Kovan 高文 located within the town of Hougang and situated east of Serangoon (and part of Aljunied GRC), is home to many popular eateries, supper spots, and of course Kovan Market and Food Centre.
There are also many hipster cafes such as Ice Edge Cafe, The Bread Shop, Flavour Flings, Tie Fun Wan and The Humble Scoop.
Check out the following 12 best (and some new) cafes at Kovan:
730 Upper Serangoon Road, #01-01, Singapore 534613
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm (Tues – Fri), 10am – 6pm (Sat – Sun), Closed Mon
Charming Chic Café With Breakfast Bowls, Pasta and Jaffles
Amber Ember is located off Serangoon Central, at a standalone building situated next to Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre.
They have recently expanded with a cleaner look and wider range of items.
On its menu are Jaffles, Sourdough, Breakfast Bowls, Pasta, Buttermilk Waffles, Snacks and Bakes.
Some of the pasta dishes offered include Miso Butter Prawn ($24), Beef Cheek Ragu ($23), and Truffle Mushroom Sage ($21).
There are four types of Jaffes – brioche sandwiches pressed in cast iron, served with side or rocket or tapioca chips. Choices include Cheesus Loves You ($12), Fowl Play ($12), Truffle Fun-Guy ($12), and Nice to Meat You 2.0 ($13).
For something more filling, have a go at their Sourdough options of Curried Mentaiko Egg Mayo ($14), Anti Smashed Avo ($15.50) and locally-inspired Sambal Scramble ($16.50) topped with sambal chorizo mince and chilli threads. Amber Ember (Upper Serangoon)
5 Simon Road, Singapore 545893
Tel: +65 6284 0349
Opening Hours: 10am – 10:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
One Of Kovan’s Most Popular Café For Comforting Brunch And Baked Treats
Residents staying near Kovan should be familiar with Lola’s Café, which is the to-go-to brunch place in that area.
Known for its unpretentious food, it is typically packed with groups of families and friends during the weekends, especially for the brunch hours from 10am to 3pm.
For brunch, offerings include comforting plates Pulled Pork & Avocado Eggs Benedict ($16), Miso Salmon Grain Bowl ($18), Basil Pesto Mushroom Toast ($14), Ultimate Croissant ($15), Angus Beef Burger ($18), and Bacon & Mushroom Truffle Cream Linguine ($16).
Head over for dinner and find Tomato Swimmer Crab Linguine ($18), Battered Fish & Chips ($16), Beef Cheeks with Barley Risotto ($20), Tuscan Seafood Stew ($19) and Garlic Soy Fried Chicken Burger ($16).
Go for the Crab Cake Benedict ($18) which consist of handmade crab cake on toasted English muffins, topped with miso hollandaise sauce and furikake.
Not forgetting the poached eggs as well. As you cut across, the combination of oozy egg yolk, moist crab cake and unique miso hollandaise may just create that mini explosion in your mouth.
66 Yio Chu Kang Road, Singapore 545568
Tel: +65 9487 1398
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9:30pm (Tue – Thurs), 12pm – 10pm (Fri), 11am – 10pm (Sat), 11am – 9pm (Sun), Closed Mon
Undiscovered Affordable Italian & French Dining At Serangoon
From the team which founded South Union Park at Kembangan, Elevens Strands is their Italian and French dining concept which have found themselves a home at Kovan.
New items on the menu include Seafood Risotto, Truffle Mushroom Cream Pasta, Chicken Burger, Honey Baked Ham & Eggs, Wagyu Beef & Sausage, Mushroom Risotto and NZ Angus Ribeye Steak.
They also serve up pasta offerings from garlicky Bacon Aglio Olio ($19), tomato-based Beef Bolognese ($21) to dairy-based Bacon Cream Pasta.
I had the Crab Meat Pasta ($25) that came tossed in tangy red tomato sauce and crab meat woven in between, which can be tasted with every mouthful.
The Vongole Pasta ($22) also left an impression with its plump juicy clams simmered in light aromatic white wine sauce and further scented with garlic & herb fragrance. Eleven Strands (Yio Chu Kang Road)
The Garden Slug Petite
37 Lowland Rd, Singapore 547440
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9pm (Mon, Wed, Thurs), 11:30am – 10pm (Fri), 9:30am – 10pm (Sat – Sun), Closed Tue
Pets-Friendly Cafe At Kovan Offering Bagels And Waffles
The Garden Slug has got to be one of the oldest-standing cafes around in Singapore, having been around at Lor L Telok Kurau since 2006.
After 15 years, they decided to expand with a “petite” concept to the central region at Kovan, just 3 minutes’ walk from the MRT station.
Plus point, pretty spacious for pets to roam around, so fur parents will have an additional option in the hood.
Their interior is vastly different from the previous outlet, with a brighter and a tropical touch, a potted plant on every table.
