10 Cafes to Visit in Melbourne

An impetuous decision led the café-hopping buddies and I to five short yet fruitful (or should I say food-ful) days in the city of Melbourne. There was not a day we went without caffeine, brunch and alcohol. In mourning of the fact that we simply had no time for the scenic Great Ocean Road and Philips Island, we stuffed… and stuffed.

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  1. Industry Beans – For brunch in an industrial setting

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Also a great spot for al fresco dining. We had a few brunch dishes here like the Green Papaya and Peanut Crusted Egg (AUD19) – carrot, beanshoots, peanuts, coriander and nahm jim – but the desserts stood out the most.

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It has been months but the Coffee Garden (AUD14) – coffee custard pudding, coffee caviar, chocolate soil, pistachio sponge and tuille – is still that memorable. The distinct coffee flavour from the pudding and unique coffee caviar is quite out of this world and the thought of lingering coffee aftertaste remains.

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And if you like warm, gooey marshmallows, the Kaffir Lime Marshmallow (AUD12) – micro coriander, warmed ginger custard and crumb – is a must try.

3/62 Rose St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia

Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm

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  1. Hammer and Tong 412 – For extraordinary brunch dishes

Hammer and Tong is a hot place to be among the Melbournians, so be there early or be prepared to wait in line. We thankfully got a table in 30 minutes.

The ox cheek of the Ox Cheek Benedict (AUD18.5) – poached eggs, hollandaise, fermented & pickled chilli on sourdough – was the highlight of this dish, being tender with a tinge of spice. Australians still take pride in whipping out a mean dish of eggs benedict.

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Ice cream and candied bacon?! You did not read the menu wrongly. This extraordinary, breakfast item may have some acquired taste to it, but is definitely worth the try. The bacon is served cold, unfried and of a thicker cut. When eaten with the ice cream, the taste is hard to describe – an unusual yet satisfying mix of sweet and savoury. Duck Egg & Candied Bacon Waffle (AUD21) – sriracha caramel ice cream, toffee popcorn, maple & seeded mustard syrup

We couldn’t bear to dig into the beautifully plated Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt Parfait (AUD15) – basil, fruits, black rice granola & shortcake crumble – till the end. But when we did dig in, it made for a very sweet finish to our brunch.

412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia

7am – 4pm daily

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  1. Lune Croissanterie – For the best croissants in Asia Pacific

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Read the full review here.

119 Rose St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia

Mon, Thu – Fri 7.30am – 3pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 3pm

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  1. Top Paddock – For that plate of ricotta hotcake

Dubbed the origin of the famed ricotta hotcake, Top Paddock was once the Top brunch pick when it first opened for business, and remains a Top spot. Though the Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcake with Berries, Maple Syrup, Seeds & Cream (AUD21) here is nearly identical in taste and appearance to that at The Kettle Black, I couldn’t help but order it again.

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We also tried the Coconut Chia Pudding with Qld. Pineapple, Raspberries, Elderflower Syrup & Buckwheat Crumble (AUD17) and Fresh Qld. Soft-shell Mud Crab with Fennel & Dill Salad & Lime Mayonnaise in a Brioche Bun (AUD24). It was hard finding anything to nitpick on.

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658 Church St, Richmond VIC 3121, Australia

Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm

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  1. The Kettle Black – For that plate of ricotta hotcake… in a white setting

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Read the full review here.

50 Albert Road, South Melbourne VIC 3205, Australia

Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm

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  1. Hash Specialty Coffee and Roaster – For an underrated, hidden gem in the CBD

Our late lunch at Hash was an unplanned one – we just needed a place to rest our legs. It turned out to be surprisingly impressive.

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My personal favorite was the Summer Waffle (AUD17.5) – Toasted Waffle, Citrus Ricotta, Grilled Mango, Macadamia Crumb. Served Belgian style, the waffles were slathered in a sinful dose of maple syrup, sandwiching sweet mango and sprinkled with ricotta. It appealed very much to the sweet tooth in me and the tad of citrus flavor helped balance the sweetness.

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We also thought the Hot Chocolate (AUD6) – 85% Mork Chocolate served with a healthy dose of fairy floss could be ordinary or even subpar hot chocolate disguised as a gimmick with conical flasks and girl-attracting fairy floss, but it was actually legit.

113 Hardware St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 5pm

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  1. The Kitchen at Weylandts – For amazing light, shadows and decor

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Within the furniture shop Weylandts (which screams interior goals by the way) is The Kitchen at Weylandts. The café may only take up a small corner of the entire store but I did take longer than expected to shoot here. I was literally trying to photograph every corner. Will deffo do brunch here if I’m ever back in the city.

200 Gipps St, Abbotsford VIC 3067, Australia

Mon – Fri 7.30am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm

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  1. Tall Timber – For their Tall white brick walls

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En route to Prahran Market, we passed by Tall Timber unintentionally and got very tempted by its white-washed brick walls and wooden tables. This is one place I could sit all day in, admiring the simple, minimal interiors.

