St. Marc Cafe – Simple and delightful pleasure

St. Marc Cafe (Vivo Branch)

Address: 1 Harbourfront Walk #01-108-110 Vivo City

Opening hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm (Mon to Thu, Sun) 10:00am – 10:30pm (Fri, Sat)

St. Marc Cafe (Marina Square Branch)

Address: 6 Raffles Boulevard #02-105/184/185 Marina Square

Opening hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm (Everyday)

Introduction

There are two branches in Singapore and i personally prefers the Marina Square branch as it is more spacious with a larger seating capacity, so there’s no or little waiting time to get a seat. This branch is only opposite Lady M Confections. I was attracted by the colorful display of their desserts outside their shop and decided to have a try.

Click to enlarge

St. Marc Cafe mainly serve bread, pasty, sandwiches, soft serve and their most popular Chococro and Little Fuji. Their soft serve dessert mainly range from S$6.30 for the little Fuji to S$8.80 for their Choco Banana Split. I thought St. Marc Cafe is an ideal place to have rest and to re-energise myself with a quick sugar boost.

St. Marc Cafe’s items are not exactly the most premium or the most special of all. However, their simple and yet delightful dishes are the reasons why i re-visited this cafe again. It’s the piping hot Chococro chocolate filling that attracted me back, and the crispy biscuit-like crust of the Little Fuji that made me want to visit this place again.

Little Fuji – S$6.30

I actually think this is one of the star of the show of St. Marc Cafe. Many people are either ordering this Little Fuji, or the Choco Banana Fuji, with added chocolate sauce and banana.

So what exactly is the Little Fuji? It’s a freshly toasted buttery flavor croissant dough with soft serve with caramel sauce. There is always at 5 to 10 minutes of waiting time for this Little Fuji and to collect at the counter when it’s ready.  Therefore Little Fuji is always served piping hot and it’s duper crispy.

It’s arguable that the ice-cream taste a little like McDonald’s but what does it matter when the combination of the croissant with soft serve is too good to nitpick.

The Signature Original Chococro (S$2.40)

By the name Chococro, it actually stands for Chocolate Croissant. Best part about this? When it’s freshly out from the oven, or at the minimum, it’s warm.

Somehow a pastry can’t go too wrong when there is warm molten hazelnut chocolate and warm crispy croissant involved.  This is quite an ideal snack to go with a cup of latte even if you are feeling a little full from a meal. The portion is just right, and the chocolate is not too greasy so it’s almost always a good time to have a Chococro.

Seasonal Flavor – Matcha Daifuku Chococro (S$2.60)

Daifuku (大福) literally means “Great Luck”. Daifuku is a Japanese confection consisting of a small round mochi stuffed with sweetened red bean paste. So a Matcha Daifuku Chococro is a actually a confection within a pastry. I initially thought the white filling is green bean paste but i think it’s actually mochi, and was stuff into the croissant together with the red bean paste and matcha cream. This is a rather interesting flavor which is not easily found elsewhere. Catch it before there’s a change in season.

Salsa Egg and Custard Bread (S$3.50)

Apart from sweet stuff, St. Marc also offers some savory items like sandwich and bread. There are actually plenty of ingredients in the Salsa Egg Bread – salsa sauce, mayonnaise, bacon slices, pepper and whole egg. It’s almost as good as it looks and only too bad the egg is quite well cooked. It would be best if the egg is only half cooked with the runny egg yolk. The price is also not exactly the cheapest in it’s class.

Custard Bread with Almond Flakes (S$2.60)

This bread is rather pricey at $2.60, but you will be able to tell the difference between a $2.60 and $1.50. The warm creamy custard flows out from the bread upon cutting it into two. Comparing to ordinary custard, this one has a stronger and aromatic milk taste. The bread’s texture is similar to Barcook’s Raisin Cheese but a little bit softer. This or Chococro at the same price of S$2.60? After some consideration, Chococro will be my choice! But this is actually not bad too.

Conclusion

I still ordered their Little Fuji or Chococro for my subsequent visits. I personally prefer their croissant dishes rather than their bread. St. Marc Cafe’s ambiance is very similar to Starbucks or Coffeebean kind of ambiance and can reasonably sit for as long as i like. The one thing i like about St. Marc Cafe is their patrons can get free cold water from their water dispenser. This means that i can get to rest in this cafe, and spending only S$2.60 on one Chococro, and to rehydrate myself for free.

Once again, i need to emphasis that St. Marc cafe is not offering the most special kind of pastry, or the nicest pastry in Singapore. Their dishes are some very safe recipe that can’t go wrong easily. I personally like them for the reasonable price and the overall comfort offered to their patrons. Sometimes, life’s simple pleasure can be the best kind.

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.

Drips Bakery Cafe

Drips Bakery Cafe

Address: 2 Tiong Poh Road #01-05 Singapore 160082

Operating Hours: Sun – Thur: 11:00am – 9:30pm Fri & Sat: 11:00am – 11:00pm

Introduction

This place is recommended by my colleague who had high rating for their sandwich where the bread is freshly baked everyday. Drips bakery cafe offers a good range of pastries, tarts, cookies and cakes as well as hand crafted coffee.

