Certainly no secret any longer, the coffee and dessert scene in Penang has evolved at a staggering pace. It’s a curious thing that’s happened within the last half a decade, this idea of entrepreneurship and adoption of cafe culture that dominates the younger crowd. It’s not hard to see why the conservation shophouses are constantly being snapped up by anyone looking to start a space to attract like-minded coffee enthusiasts and food-hunters. Some cafes hold their attention with free wifi and a seriously jazzed-up interior, others ensnare with signature menu items cleverly crafted and served as both attractive Instagram bait and perfect marketing tool.
Dan 单 ingeniously shelters a terrarium gallery-shop within the walls of its delightfully green cafe surrounded by glass. The theme of serenity and greenery coupled with a its moody zen-like atmosphere takes us someplace else. It doesn’t feel like George Town anymore as we cross into the little space.
We were recommended the hojicha lava cake. It comes artfully decorated with berries, flowers and a dollop of smooth vanilla ice cream, and tastes just as beautiful. Warm and almost sticky, with notes of roasted green tea, it lives up to a lava cake’s reputation of being comforting and memorable. We also tried the white coffee and hojicha latte; both were very good.
The cafe itself is located on the ground floor, within a street-facing bowing alley complex, which is a little odd, but you end up ignoring the fact once you step into the lush little box filled with pretty plants.
Back in November 2017 (I think it was November, my memory’s fuzzy), we had the opportunity to stay a night in a pretty quaint Airbnb loft. The “Fitzroy Loft” (as the listing is called) is found in one of the elegant colonial shophouses that make up the colourful block along Petain Road in the hipster neighbourhood of Jalan Besar. The shophouse itself has multiple floors and bedrooms, but we stayed on the fourth floor and attic, the double-storey space of which contained a living area and two bathrooms. Here’s the actual listing on Airbnb. I didn’t take too many photos of our Airbnb space (I don’t remember why), but the bedroom one level below us was empty and drenched in beautiful natural light from the window, so I sneaked a few pics. Not sure if it’s also listed on Airbnb, but you can try your luck! The communal area downstairs is a delight–there’s an indoor pond and some very cool art on display. Everything in the shophouse screamed eclectic charm.
We stayed there on a work night, but we still found some time to visit Two Bakers at 88 Horne Road, an artisanal bakery-cafe that specialises in pastries and desserts, alongside good coffee and some decent fresh food options. We didn’t stay long, but it was a nice place to catch a break.
James surprised me with a 3D2N staycation at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa over the Mother’s Day weekend. Nope, I’m not a mum (ha!), but it was my birthday on Friday. 28 (yuck). He’d already had it planned before he discovered I had to make a work trip out of the country to stay at a Shangri-la resort for 5D4N just immediately before my birthday weekend. That meant an entire week away from my comfy bed. It’s okay, I didn’t complain.
Holy heck, finally. A stay at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa. James knows me so well. I’d been gushing about how they have peacocks just wandering about the resort grounds, by the poolside, at breakfast, just outside the guest room gardens… James even booked a room that led straight out to the ground floor gardens so we got to make friends with this particular peacock who kept coming back to our little porch. Ahhhhhh! I wanted to take him home with me!
Everything from the fairy lights in the trees at night, to the friendly bartender we met at Le Bar who takes pride in preparing the more elaborate mock/cocktails from the menu, to all the water features everywhere — not to mention the super easy access to the beach from behind The Cliff — made this stay really lovely. The selection at Kwee Zeen’s daily breakfast buffet is pretty amazing, too! Plenty of pastries to choose from, and a smorgasbord of local and international fare. Sit on the veranda and you get to watch the peacocks and peahens wander around. Just try not to feed them human food!
Would I stay here again? Heck yeah.
We enter the warmly-lit cafe and are quite taken aback by the buzz and energy rolling off the crowd in waves. The waitress at the door motions for us to follow her once she gathers it’s just two of us she needs to seat, while the family of four in front are told to wait for a bigger table – they’re all taken. We weave our way through the packed interior, past tables of boisterous mid-twenties and hungry expats, and sit by the window in what I deem an appropriate spot for food photography. Plenty of natural light, sturdy wood benchtop. Perfect.
