Many cafes are playing the nostalgia card; some get it, some are putting up an appearance.
Chye Seng Huat is the frontrunner, making almost everyone believing that it is a real name. Dispensary scores in décor, and that’s about it (And so it closed). Tian Kee & Co while lacking in the food component, makes up for it in soul.
Yes, soul. For a café, it’s really not just about coffee, food and service anymore, but marketing and soul – the feel of the place.
Sin Lee Foods was another café which joins the rank, converted from an old coffeeshop, located somewhere in Bt Ho Swee – an area more known for its Teochew restaurant and Hainanese curry rice.
The only thing really nostalgic about it, is the estate and the former signboard it retained. But it still worked to their advantage, now being one of the most popular cafe in the Jalan Bt Ho Sweet district.
It is interesting to watch the juxtaposition of uncles lim-ing kopi at one side, and hipster cafe-hoppers having their ice latte on another.
Finding the café may be tough, at the bottom of Block 4 somewhere near the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.
I see an occasional couple coming in armed navigating with google maps, already broken out in sweat, climbing up a short flight of steps.
Food wise, there is the usual assortment breakfast in the form of Big B ($18.90, scrambled eggs, bacon, mushroom ragout, sausage, russet potatoes, salad, toast), Croissant Benedict ($16.90) and a more interestingly looking Shashuka ($17.90, Moroccan baked eggs with spicy tomato sauce).
Coffee beans used are from Papa Palheta’s Throwback blend. My drink was not bad.
The Umami Brioche ($16.90) turned out to be unexpectedly delicious (had too much ‘blah’ café food of late, that’s why). The egg was runny, restfully positioned on top of creamy mushroom ragout, all on toasted brioche of paper-thin crust with fluffy texture. Bacon could be less burnt.
I did wish the food was a few dollars cheaper, if the café wanted to warrant frequent repeat visits.
Sin Lee called their Fried Chicken & Waffles ($21.90) “The One & Only”. Again, I blinked my eyes a moment, at $21.90.
To be fair, the iron waffle base was so much better than many other cafes which try too hard to push another waffle item on their menu, perhaps because one of the co-owners owns a crepe shop.
This is what I would call “delicious grub food”. The deep fried chicken leg meat laid on top, all tender and moist, could feed two hungry men. If only it was less salty.
Fortunately, the house slaw at the side helped ease out the greasiness.
Other recommended items are Salted Egg Sweet Potato Fries ($12), Aburi Broccoli Salad ($13), Beef & Grains ($25), and Sin Lee’s Breakfast Chirashi Toastie ($23).
The cafe has also introduced Calrose Rice Bowls with options of Salmon and Tuna Chirashi ($14), Korean Rubbed Chicken Thigh ($12), and Yakiniku Beef Sliced and Braised ($14).
I liked my beef rice, with generous portion of sliced beef, but wondered if the rice could have been slightly too wet and mushy.
On the bottom left of the menu, it wrote that “At Sin Lee Foods, we do not serve and will not serve lame eggs benedicts whatsoever…”
Hmm…I wonder if that is humour, arrogance, or both. Views are indeed still quite divided about this place.
Sin Lee Foods
Blk 4 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee #01-164 Singapore 162004
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9pm (Tues-Fri), 9am – 9pm (Sat), 9am – 6pm (Sun), 11:30am – 6pm (PH), Closed Mon