Mondays, skillet meals
What is it about Mondays that inspires so many songs, movies and books? Yes, that is the start of the week, when we are expected to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But so few of us say Thank God It’s Monday (song, NOFX). For most of us, it’s Monday Mourning (book, Kathy Reichs) or Stormy Monday (movie, 1988).
Fortunately, there is an escape hatch – a chic cafe in Jalan Klapa that serves terrific food in skillets. Mondays is jointly owned by Mr Isrudy Shaik and Mr Hairul Isa, who serve beguiling, smoked food at Asap & Co and Cherry & Oak. At their new restaurant, which opened last month, they celebrate the skillet, used here to cook and serve the food.
Now the idea of a Cold Skillet sounds odd, but that’s what the appetisers are called. My Corsican Peach & Burrata skillet ($23) features baked clove-scented sweet peaches topped with chopped pecans and drizzled with a lightly tart balsamic dressing, as well as a large ball of burrata, the centre wobbly and semi-liquid. The single slice of toast, drizzled with olive oil, is inadequate to mop up all that goodness.
But save some space for the main courses. You will want to order Chili Con Carne Rosti ($24) just because the potatoes are so finely shredded they crisp up in a nest of fried goodness. The cumin-scented topping of ground beef and kidney bean stew gets more richness from two poached eggs topped with melted cheese. All I want is for this skillet to be served piping hot, not just hot.
And I wouldn’t mind some bread to mop up the egg yolk and beef either.
People who are carb-lite may prefer to forgo potatoes and zoom in on Garlic Tiger Prawns ($21) and Miso Pacific Cod ($32), skipping the toast that comes with the cod. Vegetarian folks have Crispy Cauliflower ($8) with a sweet-sour garlic aioli for a main-course option.
The place is well-known for its canele (which I am so over) and coffee (my $7 hot Onde Onde Latte is just milk coffee pimped out with coconut syrup), so when I return, it will be for the skillets. I wonder if I can have that terrific rosti with other toppings. Those strings of potatoes crisp up so beautifully, they need to be stars of the show.
Oh, and it is wise to read the drink coaster. “We’re actually closed on Mondays.” You see, Mondays are intolerable even for cafes called Mondays.
Where: 8 Jalan Klapa
Open: Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am to 9pm; weekends, 9am to 9pm; closed on Mondays
Monday Coffee Bar, neighbourhood hangout
When I say that Monday Coffee Bar is in a tranquil part of Ang Mo Kio, I mean it. Who knew there would be a cafe serving good coffee in a sleepy Housing Board block? In this sleepy part of Ang Mo Kio?
And yet, there it is, just over a year old and doing steady business.
The Hot White Coffee ($5.50) I order for delivery turns out to be good, and I decide to check the place out. What I find is a lovely spot in which to space out during the lunch hour and have some coffee and sandwiches. Of course, everyone is calling them sando now, even if they are nothing like the Japanese ones.
My Espresso Tonic ($7.50) turns out to be one of the better versions I have had in Singapore, the Dutch Colony beans more than holding their own against the fizzy and slightly sweet tonic.
The Spicy Chicken sando ($7.50) I order is filled with good-sized chunks of chicken breast. I have always thought that life is too short to eat chicken breast, but none of the pieces is dried out. I just want more character in the “spicy” sauce that coats the meat. Toasted multi-grain bread, snappy lettuce leaves and slices of tomato complete the sandwich, which is just right for lunch if you are a light eater.
But what is stopping you from having another sando? It is Monday, after all, and you need the strength to carry on.
Where: Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10
MRT: Ang Mo Kio
Open: Weekdays, 8.30am to 6.30pm; weekends, 9.30am to 6pm
Monday Blues, deep, dark gelato
It is Tuesday when I visit, but the dour young man behind the counter, more intent on washing dishes than taking my order, seems to be having a case of the Monday blues. His demeanour is in stark contrast to the stylish cafe, light, bright and welcoming. Monday Blues also stands out in Geylang, amid a sea of bars, small grocery shops and eating places.
Of course, the easy thing would be to order waffles and ice cream ringed with cotton candy ($16), or a cone of ice cream similarly anointed ($9). But please. I am here for gelato on a hot day, not to take photos for the ‘Gram.
I am in luck because from 3 to 6pm from Mondays to Wednesdays, it’s one-for-one scoops. They usually cost $4.90 a scoop.
My scoop of Dark Chocolate makes me shiver in delight when it hits the tongue. As promised, the chocolate is dark, with cacao nibs worked through the ice cream to add more depth and texture. Yes, gelato is not as rich as ice cream, but I finish the entire scoop feeling zero guilt. Call me a fuddy-duddy, but complicated ice cream flavours make my eyes glaze over. Make it classic, make it intense, dial back the sweetness and I’ll come back for more.
While that flavour is a delight, I cannot say the same of Burnt Pineapple. It does not taste burnt, which in some applications is a good thing, nor does it taste of pineapple. Instead, my taste buds are pummelled with jasmine and there is some sort of frozen red fruit in the scoop too. The texture is stretchy, like ice cream made with mastic, resin from a tree.
Just stick to the classic flavours here.
Where: 749 Geylang Road
MRT: Paya Lebar
Open: Sundays to Wednesdays, 3 to 11pm; Fridays and Saturdays, 3pm to 1am; closed on Thursdays