Brunches Cafe, The Prettiest Cafe in Singapore

Brunches Cafe, The Prettiest Cafe in Singapore?

Address: 96 Rangoon Road

Opening hours: Weekday 10.30am to 9.00pm, Sat & Sun 9.30am to 9.00pm, Closed on Tuesday

Introduction

In Singapore, we have many cafes that can be described as old-school, rustic, industrial look, but none can pull off the theme “Vintage” as good as Brunches Cafe. It is actually a furniture store cum cafe located near the Farrer Park area. This cafe, which started their operation only in Feb 2015, is extensively decorated with old school / vintage items at all corners of the cafe. If you set your eye on any pieces in the cafe, including the dining furniture and lighting, it is almost certain that you can bring it home at a price.

Brunches Cafe Menu – Click to enlarge

The Exterior

The exterior of the cafe is framed in a black metal window frame, employed from ceiling to floor and corner to corner. These frames, that were deployed in some great factories and warehouses in the 19th century, imparted an industrial aesthetic and also offers a glimpse of what to expect upon stepping into it.

The Interior

The ambiance of the cafe is set in an old factory workshop with each and every corner of the cafe decorated with vintage furnitures and a combination of old school artifacts and an actual antique collection. The lighting are mounted on black wooden beam which is contrasted by the striking orange pipes and metal cable casing against the white-wash ceiling.

The most eye catching, as well as probably the most sort after seat of the cafe is the mini-cooper converted dining table. The car body is cut into two halves and cushioned seats are padded on both sides of the body and complete by a matching table slipped between the seats.

On the left wall of the cafe, modern vintage art pieces are presented over the once-popular Metal Grilled Sliding Gate that was widely used by provision shops in the early 1980s.

My favourite among all the lighting structures in the cafe – the Birdhouse Light Fixture. It hangs over a 10-seater color-stained reclaimed wood top table and it’s a creation by one of Brunches Cafe’s bosses. In my opinion, apart from the mini-cooper seats, this is another one of the vitalities of the cafe which brought it to life.

On the other side of the cafe, it lies a glass-top table made from an old Bullock Cart Wheel and also the once popular item for all grandmothers – the Singer Treadle Sewing Machine, which is ran by a manual foot pedal which connects to the sewing mechanism with a leather belt. The NEC black and white standalone TV is another interesting item in the cafe. Not to mention black and white TV, i’m sure some of us have never seen a non-remote TV before.

On the far right hand corner, there is a good collection of antique players like the Phonograph, Gramophone and the Turntable Record Player and other more familiar items like the Rotary Dial Phone and Vintage Radio, that are all in good working condition.

Their Food

I was like really full after having my meal at a nearby cafe, Jewel Cafe, so I only ordered their dessert and a drink. The waffle is reasonably priced at $12.50 that includes cubes of brownies, a whole banana and a scoop of Chocolate Ice Cream. I like the texture of the waffle, which is crisp and fluffy. However, I feel that it is lacking in taste in term of fragrance from egg and butter.

i have no complain for their caffe latte, which comes with a cute latte art and accompanied by this exquisite tea spoon. Also do try out the pastries in the cafe as they were personally baked and prepared by the lady boss.

Conclusion

From Brunches Cafe’s menu, it seems like they have a good food selections except for their dessert range. Do share with us if there’s any food recommendation. I can’t review much on their food but I’m pawned by the interior design. I have been to many fascinating theme cafe at overseas before and i’m proud to now have Brunches Cafe in Singapore.

No matter which part of the cafe you are seated at, i would say there is none with a boring view. Since i like the dining ambiance so much, I’m gonna be a little bias here and recommend this cafe to my readers and please be my white mice for review of their food. And lastly, pre-wedding photo shoot at this cafe anyone?

Advertisements

Canteen 398 at Seletar, the disappearing piece of history of Singapore

Canteen 398 at Seletar, the disappearing piece of history of Singapore

Address: 398 Piccadilly

Opening hour: Mon to Fri 6.00am to 4.00pm, Sat 6.00am to 12.00pm, Closed on Sun

Food stall only opens till lunch time

Introduction

An army friend brought me to this canteen in Seletar Camp during my reservist period. It does not has a proper name and signboard, and people known this place as Canteen 398. I was very captivated by it’s ambience and atmosphere so I decided to write about it.

