Café Invasion

Café Invasion

Discovering coffees, mains and desserts served in the local café scene.
Siming T
Siming T

In the day, Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar would serve their Brunch menu until 4.00pm, and one of the loveliest items in the Eggs section was their Steak and Eggs (S$24.00), which came with a 150g ribeye steak, cooked to preferred doneness.

While the dish also came with homemade entrecôte sauce, the steak on the plate was already well-seasoned, thus tasting just as good without that additional sauce. Who needs bacon for breakfast when the steak was this good?

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Shown in this picture was the aftermath of dropping the Chocolate Dome (S$18.00) from a height. It was the playful and theatrical part of the meal, whereby I had two options when this first came in a dessert cup: drop it from a height (plastic gloves provided) or to break it with a spoon.

Putting the gloves on, I then held the chocolate bowl in my hands, lifted about 30cm from the plate, and released it to watch it fall and shatter, only to discover some little surprises hidden by the scoop of Earl Grey ice cream, such as honeycomb, cheesecake and mixed berries. Don’t forget to top it up with some caramel sauce and condensed milk for added sweetness!

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One could never get tired of seeing Pulled-pork Burger (S$16.00) from café menus especially if they were done well, and I thought that the one at The Communal Place was executed quite nicely.

Flavoursome pulled pork was actually complemented with that beautiful brioche bun and some coleslaw added crunch with a little creamy texture. Kind of like a perfect instance which one could have excuse not to share the burger with your dinner date.

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One could never get tired of seeing Pulled-pork Burger (S$16.00) from café menus especially if they were done well, and I thought that the one at The Communal Place was executed quite nicely.

Flavoursome pulled pork was actually complemented with that beautiful brioche bun and some coleslaw added crunch with a little creamy texture. Kind of like a perfect instance which one could have excuse not to share the burger with your dinner date.

#BurppleEatup
#BurppleBeyond

One would seldom find a whole fish served in a Western-oriented restaurant, but I liked the novelty that The Communal Place had introduced, which was to bring sharing plates to the dining table.

The Spanish Barramundi (S$24.00) was visually stunning with all the brightly-coloured accessories that came with it. The acidic Pico de Gallo Salsa was refreshing and appetising, and could easily mask off any fishy smell (not that I could pick up any in the first place). However, one must snap out of the admiration of the dish quickly before the crispy fish skin would turn soggy from the vibrant sidekicks.

If you have an Ang Moh friend who had not seen people eat fish done this way, this might be a good place to introduce to them too, so that you could show them that even the fish head could be devoured.

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It’s a different interpretation of Kaya Toast at The Affogato Lounge, because for S$4.50, I got for myself three half-slices of toasted sandwich bread. Accompanying this all-day brunch item was a scoop of unsalted butter and a piped Kaya cream, so one could spread the two smooth and creamy stars on the toast as desired.

Upon putting everything together, I thought that there were some missing elements in this version of the Kaya Toast. Firstly, the butter was somewhat tasteless because of its salt-free nature. While the Kaya had prominent notes of coconut cream, I thought that it was a little too smooth unlike the familiar Kaya I would usually associate with, also with a lack of burst of Pandan leaves and sugar flavours. Putting the toast aside, if there were a little more contrast on the flavours and textures of the spreads, I might derive more satisfaction from this easy breakfast. On the other hand, if a smooth butter-cream texture was what you would look for, this might actually work well for you.

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d’ Good Café’s third restaurant played a more Asian theme, specifically on the local coffee and tea scene and our familiar Kopitiam heritage.

The Hainanese Roulade & Risotto Balls (S$19.50) repackaged the local favourite chicken rice into a more Westernised presentation. The chicken was tender and juicy from the poaching, and the garlic-ginger chilli remoulade encapsulated the ginger and chilli sauce quite perfectly. And that small piece of foie gras was more of a touch of luxury to this dish, giving me a sense that the food was worth the money. My only slight gripe from this dish was their risotto balls, because the rice was not as compact within the ball and was a tad marshy for its texture. Overall, it was still a good dish and I would actually recommend this dish to those who loved chicken rice anyhow.

They also had an in-house coffee museum that was open to public, but given that visitors would be shuffling their way into the museum without any obligation to spend in the restaurant, sitting near the entrance of the museum might cause some inconvenience to those who minded someone squeeze behind their seats.

The Warm PB Cookie (S$13.00) was not a single piece of skillet cookie that encased “lava” in it, but it was still a yummy surprise to all cookie monsters out there. A few large cookies were laid out and baked on the skillet, making them crispy by the edges and more chewy inwards, so chewy until I could ditch my imagination of it as a lava cookie.

On top of the cookies came the salted Speculoos softie swirl, which further enhanced the peanut butter accents in this dessert. Let it melt a little so that the cookie can be soaked with some of that soft serve. Heaven in my mouth with this one, and it was so difficult to choose between this and the Mochi waffles for the more mood-lifting dessert.

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KARA’s own version of a chilled (凉拌) Mala meal was quite an interesting dish for me, because I would not expect to find a Chilled Mala Chicken and Noodles (S$19.00) behind those frozen yoghurt dispensers.

Having said that, the dish had almost everything in there, from noodles to pulled poached chicken thigh meat to homemade pickles to sliced cucumbers to roasted peanuts. What was really missing was the anticipated Mala’s numbing and spicy kick, maybe because they had held back from splashing the food with lots of their self-concocted chilli oil.

To raise the game instead of going for this 小小辣 (very mildly spicy) combo, give the friendly staff a request that you needed more spicy kick, especially if you were mindful like me about their price point.

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KARA appeared to be quite packed with students from nearby schools and institutions, but it was surely not just a frozen yoghurt shop, just because it was by Sogurt. It seemed that they also served coffee, snacks and proper meals, and their latest additions had some Japanese or Sichuan influences.

Their Aburi Mentaiko Salmon grain bowl (S$16.00) was filled with cooked salmon bits, but more distinctively there was the Mentaiko mayonnaise that gave the food a nice pinkish appearance, before further garnished and topped with an open Ajitama (boiled egg with molten yolk). It would have been aesthetically pleasing to have the yolk slightly less cooked, but the overall flavours of the dish easily compensated that imperfection.

A more guilt-free option was to substitute the Garlic Japanese Rice with Quinoa Salad for an additional S$3.00, to get more dietary fibre and less carbohydrate intake out of a grain bowl.

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A relatively hearty all-day breakfast that was originally priced at S$23.00, but when Burpple Beyond was used the savings was quite worth it.

One thing that I definitely enjoyed was the generosity of grilled bacon strips given on that plate. I also liked their meaty sausages that was actually quite nicely seasoned. And last but not the least, that hash brown had a really crispy finish to it without appearing dry at all!

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When one could not decide despite staring at the menu for a while (just like me), one option is to order The Works (S$19.00) from the day menu (up to 4.00pm).

The Works was the breakfast platter offered by Birdy’s, with a choice of eggs to go with Kurobuta sausage, thick-cut bacon sautéed mushrooms, vinaigrette-tossed greens, sourdough and a good portion of mashed avocado. Most of the ingredients scored a good brunch because of the hearty portions and yummy flavours (they taste like what they taste like). With the richness in flavours, perhaps the guacamole could be left clean to be just the mashed avocado, to create that fine balance in taste and not to mask the distinct sourdough notes as a spread.

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First world problem: What to eat for the next meal?

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