Meals to wake up to

Meals to wake up to

What could make your day better than a hearty brunch on a lazy weekend morning? Here are some of those breakfasts that you might want to wake up to!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Yet another name that doesn’t need much of an introduction to those familiar with the local F&B scene, Joji’s Diner has recently opened a new outlet along Stanley Street — the same street is also home to other establishments such as the newly-opened Paris2Tokyo (which we visited not too long ago), Common Man Stan, Carrotsticks and Cravings and Miznon. Joji’s Diner was established by the same folks behind Breakfast Club — the very first Breakfast Club located at within Yaowarat Coffeeshop that is situated just a stone’s throw away from Kovan MRT Station. The brand had expanded its operations with the introduction of Joji’s Diner, which is their very first standalone concept located at Upper Serangoon Road, and had also opened yet another Breakfast Club in a standalone shophouse unit at Holland Village — this outlet has since ceased operations. Their latest concept at Stanley Road follows closely to the style of Joji’s Diner at Upper Serangoon Road — modelled after American diners in the 1950s to 1960s, expect a flashy and retro-themed interior featuring red and white booth seats with metallic walls around the entire shophouse. The ground level is pretty much dedicated to their usual dine-in operations; the second level is a space that is meant for their bar operations, which is yet to be ready during our visit — the space is also decked in a similar style to the ground level with the exception of the area dedicated to the bar counter. During the day of our visit, Joji’s Diner’s menu at Stanley Street featured a curated selection of items that are also available at their Upper Serangoon Road outpost — think items such as their Smash Burger, Poutine and the All Star Platter, while there are also list of side dishes listed in the Ala-Carte section. The Banana Split is the only Dessert item listed on the menu during our visit. Beverages include the signature Pink Lemonade, as well as coolers, sparkling beverages, juices, specialty coffee, tea and milkshakes — the list likely to expand as they kick into full operations with the bar open in due course.

Having tried their All Star Platter during my previous visit to their Upper Serangoon Road outlet, we decided to go for the Chicken & Waffles this time — one of the items which has attracted rave reviews since their time at Upper Serangoon Road. The menu describes the Chicken & Waffles as an item that comes with three elements; Chicken, Waffle and Sunny Side-Up — all that with some paprika powder sprinkled over the top. Those who need some maple syrup to go along with their Chicken & Waffles can help themselves to the bottle of Country Kitchen maple syrup that is being placed at every table. Digging into the waffles first, we felt that the waffles were above average — while these were made better than how some places would do them, there have been waffles that were texturally better than the ones we have had here at some ice-cream parlours that we have visited. Here, the waffles can’t really be described as crisp; that being said, they were definitely more on the denser side and felt a little more cake-y — not nasty, though we did feel that it adds on to the already-heavy dish on its own. Interestingly though, we did note that the the waffles did not only carry a buttermilk fragrance, but also carried a slight sweetness that lingers at the back of the tongue; provides some form of balance against the fried chicken on the top. The fried chicken comes boneless for the convenience of the diners — portioned in quite a huge slab, it features a crisp golden-brown batter with juicy and tender flesh within; didn’t really feel particularly greasy as well and seemed to have been seasoned in pepper for a slightly spicy note to cut through all the carbs and meat, which is pretty essential for the dish to keep thins more balanced here. The sunny side-up came in a neat circular shape; likely to be shaped with moulds considering how they are also missing of the crisp ends around the sides — the yolk being still somewhat molten which works for that eggporn shot if it is still needed. Overall, a Chicken & Waffle dish that seemed to have performed better than what we have expected for something that costs $12.90 — pretty value-for-money with decent execution, and at a portion size that would also work well as a dish to be shared with one other.

Joji’s Diner has always been a spot that is known to be one that serves American-style diner fare at rather wallet-friendly prices. No doubt there is no way one would likely make Joji’s Diner an everyday lunch option, but with prices of their mains ranging from $12.90 to $23.90 (most of the items falling below $20), it does work out well as an option to treat oneself to for something better during the work week; that is especially considering how most of the establishments located along the same stretch charges prices more steep than Joji’s Diner for brunch fare as well. We also felt that Joji’s Diner does seem to keep a rather consistent standard; the items we have had at their Upper Serangoon Road outlet might be different from what we have ordered at Stanley Street, but the quality of the food does feel expected for what we have experienced previously. What was rather impressive was their Hot Latte (Double Shot); perhaps one of the stronger lattes we have had even for specialty coffee shop standards, and was surprisingly well-pulled for an American diner that seems to place more emphasis on their milkshakes than coffee in the first place. Their locations have always been a little out of the way for those who do not reside within the neighbourhood that their outlets are situated at; we are definitely glad that they have opened an outlet in the Central Business District that makes it convenient for those whom have yet to visit them. Looking forward to what they would be up to once the bar opens though; likely something that would pique our interest to make a revisit in due course!

