Lola’s Cafe – The most popular Cafe at Kovan

Lola Cafe

Address (Google Map): 5 Simon Rd Singapore 545893

Opening hours: Sun to Thu 10am to 11.30pm, Fri & Sat 10am to 12am, Closed on Mon

Introduction

Lola’s cafe is another hipster brunch cafe that is situated near to Kovan MRT. You won’t believe how popular this cafe is. Despite the inconspicuous location, there is even a queue on a weekday lunch hour.

I went there a couple of times, once on a Sat afternoon at about 3pm and i was told that there are ten people in the queue so i left. When i returned at night at about 8pm, i was told that I needed to wait for 45 minutes so i left again. Then, I visit this place on a Friday afternoon at 11.40am and I STILL NEED TO QUEUE. Need to be so popular or not?

But this time, the waiting time is only 15 minutes and I got myself a seat for two pax. They have a queuing system whereby a diner enters his contact mobile into an ipad and system will give you a call when your table is ready so that you do not need to stand outside the cafe like a dummy and i like this system very much.

They serve breakfast menu from 11 to 3pm and dinner from 6 to 9pm. Note that they only serve starter dish and finger food between 3 to 6pm. All prices on menu are nett with no GST and service charge.

Menu 1: Click to enlarge

Menu 2: Click to enlarge

Lola’s Full Monty Breakfast

In recent years, brunch culture is blooming in Singapore and everyone started selling breakfast platter. Majority of them are actually mediocre and seeing all-day breakfast on the menu does not excites me as much as before.

However, Lola’s breakfast platter brought back some excitement to the term “All-day breakfast”. Unlike some restaurants that charge for the sky, Lola’s is at a reasonable nett price of $15.

Their honey glazed ham and bacon is outstanding with a tinge of char-grilled flavour by torch flaming it for a slightly charred outlook. The scrambled egg is creamy and well-flavoured with a runny texture. If there is one thing to improve, they can increase the quantity of the bread for a fuller meal.

Butter Croissant ($13 nett)

Melted Cheddar Cheese, Sliced Ham, Pan Fried Bacon, Scrambled Egg wrapped in a lettuce and freshly toasted Croissant.I love the Croissant. Cripsy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Each mouthful is sinfully good with chunks of egg and melted cheese.

This dish not exactly an exciting option, but Lola’s manage to bring together people’s all time favourite ingredients and made it into something better. The only complain is it’s served on a flat wooden pan. Although it looks nice on photo, the crumbles of the Croissant fell all over the place and was really untidy. There’s gap on the table top so these crumble even fell onto my legs.

Paparika Honey Wings

This is a highly recommended dish by many fellow Singaporeans. It was sold out when I went there for brunch so i returned on another day’s evening for this. The garlicky wings are well marinated and lightly battered and it’s served piping hot. The exterior is really cripsy while the interior retains it’s tender juicy texture. The added paprika powder is mild but yet adds a rich flavor to the wings and the final touch is completed by the sweet honey taste. Love every bite of the wings.

Dinner menu

While I’m back the second time, I ordered their dinner menu, but it was not as impressive as their breakfast menu.

The chicken burger ($14 nett) is rather mediocre and it’s marinated in a curry powder marinate with the bread spreaded with aioli. The only good thing is for the tenderness of the patty and the generous amount of fries.

The Bacon and Mushroom Spaghetti in Truffle Cream Sauce ($14 nett) is not bad though not impressive and probably is my favourite among the mains that I had. The pasta is creamy rich with a generous amount of mushroom but can be better as the truffle taste is not strong enough.

Duck Leg with Honey Mustard Sauce ($16 nett) The Duck leg is well-cooked, but i can’t accept the supposed Honey Mustard Sauce that is drizzled on the duck. If you enjoy sour and sweet sauce on your duck, then likely you can accept this dish better than me.

Their Banger and Mash is an all-day dish but I find comfort in this dish after a few not-so-exciting experience of their main courses. The sausage is the same as the breakfast platter.

Conclusion

It’s a pity that their dinner menu is not as good as it’s breakfast menu so sadly only Lola’s breakfast menu works for me. You can see many youngsters pantronizing Lola’s as it probably has something to do with Lola’s affordable pricing as well as their sinfully good side dishes.