Went back to Canteen 398 in the morning to capture it’s morning glory

At a glance, you won’t be able to guess that it’s actually a functioning canteen

This canteen consist of three stalls – the drink stall, and a stall selling mixed vegetable rice and the third selling Malay food. I was there nearing to their closing time at about 4pm and only the drink stall is open so i didn’t have a chance to try out the food.

History of Canteen 398

Canteen 398 is a piece of vanishing history of Singapore. This place is situated in the vicinity of an army camp, Seletar Camp, but is open to public and is accessible by car without subjecting to any security check.

The history of this building goes all the way back to our post world war two era when Singapore is still under the colonisation of Britain. This building was used by the British army as their Corporal Mess. This building was subsequently converted to a Canteen in Year 1969 and the structure and interior of the canteen has been retained till now.

The Canteen

The interior design of Canteen 398 brings you back in time to a typical coffee shop in the early 1990s when solid wooden top table and red stackable chairs are still widely used. The old school mosaic tiles flooring and the unpolished wall and ceiling look are widely mimicked by our cafes nowadays. While exposed cable trunking and dangling cable is a big taboo for interior design nowadays, Canteen 398 serves us a reminder that such minor details do not matter back in those simpler days.

Even at a warm afternoon at 4pm, i felt a sense of serenity while I was seeping my Teh-C at the outdoor stone table. Sitting at the “al-fresco” area under a hundred years old tree, and away from the city and crowd gives an entire different meaning to the term “chilling”. I don’t think such a place like Canteen 398 can be found at anywhere else in Singapore.

Conclusion

The progress of Singapore is scarily fast and there is almost nothing to identify our childhood with. Yes, we do preserve the old, but only if it makes any commercial sense. Like our Kampong Buangkok, the last kampong in Singapore, eventually still has to make way for future development.

Coming here to Canteen 398 gives me a sense of closeness to this place although it’s only my first visit. It offers a glimpse of Singapore’s humble past when things are not as perfect and not as comfortable as today. However during then, everyone learnt to enjoy life’s simple pleasure.

If you are there, do have a chat with the drink stall owner Mr Toh. He’s really a friendly chap and i love his enthusiasm in introducing the Canteen’s history to us.

Given the current cafe hopping culture in a clean, air-conditioned environment, i like to highlight that Canteen 398 is definitely not the place for everyone. There is no fancy food menu to rave about and also no squeaky clean environment to talk about. However the experience at Canteen 398 is one of a kind in Singapore. You either hate it or you love it, and it’s definitely the later for me.

PS: I hope I don’t sound like an old man. I have readers who thought that I am in my late 40s. *faint* 

Direction 1 (by public transport)

Take bus 103 at Serangoon interchange and alight at After Baker Street, Seletar Aerospace Drive, 22 stops later.

Direction 2 (by public transport)

Take a train to Sengkang MRT and transfer to LRT and alight at Thanggam LRT. Take a short 5 minutes walk to Jalan Kayu shop house and board bus 103.  Alight at After Baker Street, Seletar Aerospace Drive, 4 stops later.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar

Address: 150 Tyrwhitt Road Singapore 207563

Opening hours: Tue to Fri: 9.00am – 7:00pm, Sat & Sun: 9.00am – 10.00pm, Mon Closed

Introduction

Chye Seng Huat Hardware Store, or simply CSHH, is currently one of the most hip cafes in Singapore that is very well known for their coffee. It is one of the three cafes owned by the Papa Palheta. Papa Palheta is a independent coffee boutique that specialise in roasting specialty coffee in Singapore and Malaysia. They also conduct Barista training course and coffee appreciation classes.