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Butler Koffee had came a long way — ever since their days being that mobile coffee cart that had found a permanent location at Kreta Ayer Road, all the way to sharing its space with Beng Who Cooks at Neil Road — Butler Koffee had finally found a home of its own at Havelock II pretty recently. Taking over the former premises of the now-defunct BREW’ Kopi & Beer, Butler Koffee is now a full-service cafe. The space has seen a different configuration in terms of its layout — the ordering counter is now located towards the right side toward the end of the shop space. Whilst trying to achieve somewhat of a minimalist approach, there are some bits of tasteful clutter all around — all that with chairs of various colours to help provide a bit of contrast that is pretty welcomed. Providing dine-in patrons with some form of simple food, Butler Koffee does serve up a small selection of toasties and croissant sandwiches to satisfy those whom are looking for hot food; pastries sourced from Keong Saik Bakery (as opposed to Nuage Patisseire & Boulangerie during their days at Beng Who Cooks) are also available. The range of beverages available at Butler Koffee is pretty much the same as what was being served previously; this includes the usual selection of specialty coffee, pour overs, as well as bottled cold brews and a small selection of tea as well.

There isn’t a particularly wide selection of food items served at Butler Koffee; having skimmed through the menu, we found ourselves leaning towards the Parma Ham & Cheese Toasties — also the priciest food item on the menu at Butler Koffee given its price of $10. The order also comes with cassava chips on the side. An interesting twist to the usual ham and cheese sandwich, the use of Parma Ham here instead of ordinary ham can be said as sprucing up the sandwich by using a premium ingredient — the Parma Ham gives the toastie a sort of savouriness that offers more dimension than the usual saltish notes of ham; a good pairing with the oozy melted cheese though we thought could have worked even better if paired with a mix of different cheeses for an extra oomph. The toastie itself on the outside was also pretty appealing; the exterior was sufficiently crisp as well. All in all, a pretty decent offering considering how it more or less qualifies as a light bite.

After sharing spaces with different tenants all these while, it is indeed heartwarming to see Butler Koffee having a space that is to their very own — they are still very much that humble coffee cart that they had started out from, but it is indeed interesting to see how they have expanded thus far. Whilst the food menu at Butler Koffee may seem a little limited at this current space, Butler Koffee is that little nook that certainly works best for that morning coffee run or that mid-day coffee break; a spot that works best to just have some peace away from all that hustle from work.

Launched over the Sunday which has just past, Sooner or Later is one of the latest additions to the Haji Lane neighbourhood — a little sad how that street seems to be no longer pedestrianised on Friday and weekend nights; certainly missing of that buzziness that it used to have in the past. Being one of the more anticipated openings in the cafe scene in recent times, Sooner or Later, occupies a pretty small shophouse unit along Haji Lane — the very same one which used to house the former premises of Windowsill Pies which have since vacated the unit. Decked in a rather minimalistic theme with a touch of geometrical elements at play, the design of the space at Sooner or Later does remind us of one where Brotherbird Coffeehouse meets Birds of Paradise / Bamboo Bowls — that sleek, nearly industrial vibe with lots of curves that makes the space seem less “sharp” than it actually is. Comprising of only three small dine-in tables of which two are two seaters while the remaining table is meant for a lone diner, larger groups may find better luck in dining at the al-fresco dining area outside of the cafe. Given the small space, the menu is kept relatively simple at Sooner or Later — savoury items include a range of croissant sandwiches, whilst they do serve ice-cream is in cups, or accompanied with brownies or waffles. They also do offer other bakes such as cakes and a banana bread; the list of beverages available at Sooner or Later includes specialty coffee, Matcha, Houjicha, as well as their signature Sesame Milk and Sesame Latte options.

Was pretty intrigued by both the Thai Chicken Croissant and the Mentaiko Crab Meat Croissant which are listed together with the other croissant sandwiches on the menu here — we found ourselves going for the Mentaiko Crab Meat Croissant since that was what the guy at the counter was recommending to us. Being what it really was described to be, the Mentaiko Crab Meat Croissant is a croissant sandwich that features chunks of crab meat in between a croissant that has been sliced into half — all that with Mentaiko sauce that has been blowtorched before being served to the table, and topped with Ebiko. The Mentaiko Crab Meat Croissant also comes with a side of salted crisps as well. Whilst the Mentaiko Crab Meat Croissant offers no surprises, we were rather satisfied with how this one went — no doubt the croissant was pretty pedestrian; nothing too artisanal, but we liked how they did go with actual crab meat (even though it seemingly looked like came out of a can; there again, can’t expect much given its kitchen size) and came with a good amount of Mentaiko sauce over the top. The Mentaiko sauce carries the typical umami note that one would have expected; all that with a slight hint of smokiness from that char by the blowtorch — the Ebiko adding that slight popping sensation that gives it an interesting contrast of texture. The accompanying potato crisps were decent; well-salted, whilst still maintaining the crispness without being anywhere near limp or stale. Overall, a little steep in terms of pricing considering this is $18, though an item would gel well for those who are not particularly picky — nothing to fault about it here.

