Assembly Coffee, Singapore

evans lodge just got more exciting with this (relatively) new kid on the block. opened some time late last year/ at the start of this year, assembly prides itself on good coffee and is the perfect place to stop and get a cuppa if you’re in the dunearn road / bukit timah area. i’m not big on coffee but am still very pleased with this addition to the area’s offerings because the food is good too!

i visited on national day with three friends; we were looking for somewhere convenient to have a spot (or more) of tea, and assembly coffee fit the bill with its waffle and cake offerings, its location and ample parking right within evans lodge itself. it was packed when we arrived at 2.30pm but we were lucky enough to snag a table for four just as a couple was leaving. assembly occupies a rather small shop unit in evans lodge – when its not too packed i can imagine it making a really nice and cosy place to chill with a book and while the afternoon away, but when it was packed like how it was when we visited, it can get rather cramp and stuffy.
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where we were seated (by the window on the left, semi-hidden in the pic) was bordering on uncomfortably hot and i think it can probably be attributed to the lack of sufficient air-conditioning and the strong sunlight coming in through the windows that day.

besides the coffees they are known for, assembly offers simple breakfast/light brunch or lunch-type food items. here’s the food menu:
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and the drinks menu:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we were all really full having just come from respective lunches, so we passed on the mains and headed straight for the sweet dessert offerings. wasn’t difficult to agree on what we wanted – the four of us ordered a waffle and brick toast to share. i was so tempted by the cakes on display in the counter (i wonder if they’re outsourced?) which included exciting things like horlicks tarts and dark chocolate-pistachio-cranberry cake (mmmm…) but was reminded by my teatime companions to exercise some self-control and rein the omnipresent greediness in me in.
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cake display mmm…

considering the crowd, the food was served in a relatively decent amount of time. first up, the famous earl grey caramel waffle:
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earl grey caramel waffle – waffle with homemade earl grey caramel sauce topped with new zealand natural vanilla ice cream and strawberries ($11.50)

i wasn’t disappointed by this waffle! it was wonderfully crispy on the outside (which made eating the edges delightful) but moist and fluffy inside. the vanilla ice cream that topped it went very well with the caramel sauce. the first of my only 2 qualms is that the earl grey taste could have been a little stronger! till now, i can’t tell if the earl grey is just in the sauce or if it is infused in the waffle batter; i only tasted it fleetingly in some bites so can’t quite figure out where the subtle earl grey flavour was coming from. secondly, i thought that the waffles could have been lighter within as i felt that the inside of the waffle was a little on the dense side; you can tell from the picture below that they are very moist inside which is great but at the same time i think they could be a little lighter and airier (for lack of a better word).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
but of course i’m comparing the waffles here to my favourite waffles at creamier, so the benchmark is set pretty high 😛 this still made for a highly satisfying waffle mmm yes…

we also had the brick toast:
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assembly’s brick toast – “shibuya” inspired honey brick toast topped with vanilla ice cream, artisan honey greek yoghurt and fruits ($12)

back view:
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this plate of toast was a real show-stopper; its the kind of thing other patrons stare at curiously (aka enviously) when they see it being served to your table and wish they had ordered too. the centre of a super thick slice of toast is cut out and into little blocks, while a scoop of ice cream sits pretty within the now empty core of the thick toast. i quite liked this but the general consensus among the four of us was that it was bordering on being too sweet and we all preferred the waffle. its basically really thick toast that’s fried (i think?) till its nice and crunchy on the outside, but that remains soft inside. it was coated in sugar and honey which made it very sweet, but we realised that was probably what the greek yoghurt was for – to balance out the sweetness of the ice cream + sugar-coated toast combi. taken with the yoghurt and fruit, it became much more enjoyable and was actually quite addictive; crunchy outsides and fluffy insides paired with ice cream and finally dipped in yoghurt. sounds rather odd i know, but actually tasted quite interesting. the greek yoghurt was a refreshing addition. 

we also ordered an iced latte but i only had a sip of it so i can’t say much about it:
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iced latte: $5

they are extremely serious about their coffees here though (look at the number of people working hard behind the counter), so i’m sure it was very good, and much needed in the heat!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

i’d definitely return to assembly coffee again if i’m looking for somewhere to have a light meal around the area; what we had that day satisfied me enough for me to want to try their savoury offerings as well as some of that yummy-looking cake! a (very) belated welcome to the ‘hood, you guys! 😉

Assembly Coffee
26 Evans Lodge
Singapore 259367

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my teatime companions – old and very dear friends :’)

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clearly i am the only / the most patriotic one among the 4 of us… (#happybelatedbirthdaysingapore #loveyoulongtime) all decked out in red & white to show my love for this amazing city that has given me so much, and has always kept the foodie in me 129843094829304% satisfied!!!

