$0-$20

Ronin, Hong Kong St

Ronin Cafe Singapore
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.

Ronin Cafe Hongkong st
No signboard
, no facebook pageno 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.

Ronin Cafe Sg - Dirty Ronin
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.

Ronin Cafe Menu Singapore - Scrambled Eggs
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!

Ronin Clarke Quay - Mocha
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.

Ronin 17 HK St - French Toast
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.

Ronin Singapore

17 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059660
T-Sun: 8am-8pm

Rating: 4.000/5 stars

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16 replies »

  1. that French toast conversation is pretty hilarious. human interaction encouraged, but only of the positive, complimentary sort.

    good to see the food’s good though, and the place looks real nice!

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  2. I like how you gave an objective review and a relatively high rating despite the poor attitude. Seriously I’d go to a cafe with normal food but nice people. The downfall of Singapore will soon be brought by these rude people (exaggeration lol)

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  3. Since when is a $12 panini “good value” ? And such an attitude from the boss! It’s funny how you gave 4/5 (80% passing grade) for such an experience. Is BDSM (emphasis on “M”) somehow involved ? Haha.

    It’s so great to see your reviews — I now know to spend my time and money at SPRMRKT and Taratata, and not at Ronin !

    One little request: Next time you do a review, can you let your loyal readers know if there is wine available? I’m one of those decadent westerners that likes a glass of vino with pretty much every meal. Restaurants without wine are always going to be low on my wish list. I eat out a lot and I’m sure I represent a large minority of SG foodies.

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  4. I’ve known Vincent for a while now, and he hasn’t disappointed me in all the times I’ve been to his establishments. His team has always been warm and welcoming to everyone that drops by. His life mission is about creating a good experience, all the time. Why don’t you give another try. I’ll buy you coffee if you’re not a convert. – A big fan of Vincent.

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    • Hey Barry, Thanks for the offer. I’ve been to The Plain and The Bravery and the service was awesome. I gave The Plain “Best Service” in the “Best Cafes in Singapore” post. Perhaps this incident might be an isolated case, that’s why I gave them the benefit of the doubt and gave a fair review. Maybe next time when they have a new cafe, we can go together? :)

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  5. I was surprised by how Vincent treated you because it isn’t in his nature. Then I remembered… The last time I read your blog was when a colleague singled out your blog post for all to read. It was the review on The Bravery, when you compared their pancakes (and likewise The Plain’s food) to cum. Cannot be more compelled to think it was because of that. Quite distasteful don’t you think?

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    • Sigh, I was being honest in the Bravery review. I didn’t mean to be controversial. It was what it was, I am the type to speak my mind and I don’t think sex is distasteful. Sex is natural and should be uninhabited. I think we need to talk about sex to liberate ourselves: 80% of the world’s problem is because we repress ourselves. If you read “About Us,” you’d see that we talk about sex all the time. I don’t understand why people isolate this case. Besides, how can I lie and be someone else on my own personal blog? I want to be able to say what I want on my own personal space, I mean, I’m not running a cafe here. ;p

      But I don’t think this rude incident and the Bravery review are connected because I am anonymous.

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  6. The scrambled eggs are amazing. But unfortunately, it only goes down hill from there on…

    The service is utterly shambolic; so much so, they don’t know what you have ordered when you come to pay. You get a free coffee as a result of them not actually knowing. How this place makes money I do not know. 5 staff members to serve less than 30 customers.

    Would you like to have your meal in 3 different stages? It takes 45mins to deliver 4 simple items (their menu is small).

    Remember to bring your own condiments such as sauce as these are not provided.

    The seating is uncomfortable but there is a nice ambiance. Avoid if you are in a rush or a group larger than 2 persons but if you like good scrambled eggs and can wait for 45mins, this is the place to go!

    Cash only

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