Haru Haru (day by day), we are seeing more Korean cafes in Singapore, after the Korean Pop, Korean BBQ, and Korean Fried Chicken wave have hit us.
What defines a Korean café, at least in Singapore context? They all almost sell Korean desserts like Bingsu shaved iced, toasts (usually injeolmi rice cake), Korean inspired snacks and Korean style coffee and beverages of green tea and sweet potato latte.
For this list, we were looking at the whole package – ambience, service, ‘Korean-ness’, other than food. All are owned or co-owned by Koreans.
16 Korean Cafés In Singapore – Saranghae 카페, Fall In Love Again
Banana Tree Singapore
26 Keong Saik Road Singapore 089133
Opening Hours: 9am – 7pm (Tues-Fri), 10am – 8pm (Sat-Sun), Closed Mon
Banana Tree is the perfect Instagram venue with its natural light casing down with the open top ceiling, banana fruit paintings on the wall, cute decorations and pretty (fake) flower decorated food. Strike a pose.
It is not uncommon to find girls in floral dresses ‘model’ with candy floss topped coffee. The other offerings were equally photogenic – Flower Paap ($6.50) – pudding in a flower pot, Oreo Bomb ($12), and Pot BingSu ($12.50). Service was sweet. More pretty than tasty though. (Read: Banana Tree Keong Siak)
45 Burghley Drive #01-04, Singapore 559022 (15-20 min walk from Lorong Chuan MRT)
Opening Hours: 12am – 10pm (Tues-Thurs), 12pm – 11pm (Fri), 10am – 11pm (Sat), 10am – 10pm (Sun), Closed Mon
Other branches at: Bugis, Tanjong Katong, Upper Thomson, Yuk Tong Ave (Bt Timah)
Nunsongyee is already known for its heart-melting bingsu. We decide to feature something else – the Sweet “Ka-Rei” ($8.90) Korean Rice Cake with Cheese which came beautifully plated with drizzled maple syrup.
Fans of tteokpokki (Korean rice cake) could experience a sweet and savory version instead of the spicy tteokpooki that we were all too familiar with. The top layer was baked to give a golden brown crust. These bite- sized tteokpokki was soft and cheesy with a slight tinge of sweetness.
The owner’s grandparents were rice farmers, thus the emphasis of rice cakes of this café. (Read: Nunsongyee Burghley Drive)
Orchard Shopping Centre, 321 Orchard Road #01-01/02, Singapore 238866 (Somerset MRT)
Opening Hours: 1:30pm – 1am (Mon-Thu), 10am – 1am (Fri-Sun)
Ice Lab is opened by none other than Korean Comedian Shin Jung-Hwan – famous for his comic dance and silly acts.
The menu features 6 flavours of Bingsu in 2 sizes – Small ($15.30 – $19.30) and Large at an additional $4.
Churros are available at $4.30 with 6 different sauce dips ($1.20) – choco, white choc, honey, cream cheese, caramel, blueberry jam.
The ambience is young and hipster, with K-pop music playing in the background (fan girls at our neighbouring table screaming at each song) and handsome/ pretty service crews in white lab coats which kind of reminded us of the Running Man characters.
Except, no name tag pasted on the coat.
Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk #02-150 Singapore 098585 (between TCC and Sushi Tei)
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm (Mon-Sun)
Caffebene Singapore has a menu similar to that of Korea’s. However, there are tweaks to cater to the local palate.
The selection of food offered is also smaller, with Shaved Ice Bingsu ($13.90 – $20.90) , Waffle ($6.90 – $10.90), Honey Bread ($12.90 – $13.90), Coffee, Tea and Yogurt Smoothie ($6.30 – $7.80).
Exclusive to the Singapore outlet, a not-too-Korean-ish Gourmet selection of salads (such as Japanese Soba, Thousand Island Chicken) and wraps (Salmon Mayo, Chicken Avocado) are offered to cater to the office crowd nearby.
Dabang (Don’t Tell Mama at night)
52 Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088473 (8-10 min walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT)
Tel: +65 6221 2007
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5:00pm (Dabang) and 5pm – 12am (Don’t Tell Mama)
This concept by the Chicken Up people has two faces: Dabang, an Australian brunch and dessert café with a Korean twist by day; and Don’t Tell Mama, Korean – Mexican fusion bistro with interesting cocktails by night.
