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(NOTE: The cafe is closed for a bit till 16 Nov 2017)

Iced T

Tired of the same sweet bottled beverages you can find in convenience stores, or the saccharine-loaded teas soaked in cheap milk-flavoured powder? Not that they’re not enjoyable (I’d like an Arizona I C E D Tea once in a while), but I guess we should be mindful of what we putin us, especially since we’re here doing food reviews.

Cafe Yellow


In the town (where I was kind of born), at the far end of the second floor of Millenia Walk, sits a Citroen van that’s painted the brightest of yellow. Together with We The People (the Kickstarter products store), the aptly visually-named Cafe Yellow is a simple get-up that serves naturally-flavoured teas that are no added sugar.

Some of my favourites from their cold brew tea series are the mango sticky rice flavor with strong coconut hints reminding you of the markets of Bangkok, and the Hojicha with a fragrant malty taste reminiscent of the temples of Kyoto. For you caffeine junkies, they also serve Nitro cold brew coffee (seeing a trend here)!

Oh, did I mention that Cafe Yellow also run by the loveliest동생 ever, Sohee?

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Ever since the previous anchor (Harvey Norman) moved out, it’s pretty quiet on the second floor of Millenia Walk, so you don’t really notice it so much.

Price:
At $5-7 per drink, it’s pretty reasonable, and you get a nice ambiance away from the buzz. #protip: It’s a good hiding place when you need to rest from visiting the many conventions at nearby Suntec City Convention Center.

Quality:
It’s a simple variety of beverages, but they all taste fresh and wholesome, none of that overtly sweetened syrups!

Overall:
Decent teas and a nice view (with pretty owner as a bonus)? We could drop by every time we’re in the area!

More Information

Cafe Yellow
Level 2, Millenia Walk
9 Raffles Boulevard
Singapore 039596
Tel: 9233 0627
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At no time are we ever in such complete possession of a journey, down to its last nook and cranny, as when we are busy with preparations for it. After that, there remains only the journey itself, which is nothing but the process through which we lose our ownership of it.  Yukio Mishima

So not that long ago I saw this on my Facebook timeline:

I decided to try my luck (some of the answers were pretty good guesses, like pistachio) and lo behold, I was right! So off I went to get a taste of this unusual concoction…

Nook & Cranny

Started in 2015 by part of nookedmag.com, Nook & Cranny is well, literally in its namesake along Sin Ming Road, more popularly known for roti prata and Udders ice cream. Situated at Thomson V One, it is easy to miss it if you’re not looking. Despite that, it’s actually not difficult to reach, with Marymount MRT Station just a couple bus stops out, or a 10 minutes walk.

The interior’s nothing much to yell about, but it feels spacious and cosy despite the area not actually being really big; the biggest table at the al-fresco area is good enough for 8-10 people, although I’m sure they will be happy to accommodate.

Nook & Cranny Nook & Cranny Nook & Cranny Nook & Cranny Nook & Cranny Nook & Cranny Nook & Cranny

The menu also exudes the cosiness and down-to-earth concept of the cafe design. The Truffle Mac & Cheese, topped with a soft boiled egg and the Chicken Bleu (Chicken Cordon Bleu), served on a bed of orzo rice pasta (it feels like rice but tastes like pasta!), are all comfort and zero nonsense. Also check out their signature “Nook Wings” that’s battered with a *secret* recipe and served with a generous amount of BBQ sauce dip!

Other items on the menu that you should check out as well include the Salmon Benedict, and their waffles & ice cream, just to name a couple.

Nook & Cranny

See you Latte

The star and main purpose of my visit, the Pandan Latte, was an interesting spin. Kind of reminds me of eating ondeh-ondeh, a traditional snack in Southeast Asia, with some hints of nasi lemak. However for now it remains a one-time special, as the guys at Nook & Cranny are refining the drink for a comeback (hopefully soon!).

In the meantime, check out their signature drinks like the matcha latte and signature hot chocolate! Perfect for a pit stop in the afternoon or to wind down the evening if you’re that sort of coffee drinker like me (having coffee at night but still managing to sleep).