CSHH – The Interior

From the outside, CSHH looks like an old hardware store, but it’s totally another haven on the inside. It is divided into a few areas – the indoor and outdoor dining area, the roastery, the coffee tasting room and a small area that sells their own merchandise like their blend of coffee beans and equipments for hand-brewed coffee.

CHSS, Chye Seng Huat Coffee

The Outdoor Dining Area

Apart from the food, their drinks are mostly self-service. There is no restaurant treatment here as you need to look for your own seat and place your order and make payment at their counter.

CHSS, Chye Seng Huat Coffee

The Roastery

Large group seating is difficult to get in this crowded cafe as there is only one big table at the indoor area. Visit this cafe in smaller groups if you can.

CHSS, Chye Seng Huat Coffee

The Merchandise Area

Updated Menu as of Oct 2014. Click to enlarge.

Old Menu: Click to Enlarge

Caffe Latte 

CSHH serves their Caffè Latte in regular and small size that cost $4.00 and $5.50. The Barista at CSHH effortlessly pulled a latte art and it’s served to you right away. I thought their caffe latte is nice but dont really differs a lot from the rest. The more interesting coffee are in fact the hand pressed coffee with a different range of coffee beans to choose from.

Hand-Pressed Coffee

If you are sitting near to the counter, you can see their Barista in action and i was quite entertained by seeing how their Barista prepares a seemingly simple coffee that involves numerous sophisticated steps.

I can’t say which brew is better as coffee taste is very subjective. We ordered their Bright and Bold which one is more acidic while the other is fuller bodied but i love the deep, rich aroma roast of both cups.  It’s rather interesting to be able to try out different kinds of coffee beans rather than a typical espresso bean.

There are also a variety of muffins available for food pairing at their counter if you are not in the mood for their main course. I give my vote to this buttery sweet Chocolate Almond muffin.

The Huat Breakfast ($17.00)

At a net price of $17, it’s rather decent. Although the taste does not differ much from a typical “big breakfast” platter, and as a meat lover, i am quite pleased for the inclusion of a whole sausage. The baked potato is also a healthier choice compared to hash brown.

Scrambled Egg is smooth and runny but I wish that it can be more flavourful though. The portion is also quite decent for this price. Overall an “OK” dish.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich S$13.00

Among the three main courses, i like this Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich the most. The bread is well toasted, the steak slices is well flavored that is topped with melted cheese and served fresh from the oven. And how bad can a serving of nachos be? Ordering this should be a decent and safe option.

Cod Fillet S$19.00

Their cod fish is rather disappointing. The portion is small. Appearance wise is not appealing and the cod fish is rather dry and tough and doesn’t come cheap. I’m sorry but this is a big thumbs down.

Can a piece of Cod Fish looks any sadder?

Conclusion

I thought sitting indoor is a much better experience as you chill out and just sit around, watching how the Barista enthusiastically prepares every cup of beverage so as to appreciate the effort behind a cup of hand crafted coffee.

As for their food, i am not particularly impress and CSHH’s food is probably not my first choice at the area. While i love the Aero-Pressed Coffee more than their Caffe Latte, their food didn’t exactly score well here. It’s a pity that the food does not excite me as much as their beverages.

Therefore my conclusion is Chye Seng Huat Coffee Bar is a great place to chill out and to grab a cup of coffee after a meal, and maybe plus a cup cake, provided that the crowd is not crazy.

Stateland Cafe at Bali Lane (Bugis)

Stateland Cafe

Address: 30 Bali Lane

Opening hours: Mon – Thu 12.00 pm – 10.00 pm, Fri – Sat: 12.00 pm – 12.00 am, Sun: 11.00 am – 6.00 pm

Introduction

People eat with their eyes first. This is what I always believe and that leads me to a small cafe a Bali Lane. Among so many cafes, Stateland Cafe stood out for it’s Red Velvet Waffle and Butter Toast in the virtual Singapore Instagram world.

I visited this cafe on at 11am on a Saturday and there is no crowd. Upon stepping into the cafe, the first thing i noticed is for it’s industial-theme interior. From the rustic old school electric fan, red metal railing, aluminium hanging light, to the black and white photos hanging on the wall, i can see that there are much thought put in for the interior design.