Truffle Fries ($12 nett) with grated parmesan cheese

Judging from the waiting time, having Lola’s in the vicinity is definitely a move welcome by the residents of Kovan. However, that also means that instead of being the place to chill and hang out, it became a eat-and-pay-your-bill as there are much people waiting for a seat. On top of that, Lola’s tables are very close to one another and is rather cramp. As such, my conclusion is – Dinner? So so. Place to relax and chill? Not really. Brunch? Yes.

Hatter Street Cafe, the hipster cafe near Kovan MRT

Hatter Street – Bakehouse & Cafe

Address (Google Map): 212 Hougang Street 21, #01-333, Singapore 530212

Opening hours: 1:00pm – 10:00pm, closed on Monday

Introduction

When i first know about Hatter Street Cafe, i was quite excited as there are rather limited (hipster) cafes along the north-east MRT line. Hatter Street Cafe is walking distance away from Kovan MRT and it’s literally beside a rather well-known Thai neighborhood eatery Nakhon Kitchen (see my previous review).

When i first visited this place, i remember it was not as crowded,  and a fatherly figure attended to my order. Not knowing that i blog about food, he was so painstakingly selling the pastry concepts, the thoughts behind it and explaining the effort put in in decorating the cafe in hoping to get more returning customers. i figured that he may be the father of the boss and if he really is, that’s a good father all right!

Hatter Cafe is a rather cosy restaurant that has an indoor sitting capacity of no more than thirty pax. The interior design is inspired by the popular animation Alice in Wonderland. It sells mainly drinks, pasteries and waffles. Apart from their brownies and waffles, i think they do not have a fix food menu.  What ever you see in their fridge is what ever you can order for the day.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Waffles drizzled in Salted Caramel $8.90

I had this twice and it’s still as good on the second time.  In fact I thought the portion is bigger. Their waffle is exceptionally crispy and yet the inside remain moist. I find caramel sauce quite sweet most of the time but not for Hatter’s salted caramel. There is a good balance between the sweet and salty taste that goes perfectly with the waffle.

There’s no complain for their ice-cream. It’s rich, creamy and good till the last drop. At a price of $8.50, this should be among the best waffles (in term of taste + value) that i had.

Pandan Ice Cream Waffle with Gula Melaka $8.90

This is also another interesting flavour as Hatter decides to drizzle their waffle with Gula Melaka and pair it with a unique pandan flavour ice cream. It is largely popular on social media and many said that it’s the best waffle that they ever had.

For me, the pandan ice cream don’t taste exactly like what I imagined it to be, probably lacking the fragrance of a real pandan leaf but the Gula Melaka drizzle works for me. This is good but if you ask me, I prefer the vanilla ice cream waffle with salted caramel.

Alice (White Chocolate Brownie) with Home Made Ice Cream $6.80

Apparently the intended signature dish of Hatter Cafe is their home made brownies. However the waffle is much more popular instead. With much curiosity, i ordered their white chocolate brownie.

As expected, the cocoa taste is not as rich as a typical brownie but the sweet milky white chocolate taste is unique in it’s own way. The brownie is not too dry but lacks in texture. It taste like a compact sponge cake. I feel that their brownie is ok, but if I know in advance that their waffle is sold out, i probably won’t specially make a trip down for their brownie.

Other Pastries

Here is a list of what you may find In Hatter Street Cafe:

Chocolate Ice Cream Whoaffles with Chocolate Sauce – $8.90

Mad Hare – $7.50 (Rich Brownie topped with Home Made Ice Cream)

Alice – $6.80 (White Chocolate Brownie served with Home Made Ice Cream)

Oh My 天 – $7.50 (Cookies and Cream Brownie with Oreo Ice Cream)

Kick 来 Liao – $6.20 (Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake)

It’s so Kumquat – $6.00 (A Chinese New Year inspired Tart)

Smoked Saw Dust Pudding – $5.00 (Experience Macau through the journey of food)

To Arthur with Love – $6.20 (Guiness & Tiramisu)

水井坊 Tiramisu – $6.20 (Tribute to a very fragrant Chinese White Wine)

Conclusion

Apparently Hatter Street Cafe intend to market their home-baked brownie as their signature dish but it is their waffle that stood out in the end and I totally agree. For those who love crispy waffle, i am willing to bet that you will enjoy this. For the first to comment that you don’t like these waffles, i’ll do up a review base on your choice of restaurant. Not too ex please. Hahaha.

One thing to improve is the air conditioning. During busy time,  the air-con is not strong enough and the cafe is a little hot, especially when people are going In and out of the cafe. Apart from that, Hatter Street Cafe had made it’s way into my list of best waffle in Singapore.

