the pork was also easy to chew through — juicy and tender.

There seems to be also a note of pepper that lightly lingers at the back of at the tongue; probably something added during its marination process — this helps to provide a slight contrast of flavours that helped to ante up the flavours of the dish and provided the Nostalgic Pineapple Sweet & Sour Pork Rice here with a unique twist. Other elements such as the capsicums and onions were carried a soft crunch — a good respite from all the meat and rice, while the chunks of pineapples provided a refreshing zing on top of that texture that helps to add on to the flavours of the sweet and sour as well. During our visit, we had also ordered the Classic Butter Bun which was also named the 经典奶油猪仔包 in Chinese — some may be misled about the item being a pork chop bun considering the term “猪仔包” in its Chinese namesake. Turns out, “猪仔包” refers to a type of bread that is found in Hong Kong that is almost akin to a shorter and broader version of a baguette — the Classic Butter Bun being sliced into half and sees melted butter and condensed milk drizzled atop the insides of the baguette. The result is this somewhat crisp bread with a fluffy interior that requires some tension to pull apart; all that with a sweet-yet-saltish note that is pretty comforting to have. Also something that we had ordered during our visit to Coi Je Cafe would be the Ice Fire Bolo Bun; this is essentially the standard Hong Kong-style Bolo Bun that comes with a slice of butter in the middle. Whilst it does come with a crusty layer over the top that comes with a bit of sweetness, we felt that the crust lacks a milky flavour and the dish ended up a little being heavier on the savouriness of the butter instead. The insides of the bun can also be described as a wee bit dry and clumpy; a little cake-like and could do with a bit more moisture whilst keeping the density for a good mouthfeel.

Between the Iced HK Style Milk Tea and the Hot HK Milk Coffee, the former was the more impressive one where the tea comes with just the right balance of milk — the fragrance of the evaporated full cream milk aptly enhances the flavour and provides quite a good balance with the tea; all that with a smooth and silky texture. In retrospect, the Hot HK Milk Coffee was closer to that of an instant coffee mix that comes with a smooth and silky mouthfeel from the addition of evaporated full cream milk; all that with a slight sweetness of condensed milk — probably one that would suit the tastes of Hong Kongers at large, though something a little more difficult for locals here to get accustomed with considering the differences in coffee drinking culture between the two regions. One thing that is particularly clear about Coi Je Cafe is its execution of its cooked dishes — we were definitely impressed with the Nostalgic Pineapple Sweet & Sour Pork Rice that they had served up which does come with intricate details which sets it apart from other iterations of the same dish that we have had at zichar-style establishments around the island. Prices of the items listed in their regular rice dishes, baked rice and curry tomato egg rice sections of the menu range between $7 to $15.80; the lowest priced being the Ham Hock Abalone Rice Noodles, while the priciest would be the Curry Tomato Egg Wrapped Breaded Pork Rice. While prices are on the higher end of the spectrum here for such eateries, Coi Je Cafe does bring something a little different to the table to diners here — definitely looking forward to trying their variety of toasts and baked rice dishes some time soon here!

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The trend has definitely been going strong for modernised Nanyang-style coffeeshops in Singapore; the past few months had seen the opening of various establishments such as that of Kopi 1930, new outlets of Nan Yang Dao, new outlets of The Hainan Story, New Nanyang, Best Ah Ma Cafe and Fullybooked — just to name a few. Following the announcement of a collaboration between Oriental Kopi of Malaysia and the Paradise Group that would see Oriental Kopi’s first outlet in Singapore, a new contender has also came into the Singapore F&B scene for such establishments as well. Ipoh Town Kopitiam 怡宝城 is one of the few new additions to the local F&B scene when it comes to Nanyang-style coffeeshops in Singapore; the brand is said to be found by two sisters from Ipoh who runs a food stall in the Kampung Simee Market in Ipoh, Perak and Choy Kee Egg Tart — the establishment that is situated right beside the food stall in the afore-mentioned market. Occupying a shop space at Basement 1 in Jewel Changi Airport, Ipoh Town Kopitiam occupies a space right beside the HSBC Rain Vortex and the space that is right opposite it; this used to be occupied by the outlet of Saap Saap Thai that has sjnce vacated the space. One thing to note about Ipoh Town Kopitiam is how the set-up does look extremely close to that of Oriental Kopi’s; using quite the same shade of green with its branding in a similar font type, the dine-in space located beside the HSBC Rain Vortex itself is decorated with mosaic-esque vinyls for its floorings — all that matched against dine-in furniture in a wooden and marble accent to evoke a nostalgic vibe. The shop space on the opposite side of the HSBC Rain Vortex is mostly dedicated to the kitchen, though a small space for dine-in has also been set aside as well.