60 Commercial Road, Prahran VIC 3181, Australia

Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 7.30am – 4pm

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  1. St. Ali

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Housed in a huge, converted warehouse space is St. Ali Coffee Roasters. St. Ali is known to be a pioneer of the specialty coffee movement of single estate and single origin coffee beans, and a contributor to the third coffee wave in Melbourne, which means that this is the place to be for coffee addicts.

12 – 18 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne VIC 3205, Australia

7am – 6pm daily

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  1. Doughboys Doughnuts – For fancy flavoured donuts

Quite possibly the most popular doughnut chain here, Doughboys Doughnuts opened a permanent store just last year and is extremely convenient if you’re in the CBD. On display are both staple and rotating flavours. You also get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of doughnut baking through an open kitchen concept. Our favourite had to be the Key Lime Pie (AUD5.5) – lime curd filled Doughsie with toasted meringue and lime spiked pie crumbs. The lime curd especially won us over, with its perfect level of both sweet and sourness.

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We also had Bullseye (AUD5.5) – House made berry compote Doughsie on vanilla bean icing with soft shortbread crumble and Butterscotch Banana (AUD5) – butterscotch topped creamed banana Heilala vanilla bean icing dusted with house made chocolate brownie crumbs. The latter two were a tad too sweet, and we had to admit that the doughnuts are not cheap at all.

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535 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Mon – Fri 7am – 4.30pm

Some extras for you:

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Rustica Sourdough – For that all-too-pretty Ispahan Croissant

As we were exploring Fitzroy, we passed by a bakery-café with a long (but fast-moving) queue so we peered inside. The first thing that caught our eye was the stretch of gorgeous pastries on display, including danishes, croissants, cronuts and brioche donuts. Of course we had to go for the prettiest one – the Ispahan Croissant (AUD6.50) – twice baked with rose, lychee, almond and raspberry.  Rosewater icing and dried flower petals served as icing on the croissant which made it look enticing. Beneath the flaky layers was a filling of rose, lychee, raspberry and almonds. I wished there could be more distinct lychee and rose flavours though it was not all too bad.

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402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia

Mon – Sat 7am – 4pm, Sun 8am – 4pm

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N2 Extreme Gelato – For instagram-worthy gelato

We went for one of the most popular flavours, the Ferrero Reveal (AUD8) – chocolate syringe, rice bubble chocolate top, nutella and hazelnut gelato with rice bubbles. Sad to say, we felt that it was overrated as the nutella flavoured gelato didn’t live up to our expectations. We expected some stronger, thicker, more luscious taste of nutella but ended up with a faint taste. Later, we were informed about Gelato Messina which was deemed by Melbournians to be a better pick for gelato. Aesthetics go to N2 Extreme though.

18 Sutherland St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Mon – Thu 1pm – 10pm, Fri – Sat 1pm – 11pm

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VLV Singapore’s Weekend Dim Sum Brunch Buffet

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Recently named one of the best new restaurants of 2016 by Wong Ah Yoke of The Straits Times, VLV is set to be a hit among diners in the following year. That’s not all. More than a restaurant specializing in Chinese cuisine, VLV also serves as a bar and club by night. Somehow I managed to eat, drink and club here for 3 consecutive weeks and that says how deserving of a visit this place is.

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Every Sunday, VLV dishes out a 4-hour long champagne dim sum brunch buffet which is perfect for families. Expect themed parties for this buffet (which they announce in advance on their Facebook page) and a majestic dining experience.

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When we arrived, all the sizzling and bubbling from the live station had us camera-armed bloggers headed over before we could even take a good look at the menu. Several items stood out from the live station, including the simple and nostalgic Curry Fishball & Fried Pig Skin that most of us always scramble for at night markets. We couldn’t help but go for multiple rounds of it.

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The Fried Radish Cake, or “Carrot Cake”, with Egg & Bean Sprouts in Sambal Paste is fried onsite by a chef in action and is another dish from the live station you can’t miss.  The range of congees – Century Egg Shredded Pork (our foodies’ pick), Grouper, Chicken, Liwan Boat Style – is pretty decent too. And for the chicken feet lovers out there, the Braised Chicken Feet in Abalone Jus will not disappoint.

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A whole range of dim sum offerings is made to order on the menu and likewise the live station, is free flow. It was tough to find an item that stood out the most since all were on par, but I do find the Steamed Kurobuta Pork Bun memorable. Other usual suspects you can find – Prawn Dumpling, Kurobuta Siew Mai, Wild Mushroom Dumpling, Spare Ribs with Olive Leaf & Pumpkin, Beancurd Skin Roll, Fried Rice Roll with Dried Shrimp, Glutinous Rice Chicken in Lotus Leaf.

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A highly recommended signature of VLV is the Crackling Pork Belly which is also available on the a la carte menu ($18). Possibly one of my favorite dishes altogether from VLV. Dip them in mustard on the side for a different dimension.