The cafe is clearly in vogue with the cafe-going crowd this side of the city. From the folks who brought us the likes of Curious Palette on Prinsep Street, it’s really no surprise. Perhaps it is the minimalist interior, with its touch of chic rustic homeliness, that keeps everyone coming back. Or, it could very well be the food dished out here — hearty and healthy with a good pinch of aesthetic finesse. One thing’s for sure: whatever Strangers’ Reunion is doing, it’s clearly doing it right.
Your heart will be stolen by the luscious flavours of the Crabcake Reunion, with its eye-catching presentation and impressive list of ingredients that make up the stack: ribbons of asparagus, a delightfully fluffy crab croquette, creamy avocado chunks, a poached egg that oozes perfectly, aburi chive hollandaise, and a smattering of ikura and micro herbs for colour.
Thirsty? You will never taste anything more decadent than their bottled Sea Salt Chocolate – an elixir for sweet tooths who like their sweet treats with a twist. Creamy coffee lovers will no doubt want to make return trips to pick up orders of White Magic (it will heal any ailment).
Strangers’ Reunion is located at 35 Kampong Bahru Road. Closest MRT Station? Outram Park. If you have the time, have a little wander around the area after brunch. Neil Road, Everton Road and Blair Road are littered with old shophouses. You’ll find everything from antique stores to art dealers to hidden cafes. Walk a little further and you’ll find a few residential blocks and plenty of greenery. Spottiswoode Park Road and the nearby HDBs are home to some stray kitties. Blocks 106 and 107 have great views of the Keppel Harbour and all the colourful containers that come to port.
In the middle of nowhere, set amongst a backdrop of lush greenery, located on the banks of the tranquil Punggol Serangoon Reservoir, Whisk & Paddle ticks all the away-from-the-bustling-city boxes, plus they dish up some good grub and lip-smacking beverages to make any discerning foodie want to fork out some serious cash here. With such an extensive menu and plenty of tables to go around, it’s the perfect place to bring a group of friends for a hearty brunch. And yes, that’s pretty much what we did over the weekend.
Continue reading “Whisk & Paddle @ Tebing Lane, Singapore // For nature lovers with a penchant for waterfront dining”
Since we’d already been to all the essential must-visit spots around Tokyo over the last few years (y’know, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa, and all that), we made it our priority this time around to avoid the well-trodden areas and to hit up more obscure parts of the city. Cue Nakameguro, which is pretty famous for its cherry tree-lined river and tranquil streets.
The area around the Meguro River is enchanting in Autumn, when the hidden late morning sun shrouds the quiet walkways in silver light. While Nakameguro certainly is a bit of a ghost town on weekdays, James and I quite enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere, plus it was something we probably needed at the start of our week-long finally-some-time-away-from-work vacation in Japan.
Continue reading “Japan 2016: Enjoying the crisp Autumn air of Nakameguro in November”
Celebrating the last chill weekend before everything gets all hectic again. In a couple of days, we’ll be heading to Kuching for an overseas wedding, then hopping straaaight into the Christmas fray back in Singapore right after that. The fam’s all coming to join us from Down Under on Christmas Eve and everything’s going to be loud – and James will no doubt want to host an ambitious Christmas dinner or something crazy. Looking forward to it all, but for now, I think I’m happy just having a laid-back Saturday. In other news, I’ve rekindled my fondness for matcha lattes.
I wrote a blog post about Wimbly Lu Chocolates back in February – have a look if you’re interested in knowing more about the cosy little cafe! ;)
If you’re in the mega-city of Tokyo for a week and need to get away from the concrete and crowds for a moment, there’s no better place to go than on a nature-filled hike up picturesque Takaosan 高尾山 (“Mount Takao”). Only 50 minutes by train from Shinjuku, it makes for a convenient and memorable day trip for anyone with a penchant for the outdoors. In fact, plenty of Tokyoites make the journey to Takaosan because of its accessibility (yes, believe it or not, the mountain is still actually considered part of metropolitan Tokyo), and because it’s just really, really pretty up there.
Continue reading “Hiking up Mount Takao (高尾山, Takaosan) will literally take your breath away”