Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $15-$27

Nearest MRT: Lavender

Instagrammability: Very High -
The Populus of Bugis, sans luxurious napkins. Choose between gloomy, overcast windows or a brightly-lit, air-conditioned alfresco area.

Food:
1) Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict [$18.00]
Brightly-coloured Chipotle Hollandaise was fine. The choice of American-meets-Indian marinade was a little weak for the pulled pork, and ultimately, becomes unmemorable.

2) Orange Cinnamon French Toast [$15.00]
My first reaction after slicing open the bread was, "Oh, it's white!" Orange cinnamon is a unique & welcome take on French Toast toppings, but it isn't aggressive enough to my liking. The two strips of brittle bacon snaps were great, but not enough to make a $15 brunch item.

3) Duck & Waffle [$22.00]
Waffle was hard and devoid of fluff & joy. The duck was good, but hitting just above the ranks of cheaper joints like Saveur. Meanwhile, the sorbet was actually lovely. Again, for its derived satisfaction, it's a bit overpriced.

4) Hot Chocolate [$5.00]
Comes with beautiful yet durable Lion Latte Art. Why'd you always Lion?

To me, the unevenly-coated, pale-in-the-middle $15 French Toast & tough Waffle represents everything disappointing with 20F; easy on the eye, but without inner substance to inspire a return.

Come Here: Maybe?

6 Likes

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $15-$20

Nearest MRT: Bugis

Instagrammability: Moderate -
The artsy Timbre-esque space inside has quite poor lighting, so head out under the awnings for some alfresco sunlight.

Food:
1) Blackforest Waffles [$15.00]
Unmemorable waffles, just okay dark chocolate ice-cream & 70% couverture sauce, and a couple of intensely-Kirsch-soaked cherries, make for a misinterpretation of a deconstructed Blackforest.

There are much better things at Artistry to drop $15 on; perhaps the much raved about PB&J toast is still a safer option.

Come Here: Never (for this).

3 Likes

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $19-$24

Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru

Instagrammability: High -
Tranquil atmosphere, soft natural light and a great place to watch the world go by.

Food:
1) Eggs Benedict Brooklyn Style [$19.00]
Well-executed Hollandaise, highly fluffy brioche & disposable greens, though you're probably getting what you pay for. Pulled beef is satisfyingly flavourful, and dusted with Cajun powder. One of the eggs had burst before landing on the table.

2) Eggs Benedict Rodyk Style [$19.00]
Again, it's a competent salmon eggs ben, fulfilling its $19 expectations. Don't expect anything more though.

3) Mocha Chai [$6.00]
"Simply divine, the unbeatable cuppa." (Tay, 2015)

While the coffee's reputation at Toby's precedes itself, its food is well-executed, but not mindblowing for its price. At least its 2016 Entertainer slot is reprised.

Come Here: Maybe?

8 Likes

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $8-$16

Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar/Telok Ayer

Instagrammability: Moderate -
The Deli packs all sandwiches to-go.

Food:
1) PB&J Sandwich [$8.00]
"I was sent to Cloud 9 immediately." (Tay, 2015)
Oozing in peanut butter, lathered with chocolate & jelly, and crusted with heaps of cornflakes, my only gripe is my personal peanut dislike. Sub it out with hazelnut, pistachio or macadamia, and I'd probably love it as well.

2) Cheese Steak [$16.00]
At first, we were hesitant to drop $16 on a sandwich. But it's TOTALLY worth it.
PBD describes it as "sliced beef many many", and it's not a superlative. The sub looks almost made by a child; overstuffed with as many well-marinated, tender beef slices as the bread can carry, broiled in molten cheese, and doing away with any green formalities. Caramelized onions will be the only accepted vegetable here.

There was so much beef, lumps kept falling out of my sandwich and the thing still looked full. That's how much meat you're getting; when you lose meat to the floor and you ain't even mad.
I even remember just sitting in silence, working through a substantial half of the sandwich and going, "This is great."

The place literally overlooks Amoy Street Food Centre, but if you're feeling rich & in the mood for a quick Western bite, definitely check out Park Bench Deli.

