Holqa Cafe: always brings me back to you.
Labels: affordable, all-day-breakfast, brunch, cafe, East Coast/ Joo Chiat, eggs benedict, family friendly, fried chicken, fusion, hidden finds, pasta, pulled pork · Posted by SiHaN at 3/03/2015 08:56:00 am
Holqa Cafe, you beast. You wild, unpredictable, wholly overwhelming place. Holqa isn't just your run-off-the-mill type cafe where you expect the standard fare at exorbitant prices...it's a spirit, a culture that aims to bind. To link, as they say in Maltese. It's palpable and irresistible and will not be ignored. Holqa, you excite me, I know I sound incredibly biased right now, but I don't give two hoots. Holqa, I love you.
Owners Welson and Simple makes the kind of earnest, fashionably austere food with a slight Asian flair, a tinge of spice here and a judicious movement with sugar. It all comes together in a way so unexpected and right that I had to shake my head.
Situated right smack in front of a bus stop along a never ending row of F&B outlets, Holqa, with its frontage that does not speak grand statements, surely has got its work cut out for it. However, after putting the food to the test, I reckon the obstacle is less daunting.
The Watermelon Lime Freeze ($5) and a cold Flat White ($5) are excellent ways to beat the heat especially with the semi-alfresco conditions here in the shop (enforced by circumstances, building restrictions prevent them from having a door. BOO!)
Start off on your journey of affordable hits of deliciousness with the perennial favourite Braised Asian Pulled Pork Aglio Olio ($14.90), braised pork jowl littered gregariously with Asian spices tossed with spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. The kitchen achieves transcendence with this dish, the blend of Asian cooking techniques and flavors working in cahoots with the usual suspects to produce a dish that gets many exclamation points from the diners.
Savoury Cream Cheese French Toast and Smoked Salmon ($15.90) receives a less rousing response, the combination of overflowing maple syrup and smoked salmon not entirely convincing. Bacon would inject a stronger narrative for sure.
The SnS-Ji ($9.90) is revelation level stuff. Here, piping hot crunchy mid joint are tossed with secret homemade sweet and spicy sauce inspired by the owner's love for stick chili tapioca chips. The piquant flavors grows on your after its slight sweetish first impression and will definitely keep you going back for more. A MUST ORDER!
For desserts, carb monsters should give the Monkey Funky Toast ($10.90) a go. Meltingly moist and fragrant innards due to a generous slathering of butter over criss-cross thatched hefty slice of brioche is enlivened with a cream like scoop of vanilla ice cream, served with freshly sliced bananas on the side and a swoosh of homemade peanut butter cream. I cannot stress that enough. The words 'homemade' increasing the appeal hundred-fold. I licked the plate bone dry and rubbed my happy belly.
Second visit was a blast, the same dishes living up to the standards (vouched by myself) with my fellow accomplices.
All eyes were on the Bearnaise Eggs Benedict ($15.90) as the bright yellow eggs spilt its rich innards onto the superb brioche toast. Covered with a veil of spicy Bearnaise sauce, the dish was picture perfect and tasted the part as well. Note that you can choose between honey ham or smoked salmon. My loyalties lie with the former.
Breaded Shitake Mushrooms ($7.90) is evidence that Holqa does their fried foods with finesse, the crunchy exterior adhering well to the shitake mushrooms through the arduous photography sessions. Served with wasabi mayonnaise on the side, this would make the perfect snack for large groups.
However, the limelight definitely shines brightly on the Braised Asian Pulled Pork with 3 Cheeses Sandwich ($15.90), a garlicky confetti of warm spices, with shredded pork and pops of pleasure from the mix of gruyere, mozzarella and cheddar cheese. You had me at hello.
Paling in comparison is the Almost Carbonara ($14.90). A soupy concoction of shitake mushrooms, bacon and spghatti; throw out some of the cream in the equation and you'll pretty much derive at a much more radical dish.
Too many cafes put the cart before the horse, but Holqa ain't one of those; making sure to tame the animal and groom its silky mane prior to reaching out to the public. The humble cooking emulating the creative modern cuisine of some well acclaimed establishments but at a fraction of the cost, a major plus point. I would strongly recommend you to visit this establishment and support this passion project!
Definitely one of my best cafe experiences of the year!
37 East Coast Road
t: 6635 7010
Mon-Tues: 12pm - 9pm
Thurs - Fri: 12pm - 9pm
Sat - Sun: 9am - 9pm