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

I think I joke quite a bit about how this is one of those items which I wouldn’t really understand why people order from western stalls at food centres — that’s until I was pretty much found guilty of craving for one at a recent trip to Tekka Centre.

Shi Xin Western Food’s rendition of the Ham Sausage with Eggs is essentially what it is; deep-fried hot dog that goes into the fryer with the French fries, ham that is grilled and two eggs cracked in the same pan, one can easily pass it off as being served something made of readily available frozen food bought from the supermarket and thrown in the same plate with a mark-up. But as I go on further, it’s also how this local Hainanese-Western style plate starts to become really relatable — it’s the luxury brunch plate or the bygone era; where processed foods are definitely seen more of a novelty just like how we enjoy our thick-cut bacon, sourdough toast and poached eggs in our brunch plates now. Whilst being an item trapped in the past, there is still something quite nostalgic about such breakfast plates that feels so laden with saltish elements — from the ham to the sausages, while the sunny side-up with runny egg yolks is still a crowd favourite that is oh-so-comforting in the modern day. The fries aren’t too heavily seasoned, but they do retain some crispness and fluffiness as long as they are consumed hot, which they do as Shi Xin Western Food only fries them upon order. And there is that fluffy soft bun that is often missing from Western stalls these days — glad that they still serve these like the true blue Hainanese-Western stalls in the past with a pack of butter on the side, while the plate also comes with baked beans, coleslaw and a salad of cucumber and tomato; all things that one will expect from such a stall.

The pairing of Generation Coffee’s Kopi-O was a decent choice — something that I guess people of the past will pair their breakfast plate with as long as they could afford it. Felt that their Kopi-O was a tad sweet for my liking (I usually do Kopi-O Kosong if I do Kopi-O); much prefer their Kopi which comes punchier and an overall more interesting choice.

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Came across The Brewing Ground on social media the other, and decided to drop by during the past weekend — located in the tranquil surroundings of The Yard (the former location of Telok Kurau English School), the highlight of the cafe is the Kapok tree right at their backyard — a 40 year old tree with a prominent stature which is almost a centrepiece of the cafe when viewed from a certain point. The lush greenery within the cafe and the space being flooded with natural lighting streaming in from the windows on both sides makes this spot absolutely charming.

Serving up different items throughout the day, patrons can get to order items such as granola, tartines and sandwiches for breakfast from opening to 4pm, or breakfast platters, brunch classics, mains and pasta which are available from 11am to 4pm. The Breakfast Burger is part of the “brunch” section of the menu — features Pork Sausage Patty, Silky Scrambled Eggs, Caramalised Onions, Cheese, Ketchup Mayo, Brioche Buns, Hash Browns and Mesclun Salad. A beautifully put-together burger featuring elements which seem to work well especially for a substantial brunch item, the portion is incredibly hearty — light and fluffy brioche buns come spread with the ketchup mayo for a lightly tangy and creamy touch; an attempt to bind the burger buns together with the elements within. There, the scrambled eggs are well-executed; silky, creamy and beautifully folded — carried a distinct egginess without being overly seasoned, and paired well with the juicy and tenderised pork sausage that is just savoury to the right degree for a wholesome touch. While some establishments uses sweet elements such as apple sauce to cut through the meatiness of the pork, caramalised onions is used here instead, lending its distinct sweetness to the pork sausage while being still slightly savoury with the cheese being melted over it. Even the hash browns do deserve a mention here — no doubt looking like they come off those generic packs available at any supermarket, but I like how they have done it just nice here without the hash browns feeling particularly greasy which deserves the mention.

Must say that The Brewing Ground was somewhere I really enjoyed being at — soaking into its serenity, it felt like a spot that is hidden away from the urbanity. Being situated in a rather obscure spot in Telok Kurau, it may be a spot that takes a little while to be explored, but it was certainly well worth it — the ambience, the food, the coffee, the hospitality; somewhere that places an emphasis on their patrons where it’s all relaxing and positive vibes. Its needless to say that I will be back again — a cafe to wind down over the weekend over idyllic brunches with a book on one hand and a cup of coffee with the other; wishing the folks behind The Brewing Ground all the best in what has to come!