Come Here: Again.

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $6-$12

Nearest MRT: Dhoby Ghaut/Rochor

Instagrammability: Moderate -
Lighting's almost in the same boat as Montana, though its monochromatic tiles & carpet help with the photo op.

Food:
1) Dark Chocolate [$5.50]
Simply a mantou-esque donut, fried to order, glazed with dark chocolate orange ganache, topped with crunchy granola bits and finished with an injection of apple cider salted caramel.
Didn't really get any citrus acidity from the glaze, but the freshly-fried donut was still pretty dang delicious.

Top up $0.20 to pick your own glaze, topping & filling instead of the preset selections.
Much of Fab Dough's lamentations lie with its space largely obscured by Montana itself, and perhaps its steeper pricing for a perceived donut. Shave a dollar off, move to a more visible location, and it deserves to resuscitate the upmarket donut trend.

Come Here: Again.

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $14-$23

Nearest MRT: Dhoby Ghaut/Rochor

Instagrammability: Moderate -
It's all little baffling how the renovated space, with all the textured surfaces & menu items, still bathes in dim, industrial light.

Food:
1) Black Velvet Waffle [$14.00]
Elected the fluffy waffle over its crispy counterpart.
The batter's infused with black sesame & drizzled over with miso caramel, and topped with a chocolate-encased scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Definitely prefer this over a perfunctory, charcoal waffle; where a difference in taste is as cosmetic as Robert Downey Jr in Tropic Thunder, but even this hyped dish was overshadowed by the delicious simplicity of its side joint, Fabulous Dough.

Montana's revamp has added even more intriguing selections to their already-established collection of waffle flavours, so I'll probably have to try more them soon. But for now, the cheaper, guiltier pleasure of Fab Dough is calling my name.

Come Here: Maybe?

4 Likes

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $17-$29

Nearest MRT: Outram

Instagrammability: High -
Renovated & revamped for the gram.
Head to the shelf at the back to recreate everyone else's shots.

Food:
1) The Populus Scramble [$17.00]
Cubes of marinated feta cheese sound promising, but the texture actually interferes with the scramble's silkiness. Eggs-wise, Ronin is far superior, and the bacon & croissant does little to make this dish really stand out.

2) Buckwheat Pancake [$18.00]
We've all been Curious Strangers on a paddy hill, but this take on the oven-baked hotcake uses Buckwheat and Cornflake Crunch to escape the mould of its predecessors. I liked it a lot more than Irene & Kieffer, for its significantly hotter warmth, taste and pleasant golden crunch.
While it's not as pretty as other hotcakes elsewhere, it helps that they're now pricier than $18 nett.
EDIT: Now adjusted to $20. Go Capitalism!

With a decent menu, the only thing more faultless than Populus's ambience is their serviettes. Luxurious enough to wipe a baby's behind.

Come Here: Again.

5 Likes

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $33-$45

Nearest MRT: Labrador Park

Instagrammability: Moderate -
Set in the heart of Gillman Barracks, but its indoor dining area shuns most natural light.

Food:
1) Tripani Senza Pizza [$28.00++]
Satisfactory. Prawns were nicely cooked. Sporadic broccoli on the pizza evokes an "Inside Out" gag. The crust below is slightly burnt, and its faint but distinct taste shows.

2) Tortellini Truffle [$28.00++]
Right up my alley, with its creamy, earthy base and truffled aroma.

3) Chilli Crab Pasta [$28.00++]
The second best dish of the day.
Again, falling short of The Halia.

4) Confit of Duck Pasta [$28.00++]
Bland and banal.

5) Iced Chocolate [$6.00++]
Very dilute; as if an hour of ice-melting had already elapsed. Nice glass though.

6) Tap Water [$2.00++]
That's right. Not still, not sparkling, but still paid for with notes. At least the manager capped it at $4 for our table of 4.

If you're armed with the Entertainer and stuck between Masons & Da Paolo, the latter's a safer choice.

Come Here: Maybe?

