Noa means “water” in Laos, and Noa Singapore at Stanley St is a daytime coffee bar that serves fermented beverages, coffee, and food inspired by Southeast Asian flavours. The cafe/bar is decorated with many elements of Southeast Asian culture such as the use of rattan chairs and stools.
Currently they open from 8.30am to 4pm and in the morning for breakfast, they sell bakes. We tried the otah quiche ($9.90), which has a buttery crumbly crust and chockfull of mackerel. I found it too salty but my partner thought it was fine. Lately I am sensitive to salt—It’s called old age.
As they are new, they only serve four sets for lunch now: fish rendang, squid adobo, sambal prawn, and assorted mushrooms. All are priced at $12 (a la carte) or $15 (with nasi ulam rice stained blue by buttefly peaflower, achar, and homemade sambal belacan. Reasonable pricing for lunch at CBD area.
For fish rendang, they use fish of the day, and on our visit, it was seabass. However, it isn’t really a rendang, more like a thin curry; and I thought the curry didn’t infused into the fish enough. Still satisfying: the chunky and fresh seabass.
Squid adobo consists of pan-seared local squid in a thick vinegary sauce. If you like your bak chor mee extra vinegary, this one is for you.
Special shoutout to the homemade sambal belacan, which is extra sharp and spicy and green. It’s awesome, one of a kind.
If the mains aren’t filling, the sides might do the job. On the menu, there are three sides: green mango salad ($8), tauhu gado salad ($8), and cereal frog ($11). We had the latter two.
Tauhu gado salad is a twist on the classic Indonesian dish gado gado. They maintain some similarities here including the delicious peanut sauce, crackers, and tempeh. What is different is that they replaced the tau kwa with the Japanese-styled deep-fried tofu. Think of it as agedashi tofu but with peanut sauce. Although it is delicious, I don’t know if I will pay $8 for it.
The cereal frog ($11) is also expensive for two legs. The meat is scraped to the end like lollipop chicken, and encrusted with cereal, deep-fried. You can tell it’s a play on our local czechar dish, cereal prawn. It tastes cleanly, like fried chicken without sinews.
Before the dessert, let’s talk about the drinks. For coffee, they collaborate with Glyph Supply at TripleOne Somerset. The black cold brew ($5.50) is sour, not far off from kopitiam coffee. It’s not a bad thing, some people like the taste, and I didn’t mind it.
They also have fermented beverages. Kombucha sucks, right? But their kombucha ($8 a glass / $8.50 bottle) is the best I have ever tasted. It’s Assam black tea from Chiang Mai, aged in a whiskey barrel from Japan. It’s uplifting and sweet. I think I can get into kombucha if all kombuchas taste like this.
They also recommended the rambutan soda ($8) from fresh rambutan juice and young Malaysian ginger. We tried pineapple mead ($10) made from fresh pineapple juice, Vietnamese wildflower honey, and yeast—it tastes like a light beer.
Desserts: the tart limau ($8) has a great rustic crust with a very sour calamansi curd, which we love. It wakes you up from any induced food coma.
Noa serves healthy food, which is great and on trend, and if you order the set lunch alone, it can be quite worth it.
17 Stanley Street,
Tel: + 65 8878 8018
8.30am – 4pm, closed Sun
Decor / ambience: 7.25/10
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–Telok Ayer Arts Club, Tanjong Pagar: Singapore-inspired Cuisine at a Venue for Curated Art and Music Events
–Sarnies, Telok Ayer: Strong, Bold Flavors For New Dinner Menu For Aussie Cafe’s 6th Anniversary
–The Nomads, Telok Ayer: Gastronomic Journey Through the Silk Road
–The Market Grill, Telok Ayer
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.