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Strangers’ Reunion, Singapore

this cafe has already gained such a following since its opening that before reading this, you’ve probably already decided that you’re going to give it a try no matter what reviews say about it! well, i’m going to be joining the majority with a relatively positive review (about their famous buttermilk waffles at least!), so this will probably serve to egg you on and reaffirm your decision to go forth and pay it a visit 🙂

it having been around and being talked about (especially their buttermilk waffles) for quite some time now (if i’m not wrong, it was one of the pioneers in the latest wave of new cafes popping up all over the island; its been around long enough to warrant a refurbishment of the cafe recently), i cannot believe it was only this christmas break that i managed to check this super popular place out!

visited on a thursday around noon, and it was already nearly full when we arrived. we were lucky to snag a seat! the cafe has quite a large seating capacity compared to some other places though, and service is quite efficient so even if you need to queue, it shouldn’t be too bad!
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here’s the menu:
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gotta love all-day breakfast places

the menu is pretty large, but not so extensive that you have a hard time picking what to eat – very optimal for those like me who love having a range of things to choose from but are promptly wracked indecision and fail miserably at picking something, the kind of person who has a panicked expression on their face when they realise the waiter has taken everyone else’s orders and is now just waiting on yours; also the kind of person known to regret his order right after placing it. but i digress… back to the point now; we opted for the corn & zucchini fritters and a serving of their famous buttermilk waffles (how could we not) to share between the two of us.

20131219_130237 corn and zucchini fritters with avocado, poached egg and spicy tomato relish – $18

not sure if you’re thinking what we thought when this dish was placed before us –  we both agreed that it looked rather messy, unappetising and very homemade! like somebody just heaped everything onto a plate just before it was served, with little finesse or care. i was quite disappointed when i saw it but luckily it tasted pretty good, so that kind of made up for the poor presentation. the fritters were very light, not oily at all, and had bits of yummy corn and zucchini in them. the avocado was very fresh and perfectly ripe, while the egg was poached to perfection. the spicy tomato relish was important in bringing all the different components of the dish together, but i wish they had dished it out more generously. the serving was small – 2 corn & zucchini fritters topped with a few slices of avocado and just 1 poached egg.

i didn’t really think this was worth the $18 we paid, especially because $18 (and maybe a little bit more) can get you something much better presented, bigger and possibly even tastier elsewhere (at most of the other brunch places i’ve reviewed – maison ikkoku, nassim hill bakery, artichoke etc)

they had a waffle special (so exciting – i love specials!!!) that day, and that’s what we had:20131219_130247
buttermilk waffles with passionfruit, white chocolate, coconut zest & vanilla ice cream – $14.90

now this, unlike the fritters, was something worth writing home about. being ever present on the list of contenders for the best waffle in singapore, i ordered these with high expectations and am happy to say that they did indeed live up to them! the waffles were perfectly crisp on the outside but soft and fluffy inside. they remained this way for quite some time, and did not turn soggy rapidly like many others tend to, especially when served with ice cream! i loved the combination for this waffle special – the passionfruit added a nice zesty twist while the white chocolate balanced that out with its sweetness. the vanilla ice cream with coconut zest was also rather delicious! it was a very nice and light change from the usual chocolate-doused waffles with bananas (a good combination no doubt, but this was a good change!).

it was overall a pretty good experience at strangers’ reunion in a nice environment with good service. i would return to strangers’ reunion for their buttermilk waffles (though there are other amazing waffle options at creamier (belgian waffles) or DOC, but probably not for any proper food (though they do serve some more substantial lunch/dinner options) – i thought the food wasn’t anything to shout about at all (besides the waffle) though; even the eggs that several other diners were ordering didn’t look great but i’m not sure how they tasted – i do think they need to work on their presentation! we weren’t particularly full after what we had since the servings were rather small, but nothing was calling out to us from the desserts menu or cake display so we passed on that too (shocking, i know :O hahaha).  i’m happy that i finally checked this place out, but it was all a little overrated, i feel! 20131219_125627