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Sorry, no fleshy finger-lickin’ crabs here for brunch.  However the Chili Crispy Soft Shell Crab (yet another VLV signature) would do just as well. The savoury chilli-based tomato sauce is shiok on its own, yet I wished we could have some mantous to dip them in. And meanwhile, the soft shell crab is really crispy and crunchy.

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For desserts, look out for the Traditional Egg Puffs, or “Hong Kong egglets” with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream which you can get by the waffle-making machines at the live station. This made a pretty Instagram-worthy shot, but unfortunately lacked the distinct crisp as from its counterparts in HK.

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Otherwise, there are still more desserts made to order from the buffet menu, namely the Mango Pomelo Sago, Oriental Cheese Cake, Black Glutinous Rice topped with Coconut Ice Cream and Fruits Platter.

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First seating 11.30am – 1.30pm

Second seating 1.30pm – 3.30pm

 

Adults pay $58++ per pax (without drinks)

$98++ per pax for free flow drinks (Bauget Jouette champagne, red wine, white wine, Suntory premium malt draft, brunch cocktails, juices, soft drinks, Chinese tea)

$128++ for free flow drinks (Charles Heidseick champagne, red wine, white wine, Suntory  premium malt, brunch cocktails, juices, soft drinks, Chinese tea)

Children (6-11 years old) $29++ per pax

 

VLV Singapore

3A River Valley Road, #01-02, Singapore 179020

Tel: +65 6661 0197

 

This was an invited media tasting.

CÉ LA VI’s new Modern Asian menu

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With a recent makeover to its menu, Ce La Vi has shifted its focus on modern Japanese to modern Asian cuisine: think traditional Asian sauces, paired with dishes prepared with Western cooking techniques. Here’s yet another place to consider for that elegant corporate lunch or snoozy weekend brunch.

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So we started our 10-course lunch that day (yes, 10 courses) with some all new appetizers. The peeled, sautéed Garlic Prawns ($35) tossed with chorizo and paprika were nicely marinated such that there were no distinct traces of fishiness. And I don’t usually eat prawns for that fishy taste, mind you.

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The garlic prawns were also all good to pair with the Marinated Angel Hair ($22) topped with tobiko (flying fish roe) and spring onion. Served al dente style, the pasta remained springy despite all that time we took to get that shot.

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What we felt could be more tender and juicy was the Pork Belly Lollipop ($24), glazed with smoked chili and coming with apple mustard sauce on the side which you should dip the pork belly in.

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And it so happens that the raw dishes were my favorites of all the courses. I got caught unaware by the spices around its sides as well as from the wasabi cream of the Seared Togarashi Tuna ($28), in a very good way in that the spices were fiery yet addictive.

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The combination of fried shallot toppings with the Black Angus Beef Carpaccio ($28) – served with pickled radish, wafu sauce and red radish – was a first for us and we found it interesting. It created additional texture

The Baby Spinach Salad ($20) with shiitake mushroom was all about the sauce, an infusion of goma and honey yuzu. That kept us reaching for our greens despite all the meat around to taste.

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We had two entrees – the first being the Roasted Lemongrass Chicken ($34), served with eggplant, zucchini, kaffir lime, green chili sauce and steamed rice. The green chili sauce was reminiscent of the Thai green curry sauce, while the kaffir lime and lemongrass gave a slight zest to the chicken.

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Meanwhile, the Slow Cooked Norwegian Salmon ($42) with teriyaki sauce, konbu, soy mirin glaze and rice roll was one seemingly simple, comfort dish done right. Especially so with that slow cooked salmon which is so moist that it slips down your throat. Apparently, the salmon is sous vide for more than 8 hours, allowing it to retain lots of moisture.

Petit-Fours by Pastry Chef Ariane ($20) – tartlets, petit gateaux, chocolate pralines

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Don’t worry, the Popsicle Trio ($24) won’t melt so you go ahead and take the extra snap for instagram story. They are actually cakes in disguise – flavoured lemongrass, salted caramel + chocolate, and strawberry vanilla. We did prefer this over the petit-fours.

The best part to the revamp is for sure the option for a Power Lunch (daily from 12pm – 3pm), which you pick between a 3-course and 4-course set lunch menu. The 3-course ($38++ per pax) comprises an appetizer of marinated angel hair, entree of either the salmon or chicken and dessert of petit fours. Meanwhile, the 4-course set ($48++ per pax) includes an additional starter of black angus beef carpaccio or garlic prawns. This is one huge bang for your buck! I guarantee you’ll be incredibly stuffed and satisfied.

Ce La Vi Singapore

SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, Tower 3

1 Bayfront Avenue

Thanks to Ce La Vi and W Asia for the invite.

