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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:

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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

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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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And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.

J.K. Rowling

After a week of diving in the west, it’s time to go back to the better side. #kek

Far-eastern Singapore sometimes feels a bit left out when it comes to cafes and specialty F&B places, with most reaching only as far as the East Coast Road area or maybe even Bedok. So it’s always refreshing news that you hear of a brand new cafe deep in the heartlands of Tampines.

Brothers in Fine Food (BFF)

Another disheartening thing about being in the heartlands is that your apart from the street (block) corner kopitiam or hawker centre, your F&B options are almost entirely dominated by chain stores. Being situated in Tampines West Community Centre (yes, a CC!), it’s no different for newcomers Brothers in Fine Food. Founded in November 2016 by the same bros behind popular cafe in East Coast, Penny University. Placed above a Starbucks AND a MacDonald’s outlet, it’s easy to miss them out as you have to walk past both of them, and up the stairs through another corridor.

BFF

Reaching the place, you are greeted with a simple facade and no-frills industrial furniture and fittings. The weather was rather gloomy for the entire day when I first visited, and it looked like a good place to wind down in the evening.

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The menu is a pretty interesting one, with several unusual concoctions such as the sous-vide steak with beetroot and thyme puree, which I eventually ordered. Chef Restu from BFF explained that they use modern cooking techniques and experimented with different methods to create unique recipes at heartland-friendly prices. True though, this is the first time I’ve heard of sous-vide prepared steak in such a setting, for less than $20! The other main we ordered that evening was the Salmon Fillet with za’atar roasted bread crumbs, crispy spiced salmon skin, brown butter miso sauce, atop of a pillow of giant Israeli couscous.

bff-03338Brothers in Fine Food

Of course, how do you leave such a place without going for dessert? Their Greek-yoghurt panna cotta is something different as well: the acidity of the cream and yoghurt sinfully mixed with homemade honeycomb crunch, fresh fruits and poached pears (with a secret mix of spices!). I won’t wait till the end of this post to say: Try. This.

BFF

I Had To Return

While paying up and leaving, I was told to come back for their weekend brunch menu. So being a bro to the bros, I returned a few days later! Surprisingly (actually, not really), many of their breakfast crowds are not young anello bag-toting hipsters, but working adults and their families. I even had the chance to share simple conversations with an older Malay couple who decided to drop by after reading about BFF in the Malay newspaper about this new halal cafe right in their backyard!

Being a lazy person on a lazy Sunday morning I opted for the lighter Mediterranean breakfast set, featuring the usual hummus, spinach, falafels, couscous, fresh avocado slices and the not as usual smoked aubergine (eggplant) and halloumi cheese (which is a heavy-flavoured cheese that goes well with the other staples).

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Not a very big breakfast person myself, I found it rather filling despite the serving not looking its weight, and regrettably didn’t drink their coffee! So here’s something from their Instagram page showcasing their really good lattes while I return YET AGAIN this week to taste it myself (it IS pretty near to my place anyway). Of course they’re no one-dish wonders; I saw many other diners wolfing down several of their approximately dozen menu selections, such as the Dashi noodles and their signature builder’s breakfast!

The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Although situated in a community centre, it’s pretty much is hidden as you have to traverse through the chain restaurants and up a short corridor, without much signage ahead. So yes, not THAT ideal of a hole-in-the-wall but still living it up to this blog’s mantra.

Price:
Being a place of decent quality food, you won’t see prices the same as the Mr Teh Tarik across the street, but at about $15-20 per person (including drinks and desserts will cost you slightly more), it’s a bargain where hipster cafes regularly charge $25++ for a breakfast platter full of processed food.

Quality:
No wagyu fillet mignons or deep sea halibut here, just regular homely ingredients that are prepared with lots of attention and with creative modern twists.

Overall:
A good refreshing change of face in the heartland scene where everything has something to do with a shareholders-first global chain. Visit this people-first place now!

More Information

Brothers in Fine Food (BFF)
5 Tampines Avenue 3
#02-07, Tampines West Community Club
Singapore 529705
Tue to Fri: 12pm – 10.30pm
Sat & Sun: 9am – 10.30pm
Closed on Mondays
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brothersinfinefood
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brothersinfinefood/

BFF is Halal-Certified.


Want to tell me about a hole in the wall in your neighborhood? Write to me!

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