Cafe Hopper Review: Select Books @ Armenian Street

I was rather tired by the time I bum into this very interesting place. From the outside you wouldn’t think too much of it as a cafe. As a matter of fact, the place is more of a bookshop than a cafe. Once you entered the place, you are brought to a world of literary works. They sell mainly asian collection of books. Thus, if you are into any kind of Asian studies or what…this is a good place to get your resources. It has a good collection of all kinds of books on Asia and Singapore, both Mandarin and English books.

When we arrived at the shop, there was a group of people just sitting down there and exchanging ideas and sharing. I am not too sure what exactly they were talking about…well it’s not nice to eavesdrop right…but they were certainly very relax and chill in a hot Tuesday afternoon. I conclude that this is really a cool place for you to rest your legs and slow down your fast pace life and be surrounded by books.

If you walk all the way in, it has a simple counter selling drinks and some cakes and snacks. I seriously think that the main thing about this place is not the drinks or coffee or snacks…it is really first a bookshop follow by a cafe. I decided to out this down in my blog because I think this is a cool place to just chill out after work or if you need a quiet place just to do your work. The cafe section is pretty retro and it does bring you back to the 60s or even 50s…with the comfort of air-conditioning of course. Just remember that you can’t expect too much from them as a cafe….

The gatekeeper



Cafe Hopper Review: Blackbird Cafe @ The Luxe, Handy Road

This is a recommendation from a friend last night when we finished our dinner and shopping. It was a cool night out and I really enjoyed being out on a Sunday evening. Its been quite a while since I hang out late on a Sunday night. I wouldn’t think about doing that when I was having a full time teaching job. Now that I don’t really teach, I feel more relax and chill even on a Sunday evening. After our dinner, we went around shopping and buying stuff…mostly my friend…not me. I only bought one piece of long-sleeve V neck t-shirt and two Calvin Klein’s handkerchiefs from Isetan. I really love my new CK handkerchief by the way. If you are a “hangky-pangky” kind of person, you should try the CK handkerchief. They are really good in absorbing moist and nice design as well. I decided to take a snapshot of my new handkerchief here….haha. Ok…That is a bit of my vain self.

After our shopping, my friend decided to bring me to this cafe, tuck in at the corner of Handy Road. You will probably see The Luxe Art Gallery or Museum there as well. I really like the all glass outlook and the glass murals of blackbirds. From outside, it really look like a cafe with a class of its own. My friend told me that they serve pretty nice smoothies but I am not really a smoothies kind of person. He ordered the smmothies and I ordered my usual latte with triple shots. Yah, started ordering triple shots latte ever since a good friend of mine recommened that to me, The coffee was good and I love the bitter after-taste of the latte. I didn’t get to try any of the food there but I would the next time I visit the place.

Come to Blackbird Cafe in the night and really enjoy the neons and buzz of city life through the glass window panel. It would be a luxury to just sit there, with a nice cupt of latte, looking at the people passing by you.

The gatekeeper






Cafe Hopper: Reflect…Reflect… And Reflect

In a fast pace Singapore society, I am finding it harder to think and reflect about things. Everybody wants it fast and quick but the fact is reflection takes times and sometime very long. Started last year, I wanted to slow down my life and give myself a little more room and space to reflect and think. I decided to quit my job and started travelling quite a fair bit. Before you start to envy my decision to do that, it really comes with a price. I know…I know… You must be thinking that I am so into Eat, Pray, Love kind of a thing…I guess so but I beg to differ. Eat, Pray, Love is such a fantasy but mine was so real. It was scary to see your bank account going down the slope everyday. I only had expenditures in my account and no income at all. Trust me, slowing down demand a high price. Of course I am thankful that I have a family that really supported me and I am grateful to them. Anyway, that is not the point today. The point is we have so little time to spend thinking and allowing matters to settle down in our hearts. Perhaps this is not allowed in a complex society like Singapore.

When I came back from Thailand in March, I was very determined to never rush in my life. Since then I make it a point to come out from my house early so that I can slowly…indeed slowly, with the speed the train is going nowadays…take my time to reach my destination. I also make it a point not to run for buses if I obviously know that I am going to miss them. Let it go…cos another one will be coming soon from around the corner. I try to walk slowly as well. In the past I used to walk at a very pace because I am always rushing for time. Today, since I am not in a rush, I never have to walk fast.

This morning when I was sitting down at Starbucks and I was looking at the last mouth of cinnamon swirl on the plate, I began to think why do we always take a photo of the food we are about to eat at the beginning? How about the just before you finish it? I know this sounds weird but I decided to take a snapshot of this last mouth of swirl and post it as a graphic here. Ok, what is the connection? The point is that if we were to slow down and give yourself more time to digest and reflect, things will look very different most of the time.

