Cafe Hopper Review: Froth @ Middle Road

I was drawn to this cafe by its famous coffee jelly. Read a fair bit about it and was thinking of going there to try it out. I have tried the expresso ice cube in Bangkok and so thought this coffee jelly thing should be quite exciting. Froth cafe is located in Big Hotel along Middle Road. Its not that difficult to locate the hotel and perhaps I should have a staycation in the hotel soon.

I asked for recommendation and the staff did. I ordered the Tom Yum seafood risotto, the spicy winglets and of course the coffee jelly. The coffee jelly thing was really a plus point to this cafe. I have not heard of anything like this so far in Singapore or Bangkok. It basically coffee jelly mixed with fresh milk. Before drinking, you should break the jelly at the bottom of the glass and mix it well with the milk. However, as I feedback to the barista, I would actually prefer the coffee taste to be stronger. I couldn’t taste too much of the coffee and as such I felt like I was drinking some milk tea with pearls. The seafood risotto was served with prawns and shells and to be honest I am not a great fan of shell stuff. The good thing is that the Tom Yum taste was strong enough to cover the shell stuff in the dish. I love the tom yum taste to be honest, however, the rest of the ingredients in the dish didn’t quite impress me.

As for the spicy winglets, that’s the saving grace for the visit to Froth. I love the texture of the dish and the chicken was tender and juicy. The juicy chicken was sprinkled with smashed nachos and some shallots as well. Love this combination and truly a good snack for the afternoon.

Overall, my experience with the cafe was a good one. The cafe has a lot of potential given more time to fine tune its menu. They have a lot of fresh food idea and I am sure they will do all the necessary adjustments to make things better. I am looking forward to see Froth grow in maturity as a cafe. Good luck!

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Cafe Hopper Review: Banana Tree @ Keong Siak Street

I went to Keong Siak street specially to visit this Banana Tree cafe, another Korean style cafe serving Korean bingsu. I was so intrigued by their flower pot decorative of their dessert. Not difficult to locate this shop that just started operating about a month or so. I took a cab to Bukit Pasoh and this I was really out of cash by the time I entered Banana Tree. After I have decided on my order, I was told that they don’t take cashless payment. I wasn’t feeling that lousy but I knew that the nearest ATM from Keong Siak is pretty far and the weather was really hot. I guess I had no choice but to walk down the street to hit an ATM. Just when I was packing my bag and getting ready to leave, the beautiful lady boss asked if I work around this area? I said I don’t but I frequent this place. She suggested that I should stay and have my order and come back another day to pay for it. I was feeling rather comfortable with that but the lady boss insisted seeing the hot weather. I took the offer and I really enjoyed my dessert very much.

After I walked out of the place, the first thing I did was to get my cash and pay for what I owe. I was touched by the lady’s trust in me even though I was just a customer. I would certainly want to come back for the bigger pot of flower when I have people to accompany me. Good luck to your new and exciting venture!

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Cafe Hopper Review: Cafe Insadong @ South Bridge Road

First the location map shown on Instagram indicated a wrong place. Instagram map shows the cafe to be on Smith Street in Chinatown and there was not Cafe Insadong there. I decided to take a look across South Bridge Road and lo and behold, the cafe was there. I was so glad that I found it as the weather outside was extremely hard to bear. Temperature was easily 33 or 34 degree Celsius that day. When I stepped in the cafe, I was greeted by one of the staff of the cafe and I feedback to her that the map on Instagram is wrong about their location. She seemed very serious about it and expressed that she would update the info which to be honest I didn’t quite know how that is done.

In any case, stepping into the cafe was already making me feel great as the weather out there was really very hot. I asked for a recommendation as I was really clueless what I should order and it was my first time visiting a Korean-style cafe. I actually found the price a little on a high side for their menu. I ordered the Beef Bugolgi Toast for a light lunch and the Red bean and sweet potatoes for dessert. Both items each falls within the range of $7 to $9. I do find that for a toast or ice dessert to cost around this range ….its a little too pricey. I can easily get a local ice kacang for just less than $3.

I was particularly fond of the beef bugolgi toast as I always wanted to do something with toast and kimchi and I must say they did pretty okay with their combination. I  messaged a group of friends that I was in this shop and one of the foodie friends replied me and said that she doesn’t really like their ice dessert. Well, I tend to disagree with her because you really can’t be too wrong with sweet stuff. But like I said, for this kind of price, I can get two ice kacang when I crossed over to Chinatown Hawker Center. One thing for sure, the korean-style ice kacang did help to beat the heat outside for me.

