2013 marked the start of jiaksimipng, even though the very first article posted was actually written and published in 2012. We have came a long way, me as the author and you as the reader, and having read a lot of reviews on the places that I had went to in the past months which might have been pretty overwhelming. Some places I had found pretty mediocre, but there were some that really stood out from the rest. For this post, I will go down to some of the places that I had gone to that left pretty deep impressions on me. Bear in mind that this post is written purely by my own personal opinions, and I am not paid to feature any of them. None of the posts in this blog (so far) are from invited tasting sessions and each meal was being paid for at every single one of them. Also, I would not be including several places that I had visited in 2012 but only posted them in 2013 on jiaksimipng.
Click on the links on the names of the cafe to read the review about them. If the article is not linked, the article would be posted in due time soon.
For the unique concept: The Marshmallow Tree
Using marshmallows as a theme for a cafe is really something I had never heard of until the existence of The Marshmallow Tree. You can tell that a lot of thought had been put down especially on the aesthetics of each dish, where there would definitely be a marshmallow used to keep in accordance with the theme. I particularly found the Marshmallow Pops and the marshmallow sticks cute as they are being skewered and placed into a flower pot-like holder, which makes it look like a shoot on a marshmallow tree that is about to grow. The marshmallow based food items are also equally impressive, which makes it deserving for a cafe with a unique concept.
Update: The Marshmallow Tree had since ceased operations.
For the ambience: Necessary Provisions
I can never seem to get enough of this place for I was wow-ed in less than a few seconds when I entered the cafe for the first time. I am a sucker for industrial-chic decor, which Necessary Provisions takes the cake on this one. It’s secluded surrounding adds on to the mysterious character of this cafe. The blends used for the coffee here are also something that appeals to me, and the Pork Burger is another wow-factor that blew me away. For those who visit this place often in the day, try going down after evening; not only do they serve dinner items after 6pm, it is mysterious character just seemed so much more charming in the dark.
Also try: RONIN
Unlike the dark theme of Necessary Provisions, RONIN is not only dark; it is also all about grunge and pure rawness. The food here are generally adventurous, very much unlike the spread of The Plain as it attracts a more daring bunch of customers. All of the food items were good though, or at least the ones we tried, which creates the success formula as very little places could offer a perfected menu these days.
For a friendly and heartwarming cup of coffee: Brawn & Brains
The decor of the cafe definitely gives it a laidback atmosphere and the coffee is great here, but this place differs from the rest with its friendliness that you rarely get at cafes anymore. During emptier days, sit in and order your cuppa and the owners might engage a chat with you and introduce the place a fair bit. It’s location might seem fairly hidden, but this place would definitely be bustling once it gets known. This is the place where the cafe culture definitely feels more closer to home than anywhere else.
Update: Brawn & Brains had sicne expanded and moved to a larger unit in the same compound.
For a taste of nostalgia: Sinpopo Brand
We all long for the olden days where life is more simple, where we used to sit in the simplest coffeeshops sipping a cup of coffee and then ordering a plate to share while chatting with a friend or two over what had been with our lives. Sinpopo Brand is exactly that; themed to look like as if it had been opened since 1950, this place was only opened mid-2013 and yet serves all the good old dishes that your grandparents loved back in the day. Nostalgic songs played will bring those familiar with it down the memory lane; this is somewhere you should bring your parents and grandparents along.
Update: Sinpopo Brand had since revamped their menu and is currently serving mod-Sin cuisine.
Also try: Dong Po Colonial Cafe
If Sinpopo Brand is a tad flashy and too noisy for you, try Dong Po Colonial Cafe which is less colourful, but still full of nostalgic flavour. Wooden tables that encases old-school items would definitely bring back some memories, as well as traditional pastries being sold here that would give you a blast to the past. Try the much raved about Bostock while downing a cup of old school Nanyang Coffee, and live the life of what people used to back in the day.
For a quick meal of fast food: Omakase Burger
I cannot emphasize how much I loved the burgers here, and I am pretty sure most who have had it would say the same thing. Which fast food uses ingredients so fresh, offers to do your burgers it the level of wellness you want it to be, and even have Truffle Fries on the menu? The food here is generally to die for, but will you be keen to spend more than $20.00 for a burger which is smaller than the usual with fries and a soft drink?
Also try: Yellow Submarines
The cheery yellow and cheesy-themed fast food restaurant does not only look good, the food tastes good and is definitely an affordable choice. Philly Cheesesteaks is probably what you come here for as getting one at such a price is definitely rare in Singapore, but the real to die-for item are the Torpedo Fries which are just heaven with all that generous amount of cheese sauce it comes served with. A cheese heaven for all the cheese lovers to head to!
For a cool treat on a hot day: Merely Ice-Cream
Merely Ice-Cream is the must check-out ice-cream parlour if anybody would ask me to recommend them an ice-cream parlour to go to. The decor might seem plain and simple, but their ice-cream flavours are not the conventional few you would expect. I particularly loved their Breakfast Cereal which was a milky ice-cream with a tiny taste of cornflakes in it. Apparently their many patrons all have different flavours that they all prefer, which actually means all their flavours are pretty decent as well. There is also constant R&D here, so do expect some new flavours to come up every now and then. This is a place made for ice-cream lovers by ice-cream lovers where their passion and love of the cool treat can be felt.