Dabang offers safe choices for its brunch menu, from Korean-inspired Panini, the ever-popular Bingsu, Twist Potato, and Nacho Cheese Omelettes.
Signature during the day include Kimchi Panini ($12), Big Breakfast ($18), Grilled Corn ($12 – we wonder if this is way overpriced), Flavored Milk ($6), Strawberry Latte ($7), Ice Cubes Latte ($9), and Monster Bingsu ($25) with flavours of Blueberry Cheese and Mango Yogurt.
Bingki Korean Desserts
Blk 7 Tanjong Pagar Plaza #01-106 Singapore 081007 (Tanjong Pagar MRT)
Tel: +65 6443 5435
Opening Hours: 11am – 2am (Mon – Thurs, Sun), 11am – 4am (Fri – Sat)
Bingki Korean Desserts offers bingsu and other sweet treats till late at Tanjong Pagar Plaza.
More than 10 different bingsu varieties are available, including Red Bean ($12), Injeolmi ($13), DaBang Coffee ($16), Peach ($15), Mango ($15), Melon ($18), Watermelon ($15) and Papaya ($15).
The Green Tea Bingsu ($14) came with a scoop of ice cream decorated as a monkey (or bear?), with red bean and random ingredients of pepero, kit-kat and Hello Panda cookies.
Comparatively, some other bingsu cafes’ shavings are not as fine, but Bingki probably need to work on the ingredients that go into each bowl in its entirely.
Sync Korean Fusion Bistro
Westgate Mall #03-01, Jurong East, Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 63699913
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm Daily
The Korean technological geek may find home at Sync Korean Fusion Bistro, which is opened in collaboration with Samsung. Thus you would find many Samsung gadgets around.
Korean traditional dishes and desserts are given a Western twist. You get Toppoki sprinkled with fried bacon and topped with soft-boiled egg, Hotteok Korean pancake stuffed with cinnamon and nuts, with vanilla ice cream on the side, and Lava Cake incorporating Misugaru Korean grain. 50% off Sync Korean Fusion Bistro
Tom N Toms
12 Gopeng Street #01-12 Icon Village Singapore 078877
Tel: +65 6225 6313
Tom N Toms must be one of Korean’s largest café chains that can found internationally. It is also one of the earliest Korean café to set food in Singapore. Remember the ones at Far East Plaza and Vivocity? Unfortunately, the Korean fever was not waving that hard then.
Munch on toast, pretzels, pastries and bingsu – with flavours of Green Tea and Red Bean ($11.90), Mango ($10.90), Taro ($9.90), Yogurt Cheesecake ($12.90) and Milk Tea ($10.90). A favourite venue for CBD executive and groups of students for discussions and book-mugging. Free WIFI and quiet sitting area.
Bing Go Gung Dessert House
102 Guillemard Road #01-01 Singapore 399719 (Mountbatten MRT)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 11pm
With all the new Korean bingsu cafes opening up in Singapore, Bing Go Gung must be saying “Yawn, we have already been around way before you.”
This is the café concept of Ju Shin Jung Korean Charcoal BBQ restaurant. The bingsu varieties sold here include the popular Milk & Red Bean ($11), Injeolmi ($11), Green Tea ($11) Coffee ($11) and an intriguing Tomato ($11), along with toast, grilled sandwiches and chewy waffles. A lot of Korean tai-tais come here to chit-chat, should be good lah.
Nunsaram Korean Dessert Cafe
181 orchard rd #05-51/52 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896 (Somerset MRT)
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon-Sun)
Finally. A Korean café in town area (wait, one more opening). Owner of Nunsaram, who is also the owner of Korean BBQ restaurant K Cook, stressed that Nunsaram is a “real Korean dessert café”. On Instagram, they are known as “the café which gave away FREE bingsu”. (No more already)
Bingsu are priced between $12.90 and $15.90, an additional $1.50 for a scoop of ice cream and $2.50 for red beans. The side menu consists of Tteogkkochi (Korean rice cakes on skewers) that comes in 3 variations: Honey ($4.50), Spicy ($4.90) and Cheese ($5.90) and Injeolmi Toast ($5.90). Bingsu was smooooth, nicccccce, BUT we think there are better ones around. Maybe still new, still improving.