I guess, its still pretty worth coming here and enjoy the dessert after a tiring shopping at Chinatown…

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Cafe Hopper Review: Mad About Sucre @ Bukit Pasoh (Teo Hong Road)

It was my laze around day and I wanted to laze to a nearby cafe in the same area. However, the cafe that I intended to go had a private function, so I decided to hop to this one which I missed the other day when I was here for staycation. From the time I stepped into the cafe till the moment I left the cafe, I must say that I was very pampered by the staff of the cafe. I stepped in and was greeted by the staff. I was not allowed to order anything until the staff had finished explaining to me all their products on the classy glass display. It was very boutique indeed. They had a few dessert on display and the staff took a lot of pride and most importantly, a lot of heart to introduce all of them to me before I decided on one.

I was ushered to my seat and was made very comfortable there. When my dessert arrived, the staff once again explained in greater details about the making of the dessert and how I should go about consuming it. From his narration of the dessert I ordered, I came to know that this little piece of thing have ingredients from more than 3 different continents and countries. After all the narrative, I finally get to savour my precious dessert served by staff with so much heart and soul in them. With all the narrative still at the back of my mind and my tongue physically tasting it, I must say that the experience was heavenly. The chocolate was smooth and the fill inside this little thing is wholesome and and not overwhelming.

Throughout my stay in the cafe, the staff would regularly, at a very comfortable pace, check on my well-being and asked if I am alright with everything. The attention that I received from them was superb and I felt almost like a celebrity. After I have posted my food picture on my Instagram, they replied to my IG and they actually remembered that I came and remembered that I was writing my poem then and they actually refrained from disturbing too much. I was extremely touched by their service…or I should say more than service to me. They have made dining at Mad About Sucre an art by itself….They are inspirational!

Thank you guys for your hospitality…

 
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Cafe Hopper Reflecting on our Founding Father

I thought as a fellow Singaporean, a son of the roaring lion and a son of Singapore, its time for me to say a few things regarding the recent passing away of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I received the news of his passing away shortly after the official hour of 3:18am on 23 March 2015. My own brother, the Gun Carriage Commander (GCC), messaged us and informing us that he was activated for his duty. This is his fifth time being the GCC. He was the GCC for Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Goh Kheng Swee, Mr Toh Chin Chye and some of the other founding pioneers. As a family, we are very proud of him and we are so thankful that he can represent us to send Mr Lee off for the very last time.

Well, that is not my point for this blog entry, lest my proudness overtakes my mind. I have never met Mr Lee personally in my entire life and I am very sure that he doesn’t know me at all as a Singaporean. For a man who is so far away from me, upon hearing his passing away, suddenly I felt a sense of closeness and attachment to him. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears of sadness. It felt as though someone dear to me has just passed away. To a man who I have never met or spoken to, and yet, like an invisible pair of hands, he guided and led me to where I am today. Without him, I wouldn’t be who I am today. He gave me a decent education and an equal opportunity to fight for a living for myself. Through his education policies and beliefs, like many sons and daughters of Singapore, we are able to stand tall on international platforms, speaking duo languages and well-respected by international counterparts. We are certainly no small figure when we stand on this global stage. Through his housing policies, I have seen my parents and eventually myself staying in a better house that we can call Home. I grew up in a one room flat (one living room, one bedroom, one kitchen and one toilet) first in Kallang Bahru and then in Ang Mio Kio. I remember then, my mum, my sister, my brother and myself had to squeeze in one small bedroom. My father would sleep in the living room. We had lots of fun squeezing together and we had very little concept of personal space or privacy for that matter. Some years later, my parents managed to shift us from this one room flat to a four room flat in Yishun. For the first time in our lives, we had a room to ourselves although I was still having to share room with my brother. We had a bigger space and yes, we began to have the concept of personal space and privacy.

Soon my brother and sister got married and they each have their own unit. My mum and I bought a new unit in Woodlands ourselves.  All these didn’t come easy for me or for my family. We worked hard and we always seek to make living better for the family. But, all these are made possible because of what Mr Lee has done as a Prime Minister then. Although we didn’t come from a rich and famous family, we never felt under-privileged throughout our growing up years. We enjoyed the same opportunity like any other sons and daughters of Singapore and worked our way up the social ladder. As a leader and father of the nation, Mr Lee had kept his promises to the people. He promised equal opportunity for all and we had it. He promised a roof above our heads and we had it. He promised a world-class education system and a good job opportunity for all and we had it.  He promised to make us a metropolis and we did it. He promised to make every Singaporean proud and we are indeed.