Recently, they’ve also won the 2017 Singapore AeroPress Championship held at the Singapore Coffee Festival 2017. You know they’re up to some good brews when their barista’s award-winning!

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Hidden from street view, and before the Thomson-East Coast MRT line comes, you will definitely need to do some legwork to find Nook & Cranny, in a nook and cranny. There’s ample parking available in the complex though.

Price:
Mains and drinks set us back about $50, which puts it in a slightly upper range but still decently priced.

Quality:
The food here is not complicated, and servings are comfortably adequate. You can also feel the freshness in their beverage as they prepare them fresh too.

Overall:
A nice hideaway in what is more famous as a favourite supper area, you can cosy up and spend hours here to get your fill of nice food and drinks!

More Information

For the whole month of August, celebrate their first birthday by enjoying a 2nd main course at 50% off!

Nook & Cranny
9 Sin Ming Road
#01-03
Thomson V One
Singapore 575630
Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 12:00pm to 10:00pm, CLOSED TUESDAYS
Fri: 12:00pm to 11:00pm
Sat: 11:00am to 11:00pm
Sun: 11:00am to 10:00pm
Reservations: 6452 7449 or info@nookmag.com
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Singapore Coffee Festival 2017 – Organised by The Straits Times & Presented by DBS Bank

Just yesterday I attended the Singapore Coffee Festival 2017 (Media & Trade Day). Organized by The Straits Times and presented by the DBS Bank, it’s back for its second year!  This year it’s held at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore. To me even though it meant a 10 minute walk down a very long sheltered walkway, it is a big improvement over the previous location, as the entire immigration and boarding centre is turned into a giant festival ground, all in the comfort of cool air-conditioning! There are actually 2 levels of the festival this time, so instead of a claustrophobic corridor, now it is held in a spacious and tall indoor venue.

To cater to everyone, they’ve also split up the sessions into two: brunch (10:00am to 3:30pm) and sundown (4:30pm to 10:00pm). Be sure to go on time so that you have maximum enjoyment of your favourite cuppa. Before you read on, get your tickets here! Regular tickets are priced at $22 per session, and at $18 per session for DBS cardholders and Straits Times subscribers.

 

The Straits Times – Coffee and Conversations

Similar to last year, apart from just downing shots of caffeine, The Straits Times are holding a series of talks and conversations with interesting personalities, from baristas and start-up entrepreneurs, to social enterprises and corporate leaders.

The brunch sessions features Coffee with the Boss, a series of talks by towkays (bosses/leaders) such as DBS’ regional head of group research Timothy Wong on investment tips (Sunday), Singtel’s consumer chief executive Yuen Kuan Moon on the digital age and technology (Saturday), as well as Princess Cruises director for South-east Asia Farriek Tawfik on travel tips and destinations (Friday). The sundown sessions are more casual, featuring cafe owners, baristas discussing becoming a F&B entrepreneur, and having a mid-career change into the industry. Check out the full programme here.

Live Kind with DBS

Can a cup of coffee change the world? As part of its vision to create a positive impact beyond banking, DBS Asia For Good Foundation presents Live Kind, which include a series of interactive workshops like coffee brewing, latte art to snack making and tasting sessions. You can also  shop for some artisanal coffee, tea and snacks at The Good Market. Live ethically, effortlessly with these sustainable businesses from across Asia that will be showcasing a range of socially conscious coffee, organic snacks, and all natural skincare products.

Also get yourself some goodies by completing a list of tasks on the Live Kind Passport, but you got to register on the link first or at the festival!

Check out their website before you go down, over here.

Hook me up with some Caffeine!

This year, Singapore Coffee Festival boasts over 100 partners and exhibitors, from commercial brands to local coffee brewers. Get yourself some classic and curated roasts by various cafes (I went for Brawn & Brains’ Natural and Kochere coffee mixes (served in a pourover). Personally I preferred the natural for its berry taste and acidity! Otherwise, get some cold brews such as by Lorgan and Sons and 1degreec, or Coffee in a Cone by Coffee Academics just to name a few. Some festival exclusives are also available, such as Hyde & Co, whom are selling its cold brew iced teas in bottled form for the first time at $8 each, while Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee will be launching a special blend of coffee beans. There are also international specials like the Japan Roast (I love their Kenyan roasts) and Shiseido boutique are also here to show off some international love!