279 South Bridge Road Singapore 058828 (Chinatown MRT)
Tel: +65 8533 2003
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm (Tues, Wed, Thurs), 12pm-10pm (Fri-Sat), 2pm-8pm (Sun), Closed Mon
A Korean café started by a Singaporean and two Korean friends, combined a café concept with an art space and “Elegani” vanity table. Thus the female standee around. Scary at night though.
Other than bingsu, they offer toast topped with ice cream, red bean, kaya butter (!), peanut butter, nutella. Or Bulgogi Beef with Injeolmi ($6.50). Tasted quite ordinary though, the main surprise coming from the steamed Korean rice cake sandwiched within the two slices. Savoury items could be limited. I asked for savouries and the cashier offered me cup noodles. They were serious. (Read: Café Insadong South Bridge Road)
O’ma Spoon Korean Dessert Café
6 Raffles Boulevard #01-01/02/03 Marina Square Singapore 039594
313 @ Somerset Orchard Road #04-20/32 Singapore 238895
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm Daily
O’ma dare-dare open two shops in quick succession – one at Marina Square, the other at 313 Somerset. Good areas, too high levels. Anyway, this shop means ‘mother’s spoon’’. While the Patbingsu ($11.90) and Injoelmi ($11.90) are still reasonable in price, the Choco Brownie ($18.80), Mixed Berry ($18.80) to a rather steep Mango Berry Cheesecake ($22.80) may make customers think twice. EXPENSIVE. (Note: We hear prices have been revised again.)
We tried the Patbingsu ($11.90) and quite liked it. Ingredients such as the red bean ‘Korean pat’ and injeolmi are imported from Korea. The milk shaved ice was smooth and finely-shaved, had a soft yet instantaneous melt-in-your-mouth effect. Décor was kind of dated for a new café.
50, Smith Street, Singapore 058958 (5 min walk from Chinatown MRT)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 10pm (Tue-Thu), 12pm – 11pm (Fri), 10am – 11pm (Sat), 10am – 10pm (Sun), Closed Mon
Their Signature Bingsu, the BiBim ($18), which their café is named after, is the most expensive among the lot.
Other interesting flavours include the Cheese Baileys Bingsu ($16) and Marshmallow Bingsu ($12) and each bingsu comes with a choice of a scoop of pistachio almond, vanilla, chocolate or salted caramel ice cream.
Apart from bingsus, the toasts cost between $7.50 and $8.
The interior is decorated like a scene shown in Korean dramas. Tall trees ‘planted’ at each long table along the aisle whereas small potted plants could be seen on the individual tables. It felt like a walk in the garden with the trees sheltering us above.
Serangoon NEX #02-04, 23 Serangoon Central Singapore 556083
Tel: +65 6634 4608
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10:00pm
There was literally a big blown-up snowman greeting you at the entrance. The reason why Snowman Desserts would be very much smoother than what some of the average stores were offering, was due to a specially imported milk snow bingsu machine. That apparently cost a 5-figure sum.
Other than the Milk Snow Bingsu ($11.50), there are other dessert snacks available for takeaway such as Hotteok ($3 pancake with seeds), JCone ($3), Churro with Ice Cream ($3.50) and yogurt drinks. Churros are made ON THE SPOT. The main thing that we like/didn’t like: Smell of Korean BBQ next door, both tempting and off-putting.
JEM #02-20 50 Jurong Gateway Road Singapore 608549
Tel: +65 6734 7765
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm
Other outlets:Tampines Mall #01-32, Bugis Junction B1-24/25, One Raffles Place basement, Changi Airport T2 Level 1 Public Area
Not actually from Paris, but known to be one of the top Korean bakeries, receiving “constant love” for its freshly baked bread, cakes, sandwiches, desserts and brunch items. Food has not been the most consistent though.
One Thing Coffee Kids Café
Bukit Timah Shopping Centre B2-17, 170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 588179
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm (Mon-Sat), 10am – 8pm (Sun)
Family and child-friendly Korean café. Menu should appeal to the young as well, with Waffles ($10, $2 extra for ice cream), Caramel Bread ($8), Croque Monsieur ($7) and Sliced Cakes.
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