This commences part one of my "Asian Café Experience" series. (I just made that up... shhh.)
I am leaving for China tomorrow for two weeks, and I think I'll be stopping off in five cities?
That means I will sincerely attempt to do some sort of pastry/café review for each city! We will see... we will see... (AHHH THESIS.)
But, one thing is for certain: Maison Ikkoku is definitely a happening spot in Singapore... and I can see why!
I read about their carrot cake on a Singapore blog somewhere (I LOVE CARROT CAKE), and after having my share of red bean pastries, black bean cold sweet soups, unidentifiable Japanese squishy cold green things (that I was promised contained no gelatin), and steamed egg cakes, despite EVERYTHING being delicious (in its own way), I needed. needed. a piece of carrot cake. And this one was rated quite highly.
Since Maison Ikkoku is a café, I decided to drop in for the entire experience: lunch, dessert, and coffee.
Their lunch consists of some fancy sandwiches, a few salads, and a variety or two of pasta.
(I had the Ratatouille one!)
Ok, lunch was fun (actually quite good), but let's be real:
Shamefully, despite glancing at the other dessert options, and being tempted by one or two, I didn't really consider anything else.
My first thought was that the carrot cake was packed with cinnamon - in a good way!
The cake and the icing were both not terribly sweet, which was interesting because normally I associate cream cheese frosting as a thick tangy-sweet mixture. This one was mellow.
(And a good carrot cake should never be too sweet! Natural carrot sweetness is enough for me, thank you : D!)
This put me in a happy place. I really appreciated how the frosting was more of a finishing touch than a distinctive part of the cake itself. It allowed the carrot-nom-ness to stand out, but still gave that subtle hint of mmmm... cream cheese.
Now, the only part that (very very very) slightly bummed me out was the texture. But, to give them some credit, I prefer all of my cakes/muffins to have that slightly-mushy-undercooked feeling (I am a strange individual)... so perhaps it was perfect, and my personal opinion on the perfect cake doesn't coincide with the rest of society's ideal slice of carrot loving. However, the addition of plump and juicy raisins definitely added some moisture, and therefore aided in making this detail seem terribly minor.
End opinion: delicious. Despite my method of deconstruction and evaluation, the slice of orange goodness was gone before my coffee even arrived.
Speaking of coffee.
Holy moly mackerel city.
They have amazing coffee.
A coffee comes with your lunch order (which, makes the overall sandwich experience a really great deal... something like 8 euros 50 for a sandwich, side salad, and a coffee), so I finished off the meal with one of their cappuccinos. It was so good.
I think I've only had a handful of coffees that were as good/better than this one (factory cafe and in Vietnam, notably). And this was just their cappuccino! They make so many different types of coffees. Next time (there will be a next time, I really liked this joint!), I'm totally going to get involved. There may be the participation of that strawberry lemon pie (pictured above).
Ooooh coffee love.
Other types of love about this place:
THE PEOPLE! The staff was incredible! Every time someone walked in a chorus of "helllloooo" rang through the entire place. They smiled, they joked, they were efficient. Ahh, they were great.
The atmosphere. This place is located in the Arab/Malay district of Singapore, so the neighbours of the café are tempting Middle Eastern restaurants, shops selling beautiful scarves and rugs, and tiny fabric stores where you can get everything and anything made for you. Inside the café itself was a wonderful mix of expats and Singaporeans. People gathered around the small wood tables over cakes and coffees, or made an event out of the lunch experience like I did and ordered everything!
At times the place is really full, which is good to know if you're a loner like me looking for a hangout spot to read a book... it might not be the best place to try and camp out during lunch hours. Still, I easily got a table, and no one pressured me to leave my happy little spot!
The decor was also awesome. The opening picture is a little magazine nook with local Singaporean magazines. The walls are white brick, the floor is cement, and copper pipes are exposed. It gives the whole café this wonderful industrial vibe. Anddd... they had furniture on their walls as light fixtures! They removed the shelves from old armoires and desks to create cool lights!
Yup. I'm pleased. Don't get me wrong: I've loved every second of tasting spicy Chinese noodles and Chinese hot pots, tofu soups, seaweed salads, chive dumplings, and everything involved with the red bean, but I always welcome a good old sandwich and slice of carrot cake when I'm traveling out of my culinary comfort zone!
P.S. Maison Ikkoku also has a cool men's wear shop (with unisex accessories) on their first floor, and a funky cocktail bar on their second floor. Sadly, I didn't get to check out the cocktails, but I chatted to the dude running the retail shop and he explained that the cocktails are specialized for you after the bartender chats you up about your mood and personal taste preferences. Pretty neat. All of this is housed in a old-school three-storey building.
Sadly, I've been trying to work on my thesis (aka: swimming and trying not to die of heat stroke while running along East Coast Parkway), so I haven't been out and about TOO much in Singapore, but I have tried out a few fun places on the rare adventure.
Manicurious: YIPPE! Manicures and pedicures are so much fun! This place is mostly mani/pedi spa, but also has a cafe serving coffees, teas, and PIE <3. Oh! As well as a funky sort of concept store full of hand picked jewellery, accessoires, and other fun things. The people are (again) super wonderful and fun to chat with! The services may be a bit pricey compared to the normal manicure place, but the price goes along with the entire experience and the availability of specialized paint details for your (soon-to-be) perrrty fingers and toes.
Rockstar Shop: This is a store full of well selected men's/woman's wear + AWESOME SHOES! They have two shops, but I only had time to pop into one. Definitely a place to check out if you're looking for a funky item to jazz up your wardrobe.
Rabbit Carrot Gun: A hangout with another cool mixture of Singaporeans and expats. I only stopped by for a glass of wine, but they have a tempting menu, a great location, and WIFI!
Gusto Napoli: This place is more of a random find. There's this super long road called Joo Chiat road. My dad went there once before (without me), loved it, and wanted to go back. We went two times in one week after that! I love Joo Chiat road (full of bars, bakeries, and restos ), and this place is a gem on the strip. The chef is super passionate, the (Italian) food is amazing, and the wine list is very well selected. (P.S. very close to Rabbit Carrot Gun!)
Phew. This was a long post, but, hey if you're ever in Singapore now you have some ideas!
Name – Maison Ikkoku
Style – Bistro food with salads and sandwiches, huge cake selection, and pies! Plus a wide variety of coffees.
Address – 20 Kandahar Street, Singapore, 198885
Website - http://www.maison-ikkoku.net/
Tasting soundtrack - Tunes to inspire your inner gourmand(e):
This is a French artist that I read about in one of the Singapore magazines... pretty cool!
Woodkid - I love you (I mean, we ARE talking carrot cake here!)