Anagram Coffee Singapore

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Despite the long trip, I decided to make the 1.5hour journey to Anagram Coffee last week when it was just a few days’ old, determined not to hustle with other cafe hoppers when the cafe gets more widely recognised overtime.

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Located in an outdoor wing of Anchorpoint Shopping Centre (opposite IKEA Alexandra), the cafe is a small nook between other tenants yet to set up store. It features a minimal interior with a coffee bar and a bench fitting a few patrons, and an outdoor patio with 2 tables and tree stump stools.

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The menu was lean and dedicated mainly to coffee from Tad Coffee Company, so I ordered just the White ($6 for hot, +$1 for oat milk) for dine in. There were also other espresso based drinks like Mocha ($6 for hot), a Guest Filter Brew ($8 for hot), and Chai Tea ($7 for hot) for tea drinkers. My White had a smooth mouthfeel with notes of acidity. I heard that pastries will be rolling in at a later stage, so I will keep a look out for that!

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I believe this is the most interesting addition to Anchorpoint so far.

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370 Alexandra Rd, #01-13A Anchorpoint Shopping Centre, Singapore 159953

8am – 6pm daily

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Apartment Coffee – New space at Selegie Road

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One of my favorite coffee haunts in Singapore, Apartment Coffee, has moved to a new and bigger space along Selegie Road. 

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While I missed the odd shape of the old premises, I do love that the new location is more central and accessible and has more floor space and seats to accommodate a larger crowd. Much to my delight, the theme of the interiors is still minimalistic with the same white coffee bar dominating the aesthetics.

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On both occasions, I had the Coffee with Milk ($5.50, Oat Milk + $0.50) with origins from the Costa Rica Aquiares Estate. I am a huge fan of the light roast, with a smooth and creamy texture and a clean aftertaste. 

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The Hand Brews are the signature, among which I believe the Myanmar Amayar Black Honey is a popular choice and which I may get on my next visit. 

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For the non-coffee drinkers, there is always the option for a Hot Chocolate ($7.50, Oat Milk + $0.50) or tea (there are options for green tea, oolong tea or kombucha) – though I highly recommend coffee here.

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Apartment Coffee remains one of my top spots for coffee, ambience, conversations and me time.

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139 Selegie Road, #01-01, Singapore 188309

10am – 6pm daily

Lola’s Cafe @ Holland Village

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Having resided in the north east area all my life, I have visited first Lola’s café in Kovan on a few occasions. I even have a post here dating back to 2013 (!) when it was newly opened. Since then, the café has been serving crowds (mostly living nearby) eager to have affordable brunch options without traveling out.

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This time round, I was at the 2 months’ old 2nd outpost of Lola’s at Holland Village, where the structure and interior were vastly different from the Kovan outlet. While the 1st outlet had darker, simple furnishings reminiscent of a neighborhood hangout, the new outpost appealed with the clean and bright space, natural lighting and an emphasis on smooth and rounded edges. 

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Thankfully we made reservations in advance, as the place started to get buzzing with families and groups of friends shortly after 9am.

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I mentioned I was not a big fan of their coffee in my first Lola’s post, and sadly I had the same sentiments here. Pictured is the Oat White ($5.5 + $1.2 for oat) with the house blend which tasted flat, and then there was my Soy White ($5.5 + $1.2 for soy) that was not featured here because it looked like a botched job. 

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From the brunch menu, which was largely similar to the Kovan outlet’s, I opted for the Pulled Pork & Avocado Eggs Benedict ($18). This was a saucy dish with a heavy taste from the generous serving of hollandaise sauce and the 6-hr smoked chipotle pulled pork. The 2 eggs were poached well with oozing yolks. 

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On the other hand, the Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($16), featuring sourdough, cheddar, mozzarella, halloumi, honey mustard, and housemade smoked ketchup, was simple enough, like a dish that can be easily put together at home. Perhaps other cheeses like comté or even a blue cheese could be used for a more complex flavour.

We did not get desserts as we were café-hopping, though I was happy to see that my favorite ones from Lola’s @ Kovan were on the menu (ie the Seasalt Chocolate Tart ($7) and Black Sesame Tart ($7)). One thing to note though (I only realized this much later) – some of the dishes here are pricier than the same ones you get at Kovan, so I would recommend to get the outlet exclusive items such as the pastas.