I must say that it is not always easy to slow down, especially when others will be rushing you. They will be wondering why you are so slow. I am so glad nowadays when I bring students for nature appreciation walk, I am teaching them to slow down and to take time to see the world through a different lens. Keep calm and slow down….take time to appreciate the people next to you…the flowers in the garden…the trees along the side-walks and the skies above us.

The gatekeeper



Cafe Hopper @ Tiong Bahru Bakery, Raffles City

After our breakfast, my friend and I decided to drop by Tiong Bahru Bakery for dessert or just some pastries and coffee. Love coffee time with friends, especially when we have so much to talk about and share. Sometimes I see coffee as a connection between people. It helps to connect us with one another and adding flavour to conversations. I am so glad that this week I had two ‘coffee connections’. Was with another friend at Starbucks, JEM, on Saturday after a whole day of work. Really feel very great about that connection. Connections always result in some reactions. Once you start to connect something, there is always an effect. I certainly hope that all these connections will lead me to something wonderful and bliss.

Back to my friend at Tiong Bahru Bakery. We had a short but pretty deep conversation about being griped by our past. Like it or not we are some how affected by what happened before. Memories of our past can sometimes make us lose connection of the present. When we lost that connection to the present we may find it difficult to move on into the future. It’s so easy to just pretend that nothing happened before, but the reality is that they happened and will leave tattoo mark in our mind.

We didn’t have any conclusion to our conversation but at least it helps to sort of settle come thing in our hearts. Sometimes the taste of the food reflects the connection we have with one another. We ordered a lemon calamansi tart and trust me its pretty sour…and yes sometimes memories can be that sour and leave a strong after taste. But there is always a sting of sweetness somewhere. I guess that is what life is all about….flavouring…

The gatekeeper


Cafe Hopper Review: Oriole Cafe and Bar @ 313 Somerset

I entered a lot of cafe by mistakes and some of these cafes turned out to be pretty nice cafes. On Monday, I was on a date with an old time buddy and we were suppose to go to another cafe only to realise that it was closed down some time ago. I was rather disappointed to hear of good cafes having to close down due to exuberant high rental or even high costs of operation here in Singapore. If only our costs of operation is to that high, I am sure that cafe owners can be more creative and innovative in their cafe ideas. Unfortunately, this is not the case here in the Little Red Dot.

We decided to walk to 313 Somerset and settled down at Oriole Cafe and Bar. We didn’t really have high hope on this cafe, but still we were greeted with warm hospitality by the waitress who attended to us. In fact, she saw us and rushed out from within the cafe to attend to us. I personally like the ambience and setting of the cafe. It allows patrons to be able to look out and observe the people traveling to and fro. There was so much to observe while I was having brunch with my friend. It was certainly a very good chat and we certainly enjoyed the egg benedict that both of us ordered. My buddy ordered the salmon egg benedict and I thought that was pretty rare.

The latte was surprisingly nice and fragrant. I took a sip and I could sense the smoothness of the coffee and I didn’t have a bad after taste. They seem to pride themselves of their coffee and I certainly feel that they should do that. The cafe does serve beer and liquor as well. I believe that it is also a good chill out place if you just want to have a drink or two after a hectic day.

I certainly think that Oriole is worth a try for all coffee lovers and certainly for the rest who just need a good drinking place after work. Do drop by one day to experience the cafe.

The gatekeeper






Cafe Hopper Gets Spiritual – Reflection at Starbucks

I must say that there is a strong parallel between coffee drinking and spirituality. I woke up this morning around 5 and I heard the rhythmic raindrops outside my window. I felt so comfortable listening to the raindrops falling and realised how blessed I am in The Lord. For a good many years I have not felt this way. I continued to roll in my bed and bathing myself in this divine bliss. Oh yah, because God sent the rain, I was so not going to the Cathedral for my service today. Believe me, I really wanted to go for my service.

When I opened my room door, I was greeted by Toffee, my little toy poodle. Every morning she will wait for me to come out from my room faithfully without fail…well unless my mum ground her in the kitchen. Toffee never fails to greet me with lots of leaps and bounds. I decided that since I am not going to the Cathedral, I might as well go down to Starbucks and do some reading. I packed with me my old, tattered Bible and techy iPad. I am a strange person, I usually have my Our Daily Bread on iPad and prefers to read the Word from my physical copy Bible. I never like the idea of digital Bible. I like to feel, touch and experience the Word of God.