Kinki Bottomless Brunch (Kinki Restaurant + Bar)

 
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It’s one of those Saturdays where you want to chill with a group of friends, update them on how crappy (or crazy) the week has been and laugh at each other’s misery. Yet at the same time you want good food and good booze in an informal setting. You want decent food, but not overly expensive food or overrated trends. Casual and fun atmosphere but not crazily crowded.

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So recently we found out that Kinki Restaurant + Bar matches all the criteria mentioned, what with the newly launched Kinki Bottomless Brunch exclusive to Saturdays from 12pm – 3pm. Following an ala carte buffet style, a free flow selection of sushi, maki, sashimi, mains, sides and desserts are available at a buffet-friendly price of $52++ per pax.

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Free flow soft drinks, tea, still and sparkling water are available with an additional $5++ per person; with free flow alcoholic options such as sake, shochu and prosecco at an additional $35++ and beer at $25++.

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If you’re not sure what to start with, simply get a serving of each type of sashimi available and then slowly browse through the menu. There’s Sake (salmon), Hamachi (yellowtail) and a surprisingly satisfying Maguro (bluefin tuna), though the leaner type.

From the choices of Makis, the Hot Dynamite is the hot item. Wrapped in a fried seaweed roll, the maki was crunchy on the first bite, revealing an interior of salmon, yellowtail, scallion and cayenne pepper.

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For cold dishes, expect items like the Snow Crab & Century Egg Tofu and the Momotaro Tomato. And so I was thinking, “How good can tomatoes be…” and it turned out to be very juicy, soft but not mushy, and packed with a savoury flavour from that ginger dressing.

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Some notable hot dishes include the Spiced Miso Edamame (Japanese soy beans) which was garnished with miso, garlic and soy. Not a fan of edamame but my friends thought Kinki served one of the much better edamame around.

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For myself, the roasted Baby Sweet Potato was memorable, especially with the sweet-savoury combination (but still on the sweeter side) of crispy bacon, chives and the generous drizzling of sweet miso crème fraiche on them. And the best part? They’re free flow! We just felt a little sad that the menu left out prawn tempura (they serve vegetable tempura for the buffet instead).

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However, the main courses are only available for a one-time order. Amongst them, the Wagyu Foie Gras Donburi, which is a highly raved signature at Kinki itself, is likely to be our favourite item from the buffet menu. I mean, who can say no to tender, thinly sliced beef wagyu and pan seared foie gras served over Japanese rice?

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I’m not even kidding when I say that we were so stuffed from all the savoury food that we didn’t have space for dessert. But if you somehow manage to have some space left, there’s always Green Tea, Black Sesame and/or Yuzu Sorbet ice cream to end on a sweeter note.

P.S. Kinki has also served up all new poke bowls at affordable prices for the lunch crowd, woohoo!

Thanks Karen and Kinki for the invite!

70 Collyer Quay

#02-02

Customs House

Mon to Sat 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm

Paddy Hills’ New Menu

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I still remember all those days last year that I spent brunching at the then talk-of-the-town café Paddy Hills. I nearly finished trying all the food and drink items on the brunch menu. Cray. You can still view my post here but it’s not that relevant anymore, I guess. For Paddy Hills has rolled out an all new brunch menu!! From what I saw, nearly all the old dishes have been switched out for new ones… Does this mean that I’ll spend more café hopping days here again?

 
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I always thought that Paddy Hills does very decent non coffee and tea related drinks and this time they have upped their game with an even wider range of ‘quenches’. Among the drinks we had we unanimously voted the Beer Slushie ($12) to be our favourite. This alcoholic slushie of dragon fruit & margarita and topped with popcorn not only stole our hearts because of its colourful appearance but also of its refreshing taste with a sweet and spiked finish.

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We also had the Mount Matcha ($13) which was sinfully good and felt like a mountain to finish, what with that incredibly tall glass filled to the brim with matcha milkshake, matcha sauce, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, cereal and cotton candy. Sounds like a mouthful already. And then there was the Bubbly Yuzu ($8) comprising yuzu, plum & grape jello. Take that shot before the bubbles start popping.

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Admittedly, I was pretty skeptical about the(Black) Rice ($22) at first. Yet it turned out so much better than expected. The squid ink flavoured rice was not overly salty or fishy at all, and was well complemented with the mentaiko mayo and sous vide egg. Yes you’ve gotta crack that egg and mix it well with the rice so be ready to get your hands sticky. And watch out for yolk porn! Just a little pity that the PH fried chicken was salty, on top of all that squid ink. Move over, squid ink pasta.

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No ramen in the Ramen Risotto ($25) – expect a Japanese inspired risotto instead. Since a tonkotsu ramen broth is used to soak the grains, the ‘risotto’ is not as sticky and dense as its Italian counterpart. I found this more suited to the Asian palate. The tender slices of kurobuta cha shu also deserve a shout out. If only that quail’s egg can be replaced by ajitama with a molten, flowy yolk… ahh.