Being a concept dedicated to serving up Malaysian Kopitiam-style fare, the menu at Ipoh Town Kopitiam has been segmented into sections dedicated to Toasts, Mains, Baked Dim Sum, Steamed Dim Sum and Fried Dim Sum. Beverages available at Ipoh Town Kopitiam will include drinks such as Ipoh-style coffee, local-style Teh, a selection of flower teas, Milo, and canned beverages as well. There was only one item in the Mains menu when we had dropped by Ipoh Town Kopitiam during a weekend dinner service when they were still in their soft launch phase — this item would be the Nasi Ayam Goreng Berempah (Malay Spice Fried Chicken Rice); a dish that is commonly found in similar establishments to the likes of Ipoh Town Kopitiam. Ipoh Town Kopitiam does not describe the elements that goes into the making of their Nasi Ayam Goreng Berempah, though it is noted that it is served with coconut rice, Malay spice fried chicken, hard-boiled egg, sambal, peanuts, anchovies and slices of cucumbers based on how our order is being served. Said to have been prepared with a mix of more than 10 spices, the Ayam Goreng Berempah is pretty much the star of the show here — it is no doubt a little bit on the greasier side of things, though should not be too much of a deal for most. The chicken had evident notes of turmeric that was rubbed on it during its marination; the meat being all tender and juicy — we liked how it came with a crisp exterior that comes with a hint of lemongrass aroma, and the fried curry leaves did certainly add a fragrant note to the chicken as well. When it came to the rice, the coconut-infused rice does come fluffy and distinguishable to the grain; that being said, we felt that coconut-infusion came a little soft for our liking — could have been better if the fragrance of coconut in the rice is more prominent.

The sambal that came with the Nasi Ayam Goreng Berempah was actually rather interesting; one that felt closer to the likes of the Indonesian Sambal Belado considering the clear slices of chili that can be found as opposed to the more paste-like sambal we are used to seeing in our local variation of Nasi Lemak chili, though the level of spiciness have been tuned down by quite a lot here. That being said, the hint of fresh chilies is still fairly noticeable here amidst the very light touch of sweetness that comes in its finish — quite appetising in our opinion. Other elements such as the anchovies provided a slightly salted and crisp crunch, while the hard-boiled egg was a good to have; some would probably prefer sous-vide egg or a sunny side-up however. Other dishes that we had tried during our visit to Ipoh Town Kopitiam includes the Fragrant Curry Toast with Soft Boiled Egg; the soft-boiled egg and toast combination is one that is commonly found in Malaysia but the addition of curry certainly intrigued us enough to get the item — while we would still maintain that we would prefer such a curry dish to feature Chee Cheong Fun than toast considering how we are not fans of bread excessively soaked in gravy, it is hard to deny that the curry was especially rich and flavourful with its punchy notes of spices. We also found the level of spiciness to be pretty comfortable for those whom are tolerable to moderate levels of spiciness. The Ondeh-Ondeh Bao from the Steamed Dim Sum section of the menu comes with buns that came in quite a large size; these came replicating the look of Ondeh-Ondeh with its light green aesthetic and an exterior coated with desiccated coconut.

The bun was surprisingly soft and fluffy and with a tension that keeps the shape of the bun as-is even though one has taken a bite into it; the insides revealing a filling of Gula Melaka-drenched desiccated coconut. Whilst the filling does come suitably sweet, we did find a lack of pandan fragrance from the bun that would help to replicate the flavours of the Ondeh-Ondeh entirely — still, a fairly decent attempt after all. Between the Ipoh "Overjoy" Ice White Coffee and the Ipoh White Coffee (Hot), our preferences leant towards the latter; the latter simply was the more balanced cuppa with the buttery notes from the traditional roasting methods of the coffee beans being particularly noticeable especially towards the end of the cup — the level of sweetness was also more appropriate to bring out the flavours of the coffee as well. In retrospect, the Ipoh "Overjoy" Ice White Coffee does come with that “overflow” aesthetic that is more in-line with most Nanyang-style coffeeshops out there; while the body for the iced coffee feels more “gao” here, the intricate details in the flavours are less notable here as compared to the Ipoh White Coffee (Hot). With this many Nanyang-style coffeeshops having set up shop in Singapore, Ipoh Town Kopitiam adds on to the ever-growing list of such spots to visit for those interested in the offerings of such establishments across the island. The folks at Ipoh Town Kopitiam does seem to be fairly strong with their curry-related offerings and their Ayam Goreng Berempah; items that we feel are a must-try when here. Prices of the food in their soft launch menu goes up to $11.90; the most expensive being the Nasi Ayam Goreng Berempah. With a good variety of dishes on their menu, Ipoh Town Kopitiam is a spot that is best to head down in a group to give multiple dishes a go in one single visit; also one that is likely to attract crowds in the days to come!

