Xiao Ya Tou – Funky yet delicious!

Xiao Ya Tou

Duxton Hill near Tanjong Pagar MRT

img_1264Let me start off by saying, this cafe-bar isn’t cheap, especially so if you were to get there intriguing cocktails. And given the higher price point, yet cluttered interior as the tables are really spaced closely to one another, one may find it not so worthy after all. What Xiao Ya Tou could offer though, as its name has suggested, is a retro, hipster experience that would whisk you back to the 60s with its nostalgic furniture and background music that seemed to be played out from a cassette. Just by peering through that old window frame that you could find only at the older flats or landed properties, you would notice that quaint little kitchen that is more open than most modern ones as it doesn’t have a higher table top or chic glass facade.

img_1265And as we look around, you would realise that almost everywhere is worth a picture as the owner boasts that huge collection of retro stuff that he has or has bought in, yet not forgetting to add a little bit of modern elements to make it awkwardly attractive. Service was fun, bubbly though it is evident that they are short staffed; the waitress has tried her best I say and that any unintended tardiness should be forgiven.

img_1269Seated at the table initially, I requested to move to the counter table that gives you a much bigger private space, actually the entire area as most preferred the tables. 2 cocktails for the brunch and that thick delicious milo dinosaur was my favourite as it had alcohol. Being the more refreshing option, I loved the suntory highball initially but the dilution factor was a little large as the ice melts. $15 for each glass.

img_1270Crispy Otak Otak roll – Otak paste hidden within those crispy rolls that are given a delicious nutty body by the sauce! $12.

img_1272Unagi Benedict – one of the highlights you can find in every review, the poached egg underneath was perfectly runny and that hollandaise sauce was given a Japanese slant that managed to amalgamate the teriyaki unagi with the buttery brioche. $23.

img_1274Xiao Ya Tou breakfast with Kimchi scrambled eggs and chicken cheese sausage. $23.

img_1275The spread.

img_1277And all the sweets for you when you get the bill.

This should be another place to look out for for dinner I reckon!

Verdict: A good cafe bar. 3.8/5.

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Tai Cheung – So fun without the queue

Tai Cheung

Near Holland Village MRT

img_0290That’s it, we finally got the the famous Tai Cheung Bakery cafe that has attracted a huge beeline when they first open few months ago. Not anywhere else, but here in Sg the first cafe is opened in, is perhaps something we have already heard for the nth time. But this is somehow the reason that this bakery is getting all the attention! Got there at 12pm and was a little peeved as I was afraid that it might be a grueling 30min wait in the hot weather but were lucky to just have one patron in front, that makes it a very fast 10min wait to get an air conditioned seat. Beautiful egg tart counter outside that are selling exactly like hot tarts and I could hear quite a few different languages from the queue (Japanese definitely who are by birth foodies), that’s how international this awesome egg tart has gone!

img_0327Two of us indeed, but three mains were ordered! Started off with the scrambled egg toast stack with chicken chop and that chop seemed to be panting with a bulky mash of scrambled above it. Of the right consistency but could be slightly light handed on the butter for some, this was adequate for me as I am for a healthier scrambled toast anytime! And that chicken chop was fried to that beautiful crisp! $9.50.

img_0325This Beef Brisket Curry Rice may seem a little stingy, with a meagre amount of beef cubes in it only. While the plating might have done injustices to it, the curry was definitely impeccable with its thicker sauce that tasted so fragrant and intense. Fried wedges added and the shallots added helped to lift the flavour further. It could be served in a smaller bowl for a fuller look I thought. $10.++.

img_0329And the final savoury – Three coloured silky eggs with rice and char siew and crispy pork belly. Three different kinds of egg used here to yield that eggy experience, I felt this a hearty main actually while the colours and textures seemed to have been worked on by the kitchen team!

img_0332img_0333And what other way to end the meal perfectly but with the Tai Cheung egg tarts! So buttery, eggy and fragrant, they are indeed worthy of the calories! $1.90 for one.

A quick lunch over here, as you also start to notice it operating it in a Cantonese way, with dap teui (sharing of tables) becoming prevalent but service is still Singaporean, not as rushed! Then again, this is what that gives it a more Hong Kong-ish experience that we love that!

 

Gudetama Singapore – Decent food with a higher tag

Gudetama Singapore

Suntec City near Esplanade or City Hall MRT

img_0773I can’t stop myself from joining the 1.5h queue for a dinner at Gudetama Singapore; I wonder why as it strictly isn’t the cutest anime character to me (snorlax, totoro or pompompurin are the favourite still), maybe due to its slimmer figure. But the fact that the entire cafe is just so vibrant and cute, there is this inexplicable allure exuberating from it. You could see a very well thought through system running in the cafe already as gudetama gimmicky props are laid even along the queue for her customers to have fun snapping away while waiting in the otherwise tiring line; menus are given out as you are approaching the end and before being seated, your orders would have been promptly taken. Quick, courteous yet systematic service, that is indeed efficient.

img_0770A general take on the food, they were decently good, and for some might be well over expectation as we usually push our expectations to the lowest of the lowest when it comes to themed cafes like these. For example, this “Are you Busy?” Burger has two fat juicy beef patties underneath that perfectly runny sunny side up, while the fluffy brioche buns are beautifully buttered. But to an objective foodie like myself, taste wise, they were on point while you still get your instagramable gimmicks on your pan. I so wanted to nick that egg and pan home! But at $27.50, we know it is slightly overpriced for a reason.

img_0775img_0765Rib-“I” don’t care – The steak over here caught me by surprise when the service crew asked the doneness we prefer as that is usually done in more upmarket restaurants, not so much for a cafe I reckon. Medium rare we got, slightly pinkish and still tender in the middle topped with that gudetama mash and thick creamy peppered mushrooms. Definitely robust flavours in this pan! $28.50.

img_0767The Mash-Cha was however quite a let down at its price as the matcha flavour was flat, and couldn’t wake the tastebuds up. $11.90.

img_0766img_0771What we thought was very innovative was this TA-MA-GO dessert that is made in the form of a sushi. Matcha cream by the side, what lies underneath the yellow sponge are actually cheese cakes coated with rice crackers. Extra points for this as it shows that the owners are not just out to leverage on the Gudetama wave with haphazard dishes as the dishes have all been thoughtfully curated. $17.90.

img_0768It was undeniably fun and cute but the cost at $100.99 for these 4 items, hmmm…, I am not too sure if the craze will die down like pompompurin cafe.

