Last Updated: August 9, 2015
The Quarters: The cafe which puts a modern touch to Singapore’s traditional food from every quarter of Singapore, regardless of race or religion. The bistro cafe highlights the juxtaposition between the old and the new by serving up local favourites easily found in the hawker centers but with a fancy touch.
In a way, I would say that The Quarters is preserving the heritage of Singapore’s food – with the rapid decline in hawker center food amongst youngsters nowadays, I am always delighted to see local food being plated and served in cafes or bistros in a more modern representation.
The whole ambiance of The Quarters is incredibly laid back and it encourages diners to ‘come as they are’. Whether you are dressed in your shirt and FBT shorts or skin-tight dress with stiletto heels, you’ll feel right at home in the cafe.
As a tribute to Singapore’s hawker center, the entire cafe is sort of themed after the rustic food centres. There are wooden chairs and tables, tin-roofs and card-board fixtures – all very down-to-earth and humble. This is one cafe I wouldn’t be intimidated by.
Salted Egg Fries ($9). The salted egg everything craze is still well and alive – as evidenced by how easily you can find a variation of the salted egg dish in any cafe you head to.
However, I promise that you’ll be pleasantly caught off guard by The Quarter’s salted egg alioli: they have put a new spin on it by adding in curry leaves. The dip is very savoury and creamy, it pairs perfectly with the golden-brown, crisp fries.
The fries managed to retain its crunchiness even when they had cooled: no worries for those who would love to talk on for hours while enjoying a full bowl of fried potato goodness. Also, the serving was relatively huge and I think it’s suitable for sharing between 3 to 4 persons. Extremely value for money.
Har Cheong Gai ($9.50). I think it’s always nice to see old school local delights being served up in cafes; even with the recent decline in popularity of hawker center food amongst the younger crowd, I know I’ll still be able to chow down a little bit of Singapore’s traditions in the future. The Quarter’s Har Cheong Gai (prawn paste chicken) was wonderfully crispy on the outside, with piping hot tender meat which my teeth sliced through like a dream.
Also, sambal lovers will enjoy the homemade sambal sauce by the cafe: it packs a punch but it does not overwhelm the taste buds – you’ll still be able to taste the golden chunks of meat even after pairing them with the power-packed sauce.
Samsui Chicken ($12.80). Once again, you’ll see that Singapore’s traditional food plays a quintessential part in the menu of The Quarters. The Samsui Chicken is a tribute to Singapore’s Hainanese Chicken Rice. For all those craving for chicken rice but are deathly afraid of carbs in your diet, this is definitely for you. The Quarters has substituted that glorious, fattening chicken fats-infused serving of rice with fresh veggies. Indulge without the expansion in waist line: win-win situation.
The flavouring of the salad vinaigrette was on point: it really did remind me a lot of chicken rice. I just wish there was more on the chicken slices though: they were a little bland.
Ma Jie’s Indulgence ($18). Ah, yes, the Ma Jie’s Indulgence. Chilli crab pasta? Hell yeah, I would eat that any day. This was my favourite dish of the meal: it was rich, full-bodied and come on, there were real crab meat thrown into the mix – I can’t imagine anyone not liking this. The pasta was cooked al-dente, just the way I like it. This is definitely suitable for sharing though, it can get pretty heavy toward the end because it is just that flavoured.
One minor gripe about the dish would be that the sauce was a little dry: we would have loved it a lot better if it was just slightly runnier. Other than that, this dish is a 10/10 for me.
Mint Cocoa ($6). If you’re a fan of the combination of mint and chocolate, this drink is right up your alley. The refreshing taste of mint attacks you at the very first sip, then retreats to allow the sweetness of hot chocolate to seep through. An entirely enjoyable cup of drink to go with the good food served at the cafe.
The Last Samurai ($20). A buttery, full-flavoured steak at $20 nett? I think that’s rather hard to find nowadays. This dish is best enjoyed with the mixing in of the egg yolk with the meat: it gives a more wholesome flavour to The Quarters’ beef.
Our steak was done to a medium rare; just how I like my steaks so I was very satisfied. If you are a steak lover, The Last Samurai is definitely a must-try for you when you find yourself at the cafe.
Satay Burger ($17). Say hello to the Satay Burger: chunks of tender pork meat paired with chewy, QQ rice patties which are nicely crisp on the outside and a bomb-ass satay sauce – it cannot get any better than this, really. This was a really nice spin on Singapore’s favourite satay, with the rice patty taking months of R&D to perfect. Who knew I could get to eat authentic satay without poking myself in the mouth with wooden sticks? Is it really just me?
Anyhow, satay lovers, this dish was made for you. Now, you don’t even have to worry about the need to find a trash can for your wooden sticks: you can just swallow this whole. This is a very filling dish: I’d suggest sharing it.
Wonderffle ($12.80). Of course, how could we ever miss out on deserts? Topped with refreshing pandan and lemongrass ice cream, the waffles are delightfully soft and eggy. Of course, in line with The Quarters’ mission of keeping Singapore’s local food fare alive, the waffles are also glazed with Gula Melaka. Yum.
Bibik’s Brownie ($10.80). This is a highly controversial dish because that scoop of ice cream you see right there? It’s not dark chocolate – it’s Buah Keluak ice cream. Depending on whether you love or hate the bitter after notes of Buah Keluak itself, you might or might not enjoy this.
I don’t think there is an in-between. I really liked the brownies, though. They were fluffy and airy – not too jelat, a perfect light ending after a sinful meal.
Duriancanboleh ($8.50). Ah yes, The Quarters’ classic durian creme brulee. This was the dessert which had kick started the whole cafe into existence so you know that this is damn good. With the fibres of premium Mao Shan Wang durians filtered out, the resulting custard was incredibly smooth and it glided beautifully down my throat. What an indulgent dessert. Durian fanatics, this is one dessert you’ll kick yourself for not having tried. Really, I swear.
Overall, I really admire the entire concept behind The Quarters: how they aim to breathe new life into some of Singapore’s most loved, traditional food. I have already made a mental note to myself that I will be returning back for more of their Ma Jie’s Indulgence (chilli crab pasta), Satay Burger and Duriancanboleh (durian creme brulee).
Expected Damage: $20 – 40 per pax