Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters, Singapore

the newest kid on the upper thomson cafe block is pacamara boutique coffee roasters – a joint which recently relocated from somewhere in the vicinity and renamed and revamped itself along with its location change. i never visited them previously but from what i’ve read online, it used to be oz speciality coffee at thomson v two.

pacamara¬†occupies a spacious corner unit at the row of shops right after the now-defunct longhouse food centre ( ūüė¶ oh how i miss my prawn mee, duck rice and goreng pisang ūüė¶ #jcmemories) along upper thomson road. it has huge glass windows that let in plenty of natural light, giving the cafe a very uplifting vibe (but also as my mother would say, potentially resulting in pigmentation if you plan to sit there the entire afternoon lol) and providing the perfect set-up for the perfect instagram picture (not to mention the adorable little pots of succulents on the tables that serve as good props to fill awkward gaps – hello good photos!). clean lines, a largely white colour palette and simple wooden furniture make for a simple and fuss-free but stylish minimalist space.
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as you can see from the picture, tables are communal so this might not be the best spot for a cosy and romantic first date or an intense pour-your-heart-out conversation with the bffl, but it is great for all other purposes, especially those of the chill hangout sort. this picture was taken at 1030am when we first arrived Рthe cafe was rather empty and we were clearly spoilt for choice as to where to sit; by the time noon came around however, it was full and buzzing with a healthy lunch crowd.

they do all-day dining, and offer a decent selection from morning right through till evening:
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we were there for brunch and i was rather pleased with the good mix of sweet and savoury offerings they had despite there not being that many things on the menu. eventually decided to order a truffle benedict and french toast to share between the 2 of us. orders are placed and payment is made at the counter, followed by the food being served to you when ready.

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truffle benedict – brioche, smoked ham, wilted spinach, free range poached eggs served with truffle hollandaise sauce ($18)
our noses were excited by the tantalising whiff of truffles as the dish was served to our table. i’ve read other reviews where people complained that there was barely any hint of truffle in this dish and although i agree that¬†it wasn’t particularly strong, it was definitely there (perhaps there is some inconsistency in the amount added? or they’ve improved since the reviews i read were written?) and we definitely smelt it!

because no eggs benny review is complete without a picture of the eggs and their yolk post eruption, here is one for you:20141231_105944
needless to say, the eggs were poached perfectly, all oozy and runny and pregnant with liquid gold. the ham was of good quality, smoked well and sliced relatively thickly. as for the spinach, it was lightly-seasoned and cooked to just the right point Рsoft but not overdone such that it became mushy or overly wet. the hollandaise sauce brought everything together wonderfully and the truffle complemented it very well, adding that extra oomph to it that allowed it to remain light despite its creaminess. as for the brioche, it was buttery, fluffy and soft but crusty at its edges from a light toasting. i thought this was a very good rendition of the brunch essential eggs benny.

thankfully our sweet item of choice was as satisfying as our savoury dish.20141231_105249salted caramel banana french toast – brioche french toast, caramelised bananas drizzled with salted caramel sauce and topped with whipped cream ($16)
the french toast looked great and luckily we were not disappointed with how it tasted at all! i look forward to having this again just looking at the picture above and recalling¬†how it tastes – i remember the thick salted caramel sauce that reminded me of hot fudge on a sundae, the generously-added and lovely slices of lightly caramelised bananas and the perfectly soft/eggy/fluffy/warm slices of thick brioche toast. it was surprisingly not too sweet, and the granola bits were a nice touch – they added additional texture and a nice crunch to the dish. as for the whipped cream, i don’t think we touched it at all because the toast by itself was so enjoyable!

needless to say, we left belly happy and very happy; it was a suitably satisfying last brunch of the year 2014 (food-wise and company-wise) ūüôā indeed, not only is pacamara’s food good, the environment is nice, parking is free (if you’re lucky enough to get a space in the parallel parking lots that line the row of shopfronts), coffee is great (apparently, will definitely try next time!), and prices are nett.¬†i’d certainly recommend this as somewhere to add to your cafe-hopping list!