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48 Lorong Mambong, Singapore 277699

Open 9am – 10pm daily (except Mon, closed)

Waga Waga Den

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On an extreme end of South Beach Avenue sits an achromatic glasshouse-like structure with an outdoor seating area adjacent to it. Upon opening the huge doors, I was welcomed by the sight of a sleek coffee bar adorned with marble and wooden details and similar achromatic tones to match the exterior. 

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As the outdoor seating area was not sheltered and it was a typical day in Singapore with hot, equatorial weather, I grabbed one of the few limited seats indoor.   

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I opted for the Cloud ($8), one of Waga Waga Den’s signature drinks that I had set my eyes on prior visiting the café. A take on the iced cappuccino, this Instagram-worthy (or tiktok worthy) beverage is an espresso with milk, topped with frothy cold milk, and further garnished with chocolate powder. To create the “cloud” effect, air was incorporated, and so take your pictures quickly as the “cloud” deflates over time. The frothed milk layer and chocolate powder enhances the creaminess and gives a bittersweet punch to the cappuccino. 

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Since the café is Japanese-inspired, I just also had to savour the Dirty Matcha Latte ($8), made with matcha okumidori – a single-origin, single-estate and single-cultivar matcha cultivated in Uji, Kyoto. Though the umami flavour was distinct, I would like to pick the pure matcha option on my next visit for more distinction.

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On the menu are also several light bites, both sweet and savoury. I had the Charcoal Brioche ($5) stuffed with Hokkaido red bean paste and échiré salted butter (artisanal French butter from the small village of Échiré in western France), which would be more satisfying if the bun could be bigger with more red bean filling. 

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Meanwhile, the Warabi Mochi ($8), made fresh daily with kuromitsu (Japanese dark sugar syrup) and kinako powder was on par with those I’ve tried and loved from other classic Japanese snack stalls in Singapore. 

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Stay for the coffee and tea, and enjoy the brewing and whisking action before you.

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38 Beach Road, #01-14 South Beach Tower, Singapore 189767

Tues to Fri, 8.30am – 3.30pm

Sat 9.30am, – 4.30pm 

The French and Swiss Alps

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After several days of hustling with European and American crowds in Paris, I boarded a 1-hour flight direct to Geneva, Switzerland. Via a bus from the airport, I crossed back into French territory to visit Chamonix – a mountain resort in the French Alps, near the meeting point of 3 countries (France, Switzerland and Italy).

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From my petite AirBnB apartment, I was treated to a picturesque view of the quaint town against a backdrop of the snowcapped Alps. This was in April, when snow no longer fell but stuck on at high altitudes enough for skiing. 

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One of the highlights was Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in France, which I had to ascend the mountain in the Montenvers Railway for. Unfortunately, due to climate change, the glacier is fast shrinking. I took a gruelling 520 steps down endless of stairs to reach the bottom and the Ice Cave carved inside the glacier – back in 1988, only 3 steps were needed. Nonetheless, my first glacier and ice cave experience was pretty majestic.

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Other activities I did were: skiing (which I did not take a liking to), and ascending the Aiguille du Midi for a close up view of the peak of Mont Blanc (features a scary cable car ride).

Bidding goodbye to the town, I took multiple connecting trains to arrive in Zermatt, Switzerland. Compared to Chamonix, the town of Zermatt was more touristy and crowded, prices of food and other essentials were double-fold, and locals were less friendly. 

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On the brighter note, the views were magical. My favorite being the one taken from the Zermatt Matterhorn Viewpoint (it is literally named as such on Google Maps), where I caught Blue Hour. Though I believe that it would be more magnificent in winter with snow on rooftops, the view was still very much worth the hike up. 

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At Gornegrat, there was also a clear, central view of the Matterhorn, albeit with more tourists, many of which were accompanied with a bar of Toblerone… 

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Glass Roasters @ Faber Drive

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Tucked along a street in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the west, Glass Roasters was established in the midst of the pandemic, now having 2 outlets. Having wanting to visit the original outlet, I finally overcame the inertia and took the long journey to the secluded Faber Drive.