Menu: Click to enlarge

Red Velvet Waffle with Ice Cream ($14.90)

This is what caught my attention on instagram so this is definitely on my to order list. I was waiting in much anticipation as it took about 25 minutes for the dish to be served. I give this dish a 90/100 for it’s appearance and not so much for it’s taste though.

I love the ice cream. On the menu, it says that there are chocolate in the waffle but sadly I can’t taste much of it because the cream cheese taste basically overpowered the waffle. The waffle itself is also rather dry. I prefer a lighter cheese cream that is sweeter and more moist rather than salty and dry. Sad to say that this dish don’t work very well for me but I think there is potential in this dish.

Hazelnut Honey Toast with Ice Cream ($14.90)

After visiting Bangkok’s After You Dessert, i really miss the Shibuya Toast and i thought that Stateland Cafe’s Honey Toasted concept is quite similar to Shibuya Toast. Chocolate Ice Cream, Nutella Spread, Honey Syrup, Thick Toast with Salted Butter sounds lovely as a dessert, however it’s not very much so when all appears in a single dish.

Due to the rich flavour of the Nutella spread, i can’t really taste the toasted buttered bread and there is almost no need for the honey syrup as the whole thing is already very sweet. The only thing i can figure out from the bread is for it’s crispy texture.

I thought it will be better if the Nutella Spread is served separately from the butter toast like how the honey is served. Another suggestion is probably the Nutella can be drizzled (maybe by adding fresh milk or something and cooked to dilute the nutella) over the toast instead of spread. Probably it’s my mistake and i should order the original honey toast if i wanted something not as sweet.

Caffe Latte

I am not an expert in coffee but Stateland’s Caffe Latte is evidently more milky than usual. There is little espresso taste. It’s probably less than a shot of espresso or it’s a different kind of coffee bean used on that day. I don’t know. I love the steamed milk taste so i got no issue with that.

Conclusion

Actually i am not that satisfied after visiting Stateland Cafe and i immediately took to cab down to Loo’s Curry Rice for my lunch part two. Maybe it’s a wrong choice of dish ordered on my part. So kindly leave a comment if you think that there is any dish that is worth ordering and i will probably try it on my next visit.

Overall, I like Stateland Cafe, their friendly folks and the industrial-look-yet-cosy feel of the cafe. I think the concept of the dishes is good. The only thing is just basing on the two dishes i ordered, there should be more thoughts given to it as we won’t necessary get a good dessert by just putting many ingredients that we adore into one dish.

Please note that this cafe only transact in cash term. They don’t accept NETS and credit cards.

Good Food at Hainanese Village Food Centre

Hainanese Village Food Centre

Address: Blk 105, Hougang Ave 1

Hainanese Village Food Centre is a very popular makan place in the Hougang area, especially during the weekend. Like any other hawker centre in Singapore (except for the Kopitiam Square in Sengkang), there are lots of good hawker stalls. My mission is to try out these reputable stalls and let’s see why are these stall so popular, or not.

Hup Huat White Carrot Cake  (合发白萝卜糕)

Opening hours: 6.30am to 12.30pm (Closed Mon & Thu)

Hup Huat hawker stall is one of the few that serves only white carrot cake. The most distinct taste about this carrot cake is for it’s very crispy exterior. I can see that the hawker actually prepares each plate of carrot cake with care as he skillfully splits the big pan of carrot cake into smaller rectangular portion and to be pan fried to crisp.

From my observation, unlike some crispy fried oyster egg that is soaked and fried in oil, the oil that this hawker used is significantly lesser, and it does not taste too greasy as well.

I like this stall for their generous serving of eggs that holds the carrot cake together and this may be one of reasons why this carrot cake is so crispy. The unique thing about Hup Huat White Carrot Cake is their chilli is not stir-fried with the carrot cake but is spread onto the top surface of the carrot cake like how butter is spread on a toast.

If there is one area that can be better, i think they can consider sprinkling more Chye Poh (preserved radish) into the carrot cake. There is a $2.00 and $3.00 option and mine was the $3.00 portion.