Yi Dian Xin, Neighbourhood Dim Sum at Neighbourhood Price

Yi Dian Xin Hong Kong Dim Sum (一点心港式点心)

Address (Google Map): 1012 Upper Serangoon Road

Opening hours: 7.00am to 6.00pm daily and closed on alternate Tuesdays

Introduction

Yi Dian Xin is the fuss-free no frill Dim Sum situated in a coffee shop along Upper Serangoon Road, which is within walking distance from Kovan MRT. The most expensive item on their menu is only $3.50 nett, which is their Rice Roll with Prawn. It was said that the person behind this stall is an ex-chef from Tung Lok Restaurant at East Coast.

Their opening hours is not exactly easy to meet especially for the working class so the only chance i have is to visit on weekends. I visited this place a couple of times and my favourite are their Steamed Carrot Cake and their Signature Salted Egg Custard Bun.

Menu 26 May 2014: Click to enlarge

Signature Salted Egg Custard Bun (S$3.30 for 3 pcs)

At only S$3.30 nett, this should be one of the most value-for-money Custard Bun in Singapore. This bite size Custard Bun really packs a punch in it’s flavour with over-flowing molten custard.

The custard is milky smooth with only a tinge of salted egg yolk taste (for those who like heavy egg yolk taste, you may be a little disappointed). The thing i like about this custard is it’s not overly sweet so there’s always stomach for a second or third serving. This is definitely my must-order.

Steamed Carrot Cake (S$2.20)

Yi Dian Xin’s offers an old-school style(古早味) carrot cake and i love this dish for the small chunks of radish that is added into the soft and melt-in-your-mouth carrot cake. I thought carrot cake with such taste is already not commonly found in Singapore. The dried shrimps that are added to it gives the carrot cake another dimension of taste and the special soy sauce complete the dish with a slight sweet and savoury taste. This is another of my must-order.

Char Siew Bao (S$2.00 for 2 pcs)

I like the fluffy and spongy bun and it’s texture and i thought they can be more generous with their filling and it’s a little dry.

Xiao Long Bao (S$2.80 for 3 pcs)

Their Xiao Long Bao is OK. Skin is a little thick but the soup within the Dumpling is not bad. At S$2.80, chin chai jiak la~

Beancurd Roll in Oyster Sauce (S$2.40)

Although the beancurd skin and oyster sauce is nice, i thought the flavour of the minced meat paste is a little lacking.

Har Gow ($3.30 for 3 pcs) and Siew Mai (S$2.80 for 3 pcs)

There is nothing much to shout about for their Siew Mai and Har Gow that is average despite the “thumbs up” sign on their menu. But one thing that is commendable is the  fresh ingredient used and it is especially evident through the bouncy texture of the prawn.

Rice Roll with Char Siew BBQ Pork (S$2.50)

Yi Dian Xin’s Rice Roll is a fusion of Hong Kong style Chang Fen and our Singapore’s Zhu Chang Fen. This rice roll skin is thicker like our Singapore’s style and it’s served with Hong Kong Style Soy Sauce. I thought i still prefer the soft Hong Kong style rice roll when it comes to Dim Sum.

Conclusion

Yi Dian Xin is clearly one of the most value for money Dim Sum in the North East region. If you ask me whether is it worth it to travel all the way from the west to Yi Dian Xin, my answer will be “not really”. However, if you are nearby, i thought it’s worth the travel for their two items – Steamed Carrot Cake and their Liu Sha Bao. There is a afforable place to satisfy your craving for Dim Sum and Liu Sha Bao.

Apart from that, i think some items were average and the next attraction is for it’s reasonable price. All prices shown in the menu is nett price so if we convert it to a restaurant price format, their Salted Egg Custard Pau is only $2.80++, the steamed carrot cake at $1.88++ and fried prawn dumpling is $2.50++ only.

And why i like this place? The coffee shop is not bursting with crowd even on weekend so it is a rather good place to chill, and to enjoy a piping hot Dim Sum meal while indulging in a cup of Teh-C Kosong.

Ice Edge Cafe (Kovan) – Cosy not-so-little Ice-cream Cafe

Ice Edge Cafe

Address: 2 Kovan Road Simon Plaza, #01-10,

Operating hours: 12.00 pm to 12.00 am daily

Introduction

Ice Edge Cafe is one of my favourite cafes along the MRT north east line region that is within walking distance from Kovan MRT. Most of the time I will just pop by for their hand-crafted ice-cream and sometimes for their buffalo wings.

