Caphe in Vietnamese refers to coffee and Joo Chiat Caphe is probably one of those rustic old school coffeeshop which will take you down on a memory trip to Vietnam.
Joining the bustling street of Joo Chiat, Joo Chiat Caphe is located a stone throw from known establishments such as Petit Pain, Tigerlily Patisserie, Sevens Cafe and Kōhī Roastery & Coffee Bar. (Also read: 12 Best JOO CHIAT Cafes & Brunch Places)
Their main food offerings are Banh Mi and Otah, which I was initially quite bewildered with the pairing combination.
I was enlightened by the staff that this previous location used to be an otah store which the current owner used to work with.
When the otah store ended the lease, the owner decided to take over the space and sell Vietnamese Banh Mi, but kept the otah option as a form of remembrance.
I dived straight to the Classic Chicken Cold Cut with Home Made Chicken Pate ($5.80), which has chicken cold cut ham, chicken pate spread and chicken meat floss sandwiched in freshly baked baguette.
The baguette had a chewy bite texture, complemented with crusty exterior and fresh flavours from pickled salad, coriander leaves and chillies.
While its generally above average, I personally prefer my banh mi to have more distinctive savoury flavours coupled with sourish taste notes from pickled salad.
They also offer fanciful banh mi options such as Honey-glazed Grilled Chicken Thigh with Homemade Chicken Pate ($6.50), Batter Crispy Fillet with Honey Mustard Sauce ($7.00) and Grilled Lemongrass Beef Patty with Hoisin Sauce ($7.00).
What left me a pleasant surprise was their fusion Mackerel Otah with Homemade Vietnamese Mayonnaise Banh Mi ($6.50).
While the combination seemed like a forced marriage, the coconutty creaminess and savoury notes from the mackerel otah managed to imbue a fuller-bodied flavour twist to the hearty staple.
Other than banh mi, there are also wallet-friendly breakfast food options such as Kuning Fish Nasi Lemak ($2.20), Otah Toast ($2.20) and Soft-Boiled Eggs ($1.50).
Their Kuning Fish Nasi Lemak came with coconut rice, fried fish, crispy anchovies and peanuts, pretty much value for money for that price point.
Special mention to its sambal chilli paste which came sweet at first bite, and spicy hot after taste which grew at subsequent mouthful.
Be sure to also add-on their Mackerel Otah ($1.50) grilled in banana leaf for the elevated smoky fragrance to complete the meal.
Remember to satisfy your caffeine fix with their Vietnamese Drip Coffee (Hot $4.50, Cold $4.80).
Using robusta beans, Vietnamese coffee are usually much darker and bolder in taste.
Wary of this, their staff were also prompt to offer customers a watered-down version of the beverage should some find it bitter or overpowering for their liking.
While not halal-certified, Joo Chiat Caphe is a Muslim-friendly eatery as they do not use pork or lard in cooking and all food ingredients are sourced from halal-certified suppliers.
Do also take note that while the eatery operates from 9am, Banh Mi is only available from 10am onwards.
Joo Chiat Caphe
263 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427517
Opening Hours: 9am – 7pm (Tue – Sun), Closed Mon
* Written by Lewis Tan @juicyfingers, a self-proclaimed coffee addict. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.