The reading for the morning was from Psalm 51 and it speaks about David and his sin. I was once again moved by David’s repentance and reflected on that. The Lord reminded me of His grace and compassionate in forgiving us and cleanse us when we truly repent of our wrongdoings. I was very moved by the message. Of course, I had my sips of coffee as well. I felt as though God reached out His might hands from His throne of grace and touched my feeble heart. The touch was so tangible that I almost tear.

I then started to worship God with a few songs from YouTube, songs from Psalm 51. I must say that Keith Green has a way to soul-bound you with his voice. He is just so gifted and inspired by the Holy Spirit. When I heard his version of Psalm 51, my spirit was so bound by the words and the music, and of course by the Spirit of God. God, help me to stay true to Your Word. I held my old, tattered Bible and was reminded how I delighted in the Word of God as a young Christian back in the 1990s. I was even reminded of my faith back in the 1980s as well. I believe that King David was also reminded of the joy of his salvation when he repented before Almighty God.

I guess, coffee really has away to bring us closer to God. This morning was indeed a coffee time well spent with Jesus. In fact, I felt that he was just sitting right in front of me the whole morning. Like it or not, God is everywhere…. The next time you visit a cafe, invite Him along and you might just have a very different encounter of His Presence right there. Go experience Him over a cup of nice, hot latte….☕☕

The gatekeeper




Cafe Hopper Review: Coffee Stars by Dao (Thai and International Cuisine)

This cafe is a pleasant surprise for me. I wanted to visit Paris Baguette Cafe in Wisma but when I arrived there it was simply too crowded. So I decided to save that for next review. I bummed into Coffee Stars by Dao. I am pretty familiar with Coffee Bean by Dao in Bangkok but I was delighted to see the same chain of cafe in Singapore. I decided on this one.

I wanted to just have coffee and some pastries. When I saw in the menu a whole list of ‘local’ Thai food, I decided to eat more. I ordered the traditional khao niao or sticky rice and BBQ beef. I also ordered my all time favourite som tum or papaya salad. What really made my day was that the manage of the cafe from Thailand and I managed to speak a few lines of Thai with her. I love the feeling of that…makes me feel like I am at home.

Oh yah, I must mention the lemon grass tea which I ordered. The tea was really refreshing and it really compliments the tastes of Thai cuisine, a bit of spicy, a bit of sour, a bit of sweet and a bit of all other things. The sticky rice served in the traditional cane-knitted container and again that made my day. And I must say that the rest of the food, indeed, met my expectation of Thai cuisine. As a matter of fact, the food is more tasty then many of the Thai restaurants here. Unfortunately, it is a bit pricy over here.

If you have never visited a Dao, this is one you may not want to miss. I will certainly recommend this for people who wish to have a taste of authentic Thai cuisine.

The gatekeeper





Cafe Hopper Review: Old School Delights (OSD) @ Upper Thomson

It’s been a very long time since I am out with my family for a nice breakie. All thanks to public holiday…we had the time to do this yesterday. Well, we didn’t quite hit the morning breakie though…more like a brunch I believe. Wanted to visit Habitat Coffee at Upper Thomson, cos heard from a god friend that the food taste has improved a lot. Since I came back from Thailand, I haven’t really tasted their food yet. I was told by the lady boss that they changed their chef and this time is the mother-in-law…which side I am not too sure…haha…

Anyway Ryan told us that it would be a 20 mins wait and I thought maybe we should proceed to another place for breakie. By the way, for those who have been very busy with work and neglecting your family life, this is a good chance to do so. Never forget that the core of every individuals is the family. Well, we decided to go to OSD. I personally don’t quite fancy the food at OSD but this time round, I must say that my experience at the cafe was really nice. I ordered their local Malay delight, Mee Siam and I must say that their food has improved quite a fair bit as well. The Mee Siam was tasty and the flavouring was just cool. My little niece ordered a soup macaroni from the menu and trust me it does has the old school canteen taste of soup noodle. However, I still find the place a little pricy but for the good concept and experience I seriously think that the little extra is quite worth it.

I am sure that OSD is not exactly new to most of us, same for me, it’s not exactly new. However, a revisit to OSD yesterday somehow made the experience rather special and unique. Not too sure if its because we were eating and enjoying as a family. When you do things together as a family, I guess it doesn’t really matter where it is. Drop by one of these days at OSD with your family and you can share your childhood stories with your children and teach them the games that you used to play as a child. Hey, honestly, it can be quite an experience!

The gatekeeper