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Though the famed Berry Ricotta Hotcake is scraped, it is not completely gone. Their new version of the hotcake is set to be the next signature. Essentially, the two pieces of ‘muffcake’ in the Berry Muffcake ($20) has the same taste and texture of the then hotcake. This revamped dish is however enhanced with vanilla bean ice cream squares, chocolate crumbs, magic balls (let them burst in your mouth), pink milk & pumpkin seeds compared to just berries and seeds. With such added texture and flavour, it’s definitely a change for the better.

Without a doubt, Paddy Hills is one of the few places which does food that looks as good as it tastes. Sooo looking forward to my next visit here 😉

Thanks Paddy Hills for the invite!

38 South Buona Vista Road

Singapore 118164

Weekdays 10.30am – 5pm, 6 – 10pm, weekends 9am – 5pm, 6 – 10pm

5 Hipster Spots to Visit in Bangkok

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  1. Rocket Coffeebar S49

People who know me would also know that Rocket S49 is my kind of café, my kind of haven. Rocket Coffeebar has several locations in Bangkok and most would agree that S49 is the most gorgeous. The two-storied café is spacious with loads of natural light flowing in, and definitely suitable for large groups to chill. From the honeycomb tiles to the all-white marble counter, there is no reason why you wouldn’t fall in love with the interiors. Don’t forget to head upstairs for an aesthetic view of the café.

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As a Nordic inspired café, the food here is largely Nordic inspired as well, which explains the shape of the Berry-Berry Waffle (THB180, SGD7) I had. This Scandinavian style waffle is thinner and topped with berry compote and cream. Interestingly, the waffle was on the savoury side and made a unique combo with the sweet berries. Other brunch items to expect are egg dishes, Nordic inspired open faced sandwiches, healthy salads and pastas.

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Note: Rocket is about 15 minutes walk away from the nearest BTS stations. Alternatively you can take an Uber/Grab, tuktuk, normal taxi or motorcycle taxi.

46, 21/13 Klang Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110

BTS Station: Phrom Phong/Thong Lo

Opens Sun to Thu 7am – 9pm, Fri to Sat 7am – 11pm

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  1. Slow Café by Room111

This café lives up to its name indeed. Somehow, the atmosphere here was very relaxed, very slow, quite in contrast to the vehicle-jammed main roads a couple of alleys away. Perhaps it was due to the white sofas propped against bare concrete walls, or the moody lighting. Whichever it was, this place seemed like a refuge.

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Food choices may be limited to several pastries on display, but the drinks menu is quite extensive. You can expect hot drip coffee of different blends to choose from, tea and chocolate based drinks and a range of cold brew coffees. I had their signature Eight Latte (THB70, SGD2.7) and it turned out to be one of the better iced lattes I’ve had. Right amount of milkiness and creaminess, very smooth, no bitter aftertaste. And yes, it is just about $2.70 in our currency. This made me think a lot about the many cups of 5-6 bucks mediocre (and sometimes nasty) from other cafes. Shudders.

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Note: Good One Hostel Café is also a stone throw away if you feel like café hopping. The space there is smaller and more cramped though.

399 Soi Silom 5, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok

BTS Station: Chong Nonsi

Opens Tue to Fri 8am – 5pm, Sat to Sun 10.30am – 7pm

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  1. Hands and Heart

If you’re a true minimalist, Hands and Heart would be the essential coffee stop for you. Though the café turned out to be very much smaller than imagined from photos online, the Teshima Art Museum-inspired décor more than made up for it. I was impressed by how the café was relatively quiet despite there being a full-house. Turns out that it is possible to do work or read a book on a Sunday in a Bangkok café.

 
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Just like Slow Café, the food menu here offers only light snacks. The coffee menu is kept simple with an emphasis on their hand brewed coffees. My friend had the Dirty Heart (THB120, SGD4.65) which comprised a shot of espresso poured over pudding. She called it interesting. Hmm. For myself, I ordered the Clean Hand (THB120, SGD4.65), a cold, smooth latte with salted caramel “dripping” all over the cup. You’re likely to get your fingers a little sticky but it’s worth the delight, I promise.

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Note: More suitable for small groups. And be sure to keep your voices low!

33 Sukhumvit 38 Alley, Bangkok 10110

BTS Station: Thong Lo

Opens 7am – 9pm daily

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  1. Demi Concept

Meanwhile, the matcha soft serve trend is taking over Bangkok by storm. The most photogenic of them all is probably the Charcoal and Green Tea Soft Serve with Chocolate Cone (THB95, SGD3.4) from Demi Concept. Unlike the other eateries serving green tea soft serve, Demi Concept is a food truck with a permanent spot (as of now) outside The Platinum Fashion Mall. To be frank, the uji matcha flavour could be more distinct and the vanilla charcoal was just alright. But having it under the sweltering sun and humidity was a joy in itself. Even more so after rounds of shopping in the mall.

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Note: Melts almost instantaneously, so whip out your cameras first!