One thing we really liked about Sooner or Later is how well they seemed to vibe with the neighbourhood that it is being situated in — it’s that raw, indie and playful vibe that seemingly make them feel like they just simply belong here. No doubt the savoury food menu is restricted to just a selection of croissant sandwiches — it is, however, a great attempt to serve up something simple to avoid themselves to be yet “another ice-cream shop”. A spot with loads of character and a pretty interior to boast, Sooner or Later is likely to be one of those locations that cafehoppers would likely add to the list of places to check out; one that also has a character that is truly of its own.

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Dropped by the new Naga House at Lorong Telok — the establishment is a concept that can be said as a cafe in the day, and operates as a bar at night. Decked in a industrial-themed interior, Naga House features a pretty raw yet minimalist and fun vibe — think concrete walls and floors, neon lighting, metallic tables and transparent blue acrylic foldable chairs where its furnishing and fittings are of concern. Apart from the indoor dine-in space within the shophouse unit, there is also a small outdoor dining area situated outside the shop — this area features storage boxes that doubles up as tables, while camping chairs make up for the seating at the outdoor dining area. The menu at Naga House features mainly three different items — Sandos, Tamago Kake Gohan, and Pasta; there is also a sharing plate of Flank Steak and sides available on the menu. Beverages include a non-alcoholic menu that is served from 10am to 5pm each day includes specialty coffee, as well as non-coffee options such as Matcha Latte, Houjicha, Sencha and Kombucha. The alcoholic selection are available all-day — these include cocktails, shots, beer and wine.

Going for the Triple Tamago Sando, the Sando features elements such as Roasted Garlic Egg Mayo, Ramen Egg, Omelette, Roasted Garlic Butter & Brioche with Dijon Mayo — it also comes with a side of cassava chips as well. Sinking our teeth into the sandwich, the Triple Tamago Sando is a pretty wholesome affair — the brioche is toasted for a crisp exterior, all that whilst the bread was soft and fluffy within and carries a sweetness of its own. With eggs that are done three-ways, each egg element comes with its own texture that provided a good contrast for the Sando — the Garlic Egg Mayo giving it a creamy consistency, while the Ramen Egg provides a good bounciness. The Roasted Garlic Butter provides a savoury, garlicky note for the Sando that binds everything altogether, whilst the Dijon Mustard provides an earthy touch; the sprinkle of Furikake over the top giving a umami note to the sandwich that makes the Triple Tamago Sando a pretty tasty affair. The cassava chips on the side were crisp; came seasoned with just enough salt for flavour — a side which was decent enough to pair with the Sando itself.

Overall, Naga House does seem to do pretty well in its food — the food served here does seem to be a playful spin on Japanese fare that seems to incorporate their own unique touch; also pretty theme-appropriate considering how the items they serve up do seem good as an all-day brunch offering as well as that of a gastrobar. That being said, Naga House does need to sort out some of its teething issues — the establishment was at maximum capacity when we made our visit during a weekend lunch service; understandably the kitchen was slammed with orders though waiting times for food can be pretty long (our last item to arrive the table, the Triple Tamago Sando took nearly an hour to be served and after we were done with the House-Fried Chicken
with Tamago Kake Gohan). Items were also coming out on a random basis; the Shimichi Truffle Fries which we ordered as a sharing plate came before the Triple Tamago Sando — though also only made its appearance at the table with a considerable wait after the House-Fried Chicken with Tamago Kake Gohan was served. We also felt that the front-of-house staff were overwhelmed — there was a period of time which we were ignored despite standing around outside of, and inside the premises in hopes of having someone to attend to us so that we can take a seat at the outdoor tables; perhaps something which they can look into as they smoothen out their operations. Still, Naga House does seem like a place worthy to check out once they have got their stuff sorted — a spot that serves up pretty decently-priced food and drinks that looks to be a fun spot to spend with some friends or co-workers for a wind-down from a hectic work week!