Focusing on brunch dishes at this outlet, offerings include Soup ($6.90), Starters ($12.90 – $13.90), Salad ($13.90 – $16.90), Pasta ($13.90), Bagels ($12.90 – $16.90), Waffles and Gelato (from $9.50).
Their selection of Bagels seems interesting, ranging from Double Eggs Benny ($12.90) to Chilli Con Carne ($16.90), Shrimp Avocado ($16.90), Chicken Alfafa ($16.90), Tuna Mentaiko Bagel Pizza ($16.90) and The Slug Garden Bagel Pizza ($16.90).
For a more substantial meal, their Waffles is served with various options of one scoop ($9.50), double ($13.50) or five scoops of gelato ($23.50) suitable for sharing or one hungry dessert lover. The Garden Slug Petite (Kovan)
The Bread Shop
953 Upper Serangoon Rd, Singapore 534715
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm 5pm – 8:30pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 8:30pm (Sat, Sun), Closed Tues
Marries Traditional Bread with Brunch & Mains
The Bread Shop can be considered a cosy hideout, and quite ‘hidden’ as well. Some people think that they only sell freshly-baked bread from their storesfront, but there is actually a cafe on the side.
It is a homely-place, and service staff prompt and friendly.
If you are there for all-day breakfast, expect a bread-centric menu from Prawn Cream Croissant ($15), Pesto Mushroom Sandwich ($14), Roast Beef with Truffle Cream Sandwich ($18), French Roast, to Smoked Salmon & Beetroot Toast ($17).
For something more fulling, get some mains including Curry Chicken ($12), Breaded Fish & Chips ($14), Pan-Seared Duck Breast ($15), Grilled Rosemary Chicken ($17) and Classic Beef Stew ($17).
Naked Ice Cream
957 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534717
Opening Hours: 2pm – 2am (Mon – Sun)
Ice Cream Cafe With Rock Melon Flavour, Opens Till 2AM Everyday
Naked Ice Cream is a new ice cream parlour in the hot foodie stretch of Kovan, lined with popular joints such as Breakfast Club, Yaowarat Thai Kway Chap, Ding Tele, Punggol Nasi Lemak, and Qi Xiang Chicken Pot.
The plus points of Naked Ice Cream other than the cheeky name: it is opened till 2AM every day for supper goers, and the plain waffles is priced at $3.80 – considered more affordable than many new cafes.
On its menu are classic ($3.80) and premium flavours ($4.80) such as Speculoos Cookies Butter, Mint Cookie Chip, Hojicha Green Tea, Strawberry Cheese Cake, Earl Grey Tea, Milo Dinosaur, Cookie Monster, Lychee Lime, and Hokkaido Milk.
So I went for the more interesting sounding Yubari Rock Melon with a delightful fruity sweetness, though I wished it was either creamier or more ‘sorbet-y’ while this was somewhere in middle.
Note that a number of the ice cream flavours are slightly on the sweet side. Naked Ice Cream (Upper Serangoon Road)
Blk 211 Hougang Street 21 #01-291, Singapore 530211
Tel: +65 8166 0140
Opening Hours: 9am – 9pm (Mon – Thurs, Sun), 9am – 9:30pm (Fri – Sat)
Korean Inspired Café With Bibimbap, Naengmyeon And Army Stew
Inspired by Korean Café Scene, Two Cranes is a neighbourhood café found in Kovan which serves a focused selection of Korean-themed food, bingsu dessert and hand-crafted beverages.
Brunch items available from 9am to 3pm include Two Cranes’ Big Breakfast ($18.90), Salmon Scrambled ($16.90), Simple Brekkie ($16.90), Beef Shakshuka ($14.90), and Spicy Dakgalbi Chicken Scrambled (15.90).
Some of the Korean-style mains available from 12pm to 9pm are Wonda Army Stew ($16.90), Fu Bibimbab ($13.90), Kimchi Fried Rice ($12.90) and Jjajangmyeon ($12.90).
I went for the Bibimbap ($13.90) which came with an assortment of ingredients such as spicy sliced chicken, carrots, golden corn, sauteed mushrooms topped with sous vide egg, gochujang dressing and sesame oil.
I liked the cosy ambience at Two Cranes and they have managed to leave an impression on their hand-crafted beverages. Two Cranes (Hougang)
See You Latte
988 Upper Serangoon Road #01-15, Stars of Kovan, Singapore 534733
Opening Hours: 8am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Off-The-Radar Café At Kovan, With Rendang Pasta, Matcha Burnt Cheesecake Nestled within the enclave of Stars at Kovan, See You Caffe serves a small menu of Asian & Western fusion delights, few a few options available on a daily rotating basis.
While their website menu promises a vast range of western offerings, the only food options available were such as Curry Chicken, Beef Rendang and Carbonara during my point of visit.
I opted for the Beef Rendang with Pasta Set ($11.90) which came with a choice of selected beverage like coffee or tea. Quite a good deal.