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While the F&B scene has been seeing quite a number of cafes sprout up all across the island of the late, hole-in-the-wall spaces that are dedicated to serving up espresso-based specialty coffee hasn’t been the most common around all these while — and especially so for such establishments that open outside of the Central Business District. Got to know about the new QYLS Coffee whilst scrolling around social media some time back; a seemingly new establishment that had opened their doors in Hougang Green Shopping Mall, its location is rather deep within the heartlands especially since a bus ride from the nearest MRT Stations would be required to get there. The establishment does remind us of that of Meadowsbrew; another coffee-centric, hole-in-the-wall establishment that had opened their doors not too long ago deep within Ang Mo Kio. QYLS Coffee can be said as an establishment that is no-frills when it comes to the set-up of the space; there is a bench located within the establishment as well as two dining chairs located outside that would allow for patrons to enjoy their coffee on-the-spot — that being said, the takeaway-only location is equipped with the bare essentials. White walls that feature wall tiles at half-height, paired with metallic counters that form the counter and espresso bar with the latter facing it a wall — there is nothing pretentious when it comes to the stripped-down appearance of the space. The menu board hangs on the wall to the right of the entrance; split into three categories, QYLS Coffee offers both espresso-based specialty coffee and traditional local style coffee on their menu. Other beverages available here includes drinking chocolate, matcha and chai.

Whilst equipped with an espresso machine while serving up traditional coffee on their menu such as the likes of Kopi, one thing worthy to note about QYLS Coffee is how they do not serve their line-up of traditional coffee using the espresso machine. Instead, they brew their line-up of traditional coffee using the same methods as what one would expect at a typical coffeeshop — this is quite unlike what one would expect considering how establishments like Generation Coffee Roasters, Kopi More, Star Coffee and Lim’s Cafe do brew local-style Kopi through the espresso machine. Considering so, we found ourselves going for their Spanish Latte instead. Interestingly, QYLS Coffee uses beans roasted by Generation Coffee Roasters for their coffee offerings here — these folks do operate at several hawker centres included that of Tekka Centre, Blk 216 Bedok Food Centre and Market, Hong Lim Complex Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar Plaza Food Centre. Using beans of Kenyan origin, the tasting notes of the coffee was described to be of dark berries, milk, chocolate and grapefruit. Spanish Lattes tend to be a bit of a mixed bag since it pretty much depends on how the level of sweetness is being managed; we thought that the level of sweetness for the Spanish Latte at QYLS Coffee is busy about right — did not overshadow the nutty and earthy notes of the cuppa. A short chat with the barista-owner of QYLS Coffee does seem to suggest that they do know quite a fair bit about what goes into a good cuppa; these folks definitely do have experience and exposure in the local coffee scene which explains the quality of the Spanish Latte that we have had during our visit. Prices of their beverages are capped at $4.50, with all hot options priced at a maximum of $4 — a neighbourhoodly coffee shop that attempts to keep their cuppas affordable, while hitting the spot even for hardcore coffee lovers.

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Have managed to learn about the opening of the new Cafe Barco by Wunderfolks fairly recent whilst scrolling through social media. Wunderfolks might be a brand that may be familiar to some; these folks pretty much started out as a home-based business serving up dessert tarts in 2020 — the brand had subsequently became a brick-and-mortar business with their first but now-defunct space along Joo Chiat Road. While the brand had been well-known for being one that runs retail kiosks that primarily caters to takeaway operations, the opening of their Tampines Mall outlet saw the addition of dine-in seatings a while — marks the very first time that one can enjoy the variety of dessert tarts which Wunderfolks has to offer on the spot. Cafe Barco by Wunderfolks can be described as an extension of the Wunderfolks brand; situated at Techview that is located just outside of Exit A of Kaki Bukit MRT Station along the Downtown Line, Cafe Barco takes over the former premises of the now-defunct Nasty Cookie Cafe which is also right beside the Six1Two food court located in the same building. It does seem that quite a fair bit of work has been done to the space from its time being the Nasty Cookie Cafe; the space now sports a chic yet vibrant contrast of grey and blue alongside wooden accents used for its furnishings — the blue being of the same shade that Wunderfolks had pretty much adopted as a theme for their branding. The dining tables are spread white far apart from one another; provides privacy in between different groups of patrons. Fun touches like the bear mascot for Wunderfolks can also be found in one of the corners of the cafe. Being an extension of Wunderfolks, Cafe Barco by Wunderfolks offers a hot food menu that is split into categories such as All Day Breakfast, Sandos, Burgers, Donburis, Pastas and Sides — this would be aside from the various tarts, danishes and other bakes that are stocked in the display cabinet at the counter. Beverages available at Cafe Barco by Wunderfolks include espresso-based specialty coffee (only till 6pm), matcha latte, drinking chocolate, tea sourced from Gryphon Tea Company and a small variety of canned beverages.