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Was meant to check out Upshot Specialty Coffee for a while but hadn’t really made that trip down until really recently. Being one of the few spots that serve up specialty coffee in One Raffles Place, Upshot Specialty Coffee is perhaps one of the most hidden ones as well — decked in a minimalistic theme that features plenty of white elements, the cafe is hidden up at level 4. For those looking for hot food options here, Upshot Specialty Coffee only serves up a Ham & Cheese Toast, Cheese Toast, Corndog and Croffles for its hot food menu. Apart from those, patrons also can pick between the various pastries that they have to offer in the display shelf; beverages are largely centred around both espresso-based coffee and filtered coffee, with non-coffee options including the Matcha Latte, Chai Latte, Chocolate and Passion Fruit Soda.

Between the small selection of toasts that they have to offer, it was obvious that the Cheese Toast was going to be our choice. Served in a rather simplistic fashion, we initially thought that we would be disappointed with this one; but boy were we so wrong about that. Whilst the toast looks fairly thin as compared to that of the sourdough toast that some other establishments may choose to use for similar items (which also carries a more premium vibe to it), the toast here was especially crisp, yet easy to chew. In between the slices of toast would be the melted cheese — whilst it seemed pretty pedestrian and could have easily lacked the cheese pull that most people would be looking for in an item like this, that cannot be further than the truth; the melted cheese in between is everything stretchy as one chews the Cheese Toast apart. If anything, we did like how the Cheese Toast was a fine balance between bread and cheese here — there wasn’t one element that seemed to be stronger than the other; a beautiful combination of both which did not actually feel anywhere near being jelak.

One thing particularly concerning during our visit to Upshot Specialty Coffee that we have found is how empty the place seemingly is even despite our visit made during lunch hour on a weekday at The Central Business District. Can’t be really certain if it was the location (the basement level of One Raffles Place is where most would be at with the most food options — level 4 would definitely take some effort to get to), or if it was a lack of hot food options in its menu. Whilst we do understand that there might have been challenges with serving certain types of hot food due to the space it is located in, we do wish that there were more choices available considering how limited the offerings are here. Nonetheless, the Cheese Toast is a fairly decent eat; overall a spot worth considering for a quiet cuppa and a light eat in the heart of the Central Business District.

Boyutei is probably one of the most anticipated openings in the cafe scene of the late — taking over the former premises of The Coconut Club at Ann Siang House before its eventual move to Beach Road, Boyutei is a contemporary French-Japanese cafe concept by the folks behind Whitegrass at CHIJMES and matcha specialists, Hvala, which runs various outlets including one at CHIJMES, 111Somerset and Beach Road. The space is pretty much left in the same format as when The Coconut Club moved out the premises; the kitchen at Boyutei is that of an open-concept style, while the dining area features two wings that adopts different decor styles — one that features a brighter design with white walls and wooden elements, while the other featuring black walls that carry a slightly raw look. Serving up their very own interpretations of French-Japanese fusion brunch fare, the menu is being split into several sections — this includes sections dedicated to salad & soup, rice & noodles, Sando and crepes. Plated desserts are being featured in their dessert section of the menu here, while Boyutei also offers a tea set that features savoury items, pastries / sweets and a choice of tea in a single platter at $69 for two pax. Being a concept that Hvala is involved in, expect a wide variety of Japanese green tea and black tea available at Boyutei; other tea options include straight Matcha, tea lattes, cold brew teas and Chinese teas. Coffee lovers can also opt for either the Gaiwan Coffee, as well as the Cold Brew Coffee on the menu here.

Perhaps one of the items that really showcases the French-Japanese influence on brunch fare at Boyutei will be their crepe lineup — the Prawn & Chicken Okonomiyaki being just one of the few items with a strong French-Japanese fusion amongst the crepes that they serve up here. Featuring elements such as dashi poached chicken, prawn, cabbage, pickled red cabbage, spring onion, mayonnaise, tonkatsu sauce and bonito flakes, this is essentially an item where the Japanese Okonomiyaki meets the French crepe — using the crepe as a base, the crepe is done pretty thin here; despite its thinness, it does carry a sort of Prata-like consistency when one pulls it apart, all that whilst being still somewhat lightly eggy yet not being especially jelak. The mix of ingredients within the crepe is what one would usually find in a Japanese Okonomiyaki; the prawns here are especially fresh, while the dashi poached chicken is considerably tender and comes with a light hint of sweetness from the dashi used in its preparation — the red cabbage being especially fresh and gives the Prawn & Chicken Okonomiyaki Crepe a crunch factor that is also refreshing against all that meat and sauce going on in here. Given how this is an Okonomiyaki, it cannot do without the classic combination of the mayonnaise and Tonkatsu drizzle, and the sprinkle of bonito flakes for that slightly creamy, savoury and umami flavour combination. All in all, a well-made fusion dish that is made delicious especially with the use of fresh ingredients.