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With a small floor area, the café interior seats just a few parties along communal benches, while others may bask under the shade outdoors or dine-in under Gelatolabo’s premises, which are connected to the café. The main aesthetic of the café was no doubt the white, square-tiled coffee counter, juxtaposed with the raw concrete ceiling and herringbone flooring. The glass windows permit shafts of sunlight to penetrate into the interiors, casting shadows across the counter. 

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Being there on a weekday morning, we had the café to ourselves, and indulged in our coffee in the absence of loud, echoed conversations. 

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From the friendly barista, I opted for my go-to, a White ($5.50, +$1 for oat/soy milk), which came in a double-walled glass cup. The coffee smooth, not acidic and did not leave an unwanted aftertaste.

We also had a tiny slice of Banana Cake ($4.50), the only food option available. It was a tad dry. Sadly, its next door neighbour Gelatolabo only opens in the afternoon, otherwise I could have waffles and ice cream to pair with coffee.

My long journey in exchange for a respite from hustle was worthwhile. 

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108 Faber Dr, Singapore 129418

9am – 6pm daily, closed on Tues

Chu and Co

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Housed in a narrow and relatively quieter street near Serangoon Gardens, Chū and Co serves as a takeaway bakery (Chū Bakery) and gelato lab (Chūlato Weekend Gelato Bar).

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There was no proper set-up for dine-in – just a couple of benches by the storefront, a kid-sized bench and table along the backyard, and some mats provided if you would like to picnic on the concrete floor. Those less accustomed to alfresco and the slightly cumbersome way of dining might prefer to takeaway from the store entirely. 

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The display counters, lined with a good variety of bread and viennoiseries, posed the biggest dilemma. I wanted to try almost all of them (which explains a second visit I took). Baked freshly on a daily basis, the menu varies weekly and can sometimes be found on their Instagram page. The bakes here were generally smaller sized and it was possible to share 4-5 of them between 2 people.

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Sitting cautiously on the kids bench in the backyard (for fear that it will crumble under our weight), we tucked into our “picnic box”, together with coffee.

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The Ricotta, Lemon, Smoked Sea Salt ($5.50) was filled with a generous portion of savoury ricotta and topped with lemon and smoked sea salt. I would recommend this for ricotta lovers.

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An unexpected favourite, the Carrot Cake ($6) was one of the better carrot cakes out there. I loved that the cake was moist and fluffy and not overly dense. My only wish was that the slice could be bigger.

We also had the Pulled Mushroom, Cauliflower, Mozzarella ($5.50) which was akin to a mini pizza bun, with a tomato sauce base complimented with mozzarella and veggies.

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Though it did not exactly emulate the taste of carbonara, the Carbonara Toast ($6) was satisfying with a good amount of cheese and an oozing yolk.

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The pretty Lemon Lavender Swirl ($4.50) was however, too sweet with a huge amount of sugar piled on the top. We had to dust off a good amount of it. The lemon taste could not be distinguished.

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A better choice for a sweet bun would be the Cardamon Pistachio ($5.50), though the sweetness could again be toned down.

I also wished I could have the House Ricotta, Semi-dried Tomato ($6) for breakfast daily. The combination of basil pesto, semi-dried tomatoes (a great alternative to sundried ones) and ricotta was reminiscent of a fine Italian dish. 

Not pictured here is the Superfood Salad ($13) comprising strawberries, black barley, quinoa, mixed greens, chia dressing, which I would not recommend. The combination was not fitting and the taste of black barley got too overwhelming shortly after.  

Despite the heat, I enjoyed my mini picnic while soaking in the vibes and people and dog watching (the café is pet-friendly).

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15 Lichfield Rd, Singapore 556835

Chu Bakery – Wed – Sun, 8.30am – 4pm 

Chulato Weekend Gelato Bar – Fri – Sun, 1pm – 10.30pm 

Souvenirs de Paris, 2022

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Boarding a plane for the first time in 2.5 years, my first destination had to be Paris – for I needed some form of practical application for the past 3 years of French lessons, and some reassurance that what I’ve learnt was indeed useful. 