Strangers’ Reunion

37 Kampong Bahru Rd
Singapore 16935620131219_145300
hi lou!
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Department of Caffeine, Singapore

despite the myriad of cafes in the duxton hill area, DOC has managed to stand out from the crowd instead of going unnoticed amidst the sea of eateries in the area. since its opening early this year, it has gleaned rave reviews and recommendations from many of its patrons for both its food and coffee offerings, and in my opinion, rightly so! a friend who was interning around tanjong pagar had the opportunity to try most of the cafes there during her lunch hours and DOC came out tops on her list of favourites. i can definitely see why after trying it for myself!

everything about DOC exudes a cool vibe – from the extremely understated exterior (i nearly walked right past the shop and its nondescript frosted glass windows with black frames) to the use of wood and black as the interior colour scheme to the young and seemingly hipster service staff. the shop, which is not big but seats a decent number of people at any one time, is designed in a modern and stylish manner while managing to remain cosy and inviting. the atmosphere is casual and rather buzzing when it gets crowded, especially because it is the kind of cafe where you place your order and pay at the counter before the food gets brought to your table shortly after.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the menu is simple and concise yet sufficiently extensive to get you excited about what you should pick:
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we didn’t have a very hard time making our decision that day though, as we already had our minds (and stomachs) set on the waffles which looked too good to pass on. moreover, we were planning on heading to tsujiri tea house after for what i think is the best green tea soft serve ice cream in singapore (see here) so we agreed to exercise some self-control and not overdo the ordering. we did pretty well on that, i must say, opting to share a waffle and a salad between us.
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first up, the waffle:
(omg, just look at that picture and salivate now please!!!)
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sundried tomato & herb waffles with bacon, scrambled eggs & maple bacon jam – $16.50

they have both sweet and savoury waffles at DOC, but it was the savoury one that we settled for, in anticipation of dessert after. this was definitely the highlight of our meal (not that there was very stiff competition for the coveted title with only one other dish in the running hahaha)! we could not stop spazzing over how good it was; even when we were 3/4 done with it, we were still repeating “omg. this is soooooo. good.” over and over. the waffle was amazingly crisp on the outside but fluffy on the inside, and the batter itself was infused with herbs which made it quite special. truly a savoury waffle through and through, and not just a waffle with savoury toppings! the scrambled eggs and bacon were also nicely done – the scrambled eggs were creamy and fluffy and the bacon would have been perfect if fried just a little crispier (but that’s a personal preference). topped with maple syrup, the waffles here at DOC are definitely one of the best buttermilk waffles ever (i hear wimbly lu ones put up a good fight)! my only complaint is that towards the end of our waffle-devouring adventure, the waffle soaked up some of the moisture from the scrambled eggs and became slightly soggy but i suppose that can’t be helped!

we also had a salad to share:
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regular salad – $13 (roasted butternut squash with semidried tomatoes, baby spinach & feta/chargrilled broccoli with chilli, garlic & lemon)

they have 3 different salads displayed at the counter daily for your picking pleasure, and i love how you can pick 2 salads to mix in a bowl, regardless of the salad size that you opt for!  we chose the spinach + butternut squash salad and the broccoli salad, and were pleasantly surprised that despite it being a small serving, the quantity was quite sufficient for us to share. the greens were extremely fresh and the butternut squash and spinach salad came with a lovely dressing which we couldn’t quite place but was very yummy nonetheless. as for the broccoli salad, the broccoli was perfectly cooked (ie not too soft, crunchy but not too hard) and cut (big, chunky pieces) for salads, and we loved how it was so nicely char-grilled, giving it a subtle smokey taste.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA there was also some lemon zest added to it which gave the salad a very refreshing lift. fyi, the menu also offers an option of combining the salads with a main – they had a choice of either a roasted chicken leg or some poached salmon for the main while we were there.

i will definitely be back at DOC! this is the place to go if you’re looking for some great buttermilk waffles (another hot favourite is wimbly lu), and i’m looking forward to the next opportunity i get to return to try their sweet waffle with ice cream offerings and possibly their churros with kahlua-spiked chocolate sauce! besides their sweet treats (they also have freshly baked goodies on a daily basis), i hear their sandwiches are good too! the pulled pork one is especially popular.

another great thing about DOC is that they are happy to take reservations. this makes it the perfect place to visit on weekends especially after having a nice lie-in; no worries about long queues or waiting time that could ruin the pleasure of a relaxing weekend brunch!