Having also tried the Matcha Goma Garden plated dessert, it seems that Boyutei is a spot with plenty of potential — hearty French-Japanese cuisine that is done with slight touch of finesse; a little less formal than what one would call fine dining, but certainly something that is a competitive offering to that of casual dining establishments around. Prices are reasonable here considering the quality of food and the sort of produce that they seem to be using — the rice & noodles, Sandy’s and savoury crepes being priced in the range of $18 to $26. Sure, Boyutei might not be the spot that would make for a weekly hangout, but it does certainly seem like a spot to visit for a once-in-a-while splurge, as well as a decent spot for dates that calls for slightly more upscale brunch fare.

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Alto Cafe probably does not need much of an introduction these days — being a cafe that is known to be situated within the compounds of the condominium named Bayshore Park, Alto Cafe had since opened yet another outlet that is also located within a condominium — its latest outpost is at Sims Urban Oasis; the cafe being situated at the side gate of the condominium along Aljunied Road which is just a stone’s throw away from the bus stop outside the condominium. Occupying just a single shop unit, the space features two levels — the main dine-in area being located on the first level, while an outdoor dining area meant for condominium residents only is situated at level two alongside the counter for orders that is located within the shop unit itself. The space is decked simply though features a lot of plants and rattan furnishings to achieve a Balinese-style look that is makes the cafe look close-to-nature. Alto Cafe’s menu here is largely similar to the one that they serve at Bayshore Park, and features items split into sections that include Signature Open Toast, All Day Brekkie, Pasta, Shakshouka & Salads, Waffles, Croissantwich & Smoothie Bowls and Kids & Ala-Carte. Beverages include specialty coffee brewed using beans roasted by Dutch Colony Coffee Co., teas, milkshakes and other special concoctions such as Mango Chocc, Choco Rose and Rose Latte, whilst they also do offer various danishes, croissants and muffins that are displayed in a shelf on the counter as well.

Going through the menu, we found ourselves being pretty interested in the Shakshouka, which features elements such as stewed tomatoes, capsicums, feta cheese, poached egg, Zaatar, and coriander — it also comes with two slices of sourdough toast on the side. It is noted that their variant doesn’t include any sausages or meat unlike those that are served at other cafes; this also makes their rendition vegan-friendly as well. Giving everything a good mix, we note that the poached egg here could be done a little better — the poached egg came served with the egg yolk being a little bit towards being more solid; otherwise the entire dish was bright and tangy from the stewed tomatoes, with bits of tomato and capsicum giving it a good bite and the poached egg and feta cheese providing some sort of richness. The sourdough toast used here is on-point, crusty on the exterior yet comes with a tension when one chews it apart — also had its own slight tanginess from the fermentation process that makes a sourdough what it is; a perfect pairing with the Shakshouka itself as one mops up the entire bowl with it.

Alto Cafe’s offerings may be simple, but there is something pretty comforting with the fare that they are serving up — the food, which is Muslim-friendly, does feel hearty and healthy, and does seem to have a lot of colour that makes it also pretty appealing to the eyes. We were, however, really impressed by their specially-concocted drinks here though — the Dirty Rose (which consists of double shots of espresso, rose syrup and milk) and the Mango Chocolate we had were equally memorable; the latter does sound like a weird combination but the sweetness of the tropical fruit went surprisingly well with the bittersweet chocolate — a showstopper worth mentioning on its own. While Alto Cafe’s Sim Urban Oasis does suffer from a being just a small space that fits 12 pax within its indoor public dine-in area on the ground floor, its newest outlet is also probably the most convenient for those who are deterred by having to go through the hassle of registering themselves at the security post just to patronise the cafe at their Bayshore Park location; probably just a small sacrifice for those cafe-hoppers who are eager to give Alto Cafe a try!

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Hamilton Road does seem like the hotspot within Jalan Besar for the opening of new cafes of the late — with LUCID being one of the first few tenants that had moved into this street back in 2020 before the start of the pandemic, multiple cafes had since started operations along this street with the likes of La Levain (by Chef Wythe Soon previously of Keong Saik Bakery and Bakery Brera) and more recently, The Lunar Rabbit Boulangerie, Missus is the newest addition to Hamilton Road at the time of writing this post. Decked in a style that features earthy tones, the interior of Missus is really soothing to the eyes with its warm lighting and wooden furnishing and fittings. Missus is a Muslim-run cafe; the menu here features all day items that includes a Granola Bowl, French Toast and a Kaya Cheese Toast, whilst there are also other sections dedicated to sides, grilled cheese sandwiches (available only after 11am) and desserts. The list of beverages include specialty coffee, which is brewed using beans roasted by State of Affairs (yes, the one at Longhaus along Upper Thomson Road), as well as a list of sparkling juices and teas. They also do offer some breads that are on display in the display case at the counter.