Da Zhong Cafe (大衆茶室) – Coffee & Traditional Toast

Operating hours: 5:00am – 2:00pm

Very well know for their great tasting coffee at economical price. Their coffee gives off a very strong coffee aroma that is not usually found in ordinary food court coffee and it’s not because they purposely made the coffee “gao” (thick). Da Zhong prepares their own coffee mixture and sent them for grinding to powder form.

Generous serving of salted butter in their toast is one of my reasons to patronize this stall. This stall started their business in the 1970s before relocating to Hougang in 1983 with more than 30 years of coffee making experience.

Yi Liu Xiang Nasi Lemak (一流香) – Nasi Lemak

Operating hours: 6.30 am to 12pm. Closed on Mon and Thu.

The most prominent hawker stall with the longest queue in the morning. Unlike many Nasi Lemak stall, the main attraction for this Nasi Lemak stall is not chicken wing (in fact they don’t even offer chicken wing) but for their well flavoured Kuning fish. The fish is fresh, well-fried and yet the meat remains moist and tender. Ikan bilis is the non-sugar-coated version and chilli is less sweet than a typical Nasi Lemak Sambal Chilli.

Price for a plate of Nasi Lemak cost me $2.50 for Omelette, Kuning Fish, Ikan Bilis and Chilli Sambal. Not exactly cheap for the kind of ingredient offered but I like their Nasi Lemak for it’s distinct taste of coconut milk fragrance.

Lorong Ah Soo Lor Mee

Opening hours: Tue to Sun, Closed on Monday

This is the stall that always has a constant queue at Hainanese Village Food Centre. The best thing i like about this Lor Mee is they replaced the braised pork belly to a healthier shredded braised duck meat. It comes with a $2.50 or $3.00 option and a bowl of $3.00 noodle comes with plenty of condiments like braised egg, dish cakes and two kinds of Gnor Hiong (bean curd skin meat roll) and of course the shredded duck.

The gravy is not starchy and very flavorful to an extend of some people may find it a little salty. But it works fine for me. Queuing up for 30 minutes on weekends is a norm to be able to enjoy a bowl of Lorong Ah Soo Noodle. This stall has some mixed reviews online for it’s taste. I personally like it but probably will not queue up for half an hour for this Lor Mee as there are many other good options in Hainanese Village Hawker Centre. If the wait is only 15 minutes, then this works for me.

Dong Jin Yuan Dian Xin (东津园点心) – Fried Carrot Cake Stick

This stall offers fresh piping hot Carrot cake Sticks at $2 for 16 pieces. I ordered this a couple of time and the carrot cake sticks are warm at a minimum while retaining it’s crispness.

Best when the carrot cake Sticks are served right from the frying wok! Super crispy exterior and the inside is still soft and chewy. Fried Carrot Cake Sticks is one of many people’s favourite hawker food that is slowly disappearing from Singapore. There is a “Stall for Rent” sign pasted on the front of the stall. Better eat this while you can!

Worthy Mention: Lai Xing Cooked Food (来兴熟食) – Kway Chap

Opening hours: 6.30am to 1.30pm closed on Mondays and alternate Tuesdays

I am aware that there are a few good Kway Chap still in Hainanese Village Food Centre. What actually attracted me to patronize this particular Kway Chap is actually the old lady who is preparing the Kway Chap. She looks like she is already in her 70s and yet looks so fighting fit and so resilient. Really hats off to her.

Best thing i like about Lai Xing’s Kway Chap? Lai Xing’s Kway is very soft and thin which absorbs the soup easily which makes the Kway really flavorful. I do hope that there was more soup though.

Their pig intestine is very well marinated. Though it’s not the best pig intestine around, but this intestine taste very clean. It’s not tough but yet retains it’s springiness. I was also quite surprised by their lean meat. Most lean meat should be rather dry and tough but Lai Xing’s is tender and full of flavor.

