Hailing from Hokkaido, Japan, Baristart Coffee had recently opened an outpost at Tras Street in the Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood.
Taking over the former premises of now-defunct May May, Baristart Coffee is a mid-sized cafe. While the shophouse had changed hands a number of times in between (once being occupied by a Korean restaurant slightly before Baristart Coffee took over the premises), some of May May’s features still stands distinctively in the interior. Stepping into the cafe, one would be greeted by the long, wooden counter where orders are taken and coffee and desserts are being served; the same wooden counter also has seats for dine-in patrons as well. Walking deeper into the unit, yet another counter seat area is available; the counter surrounds the feature wall consisting of plants being installed in the wall — an element in the interior decor that had been left behind ever the since the days of May May. Otherwise, the interior features black and white tiled walls, with wooden tables and cushioned seats. The food menu at Baristart Coffee comprises of sandwiches, pasta, salads and a single donburi (namely the Obihiro Butadon). Desserts available includes a wide variety of cakes, pudding, and mousses on display in the display fridge at the counter, though one of their specialties would be the shaved ice — a rather cute item created just for the ‘gram with a bear-esque aesthetic. Beverages include a wide range of specialty coffee options, as well as non-caffeinated drinks for those who prefer to stave away from caffeine.
Going for the Tamago Sando, the Tamago Sando; a Japanese Omelette sandwich which comes with elements such as white bread, mustard mayonnaise with fries and pickles on the side. Whilst looking like a plain Jane sandwich on first look, the Tamago Sando comes surprisingly flavourful while being a rather light item to have. The Japanese Omelette was no doubt fluffy; perfumes of a whiff of egginess, yet its flavour also being amplified by the creamy, mustard mayonnaise which gives it a slightly more punchier, savoury note. The white bread came soft, yet crusted on the exterior, while the fries were well-seasoned with salt without being overwhelmingly salty; fluffy within whilst carrying a slight sweetness from the potatoes. A rather simple, yet delightful bite for those who are looking for less filling option while at Baristart Coffee.
(Spaghetti Seafood Shiso Pesto)
We also went for the Spaghetti Seafood Shiso Pesto, which features elements such as spaghetti, shiso pesto, prawns and squid. Yet another hearty, yet comforting item, the Shiso Pesto comes with a familiar herby note similar to those of other pesto pasta; the pasta done fairly dry like how one would expect an authentic Carbonara to be done. The pasta came a little softer than al-dente, while the seafood was decent; prawns being fresh and came with a bite and its natural sweetness, though the squid was a tad rubbery, though forgivable considering how its a dish coming off a Japanese coffeehouse after all.
Another item that caught our attention whilst skimming through the menu as the Obihiro Butadon. Perhaps the most substantial item available at Baristart Coffee, the Obhiro signature Rice Bowl comes with rice, grilled Kurobuta Pork Belly, Mizuna (Japanese mustard greens), green onion, homemade teriyaki sauce, and a sprinkle of Shichimi Togarashi for flavour. The rice bowl also comes with a bowl of miso soup on the side; the same way one would expect from other establishments that serves a Donburi set. Digging into the rice bowl, one would notice the thick cuts of Kurobuta Pork being served with the Obhiro Butadon; all of which drenched in a thick, sticky teriyaki sauce. The flavours were on point; savoury, yet smoky whilst also a little bit meaty despite its chunky size. The meat also came with a good balance of meaty and leaner cuts; some more tender than the rest, but still does not require much of a chew. Coupled with the fluffy and pearly short-grain rice, the combination was nothing less than enjoyable; an item that meat and Donburi lovers should opt for while at Baristart Coffee.
Being avid cream puff lovers, there was no escaping from the Cream Puff here. Sized in a rather large size, the cream puff reminds us of that served by Shuu Choux at 52 Sandwich Shack (also by the same folks behind Nesuto Patisserie); pretty well-filled with a generous portion of custard. The Cream Puff at Baristart Coffee comes with a single, default filling —a custard that is being whipped with BIEI Jersey Milk. The result is a cream puff overflows the moment one sinks their teeth into it; the pastry being a little limp from sitting around for a while though not too much of a bother, while the custard carries a distinct milkiness without being too jelak considering how it is not significantly creamy — a dessert that felt considerably light despite its size. Something which we would go for again!
We also tried the Flat White, which is pulled using BIEI Jersey Milk. The Flat White was expertly pulled, with a rather distinct sweetness from the milk alongside the nutty and earthy notes from the beans being used for the cuppa — one that was also pretty smooth and creamy as well.
Having seen many posts online about Baristart Coffee, we were not expecting too much during our visit, considering how the dishes served at Baristart Coffee were somewhat simple and almost commonplace in cafes, if not in Japanese restaurants. That being said, we were rather surprised by the quality of food served; no doubt that there are more specialised and well-themed Japanese eateries that would fare way better than Baristart Coffee where food is concerned, but it certainly is one of the better options where it comes to Japanese cuisine served in a coffeehouse setting, with specialty coffee being served in a casual environment. Service was decent, though nothing much to shout about; the cafe is also significantly busy during the weekend we visited, though food still reached the table relatively quickly without much fuss. Sure; there may be more outstanding places to dine at where it comes to Japanese fare in the Central Business District, but Baristart Coffee does offer fuss-free, quick, yet comforting eats which suits almost all sorts of occasions, whilst serving a wide variety of considerably well-executed desserts with an emphasis on specialty coffee which they seem to do pretty well. A great addition, and certainly yet another place to consider as a dining option within the Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood.
65 Tras Street
Web Page: http://www.baristartcoffee.sg
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Baristart-Coffee-Singapore-239801243463838/