MUJI should not be a brand too unfamiliar with locals here; a Japanese label with 8 stores located islandwide, MUJI is a household brand that is familiar with most that sells a wide range of household and lifestyle products.
Cafe & Meal MUJI is the F&B counterpart of the MUJI brand, usually found situated within MUJI stores with 27 other such concepts worldwide. In Singapore, the MUJI outlet at Paragon plays host to the first Cafe & Meal MUJI outlet which is in-line with the outlet’s revamp. Occupying only the left corner of the store, the cafe is unmistakably “MUJI”, dekced out in wood tones while keeping things basic. Similar to the IKEA Restaurant concept, you would have to queue outside to be seated. Once seated, they would hand out a “reserved” stand to mark the table as taken while you head to the front counter to proceed with your order. Display fridges at the counter holds the stock of Hot/Cold Deli items and Desserts available, and payment will have to be made at the counter before heading back to the table.
(3 Deli Set – Colourful Vegetable Gratin, Hijiki Salad, Vegetable Omelette)
Diners would get to choose between two choices; the 3 Deli Set or the 4 Deli Set. 3 Deli Set comprises of your personal choice of 1 Hot Deli item and 2 Cold Deli items, while the 4 Deli Set comprises of 2 Hot Deli items and 2 Cold Deli items. We opted for the Colourful Vegetable Gratin from the Hot Deli item and Vegetable Omelette and Hijiki Salad from the Cold Deli. The salad was rather decent with seaweed, mesculun salad, radish and carrots in Wafu dressing; an interesting fusion between Japanese and Western flavours. Gratin despite being a Hot Deli item was served rather lukewarm; the cheese atop seemed sadly dried out, and the potatoes seemed a tad undercooked being crunchy, but the carrot sauce brought a pumpkin puree-like sweetness and contained other vegetables such as broccoli. Probably the most depressing of the lot was the Vegetable Omelette; a rather airy and stiff slab of egg served in a quiche-like presentation that is stuffed with capsicums and pumpkins which are crunchy. It was a texture and temperature that certainly did not catch me; perhaps it might have worked better as a Hot Deli item instead? Each set comes with a bowl of rice where you can choose between White Rice or their signature purple 10 Grain Rice for the health-conscious.
(Butter Curry Chicken)
Butter Curry Chicken is the only big item you can probably get at Cafe & Meal MUJI if you are not interested in their Deli Sets. Served with “Sakura” Chicken and carrots, the Butter Curry Chicken gravy was thick and rich in true Japanese style, but not quite in the same vibes as the usual Butter Chicken in Indian cuisine. Chicken and carrot chunks were ok, but nothing much to shout about; no idea about the “Sakura” in the description though. Side salad had a dressing with strong sesame aroma; pretty refreshing to have. Something that quite bothered us about this dish was the portion size; the portion we got was measly we could literally count how many carrot chunks were served on our plate, and we could even use a single hand to count the number of chicken chunks, but the opposite table got a whole mountain of carrots and chickens at around three times more than ours. Surely there must have been some training and standardisation on dishing out the various items right?
One of the top favourite items for most whom have visited them would be the Roasted Tea Pudding; also known as the Houjicha Pudding. Indeed, this seemed to be the best item we have had at Cafe & Meal MUJI for the meal. Smooth egg pudding covered with an aromatic Houjicha syrup which brought out the tasteful bitter fragrance of roasted tea, the pudding was a delight to have although it could not have saved the meal single-handedly. The sesame crisp was a thoughtful touch as well; it injected a crisp texture and roasted sesame aroma into the dessert.
Overall the meal at Cafe & Meal MUJI felt as though there was a lot of room for improvements. Taste-wise, we felt that the Deli items felt a tad daring for the local tastebuds for those which we had tried and did not felt that hit the mark. Service was decent at the front, but the system on seating does feel tiresome and repetitive; queue-after-queue. The staff behind the counter also felt as though they were inadequately trained and unready; from the way how inconsistent the portion of food can be to the clueless cashier who did not quite know what she was doing despite another staff assisting her; we spent more than 5 minutes ordering and paying despite how everything is pre-prepared and only needs to be dished out, and most of the time was spent waiting for the cashier to figure out the POS system. Perhaps a place that you might want to hold out for a while before visiting to let them sort out the kinks and issues they might have; honestly it is a spot I would love going back for they have power plugs installed for patrons who might want to work with their laptops, but they do have a gap to fill up given the competition in the mall itself.
Cafe & Meal MUJI
290 Orchard Road
#04-36 to 38