To this man, this man of greatness, I am full of gratitude and still gratitude. Mr Lee Kuan Yew is more than just a political leader to us. He is a mentor, a greater elder of the nation and a father. To steal from Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s eulogy yesterday, we share the same father, father of this nation. Thank you for sharing your Papa with us…thank you for making him our father too. I cannot imagine what our history would be like without Papa Lee turning himself to PM Lee. Singaporeans would be orphans…fatherless…hopeless. He is certainly not a perfect man, not without fault. However, as a political leader and as our founding father, he has done all that he could to give us a successful Singapore.

Thank you Mr Lee Kuan Yew for making us proud! Thank you for giving us Singapore.

Farewell!

#leekuanyew #rememberingleekuanyew #tributetoleekuanyew thankyouleekuanyew

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Cafe Hopper @ New Majestic Hotel (Bukit Pasoh)

This is a long-awaited staycation I have planned for myself. I first heard about the hotel beginning of the year. I walked pass it a couple of times while cafe hopping and often I am attracted by the unique character of the hotel. This time round I was very impressed by the unique design of the hotel. I was told all the 30 rooms in the hotel is uniquely designed and I got the A Big Goldfish room for the stay. I love this room. And I must say the courtyard style bathtub was awesome! I visited nearby spa and it was super rejuvenating. The staycation was partly my writer’s residence as well. I hope to be able to publish a poetry collection by the end of this year. Have been working hard on it.

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Cafe Hopper @ 老舍 [茶馆]

The stage craft of this play was simply excellent. When the curtain was drawn, the buzzing and hustle of the teahouse was felt and we could even smell the breathe in the smell of old teahouse in Beijing. Simply loving the stage. Ok, back to what I feel about the play or my reflection after watching it. I always think that if at the core of art is not human, then art is not art at all. To me all forms of art have to be about people. We cannot move away from this anthropological mission. To me, 老舍 Teahouse is all about people, common people to be specific.

The theme that I keep seeing from the play is that of time. The theme move from the late Qing dynasty when people were concern about the coming of the westerners asked the reformation and modernization that were taking place. Then in Act 2, the play move from the late Qing period to the warlords period or 军阀混战的时代 . The post Japanese occupation period sets Act 3. In all of these three acts, we see the movements and sentiments of common people, people like you and,me. We struggle, we fight to meet ends needs, we change and constantly make changes to fit ourselves to this society. More still, we constantly hope for a better world to come.

The same characters, the same teahouse, from one period in history to another, they hope for a better future, a world with less poverty, less turmoil, less suffering. Sadly, it didn’t happen to the main three characters in this play write. In Act 1, there was the hope of a better future when the westerners came in and everyone was talking about reforms and changes. The reforms did not take place, churches were burnt down and huge sum of money meant for reforms ended up in somebody’s pockets. In Act 2, no more Qing emperor, no more corrupted officials but came the warlords. They hurled bombs and bullets all over just to have a greater share of whatever that was left. The people continued to hope, hope to be better. However, the better things didn’t happen and the poor remained poor. In Act 3, the same people and the same teahouse, the people continued to hope. However, this period of China was only left with the internal strife between the KMT and CCP. At the last scene, we saw the three main casts philosophizing about the society they were living in. 

I was struck by one statement that 老掌柜 said in Act 3, “这茶馆是我的。活也在这里,死也在这里.” This is the sentiment of many in today’s society I believe. This coffeeshop, this town center, this public housing, this community… we live and we die here. It’s these places that connect lives together…It’s these places that chain and bind us together. In the show, it’s the teahouse that connects all the characters together…They talked here, they sell their daughter here, they do their dirty things here, they see changes here and etc. 小小的茶馆带出了人的喜怒哀乐,爱恨情仇。它也带初了人生百态,社会的起落!Another statement that struck me was this, “我们这么爱国家,国家有爱我们吗?” This was said by 常四爷 who used to be a rich man but was imprisoned by the Qing government for spreading messages on the fall of the dynasty which eventually did happened.

The story ended with all three main characters, namely, 秦二爷, 老掌柜 and 常四爷, lamenting over the despair and failures of the country’s development all these years. Eventually 老掌柜 decided to end his life and this coincide with the entrance of the Red Liberation Army led by the Chinese Communist Party.

The Gatekeeper

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