There was a rather wide selection of bakes and desserts available on the display cabinet like Butter Croissant ($4.50), Double Chocolate Muffin ($3.90) and Matcha Azuki Cake ($4.90), some of them supplier sourced.
988 Upper Serangoon Road #01-34, Stars of Kovan, Singapore 534733
Opening Hours: 1pm – 10pm (Mon to Fri), 10am – 10pm (Sat & Sun)
While Eclipse operates as a takeaway store, you can still dine outside which has a few common tables shared by the tenants in the premises.
I was greeting by a display counter which showcases some of their signature bake offerings – fruit tartelettes and chocolate bakes.
All priced at $7, you can get Tartelettes of flavours such as Blueberry, Mangoes & Cream and Mixed Fruits.
Each fruit tartelette is delicately assembled using French sweet pastry crust as base, almond frangipane, mixed fruit confit or vanilla cream and topped with hefty serving of fresh fruits.
I liked that the tarts are generally not too sweet, and the flavours are well-defined by the ripeness of the fruit used. Eclipse (Hougang)
Sweet Thoughts by M.O.D
50 Hougang Ave 1 #01-00, JForte Sportainment Centre, Singapore 538885
Tel: +65 9738 6648
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm (Tues – Thurs, Sun), 12pm – 11pm (Fri, Sat), Closed Mon
Orh Nee & Hojicha Shaved Ice And Desserts At Kovan
Fans of the defunct-Non Entree Desserts will be thrilled to know that one of their former chef-owner Francis Wong, has opened a new dessert concept store Sweet Thoughts by M.O.D at JForte Sportainment Centre in Kovan.
Known for pushing his boundary and creating visually captivating edible-art desserts, an extensive menu of 15 hot and cold desserts is created by Chef Francis to interpret “tong shui” (糖水).
In Singapore’s climate, the Shaved Ice is usually a popular choice and comes in 7 different flavours such as Hojicha ($6.90), Peanut ($6.90), Mango Sago Pomelo ($7.50), Black Sesame ($6.90), Taro ($6.90), Kaya Pandan ($6.90) and Mao Shan Wang Durian ($9.90).
The Hojicha Shaved Ice ($6.90) is my favourite, with fresh Hojicha tea leaves (instead of the powder) in the soft and fluffy shaved ice and is extremely aromatic and oishii.
The toppings are definitely worth a mention, with Azuki red beans, Konjac jelly and soya powdered muah Chee that is so soft and chewy. Sweet Thoughts by M.O.D (Hougang)
The Bread Rack
9, Yio Chu Kang Road, #01-55, Space@Kovan, Singapore 545523
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (Mon, Thurs – Sun), Closed Tues, Wed
Artisan Bakery Cafe Serving Freshly Made Sourdoughs
Located near Hougang and Serangoon, The Bread Rack is at Yio Chu Kang Road within Space@Kovan is one of the newest bakery cafes opened in that area.
Stepping inside, I was pleasantly surprised by the huge industrial themed space with tall ceilings and a spacious compound with 20 seats.
Diners can choose between Baguette ($3.80), Country Loaf ($9), Seeded Sourdough ($10) and Honey Wholewheat ($10) from one rack and Butter Croissant ($4), Almond Croissant ($5), Pain Au Chocolate ($4.50) and Raisins Scroll ($4.80) on the other rack for either dine-in or takeaway.
My favourite was the Almond Croissant ($5) came with sliced almond and icing sugar as toppings, with smooth, velvety almond cream filling on the inside.
The outer layer of the croissant was crispy and flaky, whereas the inner layers and moist and creamy, giving it a good textural contrast. The Bread Rack (Yio Chu Kang)
10A-E Yio Chu Kang Rd, ICB Shopping Centre, Singapore 545524
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 6pm (Mon – Sat), 8:30am – 7pm (Sun)
Korean-Inspired Minimalist Bakery & Specialty Coffee Café
Urban Table is located at ICB Shopping Centre, slightly further down from iconic eateries such as Song Kee Eating House and Eleven Strands. (Right opposite, there is a humble dim sum eatery called Dim Sum House.)
Upon stepping into the Urban Table, I was welcomed by its cosy laid-back vibes and spacious minimalist store configuration.
The open coffee bar counter which you can view the barista at work, pastries on display and neatly arranged tables, and minor details immediately took my soul for a joyride.
While not extensive, their food menu offers a range of pastries and cakes such as Apple Strudel ($4.50), Pain Au Chocolate ($3.90), Onion Quiche ($6.90) and Strawberry Shortcake ($6.80).
The mains available include an All-Day Breakfast plate ($14.90) made up of ham & cheese croissant, scrambled eggs, and a serving of greens.
I generally liked their pastries such as buttery croissant which came with soft and fluffy insides, coupled with flaky golden exterior. Urban Table (Yio Chu Kang)