Amongst the items listed in the Grilled Cheese section of the menu, the item that seemed to capture our attention the most would be the Slumdog Grillionaire. The Slumdog Grillionaire features elements such as their Signature Cheese Blend, Masala Potato, Coriander Pesto and Tomato Tamarind Chutney — all grilled cheese sandwich orders also do come accompanied with sweet chili tapioca chips from Max’s Farms by the side. Whilst it didn’t come across as that obvious to us when we first read through the menu here, it was actually clear when we had the first bite that the item is in fact inspired by the Masala Dosa, and executed in the form of a grilled cheese sandwich. Chewing through crisp toast, it becomes really obvious — that hint of flavour from the chunky spiced potato and that herby note of the coriander pesto is almost akin to that of having the masala dosa with the dips on the side; itself working especially well in a form of a grilled cheese sandwich since melted cheese and potatoes are a well-made match together as well. With that stretchy and oozy melted cheese creating that cheese pull that also laces around the chunky potatoes, the inclusion of the Tomato Tamarind Chutney on the side replicates that of the tomato soup that one dips in with the usual grilled cheese sandwich — that extra tang that takes all the heaviness of the cheese, carbs and starches away. An item that we found to be especially thoughtful.

Where items from the Grilled Cheese section and the All Day section of the menu are of concern, it does seem that Missus have placed a lot of thought in what they wanted to serve up — their ideas are very clearly put through in a way that it not only works, but is also pretty well-executed and delicious. We also found their Baked Ketaifi Cheese really memorable — akin to a Kunafe with melted cheese in the middle, and their rendition came with a homemade rose syrup-infused saffron cream that came with an alluring floral fragrance. That being said, we do feel that they do need a bit of work on their coffee; didn’t really find how it was pulled that made it feel like it justice to what State of Affairs had roasted. Still, with food items where effort and passion for the craft can be felt, Missus is off a great start; a spot that is worth making the visit for!

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Was in the area not too long ago checking out yet another destination nearby; noticed that MADU The Bakery was already in the renovation works along Race Course Road. For those whom are unaware, Madu The Bakery had started business as a home-based bakery serving up Korean-style brioche buns — think the likes of the Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread, though with their own twist (the Classic Garlic Bread is their rendition to the trendy Korean one which was making its waves locally some time back). The physical space, now opened at Race Course Road is a partnership between MADU The Bakery and the folks behind Ah Hua Kelong, who also runs Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong at Hamilton Road — the staff in the cafe dons tees from Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong here. With the expansion of the business into a full-fledged cafe, MADU the bakery now has its own dine-in space as well; the entire cafe is decked in what can be said as a Balinese-inspired design theme — very zen, with furnishings that also come with rattan elements with a wood accent finishing. Most of what is being offered on the menu here are also on display in the display shelves at the counter — these includes the various bakes and cakes apart from their Korean-style brioche buns as well; all of which are items that are newly-introduced alongside the launch of their brick-and-mortar store. This includes items such as sourdough slices (think an open-faced sourdough toast), sandwiches and cakes; beverages available here includes specialty coffee, soda, chocolate and tea.

We were actually pretty impressed by most of the items that we have got; that includes the Mentaiko Bun and the Bolu Keju (the Indonesian-style cheese cake, served with their own twist). For those looking for something more substantial though, the Cereal Prawn Croissant is indeed a showstopper — this item features elements such as Tiger Prawns, Yuzu, Mayo, Cereal, Red Chili and Curry Leaves served in a form of a croissant sandwich; the menu also indicates that it is “inspired by the delicious Tze Char dish”. We were really into how the croissant was pretty fresh here; there is always this thing where the croissant usually feels quite stale in a croissant sandwich but this one is flaky, buttery and crisp as one would have expected — had a really beautifully done lamination as well. In between sits all the good stuff — chunky prawns that carried a good bite whilst carrying a natural sweetness (wouldn’t expect less given their affiliation with Ah Hua Kelong), and comes accompanied with a good portion of cereal crumbs; the same way one would expect out of the tze char dish that adds on to the umami factor of the item. The chili padi added as well as the curry leaves did bring this rendition really close to what I would expect when I order Cereal Prawn as a dish in a tzechar stall; that fragrance and crispness of the latter and the slight spiciness when one chews on the former replicates that of what the dish is inspired from pretty closely. Personally thought that the mayonnaise and the sliced cheese wasn’t quite necessary, but I guess they were included to just make the elements of the croissant sandwich come together with the croissant itself. A westernised version of a local favourite that really does justice to what it was inspired from.