<Punggol Noodle – 7.00am to 2.00pm Closed on Sun>

To be completed

Conclusion

This is not exactly the conclusion cus i will be going back to try the Cripsy Carrot Cake, the so-call overrated Lorong Ah Soo Lor Mee and apparently there is another Kway Chap that is quite popular in Hainanese Village Food Centre.

I have always been proud of our Singapore’s hawker food culture so i think it is important to support our hawker food and as well as writing reviews on them to share these information instead of only cafes and restaurants.

If i can only have an option to choose between having hawker food or restaurant food for the rest of my life, i guess i am someone who will choose hawker food.

Feel free to suggest any stall at Hainanese Village Food Centre that you find it’s worth the eat!

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe 早安南洋 (Time’s 24 World’s Best-Kept Secret)

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe

Address (Main branch): 20 Upper Pickering Street, #01-01, Singapore 058284

Operating hours:  Mon – Fri 7.30am – 5.30 pm, Sat 8.30 am – 5.30 pm and closed on Sunday

* Important Update (20 August 2014) *

The main branch at Upper Pickering Street will cease operation at the end of August 2014 due to various issues. You may visit their other branches at:

1. The Grandstand @ 200 Turf Club Road #01-34A 

2. Far East Plaza @ 14 Scotts Road, #02-23 

3. 75 Pagoda Street

4. Maxwell Chambers @ 32 Maxwell Rd

Introduction

I got to know this less-widely known cafe through  a Times article entitled “24 World’s Best-Kept Secret” and i have to agree that Good Morning Nanyang Cafe is indeed a well-kept secret in Singapore.

This little cafe tucked at one corner of Telok Ayer Green CC starts their operation as early as 7.00am on weekday. I estimated the timing wrongly and i reached this place at 6.30am! To my surprise, they are already opened and invited me to have a seat and offered to take my drinks order first as the food will only be available from 7.00am.

There is an air-conditioned indoor and outdoor dining area which can accommodate not more than fifty people. The menu items that particularly interest me is their orange peel ciabata toast and ciabata toast.

Ciabatta toast

After having it once, this delightful toast immediately became one of my favorite kaya toast in Singapore. First I will talk about the kaya. Good morning nanyang cafe’s kaya is a little unique in the sense that it’s not smooth but rather grainy, which gives a very different and yet delightful texture. I can almost chew on the not-too-sweet kaya custard and i particularly like the kaya for it’s “eggy” taste. It’s like a 70% coconut taste and 30% egg with overflowing pandan fragrance.

The butter was melted into the toasted Ciabatta bread. It maintained it’s softness on the inside while it’s really crispy on the outside. Arguably one of the best kaya toast in Singapore.

Orange Peel Ciabatta Toast

Basically the kaya, butter and toasting method is the same, just that Good Morning Nanyang use a different bread. The orange peel ciabatta is thinner, with a smoother surface and with orange peel baked into the ciabatta bread.

The exterior is not as crispy as the ordinary ciabatta toast and bread gives off a rather unique tinge of orange aroma that I don’t normally find in kaya toast which goes unusually well with kaya and butter.

Curry Chicken

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe also offer lunch items like Curry Chicken, Curry Chee Cheong Fun, Chicken Stew with Rice and pre-packed Nasi Lemak. I will often order their Curry Chicken with toasted ciabatta bread if i’m a little hungry.

I am not going to elaborate more on the curry chicken. The curry chicken is not fantastic, or heavenly. It’s rather decent. Good enough to complete my meal for the day. But i do like to order their crispy ciabatta instead of white rice to go with their curry chicken. Much better to go with curry than traditional baguette.

Conclusion

After trying their toast once, i had already returned to Good Morning Nanyang Cafe for at least seven to eight times since. I also wish to highlight that their soft-boiled eggs are greatly done every time. The staff there are always friendly and made me felt like home. I am always left satisfied when i had my breakfast at Good Morning Nanyang Cafe and i do hope that they can maintain this great service and food standard.

It’s too bad that they will be closed by dinner time. The only alternative is for me to visit their franchised branch at Chinatown. Although the toast ciabatta is not as crispy, i am glad that the rest tasted as good.