Initially, i wanted to drop by at a cafe at Yong Siak Street only to find most of them are really crowded and a little noisy but i am in a mood to find a quiet place for a good cup of coffee after my lunch at Beo Crescent Hainanese Curry Rice and i am glad that i did.

At Drips Bakery Cafe, the tables are well spaced apart with a high ceiling. There are also sofa seats at the other end of the cafe that is situated below a sun roof. I did not opt for the sofa seat as it was at 1.30pm and sunlight is directly shining onto the sofa.

 

The ambiance is very relaxing with light music playing at the background. Perfect for a great afternoon chill out session! They do not have a fixed menu which i think they will just wipe off an item from the menu black board if it was sold out for the day.

Fruit Tarts

I heard that the pastry chef from Drips Bakery Cafe was once with Shangri-la. We were fortunate to be able to try the tarts freshly prepared from the kitchen. The mango and blackberry tart cost me $8.00 which i think it’s a little pricey but taking account that they are actually quite generous with the fresh fruits, it’s still reasonable.

When the tarts were brought out from the kitchen, everyone started crowding at the counter and most of the tarts were snapped up in no time. I thought the crust taste very similar to a butter cookie but the best part of the tart is the cream filling. I like the smooth texture of the cream and for the fact that it’s simply not too sweet.

Sandwich

Drips bakery cafe offers some sandwich choices like Smoked Salmon, Virginia Ham, Vegetarian and Honey Low Fat Ham. For a meat lover like me, of course i opted for a Ham sandwich – The Honey Low Fat Ham. There’s only one option for choice of bread which they call it the “Baked Bread”.

The veggies are really fresh and i particularly like how they toasted the tomato to mild warm before serving. And for the bread, the edge of the bread were really crispy and soft on the inside.

Conclusion

Fresh tarts, fresh bread, spacious, relaxing, good cappuccino are all the reasons that i have to come back to Drips Baker Cafe again. I actually wanted to try their buns like their curry bun and their Macadamia Tarts but after eating a plate of curry rice, a sandwich and a tart, my stomach gone already. So probably i will pop by in near future and to try out their sandwich of a different flavor and hope that their bread is as good as this time!

Beo Crescent Hainanese Curry Rice

Beo Crescent Hainanese Curry Rice

Address: 40 Beo Crescent

Operating Hours: Daily: 6:30 till sold out (At about 3 or 4pm). Closed on Wednesday.

Introduction

I had heard people raved about this curry rice that is situated in the neighbourhood of Beo Crescent. You can easily spot this place by looking out for a long queue forming outside a coffee shop. The old school stall has no sign board and everyone calls it the Beo Crescent Curry rice. TheM 67 years old boss opens his stall early in the morning before the sun rises and closes his stall when most of this dishes are sold out at about 3 to 4pm.

Hainanese Pork Chop

Their famous pork chops are on the must-try list of every foodie. Remember to order the Pork Chops separately so that it will not be soaked in the curry sauce. Oh god. This Beo Crescent Curry Rice Pork Chop is indeed crispy! If you prefer your pork chop to be slightly thicker and a little bit more chewy, like Scissors Cut Curry Rice Pork Chops, you may not favour this. But for me, this is what makes their pork chops unique. Beo Crescent Curry Rice pork chop easily found itself into the must-order list for my next visit. I think the secret to the crispiness is the method of preparation. The pork chops were sliced into small and thin slices and coated it with a generous amount of flour mixture and logically, with that amount of flour coating, it should make your pork chops really crispy.

Fried prawn

Basically the marinate and the flour coating taste very similar to the the pork chops and is not difficult to guess the texture too. Yeap. Crispy! Except for the tail, the other parts of the prawn were deshelled which makes it easy for diners to feast on them. The prawn is definitely not overcooked and i can taste the freshness of the prawn.

Braised pork

The pork belly is well braised and the fatty portion comes off easily without much effort, but not to the extend to melt in your mouth. What is a Hainanese Curry Rice without braised pork belly?

Minced Pork Patty

The dish taste rather decent, Ok and probably should be the dish for me if i want to have a healthier meal. The unique thing about the Beo Crescent Curry Rice’s version is the slight difference in texture compared to the ordinary minced meat patty. They minced the meat till it’s really fine that you almost can’t taste the fiber of the meat. Just imagine a giant pork ball but much softer. This dish is a little bit salty for me and I will leave my stomach to try other dishes for my next visit.

Conclusion

Like most of our hawker centres or coffee shop food, apart from cheap and good, it’s still cheap and good! I ordered two plates of rice, one with pork belly and long bean, and the other one with cabbage and fried prawn, and ordered a plate of pork chops and a portion of minced pork patty and it cost me for S$9.50. How good is that?

Despite having 20 people in the queue and waiting for about 20 minutes during lunch time, it was well worth it. This stall was around since 1990 and I heard that the children of the stall owner has no interest to take over the stall so it’s a pity that such a traditional hawker stall will no longer be available in the near future. Be sure to pop by and try it out soon!