MADU The Bakery is pretty much off a promising start — having had a taste of what they have to offer, it is little wonder how they have had waiting lists for their brioche buns previously while they were operating as a home-based baker; there is really some true dedication and effort placed into the making of what they have to offer — an example being the croissant they have used for the croissant sandwich where they seem to have given a lot of care even on the croissant used, just so that the patrons have the best experience out of the dish. Given how they already have a fan base, and also how there is a lack of sit-down cafes with a decently-sized dine-in area around the Race Course Road area, MADU The Bakery would probably still be a promising spot worth making the visit for; a name that one should keep an eye out as time passes!

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Caught wind of the new The Fed Giraffe — the florist-cum-cafe is one of the few tenants of the newly-opened Hougang Rivercourt that is situated in between Hougang and Kovan; accessible via bus just a few stops away from either MRT Station. Whilst the neighbourhood mall itself, as well as most of the shops within are undergoing renovation works, there are a few F&B establishments that had already opened their doors here which includes the likes of a Koufu foodcourt, R&B Tea, Overscoop (yes, the same one from Junction Nine at Yishun that had also opened yet another outlet in Orchard Central recently) and Burger King amongst others. Despite being a florist-cum-cafe, The Fed Giraffe is a spot that is more meant for lighter fare — quite evident would be the small food preparation area that doesn’t really allow for open-fire cooking; the menu features a variety of bagels (including bagel sandwiches and bagels with various spreads), poke bowls and açai bowls. Beverages available here includes specialty coffee as well as a decent selection of tea.

Given the size and equipment of the food preparation at The Fed Giraffe, we were actually not expecting a lot from the Loxlox that we had order. Being more of a classic Lox bagel sandwich (some will call it “that smoked salmon bagel sandwich”), the Loxlox comprises of items such as Smoked Salmon, Scallion Cream Cheese With Cucumbers and Fresh Onions — patrons will have the choice to opt between the Wholemeal Bagel or the Plain Bagel; we went for the latter. Going straight for a little bit of everything, what really impressed us with the Loxlox here is how there seem to be attention to detail being placed on the bagel itself — for an establishment of its type, we were already impressed with how the bagel carried a slight crusty texture from being toasted; adds texture to the otherwise rather “safe” bagel sandwich that it is. The rest of the elements here is just a classic combination that goes well together — that savoury, cured flavours of smoked salmon and that zing from the fresh onions that resets the taste buds when all gets a bit too heavy; the scallion cream cheese that provides a creamy texture that bind all the elements together. Pretty satisfying despite being a really simple and classic combination for a bagel sandwich.

If anything, The Fed Giraffe is that sort of spot that falls into a difficult category — there isn’t quite a variety of items that would attract the masses given how bagels, poke bowls and açai bowls do generally seem to only appeal to a niche crowd — not to mention how the items do feel somewhat simple though there is nothing much they could do considering the space that they are occupying. That being said, we really did love how they were still able to nail a simple item relatively well; perhaps they just need to take a look into offering something with more character to stand out from the saturated cafe scene in Singapore. Wouldn’t really say that I would travel out the way out from a far end of the island to just go for their bagels here, but I think it works if one is living around the North-East region; also a convenient hangout for residents in the area.

There is always something to check out in the Central Business District, especially given how the office crowds are seemingly back to work and the queues for the F&B establishments around the area are quite becoming the norm — something that has not quite been since ever since the pandemic hit. Glad to also see new establishments opening up around the ‘hood — Beigelhaus being one such new establishment that had found new digs at Robinson Square; the establishment situated quite literally next to the equally new KYŌ Kohee, and features a pretty minimalist interior with a dark decor scheme. Beigelhaus is a Muslim-run establishment, and the menu features bagels in two-styles; either available with “Schmears” (i.e. variety of spreads), or “Fills” which refers to their range of bagel-witches. Based on what the staff behind the counter claims, the bagels served here are baked in-house; a list of beverages such as shakes, sparkling tea and specialty coffee are also available here.

Patrons do have a choice of bagels for the “Fills” at Beigelhaus — one can either opt for the plain bagel, and also a sesame bagel; an option for the items listed on the “Fills” menu to come as a wrap is also available. It is worth noting that the items served at Beigelhaus do come in disposable packaging — perhaps considering that there aren’t many seats here and how they might be targeting the office crowd that tends to do more of a grab-and-go. The Räkrorä here comes with elements such as prawns, skagen mix, red onions, apples and fennel salad. Inspired partially by the Swedish cocktail shrimp served in a bagel form, The Räkrorä does come with decently-sized shrimp that is typically of the types that one may find in the frozen food section at a supermarket. Considerably quite a light bite for a bagel sandwich, the prawns do provide quite a bite; itself being rather plump and they were also seemingly generous with the portion of prawns here — all that along with the skagen mix that gives it somewhat of a neutral note that binds it together with the chewy sesame bagel which we have went for. The other elements such as the red onions, fennel salad and apple did provide a refreshing crunch and a little bit of a zingy note. That being said, we did feel that the skagen mix lacked that hint of dill that would have made for a contrast of flavours that would bring it up to another level however.