I stayed in 2 different 4-star hotels, Hotel États-Uni Opera (2e Arrondissement) and Hotel Paris Bercy Le 209 (12e Arrondissement), both of which I would recommend. The former was brilliantly located at a close proximity to various tourist attractions. By foot, you could easily visit the Louvre, Palais Royal, Jardin des Tuileries and Galeries Lafayette. The latter, though significantly further from central Paris, was a safe area and allowed me to visit less touristy and crowded neighborhoods like Bastille. Both hotels were also right by the metro stations.

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Our first meal was at the patio of Café de Flore, perhaps (one of) the most Instagram famous cafes in Paris. Braving the cold winds (there was a long queue for indoor seating), we tucked into the best onion soup of my life, a hearty duck parmentier and hot chocolate, and an alright smoked salmon sandwich. 

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Nearby the café were 3 quintessential museums I visited – Musée d’Orsay, for its Van Gogh, Manet and Monet paintings (+ a sneaky shot of the Eiffel Tower); Musée du Louvre for Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace; and Musée Rodin (less touristy), dedicated to Rodin’s sculptures and some paintings by Van Gogh and Monet. Buying all your tickets online prior to your museum visit is a must to avoid even longer queues and disappointment.

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From the Musee d’Orsay which was right next to River Seine, I strolled along the quay of the river, sitting on benches occasionally to people-watch and cruise-watch. Moving east, I passed by Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame, which was still under re-construction works. I also stopped by and queued to enter the most popular bookstore in Paris, Shakespeare and Company. It was one of my best bookstore experiences and well worth the wait.

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Right next to the bookstore was my dinner venue, Le Petit Châtelet, serving classic French cuisine. The main dishes I had (Beef tenderloin, beef cheek, duck confit) were remarkable, but I would advise to skip the desserts which were average.

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One of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris was Montmartre. As much as it was a very touristy area, the cobbled paths and white-washed buildings were nonetheless charming and the view from the Basilica of the Sacre-Coeur was spectacular. Some other spots in this area were The Wall of Love and the Halle Saint-Pierre (less touristy) which held an art exhibition during my time there. 

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Though there were a good selection of bistros and restaurants within Montmartre, I would recommend exploring Pigalle (just below Montmartre) for food as well. Perhaps the most photographed restaurant in the area, I headed over to Pink Mama to join the line for lunch. Thankfully, bar seats are available for those without reservations and I got in for the first round of seating. The food – burrata, ravioli filled with rabbit ragu, octopus, tiramisu – was decently good, and service was impeccable. 

Le Marais was my other favorite neighborhood. It was full of hippy cafes, bistros, restaurants and boutique shops (homeware, flowers, candles, perfumes, vintage clothes, chocolates). For my café-hopping tour in this area, I went to:

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Boot Café – a small and cozy café which only opens on the weekends. Admittedly, the coffee and bakes were not fantastic but the vibes were great.

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I.O Café – good coffee and pretty good bakes.

Dreamin Man – great coffee and exceptional vibes, with lots of regular patrons who were friendly with the baristas. A must visit.

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For food, I would recommend Robert et Louise which serves different meats grilled over a wood fire. Featured above are the rib eye steak and duck breast with honey sauce that we ordered.

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I also had the chance to explore the Bastille neighborhood, where it was home to the Marché Bastille, one of the largest open-air markets selling fresh produce every Thursday and Sunday from 8.30am – 1.30pm. There were also cafes and bistros in the vicinity, out of which I visited Passager – the flat white and French toast I had were very good. The walk along the Coulée Verte René-Dumont, something like the High Line of Paris, also an idyllic activity I did in the area.

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For day trips, I did one from Paris to the Château de Versailles which was about an hour away from central Paris via the RER train line C. Be prepared for half a day of walking in the Palace and the expansive Gardens.

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Last not but the least, my favorite meal in Paris was at Les Papilles (one of David Lebovitz’s recommendations), which I felt was an underrated bistro. The course menu here changes daily, and we had the 4 course menu at only 35 euros per pax (SGD50). Will write a separate post for this. There were also various attractions nearby, like the Pantheon and Le Jardin du Luxembourg where we walked off the calories. 

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Blessed was this trip of fine weather and gastronomy, warm service and… freedom from the stifling pandemic. And from now, le monde t’appartient.

