Thursday, January 29, 2015

Singapore Food Blog - Ronin Cafe (a.k.a. 17 Hong Kong Street)

Location: Clarke Quay, Central Business District (CBD), Singapore

Recommended: Matcha Toning (SGD5.50), The Wicked (SGD5.50)

The initial impression I received when seeking this café out in Hong Kong Street was that it was hard to find unless you remembered its number due to its lack of signage. However it was quickly obvious that it stood out among the rest of the buildings, being the one with a chic dark marble outlook among the various aging neighbors. If it wasn’t for its online popularity, I guess I would not even notice its name as Ronin Café although many start to recognize the café as “17 Hong Kong Street” instead.

The only place in the whole cafe to inform diners of the establishment's name - the cashier.

Despite its name depicting wandering samurais with lost lords, most patrons are anything but wandering. They arrived with a mission and a drink in mind (make that a few drinks), fueled by recommendations online. And despite its lack of signage, patrons arrived in troves.

As we got ourselves seated, we were asked for our choice of coffee, as if we already know what to order. Then again, most of the patrons were either returning customers or people like me who were driven by online recommendations of their signature drinks, in my case, The Wicked and Matcha Toning, so I wonder what would happen to those “ronins” who really did wander in undecided. I noted with interest that the menu was the board on the wall and no single menus were handed out. Talk about efficiency.

Externally, the cafe seems to identify itself as "17 Hong Kong Street" rather than "Ronin".

The exterior of the cafe

In the short while when we awaited our coffees’ arrival, I took in the surrounding, noting the small but accommodating interior. Like most hipster cafés (or most cafés and restaurants in general), the interior was dimly lit to soften the mood. Seats were limited although the establishment reserved a communal table for large groups, so prepare to wait if necessary.

Our Matcha Toning and The Wicked arrived with much awe, the former’s dual tone catching our camera’s attention while the latter, a minty mocha with a mint leave to match, captivated our tastebuds. We added an order of Brioche French Toast to go with the drinks, which soft fluffy brioche earned our praises although the health conscious among us resisted from spreading too much syrup onto the bread.

I was rather impressed with my Matcha Toning (SGD5.50). Its distinctive namesake dual tone of white and green, with a sprinkle of matcha powder across its top, was as photogenic as its taste was memorable. The latte was infused with the taste of matcha, blending both matcha and coffee nicely without conflicting with each other.

My friends got themselves The Wicked (SGD5.50), a drink with a wicked look but pleasant taste. The glass of mocha was infused with a shot of minty flavor, with a piece of mint leave to go with, a cool flavor within a chocolaty taste.

Me, being a sweet tooth, naturally loved Brioche French Toast (SGD14.50), a dish served with 3 blocks of soft fluffy brioches, and slices of braised apple and bacons, all of which were covered in a thin layer of syrup. The sweetness of the honey-like syrup coated everything, adding flavor to the otherwise bland bread and reducing the sour taste of braised apple. The crunchy and salty bacon was truly a heaven sent, and I would not complain if I were to get more on my plate!

You can't get any more hip than this lightbulb.

Barrister's bar

Communal table

I would recommend this cafe for the coffee they serve and the service they provide. Getting a seat however may require some luck as the place is easily filled up. I was rather impressed with the café, from their offerings to the level of service. Its proximity to Clarke Quay MRT station meant that this outlet has entered my list of favorite haunts. Although I was perplexed when the waitress told me they didn’t keep tab of the customers’ orders, it wasn't such a biggies as we did not order that much.

Environment:         A nice cafe in the city center
Suitable for:            for family or friends, or just for usual dining
Food score:              8/10
Food:                           4.5/5.0
Service:                       4.5/5.0
Value:                          4.0/5.0
Ambient:                     3.5/5.0

Operating hours:   (Mon - Fri) 8.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
                                       (Sat - Sun) 8.00 a.m. - 7.30 p.m.
Directions:                Disembark at Clarke Quay MRT station and exit at the side of New Bridge Road. Cross the road and turn right to look for Hong Kong Street. Enter the street to look for the sign "17 Hong Kong Street".

Website:                    -
Contact:                    -
E-mail:                       -
Address:                    17 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059660.

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