Looking for something on the lighter side, we found ourselves gravitating towards the Sandos section of the menu — the Mentaiko Egg Mayo Sando is in fact the lowest-priced main dish on the hot food menu being priced at $8.80. The menu at Cafe Barco by Wunderfolks describes their Mentaiko Egg Mayo Sando to come with elements such as toasted bread, mentaiko egg mayo, and Tobiko. Coming as-is, the plate for the Mentaiko Egg Mayo Sando does seem a little sparse and definitely does feel like something that would cater more towards smaller appetites; we did feel that the dish could have come with some greens that would help to provide some sort of balance whilst filling up the plate a little more at the same time. Taking a bite into the Mentaiko Egg Mayo Sando, the toasted bread itself does come within what would expect a Japanese-inspired Sando to be like — lightly crisp on the outside, but retaining the soft and fluffy interior; the bread does seem fairly much like a brioche. Despite the description given in the menu itself, we felt that the mentaiko egg mayo just did not feel “mentaiko” enough in a way that the egg mayo simply lacked the umami-ness that one would associate with such an item. Instead, this felt more like a regular egg mayo sandwich that came with Tobiko over the top; the Tobiko adding that popping sensation and that slight umami factor that makes the item inch towards being a mentaiko-infused dish just by a teensy bit. In its own right though, the egg mayo that came with the Mentaiko Egg Mayo Sando does come with a consistent texture; one that is creamy with bits of small, diced hard-boiled egg that gives a soft and bouncy texture — the Tobiko providing a good textural contrast to all of that.

Wunderfolks is a brand known for their tart offerings — these folks also do retailed a line-up of danishes such as the Ham & Cheese Croissants that were being stocked in their display cabinet at the counter during our visit to Cafe Barco by Wunderfolks that is made on a weekday evening. That being said, there are items that do seem to be newly-introduced at Cafe Barco by Wunderfolks; this would include their line-up of Madelines and Financiers. We opted for the Uji Matcha Madeline and this feels rather decent; the texture was slightly on the drier side of things, though it was also noted to be not as greasy as some commercially-made ones that we had come across thus far. Whilst being infused with matcha, the notes of matcha does seem to have come from the dusting of matcha powder over the Madeline itself; this does make the Madeline carry that hint of bitterness that one would well associate with the tea, though we did feel that it was a tad extreme for our preferences since it felt a little off-balance. It retrospect, the Maple Pecan Financier was suitably sweet and buttery with an evident hint of vanilla; came even with an additional contrast of saltishness above the nuttiness from the nuts embedded in the Financier itself. While the exterior was a little crusty in around the edges, the dryness of the Financier it did make it felt a little clumpy. They also do stock a variety of Caneles in their display chiller at the counter — considering the variety of the flavours for the Canele that they were serving up, they do seem rather reminiscent to that which are being offered at Flourcrafts Patisserie (and even aesthetically similar as well); a takeaway-only establishment that specialises in Caneles and tarts that is situated at EON Shenton along Shenton Way.

We opted for their TWG French Earl Grey Canele; we liked how the Canele carried a crusty, caramalised exterior that came with a crunch; the interior bearing an almost honeycomb-like texture that is similar to Bingka Ambon and carrying a suitably sweet note. The Canele does come with a core of Earl Grey-infused cream — the cream being dense and of a similar consistency with the Canele itself in terms of texture (not sure if this is due to the Canele being stored in the fridge, and does require some time to defrost; the TWG French Earl Grey Canele was the last item to be had at the table by us), but it does carry the familiar aroma of Earl Grey Tea with a slight floral note of lavender while at it. Cafe Barco by Wunderfolks is probably Wunderfolks’ take on being an full-service cafe — one that not only focuses on their expertise on their dessert tarts that goes way back into their initial days of founding, but also one that seemingly carries a Japanese-Western fusion element — think items such as the Mentaiko Pasta with Salmon and the Chicken Katsu Burger. Most items do however seem to lean towards only one side of the spectrum; perhaps an attempt to keep things on the safer side and to cater to less adventurous tastebuds in general — we did feel that the offerings we tried does need some slight tweaks to bring it to the fullest potential. That being said, Cafe Barco definitely adds an interesting dining option to the Kaki Bukit neighbourhood — one that is also notable for the sweet treats that it has to offer. Prices of the individually-sized mains range from $8.80 to $24.80 — the most expensive being the Angus Beef Burger; a spot would likely attract those whom love the Wunderfolks brand, while also being one that residents in the ‘hood will enjoy having at their convenience.