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Good Eats, Good Deeds: 15 Places to Dine for a Cause

Good Eats, Good Deeds: 15 Places to Dine for a Cause

This week, we shine the spotlight on F&B entrepreneurs who are determined not only to serve tasty food, but also ignite the spark for social change. From a coffee bar that trains disadvantaged women and youths in life skills to a hawker training school for the disabled and a cafe that donates groceries to the needy, this guide is chock full of establishments that play an immensely inspirational role in making Singapore a better place. For us foodies, what better way to earn extra karma points while keeping our tummies satisfied than to dine for a good cause? So go on, eat well, pay it forward and do your part!
Burpple Guides
Burpple Guides

Located in The Enabling Village (near Redhill MRT), a community of individuals and organisations that serve people with special needs, Soul Food Enterprise is a modern European restaurant that trains youths with learning disabilities in kitchen skills. Founder Gerald Png was inspired by his daughter Cheryl, who has learning disabilities but a keen interest in cooking. Today, Cheryl is one of nine kitchen trainees coached in various cooking methods and techniques. The cosy 40-seater restaurant opens for walk-in lunch from Tuesdays to Fridays (noon-2pm). Lunch is often a two or three-course affair ($25-$30) with dishes like potato and leek cream soup, barbecued prime pork ribs with fusilli pasta and salad and salted walnut chocolate brownie with caramel sauce. Dinners and Saturday meals are by reservation only. The restaurant is closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays.
Avg price: $30 per person
Photo by Burppler Adele Chew

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Bliss Restaurant is not just another Western restaurant. It's an encapsulation of what a social enterprise in Singapore ought to be — providing employment opportunities to all without discrimination, donating groceries to the needy through Aljunied GRC and even reducing its own carbon footprint by using biodegradable disposal corn ware for catering services, all while dishing out tasty and very cost efficient food. Located within the grounds of Cheng San Community Club, Bliss Restaurant serves a variety of Western grub mostly under $20 — perfect for cash-strapped days! Start with the Skinful Chicken ($6) — thin slices of crackly, crispy chicken skin that you won't be able to stop snacking on once you start popping them into your mouth. For mains, order the crowd favourite Smoked Duck Aglio Olio ($14) and the Gratin Sirloin Steak ($17) — the latter comes with baby potatoes on the side and a slice of gooey, melted cheddar cheese blanketing the meat.
Avg price: $20 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Wei Zhi Chiang

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A coffee roaster, a training academy for the disadvantaged and a place to enjoy specialty coffee — three good omens for those who want their cup of joe to do more than just caffeinate them. Located in the industrial area of Macpherson, this unassuming coffee house gives back to society by taking disadvantaged women and youths through a holistic six-month programme. The training not only empowers them with work skills, it also combines professional coffee education with life and emotional management skills, plus physical training. Make plans to stop by on the weekend to enjoy a cup of coffee (be sure to ask for the Bold Heart house blend) while getting some work done. Coffees are not priced and rely on tips — a great opportunity to give generously!
Photo by Burppler Hwans Lim

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This may seem like a regular food court, but look closely and you'll find height-adjustable counter tops for the wheelchair-bound, braille markings on the cash register for the visually impaired and even simple sign language placards for you to sign to the hearing impaired. Just a five-minute walk from NEX in Serangoon, Dignity Kitchen is the first hawker training school for disabled and disadvantaged people. Come for Roger's Rojak ($3.50) and opt for the tasty prawn paste (there's plum paste for vegetarians too!). Expect a generous heap of fried you tiao, pineapples and cucumbers, all sliced and mixed together by Roger. Previously a successful financial advisor, Roger suffered a stroke in 2010 which left a part of the right side of his body paralysed and his speech affected. Then, learn to sign your favourite local drink to the hearing impaired drinks stall uncle with the help of simple sign language placards. To opt for less sugar or have it kosong, simply point to the signs under each drink. Pro tip: Stop by on Mondays from 4 to 6.30pm for their weekly Halal buffet dinner, no payments expected — it's their way of giving back to the community!
Avg price: $5 per person
Photo by Burppler Hilary See

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Expect unpretentious and hearty European food at this hawker-bar run by chefs Enoch Teo and Immanuel Tee — it also champions social change by hiring young ex-offenders and youths at risk. Previously a troubled teen with brushes with the law, chef Teo was given an opportunity by his chef mentors and he wants to return the favour to as many people he can; to date, about 20 beneficiaries have gone through the training programme. Social mission aside, let's not forget that the food here is really good. Start with either the French Onion Soup ($7.90) that comes baked with cheese croutons, or the Black Miso Foie Gras ($16.50), an imaginative appetiser of foie gras coated in a black miso and furikake crust, then move on to their signature 12-Hour Belly of Pork ($16.90) — this highly rated main by the Burpple community sees crisp-skin pork belly served with mashed potato and a balsamic glaze. They also do a pretty tasty French Duck Leg Confit ($16.90).
Avg price: $20 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Zhihui Lim

