The Tastemaker Store – Havelock Café Serves Local Delights, Like Kaya ‘Toast’
When Tiong Bahru is getting too saturated with cafes, the next phase should see the new ones moving to the fringe areas. I was on my way to eating Teochew muay when I got distracted… A new café at Havelock Road?
This stretch along Havelock Road is known for its cheap and good eats, peppered with Teochew porridge stalls, old-school Chinese restaurants and a famous Bak Kut Teh shop. I used to cut my hair at one of the retro barber shops here, but of course most of the original shops are long gone.
The Tastemaker Store feels different from the other cafes in terms of vibes – laid back, simple and uncluttered. The primary colours of white and earth are accented with touches of green from the potted plants. All is well, except that the music reminds me of a spa.
Food served is uncomplicated with a local twist, as they try to experiment with flavours and refine recipes we are already familiar with. I was recommended to try their Lemon Curd with Clotted Cream spread across hot muffin buns ($3.00) and Homemade Yam Cake with chill ($3.80).
The other random items include Hot Dog Bun ($5.60), Pizza slice ($5.80), Ham & Cheese Sandwich ($5.80) and Kaya Toast ($3.00).
The Lemon Curd, both inexpensive and distinctively original, may throw you off initially but you should gradually grow to like it. You also get half-boiled eggs at the side, sans pepper and dark soy sauce, and wonder “How should I even start with this?”
A possible way: You brush the clotted cream across the muffin, beat the eggs, and dip a portion of the bun within. A bite that would be tangy, sweet and slimy at the same time. To put it simply, it’s actually quite nice.
Perhaps the only café in Singapore to serve local savouries of Glutinous Rice ($3.80) and Yam Cake ($3.80), it could be a necessary move for The Tastemaker due to its location. Many Teochew-nang in the vicinity.
A twenty-something boy brought his mum into the store, “We come try something new.”
The mum looked bewildered and did not know what to order. The Glutinous Rice which came in a tin, scattered with generous ingredients of dried shrimps, mushrooms and shallots was probably her thing. “Not bad, but I think market more ho chiak.”
While the market’s version is usually moist and warm, The Tastemaker Store’s sells quite a tasty and not so greasy rendition of it.
Cakes are from Maple & Market. Coffee is from… Bon Café. I did a double take. No wonder my espresso ($3.50) tasted so so… the Matcha Latte ($5) would have been a safer choice.
Apart from the coffee, The Tastemaker Store is a quiet place amongst the old HDB estate to wind down an afternoon, to take bites of familiar local foods. I won’t be surprised if I see a pink Teochew peng kueh in its menu one day. Why not?
The Tastemaker Store
Blk 22 Havelock Road, #01-705 Singapore 160022 (Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru)
Map Link: http://goo.gl/SG7Zx0
Opening Hours: 11am – 6pm (Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sun), 10am – 9pm (Fri, Sat), Closed Tues