Jalan Besar is slowly on its way of becoming the next hipster district, especially when there are so many cafés, gastrobars and backpacker hotels operating within its many inner roads.
Opened quite a couple of doors away from The Refinery is AEIOU cafe; a new cafe that seemed to have taken over and retained the signage of Oriental Antique House. We dropped them a visit during their soft launch, where they are only serving four items (two mains, two sides), as well as cakes/tarts, coffee and tea. Come 11 January 2015 would be the official launch, which the owner had told us that by then over 20 items would be available in the food menu with more desserts to come.
To start off the meal, we ordered the Mushroom Soup. The portion was rather huge for the pricing, coming in a platter (interestingly shaped like a dinosaur; a recurring theme of this cafe) with a big bowl of soup and two slices of garlic bread. We loved how the mushroom soup was not overly creamy, but had mushy bits of mushroom so it had this deep earthy flavour along with some Shimeiji mushrooms to bite on. Garlic Bread is crisp, and was just nicely savoury so it goes well with every dip into the soup. Despite it being in such a huge portion, we actually polished it off clean.
(Roasted Pumpkin Quinoa)
Amongst the two mains, we decided to get the vegetarian option which was a Roasted Pumpkin Quinoa salad. Plated much like fine dining, the greens were somewhat lightly salted so as to flavour up the quinoa, while the roasted pumpkins were soft to chew and induces a natural sweetness to the dish. Despite so, I do hope they are more consistent with the preparation of this dish because there were some crunchy chunks here and there in parts of the dish which I was not fond of (I am one who gets very annoyed finding something crunchy/hard in soft/fluffy foods)
(Osmanthus Jasmine Cake)
We were told that the cakes here are ordered through suppliers (the cakes and tarts look pretty similar to those from Out of the Cake Box), and we tried their Osmanthus Jasmine Cake. While the flavours were not really identifiable from the start, each forkful adds a whiff of Jasmine aroma in the mouth. The jelly bits in the cake induces the Osmanthus flavour, though it seems to be pretty light. It’s rather overpriced though; coming at $9.50 per slice each cake is at a price point that could be compared with those from Kki Sweets.
(Iced Vietnamese Coffee)
The hot coffees here are a bit pricey, so I decided to switch things up for the Iced Vietnamese Coffee here. AEIOU uses re-purposes Absolut Vodka bottles for their cold drinks, which results in this iced drinks coming in a larger quantity than usual. This was just right; thick condensed milk flavour with some aroma of coffee. Coming at a lower price than the hot coffees, I would go for this any time.
Before we left, we were also offered a sampling portion of the Lime Tart. The tart base was quite cookie-like and fell off quite neatly, tasting pretty buttery, but I found the Lime curd a bit too sour for my liking. My dining partner however was fine with it though; guess this would hit those would have higher resistance of sour stuff.
Despite being a cafe in the Jalan Besar area, AEIOU feels very different from those situated in the area. It’s barely pretentious, and rather than going the industrial route with its decor, it’s pretty charming with its rustic and quaint furnishings. It could most probably be them taking up a space formerly belonging to a workshop; AEIOU also seems to be one of the more spacious few in the neighbourhood. Food items are generally also different from the usual ones we see, though there is definitely some room for improvement. Service was sincere as the staff were polite and tried to describe the menu items, though there were quite a couple of times it slipped when the staff had difficulty answering a few of our questions (must be the opening jitters). A spot worth visiting, not only for the food but for its environment as well.
111 King George’s Avenue