Being one of the few cafe-esque establishments in the CBD, Beigelhaus does provide for an interesting alternative for Muslim-friendly bagels — a gap that has yet to be filled for the most part since most establishments who serve house-made bagels are not Muslim-friendly. Prices are a little steep for the bagel sandwiches ranging from $14 to $16 — not something one would consider as an everyday eat, but definitely well enough for the once in a while urge just to scratch those cravings as they come.

Visited the new Tanglin Cookhouse that had recently opened its doors at Tanglin Mall — the mall is currently in the midst of the revamp, and has also seen other tenants such as Poke Theory and Nick Vina Artisan Bakery move into the mall; long-time tenant Caffe Beviamo has also been relocated to another unit with a whole new interior as well. Located at Level 1, Tanglin Cookhouse isn’t particularly difficult to find if one enters the mall through the entrance closest to Starbucks Coffee and Nando’s — Tanglin Cookhouse is the latest concept by Creative Eateries, which also run other F&B establishments such as Patara Fine Thai Cuisine (also located within Tanglin Mall), Bangkok Jam, Typhoon Cafe and Suki-Ya; just to name a few. At Tanglin Cookhouse, the dining establishment strives to bring its patrons back to the colonial times through cuisine with their Asian-inspired European fare; being “inspired by the rich culinary traditions and influences of British cooking”. The menu is pretty extensive here — there are sections dedicated to Breakfast that runs from 9am to 3pm, Brunch that is available from 10:30am to 3pm on weekdays and 9am to 3pm on weekends and Lunch and Dinner which runs from 12pm to closing. The Lunch and Dinner section of the menu comprises of sub-sections ranging from appetiser, to salads, soups, Western mains, Asian-inspired mains and pasta — a kids menu titled “For the Little Ones” is also available. Apart from the desserts listed in the menu, there are also viennoiserie, cakes and pastries displayed in the bread trolley located at the entrance and also in the display fridge to choose from; they also do provide for a good variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well.

The Welsh Rarebit with Espresso Bacon Jam is an item that is being listed on the “Breakfast” section of the menu which is available only from 9am to 3pm daily — it comprises of elements such as Brioche Toast, Farmed Egg, Béchamel Sauce,
Triple Cheese and Petite Salad as per its description on the menu. When it was first served to our table, we felt that the Welsh Rarebit with Espresso Bacon Jam does bear a striking resemblance to one of our favourite dishes served at another indie cafe — the Gashouse Eggs from One Man Coffee; right from how it does consist of a variant of bacon jam, to the plating of the Espresso Bacon Jam that is serge on a round slice of toast. The similarities don’t end there — slicing through the toast does reveal a surprise of a sous vide egg with molten egg yolk within; the golden goodness eager to burst as one slices the toast down. The brioche toast comes with crisp edges, yet fluffy within — absorbed the molten yolk so well whilst also carried a slight hint of sweetness of its own; the triple cheese melted over the toast with the bechamel sauce further adds a savouriness that works pretty well with the eggy notes as well. For those who prefer a heavier flavour, add on the Espresso Bacon Jam for a bit of bite; think of it as chopped up candied bacon that is laced in an espresso glaze that is all sweet, and savoury with a bitter undertone from the espresso that gives it the dish a good meaty bite that antes up the overall flavour profile. All in all, pretty much spiritually the same as the dish that other dish we liked, and one that we felt was pretty decently executed considering the commercial outfit that it seems to be.

Tanglin Cookhouse does seem like a spot that expats and locals in the area alike will like having around in the neighbourhood — situated conveniently in the mall, Tanglin Cookhouse does serve up items that speaks to the locals, whilst offering familiar Western dishes that would resonate with the expats. Whilst it is being run by a group rather than being an indie establishment, we found the quality of food to be more than decent here, which we would say is a pretty commendable deal for such commercial establishments out there — we would hope that they are able to maintain the level of quality over time. That being said, service isn’t the smoothest here though we would also reckon that it is pretty much attributed to being teething issues for a newly-opened establishment — probably just needs some time to smoothen their operations. Wouldn’t really say I would make my way out for Tanglin Cookhouse, but it does work as a spot good for gatherings and catch-ups alike; all that with pretty decent food to go along with which I would not mind having again if in the area and having a bit of cash to spare.

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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