Also try: Tom’s Palette
Probably Singapore’s favourite ice-cream parlour that is not of the mainstream few found in malls, this place deserves a mention for their adventurous use of ingredients to come up with unique flavours and even textures of their own. The large selection of flavours here makes sure that you would definitely find something which fancies you. Best of all? Discounts for students which means ice-cream would be made affordable to everyone. Fancy a scoop now?
For the love of your greens: Cafe Salivation
We all know the stalls that sell vegetarian fare in food courts and hawker centres, but there are a few that serves western fare as well. Cafe Salivation is a place that does so, serving pasta, burgers and even pizzas all in vegetarian form. While there are some items which looks pretty safe, the point of being here is to be as adventurous as you can if you are meat eater and have a taste on something unfamiliar. The dishes here mostly left a very strong impression with us with its unique taste and textures which we never thought would have been possible with vegetarian fare. Who said life would be boring being a vegetarian?
Also try: Real Food
Real Food is probably the more established brand when it comes to the brands of Vegetarian cafes that serve whole vegetarian food. Prices here are rather reasonable, and choices are largely more conventional for those who are less adventurous. While I did enjoy did other place more, Real Food would be a better choice for larger group outings where you would need a more safe-looking spread to accommodate with people that do not like stepping out of their comfort zones to try something that they had never eaten before.
For restaurant-grade food with a budget: Pasta J
This is the clear-cut winner of coffee shop/food court/hawker centre pastas that I had so far. The well-executed sauce, the chewiness of the noodles, the details in flavour are all winning factors for this humble stall that was hidden behind a huge pillar of the coffee shop. While prices are definitely not of coffee shop standards, it is still well below $10 yet tasting as if it came out from an Italian restaurant. Give it a try, and you will it will be guaranteed to impress. Sadly the stall at the coffeeshop at Neil Road had relocated to a shophouse at Thomson before this post was published.
Also try: Grazie
Situated in Serangoon Gardens Food Centre is a humble space selling Italian fare called Grazie. Prices might be affordable below $10, but you can tell that Chef Sandy does not use it as an excuse to compromise on food quality. Each dish that comes out from the kitchen is cooked with passion and loads of love, which sets it even better than some other restaurants around. For truffle fries lovers, you are also in for a treat as they do sell Truffle Fries at affordable prices here as well. A place that everyone would love after a visit, this is a place that is highly-encouraged for pasta lovers to visit.
For the secret cup of coffee for some “me” time: Assembly Coffee
I am not sure how long the peace of this cafe is going to last, especially when it is getting known to more people of the late. Hidden in the less accessible part of Bukit Timah at Evans Lodge, this cafe takes a bit of effort to visit by having to make a short walk before reaching it. Upon reaching, you would be rewarded not only with its food, but its homely decor and quiet environment. The food is pretty good too, from the Eggs Benedict to the Salted Caramel Waffles we had try; it was faultless and impressionable.
Update: Assembly Coffee had since ceased operations at its location at Evans Road; the same team now runs Atlas Coffeehouse at Duke’s Road.
Also try: OZ Specialty Coffee
Hidden away from the outer row of shophouses in Thomson V2, it is not as accessible as the other eateries surrounding it, but the al-fresco seating is probably one of the more relaxing outdoor seatings that I had ever tried. The cafe is full of character, and it shows even in their menu. Indulge in a Liege Waffle over a cup of coffee while lazing around in the afternoon; a great spot to just enjoy time alone.
Update: OZ Specialty Coffee had since ceased operations and had expanded as Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters. They also run Botanist Singapore as well as Knockhouse Coffee Supply Co.
For the sweet tooth for cakes: Lady M
Some might call them over hyped, but this place is definitely a cake heaven for anybody who loves cakes. The display at the counter is simply tantalizing with its various cakes shown which are just so irresistible. Their signature Mille Crepe might be the one to go for, but the Gateau Nuage is just as good as well. A must visit at least once in a lifetime.
Also try: Lynn’s Cakes & Coffee
Previously a homebaker, Lynn is now a owner of a cafe down the quiet neighbourhood of Eng Kong Terrace. The interior style is simple yet stylish, and the cakes offered though looks simple, are also very satisfying. Some of the cakes are also family recipes passed down from Lynn’s mum, which are very unique renditions of common cakes that are sold outside.
For a good meal with a good view: GRUB
Most bistros do serve very decent meals, however not all of them have a view that GRUB offers. Situated in the middle of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, while one should leave with pictures with their well-presented food items, it is hard to leave without taking a photo at the artificially built river that runs through the park nearby the bistro. Have a meal at the al-fresco area and watch people jog past and soak in the nature; not everywhere gives you the same luxury that GRUB does.