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Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters
185 Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 574333

Maison Ikkoku, Singapore

located along a quiet street in the kampong glam area, maison ikkoku is possibly one of my new favourite places for brunch in singapore! the cosy cafe is located on the ground floor of a 3-storey shophouse, while the second and third floors house a boutique and cocktail bar respectively – all part of a multi-concept lifestyle store that the people behind maison ikkoku are trying to sell.

i visited a week and a half ago and was extremely satisfied and impressed with the food – what better way to spend a saturday morning than with 2 of your bestest friends and amazing brunch food?

case in point:
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on weekdays, they only serve a limited range of breakfast items, and for a short 2 hours from 9am-11am (their weekday menu can be found on their website at http://www.maison-ikkoku.net/). if getting up before 10am and making your way to kandahar street proves to be a bit of a challenge for the more sleep-inclined among you, then besides the fact that its probably a lot more crowded on weekends, heading over on a saturday or sunday instead is a great alternative! the weekend menu is extensive and has an exciting range of all day breakfast items to choose from, which i love!

here’s a peek at the menu:
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we ordered 3 items to share, and they were all super yummy.

the first thing we got was the umami florentine – sauteed shiitake mushrooms + sauteed baby spinach with garlic + poached eggs + hollandaise sauce + sauteed asparagus + toasted english muffins! we also added smoked salmon on the side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
umami florentine – $16 (+$4 for additional side of smoked salmon)

this dish was one of the BEST eggs benny/eggs benny variations that i have had. being a mushroom lover, i loved the addition of shiitake mushrooms which were perfectly cooked and plated in copious amounts (so much so that the sauteed spinach under the mushrooms is completely obscured). it was something different from the usual portobello mushrooms typically used in brunch food, and complemented the sauteed spinach perfectly. the spinach sauteed with garlic taken together with the mushrooms and finally topped with perfectly poached eggs was an amazing combination. the homemade hollandaise sauce was also wonderfully done; it was light (not jelat¬†at all)¬†and its consistency was just nice, bringing everything together very nicely. couldn’t get enough of it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAquintessential shot of oozy egg yolk

the next thing we ordered was the french toast with caramelised bananas – thick brioche french toast with cinnamon + caramelised bananas + home-made caramel with sea salt + toasted walnuts + sour cream.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
french toast with caramelised bananas – $15

if you like sticky cinnamon buns, this will be heaven on a plate for you. i happen to absolutely adore sticky cinnamon rolls so this was amazing to me – not only was the presentation super enticing with thick toast stacked on top of each other, piled high with caramelised bananas and walnuts, and drenched in an amazing caramel/cinnamon sauce, it also tasted really really good. didn’t taste much sea salt (as mentioned in the description) at all though, and we barely touched the dollop of sour cream by the side, (both of which were probably meant to balance out the sweetness of the toast i imagine) but that’s probably a good sign because i suppose we didn’t think we needed any of it, ie the toast wasn’t sickly sweet at all!¬†the bananas were yummy, the toast was really thick and fluffy, and the walnuts were fresh and added a great crunch and texture to the dish. it is actually as filling as it looks in the picture though, so i think it’d probably be a bit too much for one person to stomach without feeling like its too heavy; this is ideal for sharing and is a lovely sweet lift to the usual savoury brunch options.

the third thing we ordered was the break of dawn Рpork bratwust + crispy smoked bacon + cherry tomatoes + breakfast potatoes + scrambled eggs with chives + mesclun salad with almond & classic lemon vinaigrette +  double orange salad + sourdough toast.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
break of dawn – $22

this is hands-down one of the most value-for-money brunch dishes i have ever had. seriously. at bigger establishments like wild honey, you’d probably pay more than this and get something barely 1/3 the size? just check out the size of that plate – it was HUGE and piled high with an array of breakfast foods. i think two average eaters can share this plate very comfortably and leave feeling very satisfied! each component on the plate was good which i thought was no mean feat, given that its rather hard to achieve that with the number of different things they served up.