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Located at Tanglin Post Office, across the road from where the iconic Rasa Singapura food centre used to stand in the 80s, this restaurant-bar employs the less fortunate — these include those suffering from hearing impairment to recovering stroke patients — all of whom work together to dish out local hawker eats in a breezy alfresco space. For best value, come with your colleagues for their weekday lunch special, where dishes like fried carrot cake, black pepper char kway teow and beef rendang with rice go for a very affordable $8 each (top up $2 for a drink). Dishes change daily, so visit their website for updates. You can also pop by for a post-work beer (from $6) and nibbles — try the New Rasa Chicken Wings (from $12 for six) and Satay (from $12 for six sticks). Prices no doubt reflect its more upmarket setting, but take comfort in the fact that the money goes to a good cause. In support of FestivalForGood!, receive a $10 return voucher with every $50 spent in the month of August.
Avg price: $15 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Yeung Kai Ho

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Located within the same building as Catholic Welfare Centre (Crossings Cafe is on the first floor), this light-filled cafe serves delicious brunch grub alongside local favourites, and all profits are channelled towards charitable and social causes. On weekdays, swing by with your colleagues for lunch and order the Signature Chilli Crab Pasta ($16) — fettucine tossed in a homemade spicy chilli crab sauce, topped with a deep-fried soft shell crab. On weekends, catch up with your girlfriends over brunch fare like the fluffy Pancake Stack ($12) with fresh fruits and drizzled with your choice of maple syrup or gula Melaka, or share the hearty All Day Energy Booster ($18), which comes with two eggs (scrambled or sunny side up), sausages, bacon, mushrooms, toast and hash brown.
Avg price: $15 per person
Photo by Burppler Cptslow Yeo

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Set up by the parents of Joan Bo Wen, a young lady with special needs, this social enterprise in Jalan Wangi (Potong Pasir is the nearest MRT station) trains and imparts kitchen skills to youths with special needs, and the cafe is run almost entirely by its team of young staff with special needs. The menu is pretty basic but the food is beautifully plated, generously portioned and delicious — it can certainly rival any cafe at the same price point! — and the service is cheerful and heartfelt. Out of our several favourites here, we highly recommend the Chilli Crab Pasta ($18), with a sauce that strikes the perfect balance between sweet, spicy and umami, and the delectable Rosemary Lemon Chicken ($12). For something less heavy, try the Oriental Chicken Salad ($12).
Avg price: $20 per person
Photo by Burppler Cedric Lim

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Originally from the corporate world, Professor Brawn Cafe's founder Roland Tay left his job after 30 years to set up this social enterprise, which helps to provide employment opportunities to people with special needs. Professor Brawn is a superhero drawn by his son, Jun Yi, who has autism. By maintaining a routine from the preparation of food to cooking, his team of staff (some of them suffer from autism) now dishes out delectable Western fare. Come with your family for the Weekend Special Lunch Set (from $18.90), where your choice of main (either chicken confit or striploin steak) is accompanied with a complimentary soup and drink. If available, opt for the tender Pork Ribs ($18.90) that Burpple Tastemaker Russell Leong loves. For a lighter bite, nibble on their finger-licking good Crunchy Calamari ($7.90), served with a tasty salsa dip.
Avg price: $20 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Russell Leong

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Ideally, an afternoon at Arts Faculty by Pathlight in Enabling Village should involve you taking an arts workshop (whether it's building your own terrarium or painting) and shopping for mugs and pouches that are specially designed by children with special needs. Then, when the tummy rumbles, refuel with small bites and coffee at Art Bar. An initiative backed by Starbucks, the takeaway stand helps to train young adults with special needs to operate a fully functioning coffee stand, including handling cash and working the coffee machine. Get the Cafe Latte ($3.50 tall) and be sure to add an additional shot ($0.50) for an extra boost. It pairs well with the Double Chocolate Chip Muffin ($3.50). Rich, chocolatey and moist — ask to have it heated up before you tuck in!
Avg price: $5 per person
Photo by Burppler Hilary See

Nothing compares to a handmade confection picked up at a homey bakery, better yet, while you're doing good at the same time. As part of giving back to the community, youths with disabilities from Rainbow Centre go on attachment with Out of the Cake Box, who help to nurture their talents in baking. Freshly baked daily, you should order the Takoh Belle ($50 for whole cake /$6.50 per slice). It's a delectable baked cheesecake that is infused with fresh pandan extract, topped with a frothy sweet corn mousse and a sturdy coconut custard. There's a lot going on, but thankfully the flavours are well-balanced, never overwhelming and it all comes together beautifully — just be sure to get every layer of the cake in a forkful! Pro tip: Keep your eyes peeled for their elusive Mango Sticky Rice ($48.80 for whole cake / $6 per slice) that is only available when Thai honey mangoes are in season!
Avg price: $10 per person
Photo by Burppler Hilary See

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Located just a few doors down from the now defunct Rouse, this cosy Muslim-owned restaurant dishes out hearty and tasty eats, and donates a percentage of their sales to the Muhammadiyah Welfare Home. The homey space is small, so it's best to come with an intimate group of friends for dinner. Start with the spicy Malayan Wings ($13), marinated with kicap chili padi, and be sure to order the Roti Kirai Beef Ribs ($39) — short beef ribs slathered with a finger-licking good secret glaze, served with a roti kirai (Malaysian net crepes) salad on the side. For mains, the massive portion of Salted Egg Softshell Crab and Mudcrab Linguine ($28) feeds two easily. Don't leave without the Classic Ondeh Ondeh Cake ($8), infused with chantilly cream.
Avg price: $35 per person
Reservations highly recommended
Photo by Burppler Ken Poon

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The top picks, popular finds and newly opened places in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, curated by Burpple editors!

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