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Department of Caffeine

15 Duxton Rd
Singapore 089481

ps. dessert was as mentioned earlier, a shiratama parfait at tsujiri:
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MATCHA HEAVEN IN A CUP!!!

pps. the domestic doyleys also got to work in the kitchen that afternoon, and successfully baked an earl grey chiffon cake! it was so yummy and we were pleased as punch heehee. a day full of fabulous food yay!
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Creamier, Singapore

checked this place out on a whim (had an ice cream craving that needed to be satisfied) and left feeling very pleased with myself and this hidden gem i had found heehee!

tucked away at the base of a sleepy block in toa payoh, Creamier is now top on my list of local ice cream shops, along with Daily Scoop (my other favourite). its nondescript location gives it a very laidback and homely vibe, and the staff are cheerful and friendly, perfect for the neighbourhood joint that it is. the decor is simple, but tasteful and quaint. i popped in on a friday night around 10pm, and it was packed! we waited about 10 minutes for a table; it is a pretty small shop, and many people ended up taking away their ice cream and having it at the tables at the playground which the shop faces.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAchecked out their website (http://creamier.com.sg/) before heading down and got all excited as there were many interesting flavours that caught my eye – figs honey, lemon blueberry yoghurt, lime mojito, raspberry rose, chocolate cinnamon orange etc! unfortunately, many of them weren’t available and i was a little disappointed as the ones that were seemed to be more run-of-the-mill flavours (like horlicks, green tea, dark chocolate) that were available either commercially or at other ice cream shops.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit was probably just the day i went down though… there are so many other flavours that they make and its the perfect excuse for me to return again and again (and again)!!! 😉 

i knew i was going to have to order the waffles once i stepped into the shop and 1) i was greeted by the amazing smell of freshly-made belgian waffles 2) i spotted many waffle + ice cream towers being brought to tables.
smelt heavenly, looked heavenly, and after trying it, i can safely say: TASTED HEAVENLY TOO. we went with what we thought were the 2 most interesting flavours that were available that day – earl grey lavender and sea salt gula melaka, and they sat proudly atop 2 extremely delicious freshly-made belgian waffles. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
waffles with a single scoop of ice cream costs $7.50, and each additional scoop costs $2.50.

earl grey and lavender turned out to be a really light and refreshing combination. i loved how they really complemented each other, yet remained somewhat distinct such that you could taste the 2 components individually.
as for the sea salt gula melaka, it was the perfect mix of sweet and savoury, much like the more common sea salt caramel but with a local twist.
both flavours had not a hint of iciness, and compared to what i’ve had at some other locally-run homemade ice cream shops (i find that island creamery ice cream can sometimes be a little icy, especially their take-home tubs), they truly lived up to their name – creamier.

now on to the waffles – they were some of the best waffles i’ve ever had in an ice cream shop. #truestory. they were hearty and served fresh out of the waffle maker, warm, crisp and dark brown on the outside but soft and fluffy inside, surrounded by a generous serving of maple syrup and chocolate sauce. so good that finishing the serving (they come in pairs) was a breeze 😛

we enjoyed the waffles so much that the 2 of us decided to get an additional scoop of ice cream to round off our impromptu ice cream date. we had a single scoop of horlicks choc chip in a cone:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
a single scoop of ice cream is $3.

the taste of the horlicks was rather light and the ice cream was thus not too sweet. the chocolate chips were also very well-mixed in quite a generous quantity such that nearly every bite contained a few choc chip bits, which i liked.

creamier is a funky little neighbourhood hangout that i am definitely going to return to. they also serve coffee besides ice cream, and i’m looking forward to heading down one afternoon to try it! 

if you are worried about not being able to find the shop on foot since its quite a distance away (about a 12 minute walk) from the more bustling toa payoh central, fear not! i believe there are buses you can take from the central. otherwise, creamier is within walking distance from both caldecott and braddell mrt stations. the trek is worth it! and if you drive, you have even more reason to come since parking is plentiful.
the shop isn’t hard to find at all once you get to the right block, especially if you go at night. most of the shops are closed by then, and so the warm yellow lighting that spills out from the glass windows fronting the shop and customers milling around outside and at the playground it faces are hard to miss! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Creamier handcrafted ice cream & coffee
Blk 128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1
#01-835
Singapore 310128