Outside The Platinum Fashion Mall (222 Phetchaburi Road)

BTS Station: Chit Lom

Opens Thu to Mon 1pm – 9pm

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  1. Casa Lapin x26

Occupying the same compound as a flower shop, hostel and co-working space is Casa Lapin x26, the fourth branch of Casa Lapin. Since the flower shop takes up the front of the café, the entrance of flowers and wooden benches creates a lovely and inviting garden theme. The café itself is dim with yellow lighting and gives off a feeling of a cosy nook. It is also good for large groups, what with its long sofa seats.

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We shared a Spicy Carbonara Spaghetti (THB240, SGD9.3) which came with an egg, bacon, garlic, dry chilli and parmesan cheese. The base is not as creamy as other carbonaras which made it not as heavy, and the dry chilli gave a good, spicy kick that did not overpower the carbonara. It felt like a good cross between an aglio olio and carbonara. Incredibly affordable for a pretty good pasta.

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Note: You might want to take a mini tour of the hostel lobby and co-working space. Instagrammable spots lay ahead!

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Sukhumvit Soi 26, Bangkok 10110

BTS Station: Phrom Phong

Opens Mon to Thu 7.30am – 10pm, Fri to Sun 7.30am – 12am

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       Additional: Bake Cheese Tart

This one’s dedicated to the Singaporeans who don’t believe in queuing 2 hours or so for Cheese Tarts (THB80, SGD3.1 for 1 piece, THB450, SGD17.4 for box of 6). At the Bangkok branches, waiting times don’t last more than several minutes and sometimes there may be no queue at all.

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Note: The texture of the tarts changes after refrigeration. Advice is to try one on the spot while the core is still creamy and molten. The tarts taste more like cheese cakes after keeping them in the fridge.

7th Floor of Central World (999/9 Rama I Road)

BTS Station: Chit Lom

1st Floor of EmQuartier (637 Sukhumvit Road)

BTS Station: Phrom Phong

Opens 10am – 10pm daily

UsQuBa Scottish Restaurant & Bar

Fancy something more adventurous, like a new cuisine in the Marina Bay area? Not many of you would have tried Scottish cuisine in Singapore. In fact, the only other eatery serving Scottish food I’ve heard of is The Highlander. With the newly opened UsQuBa Scottish Restaurant & Bar in One Fullerton, you might just want to consider it as another fine dining option besides the usual western or Chinese fare along that stretch. Helmed by executive chef Guven Uyanik, UsQuBa presents New Scottish cuisine using French cooking techniques with an Asian touch.

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The restaurant emits a casually swanky kind of vibe, with carpeted floors, plump orange sofas and mahogany tables. There is even a more private dining area at the back that has a better view overlooking the river and MBS. What really caught my attention though was their long bar which features a curated selection of whisky, artisanal gins and craft beers.

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After a round of cocktails and focaccia with cherry tomatoes and topped with shaved truffle, we were ready to start with a few starters on the menu. It seemed impossible to pick a favourite out of the three – they were equally as competent as the others.

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For a refreshing start, go for the Orkney Islands Scallop Ceviche ($25) with compressed cucumber and apple, horseradish snow and sea urchin. The sweetness and juiciness of the scallops prove how fresh they are.

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The Seared Foie Gras ($21) is made a tad interesting since it’s paired with spiced persimmon, pickled apple and a slice of waffle. Some of us were unsure about the purpose of the waffle though. Nonetheless the foie gras was seared perfectly.

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The Lobster Ravioli Soup was divine, especially with that lobster broth that we polished off in no time.

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Another round of cocktails – we tried one of their signatures this time, B.O.B the G.O.A.T ($30), consisting of Arbikie Highland Estate Kirsty’s gin, Fever Tree Indian tonic water, black pepper and blueberries. This is a must try for the gin and tonic lovers out there.

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Moving on to the mains, we had the Duet of Aberdeen Angus Beef ($56) – grilled tenderloin, braised short ribs, plum jus. The braised short ribs at the side stole the limelight of this dish, what with its tenderness, causing the ribs to melt in your mouth. We were expecting more from the grilled tenderloin which we felt was a little tough.

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It was my first time tasting pigeon and it probably says a lot when I say that I loved the Baked Pigeon ($32 for half, $46 for whole) with calamari, peas and squid ink sauce. We agreed this was our favourite among the main courses we had. Underneath that golden brown skin was meat that was very moist, tender and silky tasting. It also turned out to be very smooth on the palate.

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The UsQuBa Fish and Chips ($32) – Sous vide cod, mushy peas and mint, pommes maxim.

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Another favourite of the bunch of us is the Butter Poached Lobster ($58) with peaches, beetroot, fennel salad and lobster jus.

