I joined my good friend Vivienne for a cafe-hopping afternoon in the east of Singapore. While Singapore is a small island, I seldom explore the Katong/ East Coast/ Joo Chiat area because it is very far from my house and that was proven yesterday when it took me almost two hours by bus to reach there.
Since I was going to be in the area for a tasting later that night, I thought to reach there a few hours ahead and make the most of my afternoon there by hitting as many food outlets as my stomach could possibly take.
Here are some of the places we managed to cover:
1. Tiferet Tea Room
Tiferet Tea Room is located on the second floor of Katong V. The brightly lit interior and full length windows allow for great photo-taking opportunities.
Tiferet aims to encourage healthy lifestyle and living through tea drinking and tea culture. The tea room sources their tea from from major tea-producing countries such as China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia. You can find a variety of tea options, ranging from green to black tea, and pot sizes from small (for one person) to large (for two to three persons).
Since it was our first stop, we ordered a large pot of tea to share and had our lunch here too. The Aglio Olio ($9.90) only came with vegetables and the spread of oil was kind of scary. Vivienne ordered the Dim Sum Platter ($8), which of course was nowhere near good dim sum standard. Nonetheless, we were not that disappointed as we did not expect a tea room to serve excellent savoury food.
The Yuzu Black Tea ($12) which has undergone full fermentation, has a dark red colouration. It is also supposed to be an effective stress reliever. The tea was very aromatic but we could not distinguish any yuzu flavour at all.
Tiferet Tea Room
30 East Coast Road, #02-17,
Katong V, Singapore 428751
Tel: 9737 0530
Opens daily from 1000-2200hrs
2. Azzura Gelato Bar
Azzura Gelato Bar prides itself on its Italian-inspired Australian-made gelati and ice cream creations. It is run by an Australian family and their gelati are made from natural ingredients and flavours, proudly using Australian dairy, with no artificial sweeteners or additives. The set-up of the gelato bar is a sight to behold, with beautiful vibrant throw pillows and ottomans, and bright pink wallpapers.
We had the raspberry and orange baby cones ($2.50 each). The gelati tasted very mediocre and artificial. Worse still, the cones were so soggy they flattened easily. Pretty is as pretty does and I am not impressed at all by what we had.
Azzura Gelato Bar
30 East Coast Road, #01-01,
Katong V, Singapore 428751
Opens daily from 1000-2200hrs
3. Ice Queen
Liquid nitrogen ice cream shops are now a dime a dozen, so to stand out, you need something special. Housed in a tiny storefront, this ice cream parlour is rather innovative in its concoctions. Other than the usual flavours, Ice Queen also offers frozen cocktails and localised creations, from Drunken Fresh Young Coconut Cocktail ($9.90) to Red Ruby and Chendol Creations ($6.50 each).
We ordered Mango Sticky Rice Creation ($6.50), which came with mango and cream ice cream and coconut sticky rice. It was supposed to be topped with fresh mangoes, but we did not get any. Instead, we got some fried mung beans(?), but this is admittedly something really unique! My friend Lirong, who went to check it out after dinner, ordered the Red Ruby, but found it pretty normal.
217 East Coast Road, #01-02,
Tel: 6440 8098
Tuesdays to Sundays 1230-2200hrs
4. Sinpopo Brand
Sinpopo Brand, an ultra-retro cafe has undergone quite a bit of change in terms of both decor and food. After receiving constructive feedback from its diners, the people behind this vintage cafe decided to improve on its menu, resulting in unique local-western fusion dishes. In addition, while the non-aircon coffee shop furnishings are gone, the old school vibe still remains in the jazz tunes and oldies that they play, as well as the charming floor tiles and “attendance book” menu.
The moment we entered the cafe, we were spoilt for choice. Every dessert on display looked so good and the plated desserts on the menu also sounded so awesome, we did not know what to order. After talking with the friendly staff, we chose the Durian Pengat ($9), which came highly recommended. Served in a metal bowl, the durian pengat is served with a scoop of coconut ice cream and buttered croutons. Sinful!
This time around we ordered whatever we wanted to but could not previously, Gula Melaka Cake ($7) and Orange Kaya Pisang Crème Brûlée ($7). We were very impressed with the cake that it was gone in a flash. I also bought one slice home for my dad.
Initially, we were lamenting about how the crème brûlée was not true to its taste because we could not distinguish the orange flavour. Then, Vivienne realised it was not ‘orange, kaya and pisang (banana)’ it was ‘orange kaya and pisang’, hence accounting for the orange colouration and strong kaya taste.
I intend to return to try more desserts and some of the savoury dishes!
458 Joo Chiat Rd,
Tel: 6345 5034
Sunday to Thursday 1200-2200hrs
Friday and Saturday 1200-0000hrs
5. Lower East Side Taqueria (Media Tasting)
(I apologise for the pictures beforehand because the lighting was very dim.)
This year-old Mexican restaurant is helmed by Chef Claudio Sandri, who is also the Executive Chef of Spathe Public House and 50 Raffles Place, which comprises of an American steakhouse, oyster bar and sushi bar.
Chef Claudio works closely with suppliers to import a host of indigenous spicy chilies from Mexico such as habaneros, poblanos and jalapenos, and he makes his own sauces (as shown in the picture below). Lower East Side offers three levels of spicy sauce on the side: Ghost Pepper, Scorpion Pepper and Ultimate Insanity.
For this holiday season, Lower East Side has conceptualised two Christmas Party combos, which are available from 1 to 25 December, ensuring that diners get to enjoy a hearty Mexican-inspired festive meal.
For the tasting yesterday, we had the Drunken Feast ($132, serves 3 persons): Chipotle Turkey, Crispy Roasted Pork with Apple Jalapenos Chutney, Ribeye Chargrilled with Chipotle Salsa, Drumlets, Chorizo Stew Burrito with Habanero and Elote (corn on the corb).
This set is recommended if you come in a group because the serving may look little but is very filling. If you are dining alone or on a date, you can opt for Poultry in Motion ($26 per person), which comes with Angry Rib (halved) with Cilantro Rice and Slaw, Ancho with Pulled Pork Sliders and Turkey Quesadillas with Smoked Paprika and Cranberry Sauce.
Lower East Side Taqueria
19 East Coast Road,
Tel: 6348 1302
Sunday to Thursday 1200-2300hrs
Friday and Saturday 1000-2300hrs