If time could be turned back, or if I had the opportunity, I would probably do something what SMU student Jia Wei is putting his heart to – opening a café. Every now and then, I would have a wild thought of opening a café or stall in school, selling ice cream and chicken wings.
The Basement Café is a social café started by five present SMU students. Where they found the time and energy, I do not know. But those who been through university days can certainly can fathom how much passion and determination is needed to sustain this.
They call themselves a ‘social café’ because they carry out various initiatives to help the underprivileged people – from a soup kitchen for all the cleaners in our school, as well as a Chinese New Year reunion dinner for the need. And there is a space for art exhibitions and talent performances.
The second question you may have is: Can they cook? (The first question is “Got time meh?”)
I can possibly rest your doubts – these young people mean serious business. The kitchen is headed by two of the owners, both coincidentally named Jiawei. They basically went out into the industry to learn from various restaurants, culinary school, and spent holidays perfecting the recipes in the kitchen through trial and error.
The menu consists of all-day breakfast, salads, soups, cakes and mains such as roasted chicken thigh, pasta and ribs.
Knowing my obsession with eggporn on Instagram, Jia Wei guaranteed that their eggs would be runny. Their Sir Bennie Royale, at an affordable $10, consist of poach eggs with smoked Norwegian salmon served on toasted English muffins. Yes, they oozed beautifully and tasted better than some of the eggs ben at some of the so-called cafés.
The Sous Vide BBQ Pork Ribs ($15) is also their pride and joy. The meat after cooked sous vide for eight hours, is quite fork-tender and generous in portions.
I was surprised that the café does not sell the usual items that uni students would take pleasure in – chicken wings, fries, nuggets and curry puffs. The deep fried stuff. The limitation of the kitchen is part of the reason, but these student-owners want to sell healthy quality food that they would be proud of (*clap clap*).
These students could go a lot way if they are given the right support. SMU students, you know where to go. The rest, The Basement Café is also opened to outsiders.
Coffee was more than decent, art was beautiful, tarts could be more polished but still pleasant. I always believe that we should never under estimate the youths because they dare to dream big. May be a different story for adults.
The Basement Café
80 Stamford Rd #B1-62, School of Information System, Singapore Management University SMU
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 5pm (last order 4:30pm) Mon-Fri