Matcha fans will not be unfamiliar with Hvala, who started off as a waffles kiosk at 313@somerset and subsequently opened a few Japanese-style cafes over the years at CHIJMES and TripleOne Somerset.
Now, let me excite you with their latest flagship store which is a three-storey teahouse.
It is located along Keong Saik Road, between Kok Sen Restaurant and Potato Head, diagonally opposite Keong Saik Bakery.
For vegan lovers, exclusive here is a full vegan menu that excludes eggs, dairy products and animal-derived ingredients in their drinks and desserts.
Double and triple-storeys cafes are uncommon in Singapore due to the limited space, which usually gives off different vibes on every level.
The first floor includes a cake display shelf, gelato counter and a tea counter bar for the curious diners to watch the matcha whisking and drinks preparation process.
This is also where you would go for takeaways.
Moving up, there is a similar interior layout to Hvala’s CHIJMES outlet, decked in a “living room style” with wooden furniture, sofas and ceramics on display.
Footwear has to be removed before entering the third floor, which has an interesting Japanese tatami-concept that is similar to the Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya Starbucks in a traditional Japanese house.
Thankfully, there are ordering and payment kiosks on every level with food and drinks delivered to their tables, saving the hassle of heading down right below to order. (I know not everyone is a fan of stairs.)
Vegans and those who are lactose intolerant will be excited to visit this outlet at Keong Saik.
There is an outlet-exclusive vegan menu such as Dairy-Free Waffles ($11.80), Chaffogato ($7.80), Fudgy Chocolate Brownie ($12.80), Kinako Paste with Gelato ($8.80), Dairy-free Gelato ($5.80 – 6.80), Oatmilk Tea Lattes ($5.80 – $7.80) and Oatmilk Ice Blend ($7).
This is probably the first time I had come across a Dairy-Free Waffles ($11.80) in Singapore, made using Oatmilk instead of the usual butter and fresh milk.
As oat milk is less creamy and milky compared to fresh milk, the dairy-free waffle was more airy and less dense compared to normal waffle.
Without using butter, the aroma from the waffles was mainly attributed to the cinnamon powder used, which surprisingly tasted Christmasy.
12 gelato flavours ($5.80 – 6.80) are available at any one time, all vegan using soy milk instead of fresh milk.
Think Matcha Level 1 and Level 2, Genmaicha, Hojicha, Goma (Black Sesame), Matcha Cookies & Cream, Hazelnut, Oatmilk and Strawberry/ Chocolate/ Yuzu/ Rockmelon sorbet.
My favourite was the Goma (Black Sesame) which has a smoother texture compared to their non-vegan counterpart.
Without the full-bodied from fresh-milk in the vegan version, the vegan Goma Gelato is now lighter, refreshing and less jelak, yet still retaining the pronounced roasted and nutty notes from the sesame seeds.
I will say that Hvala has done a good job creating the vegan gelato as both the vegan version and non-vegan gelato tasted really similar unless you do a side by side comparison.
Good news for those who are lactose intolerant, as all drinks served at the Keong Saik outlet uses Oatmilk by default unless requested at no additional cost.
Their drinks menu includes Ice Blended ($7), Cold Brew ($5.80 – $6.80), Tea Lattes (Hot $5.80/ Iced $6.80) such as Matcha, Hojicha, Matcha Hojicha, Genmaicha, Matcha Goma and Hojicha Goma.
One other thing to note, the pastries are unfortunately not vegan here.
The cakes available are also found at their other outlets, with flavours including Matcha Petit Gateau, Hojicha Petit Gateau, Goma Slice Cake, Honey Earl Grey Hazelnut Cake, Chocolate Truffle Cake and Sweet Potato Cake.
Each slice is priced at $8.80.
Hvala has continued to evolve over the years but still maintained the quality and consistency in their niche field.
With a vegan menu to cater to a different demographic and a different interior style on each storey, diners can venture and explore the compound to find their perfect setting for a quiet afternoon tea.
Hvala – Keong Saik
34 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089141
Opening Hours: 12om – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
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* Written by Nicholas Tan @stormscape who loves all things [NEW]. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.