Thus Coffee at Upper Thomson Road is hidden just behind Sembawang Hill Food Centre which houses a good kway chap, San Ba Wang Guo Zhi Shu Shi 三巴旺粿汁熟食. Diagonal to the cafe is, of course, the famous Hakka restaurant, Plum Village. If you’re lucky, you may get a parking lot in front of the cafe, that allows free parking on certain hours.
The appearance of the cafe isn’t very assuring. It is rather run-of-the-mill and generic with cement floor and wooden furniture arranged in neat rows. I am wary of neat and tidy like, you know, Singapore. Too much of control is not a good thing. But when the food came, my anxiety was put to rest.
The menu has some usual cafe fare–which is boring–but fortunately, it also has interesting ones. A good assortment of dishes to please boring cafehoppers ordering the same food everywhere and the adventurous foodies. Their signatures are chicken cutlet jyolmeon ($18, an interpretation of Korean noodles with gochujang sauce with chicken cutlet) and Wagyu beef grain bowl ($20). I think it is super bo-hua to order grain bowls outside since it’s so easily made at home especially when I have a sous vide machine. I don’t understand the grain bowl fad.
We ordered the chicken stew ($16): chicken leg in a creamy stew with potatoes, carrots, celery, and toasted multigrain bread. The portion is a tad small considering it’s $16 for a leg. But tastewise, it is excellent. The creamy stew isn’t too thick or thin; it isn’t watery or jerlat. It’s just right. The root vegetables are the same: neither too hard nor too soft. The chicken is tender and the texture of the toasted bread–slightly crisp, slightly grainy–is great to wipe up the stew. But best of all, when you squeeze the lime in the stew, it transforms to something zesty and lively; almost like a polite piano-playing schoolchild to a wild drag queen.
I almost never order pasta at cafes because cafe pastas aren’t hand-made, and I can easily cook it at home. But Mr Fitness wanted pasta that day and ordered linguine puttanesca ($19) also known as the whore’s pasta because the recipe is said to be originated from a prostitute. Not bad eh, you can get to satisfy your stomach and your *cough*nether regions*cough* at the same time when you visit the prostitute.
Anyway, I was glad that Mr Fitness insisted. The pasta is great! It’s heavily with the aroma of olive–very umami. It comes with tiger prawns and snapper, both have been infused with the taste of olives, capers and anchovies. Many complex and strong flavours vying for attention but the subtle seafood sweetness doesn’t get lost. Outstanding.
Thus Coffee roasts their own coffee beans, a rarity among cafes. But it was evening when we were there, and we had a delicious ginger latte ($5.50), an angmoh version of teh halia, and a good but expensive grapefruit soda ($8) made from homemade grapefruit syrup. (It’s not that difficult to make syrup to justify the price; you only need to reduce fruit with water and sugar in low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Maybe $4.50 would have been reasonable.)
The most disappointing part of the meal is their signature dessert, which many rave about. The berry matcha lava cake ($15) is too sweet and there is hardly any flow. I said to Mr Fitness, “I like the fresh berries surrounding the cake better than the cake.” Also $15?! If the focus is on the cake, just take out all berries and serve the cake at $6.
We paid $65 for two persons. The prices are pretty high, especially considering it is located at an ulu location, but the food is great, head and shoulders above other cafes’. Definitely appreciate the effort put into the food. An enjoyable experience.
4 Jalan Kuras Singapore 577723
tel: +65 8411 7565
10 am – 10 pm, closed Monday
You may be interested in…
–Good Thyme Bistro, AMK: We Don’t Even Have to Try/ It’s Always a
–Best Food 2017 Part III: 5 Best Cafes of the Year
–The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough, Serene Centre: One of the Best Cafes This Year Serving Amazeballs
–.elia Cafe, Jiak Chuan Road: Excellent House-made Pastas and Bread
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.