Do also check out the second level of the exhibition (there’s escalators and elevators available) where you can find coffee making paraphernalia for sale, and also Owa Coffee by Mandai & Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which is grown by Javanese farmers in an wildlife-friendly manner and protects the Javan silvery Gibbons, which is threatened by deforestation from practices such as coffee-growing. You can also participate in (you need to register online first) different workshops like Lab Sessions @ The Lab by Common Man Roasters.

Check out the different sections of the exhibition, such as a local Kopi Corner designed by Daniel Boey featuring Ya Kun Kaya Toast, and the sunset wharf where you can find Hyde & Co and Symmetry along with a power packed line-up of musical performances throughout the festival, featuring acts like local singers Inch Chua, Jawn , indie rock band Stopgap, and producer Tim De Cotta. I’d recommend chilling there, by the seaside, to end the night with your favourite beverage! For me it was the coffee pale ale (beer) by Brawn & Brains!

For a whole list of participating cafes and brands, click here!

Coffee Alternatives

Wished you had a better tolerance to caffeine (unlike me) and want to take a break from the coffee? There’s also plenty of options such as the flower teas by SWATi, Strawberry Oolong Tea by Boba Brew, and many more! Hungry? There’s also plenty of food choices, such as the watermelon soft serve (eat it fast, it melts really quick!) and Rendang Mac & Cheese with Ayam Keluak Kueh Pie Tee by Arbite. Check out the friendly magazine that’s available if you ever get spoilt for choice!

#Covfefe or Bust

Hope you people enjoy this year’s Singapore Coffee Festival like I had. As drinking a large amount of coffee does have a diuretic effect, be sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, and avoid it on a completely empty stomach!

More Information

Singapore Coffee Festival 2017 By The Straits Times and DBS Bank
Marina Bay Cruise Centre – Getting There
61 Marina Coastal Drive
Singapore 018947
Tickets here

 


Many thanks to The Straits Times & DBS for inviting!

Update: Teepee is currently closed while the owners look for a new location. Check out their facebook page for further updates!

 

I’m a Happy Camper

Working, or just simply hanging around the Clarke Quay area is a great thing actually; you get spoilt for choice from budget noodles to atas noodles (ramen) or even atas satay bars depending on your mood and budget. Speaking about bars though…

Teepee Bar & Restaurant

Opened in December 2016 amongst the budding local boutique bar scene, Teepee Bar & Restaurant sets out to be a hidden abode for tired souls by day and by night, after an in tents day at work, geddit? It feels like a slight twist to the Melbourne cafe scene where it’s also a fully functional bar, and a more than decent one at that!

The setup and fare is what you’d expect from a boutique restaurant/bar: Slim outfit but cosy, simple food but not lacking substance. To even reach the entrance of the bar, you have to first locate the nondescript address and walk down an equally nondescript corridor before you finally see their signboard, which is still further past another doorway. Comfortable wooden stools and leather couch seats pepper the dining floor, and you also see their namesake (a teepee) hung up behind the bar counter.

It was a hot afternoon (surprise surprise) so the first thought was to get a drink, like their signature Earl Grey infused Gin & Tonic. Feeling you need a perk me up instead? There’s a good menu of coffee, like the lychee affogato up and ready for you too!

At their recommendation, I got myself the buttermilk fried chicken burger, and a side of their signature pork belly buns (kong4 ba4 bao1; 扣肉包), while my lunch partner got the wagyu beef bowl, another signature menu item. I got to say, the small outfit does not stop them from dishing out scrumptious and generous meals like these. The beef bowl for example has a copious amount of beef done just perfect medium rare, and topped with a marvelously prepared onsen egg. Did I also mention that their fries are done just right?

Teepee Bar & Restaurant

 

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Like when their more well-known neighbour bar and another signboard-less cafe along Hongkong Street started out, you probably will not be able to locate them at first glance.

