Also see Best Cafes in Singapore Part II
Yandao and Chiobu explore cafes and report on Loysel’s Toy, 40 Hands, The Orange Thimble, Drips, Jones the Grocer, Wimbly Lu, Jimmy Monkey Cafe, Carpenter and Cook, The Plain and Oriole. We have yet to try Toby’s Estate at Robertson Quay, Stranger’s Union at Kampong Bahru, Nylon at Everton Park, Henry Congressional at Holland Grove Rd and Papa Palheta along Bukit Timah road, which we went on a Monday and it was not open. When we do, we will update the list.
Once you step into 40 Hands, the rich irresistible coffee aroma engulfs you. There on a crowded weekend, we were quite lost as to where to sit (or if there were any seats). It was chaotic and a server should have shown us a table when we were at the door.
Yandao ordered iced mocha ($8) although the hot mocha is only $6.50. The price is steep for iced mocha even though it is awesome. The coffee is gao3 (thick) enough with substantial amount of chocolate syrup. Chiobu had the latte ($5) which smells heavenly. Fragrant and sweet.
Another thing to try is their Weekend Brunch (9am – 6pm on weekends). Yandao and Chiobu ordered Big Boy Breakfast with poached eggs ($18) which is served on an old-skool metal plate. The plate is a bit tak (not) match but maybe old skool stuff sells. Big Boy Breakfast comes with toast, spicy chipolata sausage, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs (choose from poached, scrambled, sunny or over-easy). It may be too much for 1 person but not enough for 2. The food was so good it made us even more hungry. We then ordered Eggs Benedict ($12, pictured above) that comes with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, English muffins, ham and baby spinach. Equally delicious.
Verdict: Nice drinks, yummy brunch but the place needs some crowd control yo! And also, the prices!!! They are the best indication of our high inflation rates!
BEST ICED MOCHA – JONES THE GROCER
9 Dempsey road 01-12 Dempsey Hill, Singapore 247697
T: 6476 1512
Mocha Mudslide ($7) is the bomb! It’s creamy with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and has thick chocolate syrup at the bottom. Winner.
The cakes and cupcakes are blah though. Chiobu had the red velvet cake and it’s tasteless. The accompanying ice cream is bad and isn’t creamy enough. Brunch is ok, nothing fantastic or noteworthy except for the prices (expensive again!)
Verdict: Just come here, order Mocha Mudslide and people watch. It’s pretty laidback and nice place to chill. For an alternative review by Wise Guy, click here.
BEST HIDDEN GEM – LOYSEL’S TOY
66 Kampong Bugis #01-02 Singapore 338987
T: 6292 2306
Hidden in Kampong Bugis, the place is very quaint, rustic and has a nice ambience. The place has indoor and outdoor seatings and although it is in a ulu (out-of-place) setting, it was almost full when we were there. Food and beverages are affordable. If you sit outdoor, you can actually peep through the leaves and see the river (or sea or canal?).
Blk 56 Eng Hoon Street #01-68
Sun-Thu: 9am-9.30pm (Off on Mon)
Try the English Breakfast (pictured). Rather delicious but uncomfortable chairs and cablight in front of the shop with THE ORANGE THIMBLE sticker on the floor come to mind. Ambience is better than 40 Hands because it is more peaceful. Come here if 40 Hands is too crowded. It’s a good alternative.
BEST NORTHEAST CHILLOUT – WIMBLY LU
15-2 Jalan Riang Singapore 358987
T: 6289 1489
Wimbly Lu is located amidst the landed property area (kinda like Greenwood). It is quite easy to locate, especially since there’s the signature beetle parked in front of the shop. There is a grass patch with tables and chairs at the back of the shop and the shop has glass roof lined with lights. Very beautiful! The shop gives us a very nice and warm feeling, especially since the staff are friendly. The drinks are forgettable but the desserts are good. We tried Rocky Road ($5) and Blackout Cake ($6) which are quite the bomb. On a second visit, the experience was even better. They have improved: the drinks are not so diluted. We had a rootbeer cake and the truffle chocolate ice cream with waffle, their speciality. Though very fragrant, the waffle, the dish on every table, was rather tasteless and disappointing.
BEST HIPSTER CAFÉ – JIMMY MONKEY CAFÉ & BAR
9 One-North Gateway, #01-51 One-North Residences Singapore 138643
T: 6777 8470
Sun-Th: 8.30am-8.30pm (closed on Mon)
Yandao and Chiobu were the only customers on a weekday afternoon and there were 5 servers. They didn’t appear too friendly and looked like they were too cool to speak to us. We felt very uncomfortable and the decor gives an impression of trying too hard: a toilet bowl is mounted on top of the high ceiling. But the food is not bad. Try the molten chocolate cake, comes with rich ice cream.
BEST BROWNIE – DRIPS BAKERY CAFÉ
82 Tiong Poh Road #01-05 Singapore 160082
T: 6222 0400
Sun-Th: 11am-9.30pm (Closed on Tue)
The café has a minimalist design, with partial glass roof that allows natural light to shine in, illuminating the entire place which is nice. We ordered iced mocha ($6.50), Roasted Chicken Ham Croissant Sandwich ($13.80), Brownie ($4.80) and Scones ($6.80).
Chiobu likes the Iced Mocha because of the generous serving of chocolate syrup but Yandao thinks that it isn’t gao3 (thick) enough. The Roasted Chicken Ham Croissant Sandwich is really good! Ask for the buttery croissant or it will come with some healthy wholemeal or wholegrain bread. The scone comes with double cream and home-made orange marmalade. The scone is too dry and the double cream is tasteless although the home-made orange marmalade was quite nice though.
The brownie has a crispy exterior but it is so dense and moist on the inside! We actually wanted to add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream to the brownie but it is an additional $4. However, if you add ice-cream to other desserts, it’s only $1. HOW STRANGE? Of course, we refuse to pay for such unreasonable terms. We were thinking, if we asked to buy 1 scoop of ice cream separately, how would they charge us? Spent $32 for two.
BEST SERVICE & VALUE-FOR-MONEY – THE PLAIN
50 Craig Road
T: 6625 4387
When The Plain was barely a few days’ old, the first time Wise Guy went, he was scorned by the barista. Wise Guy asked if there were any cakes. The barista laughed at him, “You come to a coffee place to eat cakes?” Rude much. Months later, Wise Guy returned a second time because his hipster date–Wise Guy only dates hipsters–wanted to come to this hipster joint. And yes, now there are cakes.
The industrial chic, old skool cafe has a hollow space, a perfect acoustics, making every tiny sound reverberating and very noisy. But surprisingly, the service drastically improves. The cafe employs two chirpy and extremely bubbly waitresses to take orders. Even when the Humpty Dumpty ($5.50, soft-boiled eggs with marmite toasted bread, pictured above) and the extremely grainy and dry Guinness stout cupcake with Bailey’s icing ($3.80) suck so badly they taste like cum–Wise Guy and Hipster both agreed on this–we couldn’t get angry at the sweet waitress. She was so apologetic about her recommendation and so nice about it that Hipster ate up the dry cupcake so as not to make her feel bad. That’s how good the service is.
The stars are the drinks. The iced chocolate ($5.50) and long black ($3.80) are admirable but it seems like the cappuccino ($3.80, pictured above) gets the stamp of approval as Hipster ordered two cups. He claimed it to be extremely fragrant, robust and well-rounded. If you’re counting, Hipster drank 3 cups of coffee; Wise Guy had the chocolate. Four beverages and two food items cost $26.20. We like it that the Plain doesn’t anyhow inflate its prices.
BEST TARTS AND JAMS – CARPENTER AND COOK
BEST FOOD – SELFISH GENE CAFE
40 Craig Road
T: 6423 1324
10am-6pm. Closed on Tue
BEST DECOR – CAFE GAVROCHE
T-F: 2.30pm till late
Sat: 10.30am till late
Brunch is served on Sat and Sun 10.30am-2.30pm.
Close on Monday