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As the name of the establishment would probably have one thinking, The Chir Cafe + Bar is a new concept by the K Food Holdings Pte. Ltd. — the same group that has brought us F&B establishments such as Chir Chir, Kogane Yama, and Nipong Naepong. Located at the heart of Holland Village at Lorong Mambong, Chir Chir does serve up a different menu for both lunch/brunch service and dinner service; the latter coming with more breakfast-oriented dishes such as the Chir B.B.F. (i.e. a big breakfast platter) and Bulgogi Tartine, while the dinner service comprises more of sharing platters such as the Bacon Kimchi Dubu and Spicy Cheese Dakgalbi.

Available in both the brunch and dinner menu here, the Chir Chicken Croffel comprises of elements such as Fried Chicken Thigh, Freshly-Baked Croffel and an in-house Butter Maple Syrup. Being an item that has been trendy to be served at Korean cafes, the Croffel is essentially a hybrid of a croissant and a waffle; while aesthetically more similar to a waffle with a distinct shape of a croissant, the Croffel here comes rather cakey, though carries a fragrant buttery note typical of that in a standard croissant — pairs well with the clotted cream and butter maple syrup where the latter is light, fluffy and carried a light sweetness, while the latter is a classic combination to be had with a waffle. The fried chicken carries that flavour and texture of the fried chicken that Chir Chir is known for — crisp, golden-brown batter on the outside, with juicy and succulent meat within; all that whilst not being greasy and easy to have. Accompanying the main elements on the same plate are some leafy greens that comes pretty much standard with most cafe fare all around — an attempt to keep things wholesome and balanced considering the heaviness of the elements of the dish.

If anything, The Chir Cafe + Bar is that sort of concept that K Food Holdings seem to do well in; Korean fusion cuisine that speaks well with the masses. It is undeniable how Chir Chir and Nipong Naepong are pretty popular with the crowds at [email protected] especially — The Chir Cafe + Bar would do well with most; a decent dining option in the area.

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A spot that I can say that I have been returning to every week, but it is still a rare occasion when I find myself sharing a main here instead of just having the pastries here — after all, there are mains such as the Curried Chicken Wrap and the Oven Baked Molten Eggs on Tortilla and Melted Cheese that I have been craving for, but there are always plans to have something else after the visit here.

Sounding like a rather simple dish that can be easily assembled by most in their kitchen, this also a dish that exemplifies the philosophy behind Brawn & Brains — their food always comes simple, but well-executed without being over-the-top; just straight up comforting brunch fare that warms the soul. The open face toast here comes with melted cheese over the top; stretchy and savoury, whilst complimenting the crusty and rustic slice of toast beneath it. Cherry tomatoes can be found hiding in the midst of the melted cheese — perhaps an attempt to use its zestiness to cut through the cheesiness and the carbs. Topped off with grilled bacon, the grilled bacon carries a hint of saltish flavour typical of cured meat, alongside an evident smokiness that I so ever love about their bacon here — absolutely sinful yet delicious; very few other establishments does their bacon this way. The Onsen Egg comes with a satisfying jiggle and a molten egg yolk; one could choose to dab it on the toast, or pair it with the garden salad if they so wish to that gives the salad a luscious texture and an eggy flavour, while the edamame is something that provides for a more wholesome feel for those with bigger appetites.

I think I have said enough over the years, but every visit that I have their mains and I would say that I have been neglecting their hot food offerings for quite a bit — the stuff here feels great to revisit for something I know will be satisfying, and especially rewarding to have after going around many other establishments be it cafes, bistro, restaurants and hawkers to just try what others have to offer. Reminds me that I have still yet to try the Fried Chicken Burger that is only available at their East Coast Road outlet!

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The Poiz Centre seems to house quite a number of interesting tenants under its roof, including Ho Jia Ga which serves up the Taiwanese classic Sausage with Sticky Rice 大肠包小肠, and Ms. Durian which specialises in durian desserts and pastries.