Price:
It’s definitely not the cheapest option in Clarke Quay, but i definitely felt full after!

Quality:
Food is made with fresh ingredients and meats are well-seasoned (and battered). Did I already say that their fries are good?

Overall:
It’s perfect as a hideout regardless of the time of day, be it from the office hustle or the after-work party bustle. I am told it gets pretty crowded at night though so be prepared!

More Information

Teepee Bar & Restaurant
31 Hong Kong Street
#01-02 Singapore 059670
(just walk through the doorway and down the corridor at the first floor)
Phone: 6225 0025
Email: hola@teepee.com.sg
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I am (hehe) pretty sure most of the cafe-hopping crowd in Singapore would be familiar with I am… Cafe (yes, the name includes the ellipsis) and their signature red letter blocks at the corner of Haji Lane:

A post shared by I am… (@iamathajilane) on

Living on the better side of the island and don’t want to join the throngs of poor west-siders in queuing for ages? Now you can just stay in paradise!

I am… Cafe (Our Tampines Hub)

Just opened on 28 February 2017, I am… Cafe now brings all that burger and fries (with some pizza) goodness right to our doorstep in the East. Situated on the third floor of Our Tampines Hub right next to the HomeTeamNS clubhouse,  where there are already plenty of fun things to do, it takes a little bit of eyeballing but you won’t miss their trademark signage even from level 1.

Interior wise, it does remind you of Haji Lane, and I very much prefer an air-conditioned experience, although it does contain the noise of the hustle and bustle going on (it is a family casual restaurant after all so don’t expect classical music and hush-hush conversations).

I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines

Likewise, the menu still consists of old favourites such as their side of truffle fries, which is topped off with thick and creamy truffle mayo. Burgers, pizzas, and their fish & chips are also available, along with their signature mocktails (they’re halal certified). Don’t forget their desserts like the RAINBOW CAKE! Call me nitpicky, but while my ‘the boss’ burger is definitely scrumptious, I’d wish for the patty to be at least the same diameter as the buns so that I can pick it up to chomp down on it (hehe) without risking it popping out of the buns mid-bite.

I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines

A post shared by I am… (@iamathajilane) on

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Waitrr Pls

One new addition since I last ate at I am… Cafe is the use of a mobile app called “Waitrr“. From browsing the menu, all the way to ordering and paying for your meal, it’s a seamless process that’s quite frankly a well-designed user experience. No more hems and haws when your service staff probes whether you are ready to order, or yelling through to them during busy weekend dinners and hoping he/she read your order right. Just scan the QR code, pass the phone down the table and pick your food and drinks! What’s also good I realised, is that you don’t have to make one person pick up the tab or get service to split your tabs (a horrible experience for large groups, please don’t do this to wait staff…). Just use your own phone(s) to order separately and pay immediately after! EZPZ!

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
This is in (what’s becoming) a very popular hangout in Tampines, so it’s not something too out of the way. Also the brand is already a staple in halal Cafes.

Price:
Prices are still pretty fair, nothing out of the ordinary for cafes (I spent about 20 per pax).

Quality:
You probably need to order dessert if you’re really hungry, but portions are not scrimped on here.

Overall: I
Joining the fray with other cafes showing up in Tampines, like one I previously visited, I am… Cafe banks on its already solid reputation in dishing out relatively affordable premium western cuisine that’s halal-certified, right in the heartlands! Surely, a #newbeastfromtheeast!

More Information

I am… Cafe (Our Tampines Hub)
51 Tampines Ave 4
#03-04
Our Tampines Hub
Singapore 529684
​Tel: 6295 5509
Email: enquiry@iam.com.sg
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“I am a coffee fanatic. Once you go to proper coffee, you can’t go back. You cannot go back.”

Hugh Laurie

As recent as 2010, Singapore was hit by a wave of artisan coffee houses, stemming from the Melbourne café scene that has pretty much took over the whole world. It’s no doubt that Singaporeans will always crave for better quality, and will jump on the first available choice AND be more than willing to shell out a premium. However it still remains a cut-throat arena; out of the 391 cafes that opened in 2014, at least a quarter of them didn’t make the cut since. That’s a lot of coffee going both ways!