the bratwurst was of a good quality (not at all the processed kind of sausage), and the cherry tomatoes were amazingly sweet, fresh and juicy. we all loved how they were the kind that are still on the vine when you buy them, and not the more run-of-the-mill oval-shaped ones. the potatoes and bacon were not bad too – well-fried and not too greasy. as for the mesclun salad and the orange salad, they were both very enjoyable additions to the plate to cleanse the palette in between bites of heavy breakfast food. the greens of the mesclun salad were fresh and the almonds added a nice crunch to the leaves. i also loved the lemon vinaigrette which was light and refreshing. as for the oranges, they were drenched in cinnamon and i’m not sure what they were meant to be eaten with, but they were delicious all the same and as i mentioned earlier, something refreshing to accompany the more greasy foods on the plate. the scrambled eggs were delicious. we all loved the addition of chives and they were light, fluffy and creamy – a worthy competitor of nassim hill’s scrambled eggs, i thought. they also gave a huge serving of scrambled eggs (we couldn’t finish it even among the 3 of us); not sure if you can see it in the picture but it was really a very big pile, plenty to be eaten with each component on the plate. last but not least, we had 2 thick pieces of sourdough, which was really welcome as an accompaniment for the hot foods on the plate to be piled high on.

despite the fact that the 3 of us are pretty big eaters, we did not manage to finish everything we ordered. we came pretty close though, because the food was so yummy that even though we were full, we kept picking at the remnants and going back for more bits and bobs left on the plates. unfortunately that left us with no space for desserts! they have several interesting cakes in the display, which i hope to try the next time i visit! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe were especially intrigued by the “fade to black” cake that is meant to be a tribute to Metallica.¬†the coffee is also supposed to be good, but we didn’t have any as we found the prices for the drinks slightly steep.

all in all, we thoroughly enjoyed what maison ikkoku has to offer. great food with generous servings at very reasonable prices – no additional service charge added, so what you see on the menu is what you pay! its a great little place to hang out that has a very chill vibe, the kind of unpretentious place where you order at the counter and get water for yourself. the cafe is pretty small and it does get very crowded on weekends (we witnessed several people being turned away/being told to wait about 30 minutes for a table), so making a reservation is definitely recommended if you’re planning on going at brunch peak hour (about 11am onwards).

i’m definitely returning to maison ikkoku but i’m not sure what i’ll order this time – i enjoyed what we had the last time so much that i’m not sure how willing i will be to depart from those choices we made! maybe i’ll go on a weekday so my choices will be limited and i’ll be forced to try the rest of their offerings which i hope will be equally great! ūüėČ

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Maison Ikkoku

20 Kandahar Street
Singapore 198885

ps. rich & good cake shop a few doors down has some great swiss rolls in variety of local flavours to offer – pop by & give it a try!!!

pps. don’t forget to pop by haji lane and kampong glam while you’re in the area! its always nice to take a stroll around a culturally rich area rather than being constantly surrounded by towering skyscrapers. some exciting post-brunch things we did that day documented by my la sardina:
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Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar, Singapore

tucked away from the hustle and bustle along main orchard road but still conveniently located at the post office building opposite tanglin mall, nassim hill bakery is a great spot to chill and unwind over good food either before or after (or both!) battling the crowds in town.

i visited on a saturday morning and was able to get a table quite easily although there was a constant stream of customers and almost all the tables were occupied at any one time.¬†we didn’t manage to get one of the individual tables though, and ended up at the big communal table in the centre of the cafe. but it wasn’t bad at all – the table is big and¬†chairs are well-spaced such that everyone can sit comfortably in groups without feeling like you’re too close to your tablemates.¬†its a nice, bright and open space that gives off the vibe of a casual neighbourhood joint; the kind of place where people sip coffee and read books while their dogs sit by their feet wagging their tails.¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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they serve a range of breads, cakes, sandwiches, soups, salads etc but it was the brunch food that we were drawn to. after extensive deliberation and lots of indecision (food choices are always life-changing decisions), we settled for an eggs benny (but with salmon not ham), a scrambled eggs with prosciutto and a hot reuben sandwich (manly food for the lone man at the table).