Juparo Coffee is one of the newest tenants to have moved into the mall, situated along the perimeters of the building without having to enter the mall to gain access to the cafe. Whilst serving up quite a variety of all day brunch dishes, pasta and mains alongside a small selection of cakes and desserts, Juparo Coffee seems to offer quite an extensive menu for its coffee selection that includes the Kogeta Cappuccino (similar to a Creme Brûlée Latte), siphon and pour-overs, as well as Long Neck (i.e. Cold Brew with an Espresso punch). One of the all-day brunch items that caught our eye was The Crab — Sourdough, Tomato Relish, Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crab, Poached Eggs and Homemade Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. It offers no surprises, being what it essentially is in its description — the sourdough being a little tough and difficult to chew as one has to wrestle through the slightly limp crust. But otherwise, the entire affair was pretty decent — runny poached eggs with a molten yolk that eagerly bursts as one pokes through the egg with a fork, while the soft shell crabs were crisp and reasonably fresh without carrying a heavy, muddy flavour. Felt that the dish could come with more character if the tomato relish and the Thai sweet chili sauce could be mixed together instead of occupying different parts of the bread to give a sweetish tang. Coming with garden salad on the side, the garden salad comes dressed with lime(?) dressing that carried a visual aesthetic close to mayonnaise; pretty refreshing whilst providing the dish a wholesome feel.

Given their special concoctions of specialty coffee here, Juparo Coffee seems to be a spot that would serve the residents around Potong Pasir pretty well with decent food offerings and interesting beverages; the friendly neighbourhood hangout that residents will grow to appreciate having here.

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There has been a lot of talk about The Hainan Story on social media of the late — taking over the former premises of the now-defunct Tian Bao Szechuan Kitchen at Hillion Mall, The Hainan Story is a multi-concept food hall that houses several brands under one roof, such as familiar local establishments like Ah Chiang’s Porridge and Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice, as well as new concepts such as Uncle Robert Western and Newspaper Hainanese Curry Rice.

Off the menu from The Hainan Story, which is essentially the stall here serving Nanyang Kopi, tea and other beverages, as well as Hainanese toast, British pies alongside egg tarts and desserts such as cheesecakes, the Homemade Gula Melaka Kaya & Butter Toast caught my attention given how it is homemade — the Kaya itself even being retailed in bottles here; something that definitely piqued my interest given my love for homemade Kaya. True to the Hainanese variant of the well-loved coconut jam, the Homemade Gula Melaka Kaya here comes in a pretty shade of dark-brown, as opposed to the usual green Nonya Kaya which many other establishments that make their own kaya prefers to serve up. Whilst most Hainanese Kaya uses brown sugar or caramelised sugar/caramel for their kaya, the deep, earthy sweetness of the Gula Melaka really exudes in this rendition, and goes exceptionally well with the slab of cold butter slapped in between the UFO buns — the bun being a standard option here and is absolutely fluffy, light and pillowy-soft. We went for the ala-carte option here; choosing to opt for Butter Kopi to go along (a $0.60 upgrade from the original Kopi), though the same is also available in a set which comes with soft-boiled eggs and coffee/tea/cold drinks (from a given selection only) for those looking for the full Hainanese breakfast affair.

Wished they were a little more careful in processing orders here though; was initially given Peanut Butter Toast instead of the Homemade Gula Melaka Kaya and Butter Toast by accident — a little dangerous considering how some folks may have peanut allergies and could have taken a bite into the wrongly-made order. Otherwise, given the sheer amount of options available here, I guess Bukit Panjang residents will find this a great option within their area of residence — would probably check out the other concepts that they have soon since some of the items available had already caught my eye!

Came across the social media accounts of The Ritual Co. pretty recently; a new cafe which had taken over the former premises of now-defunct Brew Maison at Alocassia Apartments which is just a stone’s throw away from Stevens MRT Station.