Ice edge cafe had recently just expanded their business floor area after taking over the shop beside it and they are offering a more extensive savory menu that includes a fixed 1-for-1 weekday lunch item on their menu. I had indicated the 1-for-1 menu at the bottom of the post. I had tried a couple of their dishes and I am writing those that I personally think it’s not bad.

Pesto Cream Chicken (17.90+)

This dish comes with a small portion of salad and flavored potato wedges. I like how Ice edge prepares their chicken which the surface of their chicken thigh is pan fried until it’s a little charred and crispy while the chicken still retain it’s overall tenderness. The aromatic buttery peppered pesto sauce is also quite well done which Ice Edge claimed that it was prepared using eight different kinds of herbs.

Salon Steak with Potato Gratin (19.90+)

Some of you will agree that some salmon will have a very ‘fishy’ taste that affects the overall taste of a grilled salmon. I am rather sensitive to that taste but Ice Edge’s grilled salmon contains almost no such ‘fishy’ taste (at least for this time).

Similar to their Pesto Chicken, the surface of the salmon is pan fried to crispness while it’s still soft and succulent on the inside. I thought the potato gratin is quite decent as well. It’s soft and well-flavoured with pepper, cheese and cream without overpowering the potato’s natural sweetness.

Buffalo wings (10.90)

The price is not exactly cheap for three pieces of drumlets and three pieces of mid-wings. But somehow the taste of these crispy wings managed to convince me to order their wings again on my subsequent visits. I particularly like the spicy/sour vinegar pepper hot sauce of ice edge’s buffalo wings.

Waffle and Ice-Cream

My favourite items from Ice edge’s menu -their handcrafted ice-cream. Ice Edge offers a decent variety of flavours like Lychee Martini, Salted egg yolk, Tiramisu, Rum & Raisins, Belgium Chocolate, Baileys, Champagne Vanilla, Pistachio, Snickers, but my favourite? It’s their Rocher and Mao Shan Wang Durian.

On a typical day, I will just pop by for a scoop of ice-cream but on pay day, I will order two scoops of ice-cream with their freshly made waffle! This is really sinful, as well as satisfying. Just looking at the waffle alone makes me a happier person. LOL. After Ice edge’s expansion, they are also offering sherbets but I have yet to try them out.

Others – Mao Shan Wang Lava Cake

By the way, i had also tried their Mao Shan Wang molten lava cake that comes with a scope of Mao Shan Wang durian ice-cream. I didn’t have my camera then so there’s no photo. The fillings of this cake is replaced by molten durian paste instead of molten Chocolate. I thought the cake does not taste as good as it sounds. The Molton durian paste is a little artificial for my taste and not the expected natural Durian taste like their Mao Shan Wang ice-cream. Their ordinary Chocolate Lava Cake is much better in my opinion.

Conclusion

I consider ice edge to be one of the very decent cafes at the Hougang/Sengkang/Punggol area, especially so if you are looking for one that is near a MRT station. This cafe will always be on my mind if I am having my meal in this area and is looking for a good place to chill out and to have dessert, maybe after a Soon Soon Teochew Porridge, Punggol Nasi Lemak, Qi Wei Chicken Pot, Nakhon Kitchen or Xin Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh at that area. Quite some good food at Kovan right? Not to mention about the Kovan Hawker Centre.

1-for-1 Weekday Lunch Menu

Here is the 1-for-1 menu during weekday lunch. You will be charged the higher price among the two:

Salad – Tomato Salsa 8.5, Sausage Salad 11.8

Soup – Mushroom Soup 5.8, Minestrone Soup 5.8, French Onion Soup 5.8

Appetizer & Light Snacks – Calamari Fritti 12.8, Chicken Wings 8.8, Buffalo Wings 10.8, Potato Wedges 6.8, French Fries 6.0

All Day Breakfast – Breakfast Stew 14.0

Oven Baked Rice -Salmon Baked Rice 17.0

Pasta – Seafood Aglio Olio 16.8, Penne all’ Arrabiata with Bacon & Ham 14.8, Spaghetti alle Vongole 15.8, Spaghetti Beef Bolognese 14.8, Prawn Pesto Cream Linguine 17.8, Chicken & Mushroom Cream Linguine 14.8

Western – Beef Ribeye Steak 26.8, Beef Tenderloin Steak 28.8, Salmon Steak 19.8
PEsto Cream Chicken 17.8, Double Pork Chop 15.8

Kids Meal – Chicken Nugget Set 9.5