SINGAPORE - (THE NEW PAPER) These days, walking into some cafes is like strolling into a styled set for a photo shoot.
It was just like that at Punch.
Run by the people behind popular cafe Ronin, Punch is clean and minimal, and I think the customers it attracts appreciate that.
And thank goodness it's substance over style here, although the small menu seems a little scattered.
The lunch menu has Italian, Japanese, Chinese and even vegan food, with fruits, eggs and pancakes for breakfast.
As good as the food is, the star here seems to be the coffee.
I don't profess to be a coffee connoisseur (give me a kopi peng any time), but I was impressed by the tableside pour and the depth of the coffee. If you're a coffee outsider like me, ask for recommendations. The servers - all young, chatty and attractive - know their stuff.
The beautifully executed Roast Chicken Leg ($20) is a beguiling mix of textures and flavours. The freekeh salad that the leg sits on is fabulous and the feta crumbs add to the sensation. It's a return-worthy dish.
Bill's Frittata ($13) with chorizo and goat's cheese should pack a punch (pardon the pun), but it doesn't. It's pleasant but mild, and needs some personality.
It took a while for me to decide that I liked the Braised Pork Bowl ($13). It's a safe but robust dish, with a traditional taste of Chinese braised pork. It's seductive and smells so inviting. I guess, with some dishes, there is no need for innovation.
I highly recommend the Earl Grey Pancakes ($15). They are a visual treat and taste as good. I love the macadamia crumble too. Everything about it is a win.
The Maple Roasted Vegan Bowl ($14) is so pretty, but frightfully pricey. It's basically a little bowl of slightly undercooked brussels sprouts and perfectly done butternut squash.
32, North Canal Road
Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am to 10pm; weekends, 8am to 6.30pm
This article was first published on May 18, 2016.
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