[NEW OPENING] Honolulu Cafe: a taste of Cha Chaan Teng culture

Beloved Hong Kong treasure, Honolulu Cafe spreads its wings across the seas for the first time and unfurls its first international outlet right here, in Singapore. Despite the quizzical reactions that are stirred due to its unorthodox choice of location - in Centrepoint -  a rather drab mall along the main stretch of Orchard. It's isolation further proven when my partner was left skirting around the mall for an additional 20 mins in a fruitless attempt to unearth the delicacy that is their infamous Egg Tarts. I on the other hand, found the exploration process strangely intriguing, it's convenient yet seemingly secluded position bringing new life to the mall, that I've heard, have grand re-branding plans in the pipeline.

Service is brisk and table tops are kept spick and span with most of the cutlery safely stowed away in drawers hauled out from underneath the tables. Brilliant. The space is reminiscent of a bustling Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng, except for the ridiculously large spacing in between seats and the lack of dirt and grime. Not that I'm complaining...

This Hong Kong Cafe has perfected the Egg Tart ($1.70 each). The secret? They're time-tested method of freezing the dough overnight to fold a whopping 300 layers in total for a befittingly crispy and flaky shell. Baked fresh in small quantities each time, you're guaranteed to get a jiggly treat of silky lengths with a hint of vanilla - and, of course pairs great with their authentic Hong Kong Milk Tea ($3/Hot; $3.20 Cold).

Another well-known Hong Kong afternoon snack that doesn't require you to dig deep, is their Honolulu Pineapple bun with butter ($2). The buns, like golden pillows have an excruciatingly caramelized veil which provides a satisfying crunch. Though crisp on the top, these mounds are incredibly moist and spongy in the middle.. the only thing lacking is the use of salted butter which would help to strike a tasty salty sweet balance.

Best visited with a couple of friends, the menu, like any other decent HK joint offers up a healthy selection of other baked goods, snacks and sandwiches, Main courses and others which may seem like a mean feat to conquer on your own. The fare is homely and reasonable on the wallet. That includes an impeccable Curry Fish Ball ($3) and rather decent Shrimp Toast ($5) that reeks nostalgia with every bite coupled with swabs of  sweetened old school mayonnaise.

Though this cafe is justifiably renowned for its egg tarts and milk tea, its Yuan Yang ($3.30 for Hot, $3.50 for Cold) is the unsung hero. Churned out in perfect proportions of pulled tea and coffee, the amalgamation speaks of a binding contract which justifies its founding inspirations.

Not everything is a bed of roses at the joint, and I would advise most to steer clear of the Sweet and Sour Pork as well as the Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Beef ($7) - both a bit underwhelming with the pork reeking of a nauseating smell despite the strong pineapple upheaval its in coating whilst the latter lacked wok hei and the quintessential smoky qualities.

That being said, the more popular items from its existing Hong Kong menu, and namely the jiggly egg tarts themselves warrant a visit to the well-loved Honolulu Cafe. But I daresay, the Grand opening tomorrow (10th May) is sure to set off a queue frenzy, so plan ahead.

Honolulu Cafe 
The Centrepoint

Operating Hours:
Daily: 11am - 10pm

No comments: