Four-day old Ronin cafe is damn sexy! From the same people of The Plain and The Bravery, “ronin” means a masterless samurai. Opposite Clarke Quay MRT, Ronin’s concept is to bring us back to feudal Japan—but I don’t see that. Lots of concrete and wood with few naked lightbulbs, making the place dim, sexy and atas. The decor is a win: it’s the kind of hipster cafes I adore but it doesn’t hark back to ancient Japan.
No signboard, no facebook page, no telephone number, and no menu. The menu is recited to encourage human interaction. While the thought is lovely, it is difficult to remember the choices. There are 5 things on the menu: 3 types of sandwiches, scrambled eggs and French toast. Since there were 7 of us, we ordered everything.
Our least favorite was caprese sandwich ($12) with prosciutto (too thin), comte cheese and tomato–it was ordinary. The other two sandwiches were fantastic. The vegetarian fungi sandwich ($11) was a mushroom-cheese sandwich, with nashi pear, tasting a little pickled–very refreshing. The Dirty Ronin ($12, pictured above) was rich with egg and comte cheese, creamy with miso mayo, and salted with chorizo (which texture was similar to spam). It left a strong salty aftertaste, which may be overpowering for sensitive tastebuds, but since I liked strongly flavored food, this one was a winner for me.
The scrambled eggs ($9) with portobello mushroom (additional $3.50) and avocado (additional $3) were fantastic too. The eggs were extra creamy and you have to eat the toast topped with a bit of egg, mushroom and avocado in one bite–so delicious!
The coffee, of course, was still excellent like The Plain’s and The Bravery’s. My mocha ($4.20 + $0.50 for chocolate syrup) was full-bodied and rich: it started with a slight bitterness that quickly evolved to a mineral aftertaste.
The service was ok but when I was paying, the boss Vincent asked, “How’s the French toast ($14)?”
I replied, “It was good but any two items of the French toast–brioche (drenched in maple syrup), the bacon and the braised green apple–would have complemented each other. However, if you eat all three together, the taste becomes overkill, confusing. I think… maybe get rid of the apple, which we (the whole group of 7) didn’t like?”
He said, “Don’t eat it then. We will keep doing what we like. Next time, don’t order the French toast. What kind of French toast do you like? From Toast Box?” WAHHH, need to be so fierce or not?
I appreciate that he does what he likes. I admire his attitude. And I understand he was defensive because the cafe is his baby. But F&B is a service industry. At work, I put up with people to earn money but why should I pay money to endure someone’s poor attitude? Firstly, his reply was rude and condescending. Secondly, if he cannot take constructive feedback, don’t ask for it.
What he could have said was, “I’m sorry you didn’t like it. We’ll have new items in the future. Maybe you can try them instead?” My suggested reply and his response convey the same message but my suggestion would make it more courteous. People come to cafes for a good experience but this rude incident put a dint on mine.
Third time is a charm for the Plain people. The food was the best among the three cafes they own, the coffee was still excellent, the sexy ambience was dark and primal and the pricing was very reasonable (we paid $13 for one, or $88 for 7 people). Objectively, I think it’s one of the best cafes of the year. But when asked about the food, nod and smile and possess no opinion and you’ll be fine. Subjectively, my bad experience clouded my judgement. We were supposed to return the next day for a friend’s birthday but I didn’t want to give money to people who didn’t want it. Yes, I can choose not to eat it, and yes, I can choose not to return too.
17 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059660
Rating: 4.000/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.