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Desserts were alright, although we wished that more Scottish influences could be infused into them. The Tastings of Strawberry ($15) comprises pistachio cream sandwiched between pistachio biscuits, strawberry sorbet and strawberry juice. Meanwhile, the Chocolate Delice ($15) was a more memorable dessert for me, what with the scoop of coffee flavoured Bailey’s ice cream which paired so well with the small but rich slice of chocolate cake. Pair it with one of their dessert wines if you would like!

Not a drinks expert, but I can tell that the bar here alone could be another reason for many to visit.  Or for me to revisit…

Special thanks to UsQuba and Jill for the invite.

 

One Fullerton

1 Fullerton Road, #02-03B/04

Singapore 049213

Opens 11.30am – 2.30pm daily for lunch, 6pm – 10.30pm daily for dinner

1st Pokemon Cafe in Singapore – Here’s a preview of the menu!

If you’ve not heard about it by now, here it is – the 1st Pokemon cafe in Southeast Asia is set to open at Singapore’s PARCO Bugis Junction (4th floor) from 27th May (Fri) – 31st July (Sun). Opening hours are 11am to 9.30pm (last order) daily.

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Battle on Pikachu! Level-up with Rare Candy! ($20) – Beef patty and mashed potatoes covered with crepe, Pikachu with ears made of monaka, vegetables shaped like Pokeballs

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Pikachu Latte Hot ($8) – Served with a biscuit shaped like Pikachu’s tail

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Pikachu Latte Iced ($9)

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Pikachu Smiling Rice Omelette with Magma Sauce! ($25) – Saffron rice shaped like Pikachu’s face, omelette shaped into Pikachu’s ears, Primal Groudon’s magma sauce. Comes with a separate original Pokeball mug for you to bring home!

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Pikachu’s “Thunder Shock” Parfait ($15) – Fluffy and crackling cotton candy ball, sponge cake

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Pikachu’s Sweeeeet Pancake ($20) – Monaka shaped like Pikachu’s ears, Pikachu’s face-imprinted pancake, maple syrup (from the mug). Also comes with a separate original Pokeball mug for you to bring home!

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Pokeball Cream Puff ($20) – Cream puff, cotton candy, chocolate pen

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For takeaway only! Pokeball Cream Puff ($5.90 each, $20.90 for box of 4) – Crispy puff with soft custard filling

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Mix Au Lait ($8) – Inspired by Pokemon’s “Lemonade”

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Special Move “Fire Blast”! Primal Groudon’s Bolognese ($20)

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“Volt Tackle” Soda ($10) – Passionfruit soda with mango sherbet

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Soda Pop ($8) – Inspired by Pokemon’s “Soda Pop”

Besides the above food and beverages, there will also be original goods like tshirts, clear files, cotton tote bags, memo pads, post-it pads, stickers, badges, key holders and more on sale. Will you catch ’em all?

All photos credit to Pokemon Cafe Singapore and PARCO Singapore.

Savour 2016

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If you’re still looking for that one place to brunch at tomorrow, you might want to head down to Savour 2016 for their last day of event! Have been there twice in the past few days and I must say that the queues are definitely shorter in the day than night, so it’s good to be there early. Yes, entry is complimentary and it’s a full day event from 11am – 8pm tomorrow. Location is at Bayfront Avenue, just next to Marina Bay Sands and you can get there easily via Bayfront MRT Exit A. Here are some highlights:

Artichoke

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MUST TRY! Artichoke Fried Chicken ($12) – Truffled Hummus, Honey, Pickles, Shaved Haloumi. Crisp skin, uber juicy and tender meat within. Nuff said. P.S. The actual portion is that of two chicken wings.

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Foie-ffle – Corn Waffle, Foie Gras Butter, Orange Blossom, Golden Syrup ($12)

Buona Terra

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Homemade Tagliolini, Mushrooms, Saffron, Parmesan and Black Truffle ($12)

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Nougat Parfait with Sweet Wine Sauce ($6)

Cato

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Pan Seared Black Cod with Salted Egg Veloute and Fennel Salad ($12)

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Coconut Panna Cotta with Below Zero Apple Mousse and Gula Melaka Crumble ($6)

Saveur Art

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MUST TRY! Egg Confit, Truffled Potato Mousseline, Macadamia Nuts, Brown Butter ($6)

Tropical, Passion Fruit Sorbet, Mango Curd, Roasted Penja Pineapples, Coconut Sable, Cream ($6). An incredibly refreshing treat in the heat.

Lower East Side

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Jamaican Spiced Chicken Taco, Pineapple and Mango Salsa ($6). Decent, but nothing to shout about.

Gattopardo

Raviolone ($12) – Homemade Raviola with Rosso di Mazara, Burrata and Summer Black Truffle

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MUST TRY! Paninazzo Italiano ($6) – Braised Wagyu Beef Burger, Sicilian Tomoato, Fresh Pecorino Cheese and Spicy Mustard. Between the raviolone and wagyu beef burger, I say go for the latter for that firm, moist wagyu patty. One of the better burgers out there!