The menu at The Ritual Co. seems to consist of more conventional brunch dishes, apart from a couple of starters, granola and açai bowls, and pastries/cakes — especially so when compared against specialty cafes which veer towards a type of cuisine that is being dubbed as “contemporary progressive cafe nosh”. Coming with elements such as scrambled eggs, truffle oil, black caviar, smoked salmon and sourdough toast, this item carries no surprises — sourdough toast that is crisp on the exterior, yet chewy within which is typical of sourdough bread, we wished that the scrambled eggs could be more runny and creamier whilst coming with a stronger hint of truffle just to bring out the element that is being mentioned in its name. Otherwise, the black caviar does add a hint of saltishness for a flavoural contrast, while the smoked salmon completes the dish with its savoury note typical of cured meat — gives the dish a wholesome touch.

Despite the classy yet minimalist interior, The Ritual Co. felt that it could do more for a stronger character — especially so when the cafe scene has since moved on from the dishes that they have to offer. Prices are also a tad bit on the high side (i.e. $25 for this item), whilst I could only wish better in terms for the execution. That being said, it does make for a relaxing spot to chill with some friends for a catch-up session especially for those who are not too opinionated with their food — a pretty comfy spot at the fringe of town that is pretty conducive overall.

Made the trek into Sentosa after having found out about Le Faubourg online — a French cafe which serves up galettes, crepes (both savoury and sweet, salads, croques, Flammekueches (pizza, served French-style), desserts and waffles which had opened its doors quite a while ago at Mess Hall just around The Outpost Hotel Sentosa and Village Hotel Sentosa; the same compound also housing Hide Masa and a 7-11 convenience store.

Coming in both crepe and galette options, the Étienne Marcel comes with elements such as chorizo, olive tapenade, egg and cheese. The entire composition feels almost like a pizza, though with a strong hint of olives; that prominent note of savouriness — all that with stretchy, melted cheese and the saltish notes typical of cured meat coming from the chorizo. The egg helps to add a silkier touch to the entire deal when mixed into the dish. The buckwheat (?) galette comes with a slight bitterness coming from the type of flour used in the crepe batter; the crepe here being more of the soft and “fluffy” type. The item comes with a garden salad on the side; a pretty typical one featuring vinaigrette dressing that is good to have.

French crepes and galettes seems to be an up and rising trend of the late; the year started with the opening of Gather, and then subsequently French Fold in the recent months. Le Faubourg is set slightly away from similar establishments, hidden away in Sentosa at a spot not too far away from Resort Worlds Sentosa — perhaps not a spot that most will make a dedicated trip down for. That being said, it does work as a good option for somewhat affordable brunch around the island given the lack of cafes there; somewhere which I would keep in mind if I happen to staycay in Sentosa some day.

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Those who have been around my Instagram profile would probably know how much I used to love Necessary Provisions — the space at Eng Kong Gardens is somewhere which I still found to be pretty unique and filled with character; was definitely sad when they pulled down their shutters for the last time a few years ago. So one could imagine the excitement in me when I first came across Necessary Provisions’s post on social media about their comeback in partnership with SmartFit Pilates, occupying just a small space that consists of two four-seater tables at Tanglin Place in the same space as the pilates studio.

Despite the small space occupied by Necessary Provisions here, they actually serve up hot food here alongside a small variety of cakes and bakes — that being said, the cafe now features a meatless dining concept (yes, no more Luncheon Meat Fried Rice and Pork Burger sadly); the Croque Kinoko is a sandwich that features shiitake mushroom and gruyere. A simple dish that’s comforting and satisfying (which is pretty much their branding since their days at Eng Kong Gardens), the toast comes crisp on the exterior with melty, oozy cheese lacing the earthy mushrooms in between that gives a bouncy chew. Topped with shaved cheese and a pickle, the pickle cuts through the heaviness of the cheese and bread to provide a sour-ish tang to refresh the taste buds.

The current rendition of Necessary Provisions at Tanglin Place is a more scaled-down version of what they were back then at the Eng Kong Gardens lot — smaller, cosier with a small stripped down menu that consist of only meatless options. That said, Necessary Provisions is still pretty much the same space it used to be — simple food that taste like home, straight from the heart, all in a cafe setting. Still, I must say I am pretty stoked about their return into the cafe scene; welcome back, and I am definitely returning for more (especially the Quinoa Ulam) some time soon — and to more Pandan Chiffon Cakes in time to come!