Verdict: A good cafe. 3.8/5.

 

Pompompurin Cafe – Enjoyed thoroughly at the themed cafe

Pompompurin Cafe 

Orchard Central near Somerset MRT

img_9928Not a fan of above average cafe food, but the overflowing cuteness at this Pompompurin cafe managed to elevate greatly the relatively decent food served over here, making it so compelling for a review post on the blog. For families with kids, this is always a heaven to be in but for adults like us, it would be the perfect hangout when you just need that stupid cuteness to relieve all that stress in you after a long week of work. Having zero expectation for the food (as long as it isn’t revolting), we gladly hopped into it for a fine stupid, cute experience. And the best part? The mad rush to pompom seems to have died down and there wasn’t a queue in sight which made it double sweet.

img_9936The moment we stepped in, we were immediately greeted by the lusciously coloured maple leaves and smiley pompom with his friends. And the different areas you can sit at have all been thoughtfully designed to render different experiences. My favourite of all, is the naturally lit garden table by the window as it somehow has a calming effect, just in time for the invasion of Pompompurin.

img_9933And indeed, we got the silly character plushie sitting next to us and it’s tough not to take some memories home with it!

img_9942Totally star struck, that huge ball of rice just looks so endearing with that beef cap on his head. Cuteness aside, this plate was pretty decently flavoured as the tomato cream stew had the punch but perhaps lacking in substantial ingredients. And the scrambled fell short of the buttery fragrant ones that we always crave for. $19.

img_9950Pompompurin’s coconut milk chicken curry was the preferred savoury main as the thick curry sauce was filled generously with tender chicken cubes. A very normal and palatable dish otherwise, this was made so much more enjoyable with all the stenciled ingredients and that huge smiley face. $18.

img_9955The drinks section though, is just a page of overpriced thirst quenchers as this Love Love Hot Marshmallow Latte costs us $13. Fortunately, mediated by the lunch set promotion, this exorbitant pricing has $3 taken off as long as you get a main and drink, that makes it more bearable. Unable to forgo the cuteness like most tables, we still ordered them!

img_9948And Pompom is feeling all too tired at the huge amount of food for himself. $12 for the Mango juice.

img_9956Quite impossible to not feel less unhappy after having that silly meal with Pompompurin!

img_9945And that’s the final selfie with him.

Objectively, the food here is really pretty decent and wouldn’t make you so dissatisfied that you would grudgingly walk away, feeling that it is just a cute cafe with an utter lack of content in it. A return visit is actually on the cards, till then when we feel we need to relieve that pent up stress again!

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.6/5. 

Ninja Cut – A rare post for a cafe

Ninja Cut

Near City Hall MRT

IMG_9871.JPGRarely a post on cafe, and usually a personal preference not do so as most cafes are usually more often than not just trying to hop on the cafe bandwagon with their mediocre but unapologetic food served; and most importantly they don’t come cheap. Ninja Cut, though, is one of the few that I think has executed the savoury immaculately; not overdoing the plating whatsoever, the focus is more on the robustness of the flavours and how hearty they taste, which got the nods from both of us. Compared to far prettier and spacious cafes like the newer ones at Millenia Walk, this might be bluntly termed as another ‘cluttered’ cafe. Yes, it is quite challenging to weave through those narrowly spaced tables and despite doing my my cardio weekly, I still kicked someone’s bag accidentally while trying to get my water refilled.

img_9867We see why their bowls are slightly more unique than the usual cafe food as the main ingredients used aren’t just our favourite and usual avocado, salmon etc but a full slab of wholesome squid there that has gotten its consistency right. And made unmistakably fusion with the crunchy miso cucumbers, onsen egg and honey glazed carrots with some sauteed mushrooms at the side, this Squid Fix tasted not only refreshing yet delicious as well! $18.

img_9870Then we move on to the hearty mains, this Cheeky Cheese is one that I highly recommend. The star in that plate – the grilled cheese sandwich that has a messy mesh of melted and semi-melted cheese in it which gave it that coveted stretchy consistency and savoury punch. The 24h braised Japanese curry beef cheek was tender and heavier tasting but shouldn’t be eaten together with the cheese sandwich as both do not share the same platform. That said, this was still a very hearty grub. $18.

img_9869The buddy yearns for something healthier and thought he could get away with the Salmon Confit but exactly the opposite as these poached eggs were drenched with the ever fattening hollandaise sauce and the toast has been spread with butter. Not my kind of brunch plate, however, the salmon was commendably prepared well to medium cooked. $18.

img_9868img_9875And just as we were about to finish this matcha cake, I realised the marbled outer layer looks more tantalising that the green sponge. Cream cheese used to turn it into a more English overall, this was a hearty slice that I could get used to. $8.

img_9865And that’s my favourite bowl of all. Ninja Cut does have the cut to be marketed as a brunch place without serving run-of-the-mill brunches as the fusion plates served are straightforward, hearty and delish. The service crew is energetic here and the only improvement I could think of is to lower the air conditioning by 2 degrees.

Verdict: A good cafe. 3.8/5.