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $23-$25

Nearest MRT: Chinatown

Instagrammability: Moderate -
Pitting a novel interior concept & cutlery against yellow, unnatural light.

Food:
1) Pork Belly Linguine [$19.00++]
Distinctly Asian-inspired, this petite bowl of black pepper-tossed pasta tastes exactly how it smells. Pork is amply tender & fatty.

2) Soft-Shell Chilli Crab Linguine [$21.00++]
As Kieffer pointed out earlier, they did a pretty good job of deshelling the crab. Pasta's good but not impressive, losing to the likes of The Halia at Raffles Hotel.

Newly added into the pantheon of Entertainer collaborators in November, for your December consumption. Definitely better than the mixed reviews we heard going in, though not by a long shot.

Come Here: Maybe?

8 Likes

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $14-$26

Nearest MRT: Lavender

Instagrammability: High -
Decently plated food, internal skylight, what's not to love?

Food:
1) Butternut Mushroom Risotto [$13.80]
Combining my appreciation for pumpkin & creamy risotto, this delicious bowl packs earthy flavours that you can just sink into happily. Cloves here and there are soft to perfection, and a joy to eat, unlike their usual hard & pungent selves.

2) Truffle Omelette [$15.80]
Good, but hardly as memorable as the solid risotto dish above.
Both mains are served with slices of toasted bread.

3) The Soursop [$15.80]
This plated dessert's star comes in the form of an orb; a hemisphere of desiccated coconut-coated cheesecake fused immaculately with a hemisphere of soursop, an unusual but inspired pairing with cheese. It works much better than the cubes of Malibu-infused vanilla sponge, which comes off more as pandan pound cake.

4) Key Lime Tart [$7.80]
Say "Two Bakers" and Julius immediately replies "Key Lime Tart".
We enjoyed this as much as the orb, then enjoyed this even more after bringing price into consideration. TB's rendition checks all the right boxes.

It's nice to see a café deliver on the two sides of sweet and savoury, and you can use the Entertainer to make the bill all the more sweeter.

Come Here: Again.

8 Likes

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $20-$35

Nearest MRT: Outram

Instagrammability: Moderate -
Lighting's pretty crappy except for this one table overlooking the chickens outside.

Food:
1) Ricotta Hotcake [$20.00+]
Their signature brunch item stars a beautifully-stuffed cheesy pancake. But $20 for one good, anorexic pancake and a novel, popping-candified cream topping? Daylight robbery, mate.

2) Eggs Benedict [$20.00+]
Great to see sourdough once again giving my knife-sawing skills a good workout. The other components are handled well, with the prosciutto being nicely-salty but almost imbalanced. Basically, it's fine.

3) Milo Thick Shake [$9.00+]
It desperately needs a more emphatic punch of Milo. Has an equally hard case as the Hotcake to justify its price.

As a café, it's fine.
But it's at Keong Saik.
And if nothing really stands out on the weekend brunch menu, you'll not be hard pressed to find another just down the street. At least you can use The Entertainer here?

Come Here: Maybe?

4 Likes

Singaporean's Guide To Ulu Café Hopping

Price Range: $18-$26

Nearest MRT: Redhill

Instagrammability: Very High -
Think a secluded Pacamara, complete with an outdoor patio & fairy lights.

Food:
1) Eggs Florentine [$18.00]
Pleasant rendition of a normal Salmon Eggs Ben. Hollandaise was good; 1 of the 2 eggs was a tad shy of hard-boiled. Spinach is always welcome, but salmon was just alright.

2) Brioche French Toast [$19.00]
What sets this apart is the presence of addictive almond crumble, which evokes the taste of Kellogg's Waffle Crisp cereal. The Cream Chantilly was also light & delicious.

3) Boufe Cake [$8.50]
Their signature cake looks perfectly glazed from the outside, but the inside falls slightly short of the precision you might expect from say, Mad About Sucre. Still, the mix of passionfruit-mango cremeux & hazelnut nougatine pleases, rather than impresses.

Perfect for brunch dates where ambience is just as important as food. Its taste isn't spectacular, but it isn't superficial either.

Come Here: Again.

8 Likes

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