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Stranger’s Reunion is a spot that brings most cafehoppers back to the past — being a space that was almost very much of a must-visit spot for their buttermilk waffles and brunch items way back in those days, they have since moved back to their premises at 37 Kampong Bahru Road, which was also the space that was converted into the now-defunct Waffle Slayer at one point of time.

Not only has the space been spruced up after going through a round of renovations, Strangers’ Reunion is also serving up a refreshed menu in line with it’s reopening. The Strange Puff is an item that carries an Asian influence that sets it apart from the other items which they offer on the menu, featuring elements such as Red Curry, Chicken, Potatoes, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime, Buratta and Herb Salad. Encased all in a light, buttery and flaky puff pastry, the flavours seem to suggest a stronger Thai influence than that of our local curries; seemingly lighter on the notes of the spices, but with an evident aroma from the lemongrass and kaffir lime that provides a refreshing flavour that perfumes throughout the puff, and adds to the contrast and complexity of flavours here. Liked how the chunks of chicken and potato were soft to bite, while the buratta provides a stretchy cheesiness that laces all of the elements together. Topped off with herb salad over the top, the arugula helps to add a slight hint of bitterness that cuts through the spices perfectly, while the tomatoes provide a refreshing burst of zinginess that gives a good break between morsels of the puff.

Curious Palette and Wakey Wakey may have surpassed the popularity of Strangers’ Reunion over the years, but there is something about the Strangers’ Reunion branding that just carries a slightly different vibe than its other establishments — perhaps a more familiar, recognisable name that has been around since the third wave coffee movement had hit Singapore. Some may find the new space tighter and smaller than their previous premises, but it is a great throwback to what they were in the past; cosier, simpler and a less glitzy affair that brings one back to cafes of the era that they were born in — rather nostalgic.

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Visited the new Le Cafe Blanche at Thomson V Two recently; a new cafe that is situated at the stretch of shops where now-defunct Nook & Cranny was previously located; the cafe serves up all-day brunch dishes, pizza, pasta, panini, sides and desserts, just to name a few.

The Croque Madame here features elements such as French-style Brioche, Ham, Cheese, White Sauce and Poached Egg, and comes accompanied with mixed greens on the side as a salad. Felt that the entire package felt rather decent, though the white sauce (presumably the name for their rendition of the hollandaise sauce here) was a little too tangy for my liking given how I prefer my hollandaise sauce to be creamy and a little more neutral in flavour. Otherwise, the French-style Brioche was actually surprisingly sweet, with the ham providing the dish it’s meatiness while the melted Emmental gave it a complimenting cheesiness. The poached egg is executed pretty well here — the egg yolk being all oozy and molten; eagerly bursts out as one pokes the egg yolk with a fork and knife. A quiet spot for brunch in the Upper Thomson neighbourhood.

Made the trip down to East Coast Park over the previous weekend for East Coast Commune — opened by the folks behind a Commune Cafe, their latest outpost at East Coast Park situated just a few doors away from McDonald’s Marine Cove is their biggest yet — a space that is also absolutely chic and modern that feels close to nature with the use of wood, rattan elements that is welcoming and soothing.

Offering hot food options out of their kitchen here, East Coast Commune serves up sandwiches, pasta and small plates here, but it is the fresh sourdough waffles that caught my attention on the menu here. Essentially the full works here, the Big Breakfast Waffle features elements such as sausage, sautéed mushrooms, greens, fried eggs and maple syrup. The entire package is pretty pedestrian, though I wasn’t a fan of the limp waffle — it does however comes with a hint of sourness from the fermentation process of the sourdough. Thought it could do with a slightly more generous drizzle of maple syrup that could bring the other elements together with the waffle just a little more. That being said, it certainly works as a pretty spot for a mid-day brunch whilst having a relaxing stroll or date around the park.

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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