Common Man Coffee Roasters Joo Chiat

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Common Man is no doubt one of the OG cafes for good brunch and coffee. I first visited the first branch at Martin Road way back in 2013, and even wrote a post on it here! Earlier this year, I re-visited the same branch and found it reminiscent of my first visit – the crowd, the consistency of the food, the same vibes.

Since its inception in 2013, 2 other outlets have sprung up, namely Common Man Stan on Stanley Street and the newest Common Man Coffee Roasters Joo Chiat in the East, where I was kindly invited to for a tasting. 

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Joining the enclave of eateries in the East Coast neighbourhood, the third outlet exudes a different kind of vibe from the first two – more spacious, breezy and chill. With bold splashes of dark blue and brass, the interiors are decorated with a contemporary industrial look. 

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We started off the tasting at the dedicated filter coffee brewing bar, the centrepiece of the café. We were served the Slow Brew ($9) by the barista,  with notes of tropical and dried fruits. 

I also could not resist getting myself a coffee from the Espresso Bar. I went for the Hot Mocha ($6.50), one of my regular orders at CMCR. It tasted as consistent as my previous orders. 

A new item on the CMCR menu are the Sourdough Pancakes, available in both sweet and savoury options. 

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The Savoury Sourdough Pancakes ($24) comes with crispy bacon, fried egg, pure maple syrup and seasoned creamy butter while the Sweet Sourdough Pancakes ($24) is topped with chocolate almond ganache, almond praline, vanilla ice cream and zesty citrus marmalade. In contrast to the Common Man Fluffy Pancakes which I have tried at CMCR @ Martin Road, the sourdough pancakes may not be as fluffy in texture but makes for a healthier alternative. We preferred the sweet version.

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A vegetarian option is the Umami Mushroom Avocado Toast ($22), which was indeed umami thanks to the flavourful oyster and maitake mushrooms, red onions and pickle and togarashi. The focaccia toast is also made with sourdough.

As for the Turkish Common Man Breakfast ($28), it is a not so common combination of a phyllo wrapped soft boiled egg, crispy feta, pumpkin hummus, fresh cucumber, pomegranate and fresh herbs, and pita bread on a plate. My favourite was the chewy wholewheat pita bread.

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We also had the Smash Burger ($28) but unfortunately the house made beef patty was rather dry. 

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A spin on the classic Caesar Salad, the beautifully plated Common Man Caesar ($25) is a huge bowl of butterhead lettuce, chicken breast, grilled brussels sprouts, creamy Stracciatella cheese, focaccia croutons and herb salt.

With this latest café addition to the East Coast, the area would surely be livelier, and hippier.

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185 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427456

7.30am – 5pm daily

Asylum Coffeehouse

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Alongside other well-known coffee establishments such as Chye Seng Huat Hardware and Apartment Coffee in Jalan Besar is the (perhaps not so new) Asylum Coffeehouse which opened early this year. 

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Intending to serve as an asylum from home for guests to escape the hustle and bustle of modern world, the space is small and cozy. I am not trained in design, but thought that the combination of straight lines and curves complemented each other. The combination of white, brown and grey in the interior also gave off some Scandinavian vibes.

Unfortunately with the current 1 meter apart safe-distancing measures, it further limits the indoor seating capacity. My heart ached to see duct tapes of crosses and boundaries stuck on the benches. 

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Service was warm and friendly, especially since the staff explained the menu to us thoughtfully. I ordered the White ($5 for 3 oz, $5.50 for 5oz, +$1 for iced/oat milk/macadamia milk) and thought that while it was decent, it could have a stronger, more acidic body. 

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Besides coffee, there are 2 signature sandwiches on the menu, of which I had the Cubano ($16) – comprising mojo pork, gherkins, Emmental and mustard sandwiched between ciabatta slices. The alternative is The Overload ($16) – with smoked barbecue pulled pork, mac and cheese, homemade bbq sauce and slaw.

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The display counter held some cakes and pastries which we skipped to save space for our next café. We came across The Block OG ($6) – a sugee cake made with almond, butter, rum, Italian meringue, edible flower, a Croissant ($5) and Croisini ($6.50).

There is also an alfresco area, which provides a minimalistic background for your OOTDs, but is less ideal in the recent days of sweltering heat.

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311 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208970

8am – 4.30pm daily

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