Also, I personally observe that a lot of these cafés popping up like rabbits aren’t really that serious about the literal meaning of a café; well, the coffee.

Stephanie Phua (Duo Studio)

VXX Cooperative

Stephanie of Duo Studio sought out to disprove that by bringing me to a relatively new coffeehouse in the vicinity of her agency, in Jalan Besar. Speaking of the area, it’s a really under-the-radar and eclectic enclave of coffeehouses and small restaurants!

Creative & advertising agencies similarly have a tough life over here, and she’s glad that she can find such a place just round the corner that not only is a good place to tune out/do work in peace, but also has a satisfying dining experience.

VXX Cooperative

Started by coffee connoisseurs and professionals Joy and Aslam, VXX Cooperative takes pride in their coffee-centric nature, which is evident in the curation of available roasted brews. With a mix of local favourites Nylon Coffee Roasters, Cloud Catcher Roastery (Malaysia), Koppi (Sweden) and Tim Wendelboe (Norway), it’s a special kind of heaven for serious coffee enthusiasts. Coupled with the strong experience of both former baristas themselves, Joy and Aslam are able to bring out the best of what are already among the best roasts in town.

If you wanted to know, “VXX” is something of sentimental value to Aslam, as it is the area code (520) of the district.

I’m a relatively technical person myself, and I love it when being explained to the facts and technical aspects of just about anything, especially food. This was exactly the experience I got; Joy was really patient and enthusiastic to introduce the profiles of the special brews on sale that day and I made an informed choice to get the Nacimiento by Tim Wendelboe. Served in a metal flask, it’s meant to be enjoyed slowly to allow the aromatics time to vaporise and give you an olfactory treat.

If any, their logo is a good representation of their culture: sharp but multi-directional curation. Located at 20 Foch Road, the interior is nicely spaced, minimalistic yet comfortable. The flowery floor tiles were probably because it used to be a dispensary back in the days. It’s not somewhere you’d want to have a 50 seats birthday party at, but like Stephanie, it’s a pretty good place if you want some peace and quiet. When you enter the shop’s front hall you’ll be greeted with a really large flat wooden table, possible with some coffee drips running on it. Take your pick with the merchandise just next to it too, when I was there, I saw some really good chocolate!

In fact, she got so comfy with the place that her coffee choices are simply picked for her and she does not have to worry about not enjoying whatever is served! Joy does not disappoint.

VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative

The food menu is something that constantly evolves, but keeps to their principle of serving simple food to a T. I do agree to not over-complicating your food as a café owner as it will rob the attention from the beverages, and turn you into one of those red-velvet-cake-eggs-benedict-please hipster cafés.

Opting for something balanced and light I’ve opted for the banana-walnut french toast, topped up with mascarpone cheese, berries and coffee custard. Stephanie (aka stooffi) got basically what she always orders: a beef chorizo bowl with shaved potatos and tomatoes, topped with a perfectly wobbly *jiggle* onsen egg. According to her this is the third iteration of the same dish, and it is rather different in terms of presentation and preparation style from the predecessors.

There are also several other interesting creations from breakfast items to full lunch menus. I heard the dessert is also to die for, so get them before they change the menu (yet again)!

VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative

At the time of writing both Rudi and Joy are taking part in the Singapore National Brewers Cup 2017, happening at Cafe Asia 2017 over at MBS this weekend! All the best!

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Nondescript shopfront, minimalistic furniture, artisan food and beverages? Check!

Price:
While you have to be prepared for some premium in prices, care is taken to prepare the food and (especially) coffee. You won’t feel shortchanged at all!

Quality:
See above. Portions are just right regardless if you want a midday snack, or a hearty lunch.

Overall:
Definitely a good local effort to bring quality coffee to the scene (a refreshing change in my opinion). They change up every 3-4 months to keep things fresh too, so you won’t get bored.

More Information

VXX Cooperative
20 Foch Road
Singapore 209261
Tel: 8720 0093
Opens daily 9:00am to 6:00pm
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