 

Bar-A-Thym

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Wagyu Striploin, Mushrooms, Beans and Truffles ($12)

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Valrhona Chocolate Mousse, Passion Fruit and Almond Crumble ($6). This is one darn good, thick and substantial chocolate mousse.

Labyrinth

Labyrinth Chilli Crab ($12) – Tempura Soft Shell Crab, Chilli Ice Cream, Caviar

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MUST TRY! Siew Yoke Umami Rice ($12) – Roasted Pork Belly, Crispy Nori, Japanese Umami Rice

Drinks-wise, a central Badoit booth hands out free sparkling water, a Harry’s pop out offers some booze and a mini Martell bar makes some potent cocktails out of Martell. My favourite cocktail is the Cucumber Cooler!

Special thanks to the Savour team for the invite.

5 Cafes to Visit in Seoul

Check out – 5 Things to Try in Seoul

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  1. Takeout Drawing – For inventive AND organic desserts and beverages

(Read the full review here)

Fancy a very instagrammable cup of coffee? Then the Paul’s Meringue Factory (KRW7500, SGD8.80) from Takeout Drawing is sure to draw attention from your followers. Albeit small, this cutesy cup of espresso with milk topped with a meringue cookie scores in aesthetics. The two-storied café is also full of instagram-worthy corners and walls for that shot. I guess no fancy latte art this time round!

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For dessert, I had the Green Tea Dacquoise Cake (KRW8000, SGD9.30) which was decent except for the icy lump of cream in the middle. Good thing that most of the ingredients used for the drinks and desserts here are organic.

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683-139 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu

Hangangjin Subway Station Exit 6

Mon – Fri 11am – 11pm

Sat & Sun 12pm – 11pm

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  1. Chansbros 2 – For good coffee in a charming yet quiet spot

Chansbros 2 is the second outlet of Chansbros Coffee which is further down the main road. It’s a little hike up a small hill to the second outlet, but all worth the trip as well. Unlike the flagship which boasts a wooden theme, Chansbros 2 features white-washed walls and gives off a minimal feel. This cafe is perfect for solitary reading and relaxing.

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I noticed that coffee in Seoul is not cheap, being slightly pricier than that in Singapore. But my Cappuccino (KRW5000, SGD5.85) was smooth and full-bodied, without a bitter aftertaste. So I left feeling satisfied more than ever.

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31 Noksapyeong-daero 40-gil, Yongsan-gu

Level 4

Noksapyeong Subway Station Exit 2

Mon, Wed – Sun 9am – 11pm (closed on Tue)

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  1. Beliefcoffee Roasters – For lovers of brick walls and industrial spaces

Over here, it seems as though you will never run out of hipster corners to photograph. From an area completely filled with natural light streaming in through a see-through ceiling to concrete walls lined with shelves of coffee equipment, this café is a wonder to explore. Don’t forget to check out the basement as well… this place is huge, by the way.

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For a café that roasts its own beans, you can also expect coffee to be taken pretty seriously here. They also try different blends. No food is served here once again other than some pastries and an array of macarons. Pairing with my Latte (KRW5500, SGD$6.40) were the yuzu and lavender macarons which were surpisingly good, we belief. Pardon for bad grammar.

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39 Yanghwa-ro 7-gil, Mapo-gu

Hapjeong Subway Station Exit 2

9.30am – 11.30pm daily

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  1. Felt – For the minimalist

I think I found my haven, for this café is white, white and all white. A sleek white Slayer Espresso machine sits atop a white coffee counter together with white acaia coffee scales, and all of these fit perfectly against a backdrop of white-washed walls. Talk about minimalism – there is only a communal bench for visitors and only coffee is served here.

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I had the Mocha (KRW6000, $7.10) here which was decent, but I wished they didn’t put sweet chocolate sprinkles on my coffee which hid its true flavor. It is kind of pricey for a mocha too. Perhaps I should have opted for the Latte (KRW3500, $4.10) instead.

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2-47 Changjeon-dong, Mapo-gu

Seogangdae Subway Station Exit 2

Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm

Sat & Sun 11am – 6pm

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  1. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse – For girly desserts with your girlfriends

(Full review coming soon)

Too many cafes to choose from while wandering in Garosugil? Then you might want to drop by Mr Holmes Bakehouse, which originates from San Francisco. This outlet in Seoul is the only one outside of the United States.

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For something more interesting besides the prettier-than-average Scone (KRW3800, SGD4.50) we had, go for the Cruffin (KRW6000, SGD7.10) and Brioche Donut (KRW3800, SGD4.50), both of which are sold in different flavors each day. You can even check out their instagram @mrholmesbakehouse_kr to know the flavors in advance. We had a grape-flavored cruffin (croissant + muffin) and a blueberry and coconut brioche donut that day. Now time to get your instagram video or snapchat ready!

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34 Apgujeong-ro 10-gil, Gangnam-gu

Sinsa Subway Station Exit 8

10am – 10.30pm daily

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