i’d been eyeing the scrambled eggs from the moment i stepped in and a waiter walked past me carrying a huge plate of it. it looked amazing and was calling out to me even though i’m usually more of an eggs benny kind of person (runny yolks ftw), so it was this hearty dish that i ultimately settled on:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhearty scrambled eggs with swiss cheese & prosciutto – $20

the scrambled eggs did not disappoint and were the highlight of the dish. i thought they certainly tasted as good as they looked! they were light, fluffy, soft, buttery, creamy, smooth, and moist but far from being too wet. (feel free to add in any other adjectives you would use to describe really good scrambled eggs; am pretty sure these will fit the bill.) not sure if you can see it clearly in this picture, but i also liked the fact that they weren’t scrambled to the point of them becoming a mass of single-coloured light yellow eggs. instead, they were of varying shades along the spectrum of white to yellow. they also went perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto, the swiss cheese and the accompanying bread in the bread basket.

all eggs breakfast sets come with a basket of bread accompanied by butter & jam:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe breads were really good as well! the basket contained a mix – fruit & nut, their signature beer bread, ciabatta etc, all of which were yummy. and the jam that accompanied it was even better – i loved the homemade fig jam so much that i would definitely have bought a jar home if not for the fact that my family hardly eats bread with jam for breakfast. (my dad is a total chinaman when it comes to eating habits – he must have noodle soup/porridge every single morning without fail, while my sister and i have taken to just having a huge bowl of cereal in the morning after getting into that habit while we’re away from home at school) the orange jam was good too, with bits of orange peel in it, but i would have preferred it to be a little more tangy and a little less sweet.IMG-20130817-WA0005happy customer ūüôā

the eggs benny, often dubbed one of the best in singapore, was pretty good too! my friend changed the ham to salmon but for those of you who want to stick to the standard order of ham, i observed from people dining around us that the ham they use is what i like to call proper ham – not at all like the lousy ultra thin slices of pre-packed picnic ham you get at supermarkets. the slices are thick and looked very tasty!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

eggs benedict Р$20 

the hollandaise sauce was one of the better ones i’ve tasted, and the eggs were perfectly poached. i also liked how the muffin used was white ciabatta which was really fluffy and yummy. everything tasted really good together!

the last thing we ordered was the hot reuben sandwich. the serving was huge! perfect for a hungry boy but definitely too much for an average girl. it probably doesn’t look that big in the picture below, but check out the following pics with people as scale and you’ll see how generous a serving it is.¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
hot reuben: sliced corned beef with melted emmental, saurkraut, onions and Russian dressing on signature Grimbergen Ambrée beer bread Р$18

the hot reuben is full of beef slices, cheese, onions, and other amazing things that come together wonderfully and present themselves in the form of a massive uber hearty sandwich. check out the cheese (and also how half the sandwich is the size of 3/4 of my dear friend’s face hahaha omg):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a close-up of the supersandwich:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit actually reminded me of the salt beef sandwich they have at selfridges back in london, minus the pickle and mustard. i only had a little of it since i had a big pile of scrambled eggs to tackle, but that bite was enough to make me want to order it if i have a sandwich the next time i’m there! they were generous with the sandwich filling – definitely not the kind of sandwich where you have some plain bread left with nothing to eat it with, and the signature beer bread had a delicious hint of maltiness that complemented the ingredients really well. being one of nassim hill’s signature dishes, it certainly did not disappoint! my friend who had it was super satisfied and thought it was really reasonably priced. in his words, “i can’t believe its cheaper than the egg dishes when there’s so much beef!” i’ve always thought its not easy to please a typical boy because they’re generally more interested in quantity rather than quality and are happiest when food is cheap, so that stamp of approval must definitely be a sign of great things ūüėČ

what i also really like about this place is that there’s no additional service charge or gst so what you see on the menu is what you pay. there’s free parking right outside as well, though the number of lots is quite limited. getting a space on a weekday will probably be no problem though.

the verdict: definitely worth checking out!

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Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar

56 Tanglin Road
Tanglin Post Office #01-03
Singapore 247964
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