Last Updated: February 20, 2021
Admittedly, during my time here at SethLui.com, I’ve not ventured far from the comfort of Japanese, Korean, and cafe fare that in themselves, make up the usual brunches for me and my Saturday squad. Daisy’s Dream Cafe at KINEX is my stab at something other than sourdough sandwiches and oat lattes along Haji lane—a girl can, after all, only try so many different cuppas before herself turning into a bag of coffee beans.
Some might recognise the name from its mother establishment, Daisy’s Dream Kitchen, which can be considered as one of the OGs of Singapore’s Peranakan food scene. Exactly how OG you ask? For starters, Daisy’s Dream Kitchen has been serving PM Lee and Ho Ching’s go-to Peranakan meals for years, and just recently, SM Goh paid a visit too.
Its long-awaited foray into the East, fans of the famed Peranakan restaurant finally no longer have to make the treacherous journey nor give up their firstborn to get a taste of the delectable buah keluak.
As an express concept spun off from Daisy’s Dream Kitchen, you can think of the kiosk-based kitchen as hearty Peranakan fare condensed into a compact, easy bowl. I can only describe the Beef Rendang Bowl (S$10.80) as utterly and unapologetically scrumptious.
But that’s just what Peranakan flavours are—bold, loud, with a whole lot of heart. Fork-tender chunks of beef sit atop a brilliant rendang sauce that easily has me thinking about it for days on end. With each bowl, diners can choose between a chap chye or sayur lodeh; both of which make amazing choices no matter the pairing.
Diversity is the name of the game at Daisy’s Dream Cafe, with beef, pork, and chicken all available as meat options. The Assam Chicken Bowl (S$9.80) serves a tangy but fiery option for those who love their spice, but the true hero of all the bowls for me is Daisy’s Dream Cafe’s particularly racy, extremely tasty Sambal Belacan (S$10 per bottle).
As if the elements on the bowl aren’t already rich enough as it is, the belacan swoops in like the delicious show-stopper it was designed to be.
Intersperse your bites of rice with one of my favourites at Daisy’s Dream Cafe—Ngoh Hiang (S$6.80 for 5 pieces, S$10.80 for eight pieces), which are served as bite-sized meatballs that pack just as much flavour as everything else on the menu.
For more sides, consider the Otak Otak (S$4.80) which has my dining partner begging for seconds like I’ve never before witnessed. Unlike many other eateries that tend to use fish scraps for their version of otah, Daisy’s Dream Cafe does it entirely differently; which sees batches of fresh mackerel carefully and painstakingly de-boned and crafted in-store daily.
The crown prince Babi Buah Keluak Bowl (S$11.80) arrives thick with anticipation—the famed buah keluak is a Daisy’s Dream Kitchen signature, after all. I can’t remember the last time I had buah keluak, so you can consider this my re-discovery of the popular nut. Perhaps the fun lies in spooning out the nutty bits and then having it with your rice, but markedly, I’m particularly ecstatic to bite into a savoury burst of flavours. It is now that I’m beginning to understand why just one portion isn’t enough.
I wolf down the entirety of the dish, simultaneously giving thanks for the affordable price points here at Daisy’s Dream Cafe, so I know that dropping by and picking up a bowl or two is always an option for lil’ ol’ me. As someone who unabashedly and wholeheartedly loves her spicy and savoury grub, the rice bowls here are but a dream come true—aptly befitting of the establishment’s name. Regardless of which meats you end up choosing, you have my word that you’re all set for a delicious gastronomical experience nonetheless.
Ah, but that’s not all at Daisy’s Dream Cafe. Co-owner Ray also owns a Thai coffee brand, Me Thai Coffee, which sees sustainably-farmed single-origin coffee, which so happens to also be integrated into the menu here. You’ll find the reliable few—Americano (S$3.50 hot, S$4.50 iced), Latte (S$4 hot, S$5 iced), Mocha (S$5 hot, S$6 iced)—but what’s particularly curious is Ray’s special OrangeSpresso (S$6.50, iced), and it’s exactly what you think it is.
Before you swiftly dismiss this seemingly strange combination, consider that espresso tonics were once frowned upon too. Using a similar concept, Ray combines the tartness and acidity of orange juice with a fragrant espresso shot and it’s absolutely delightful. Even as someone who strictly has her coffees with at least some form of milk, the OrangeSpresso really sits well with me, and definitely makes for an interesting thirst quencher to pair with fiery rice bowls.
While you’re at it, complete your truly-Peranakan meal with a perennial Chendol (S$4) or if you’re up for it, try the Daisy’s Dream Cafe and Paradiddle crossover—Sambal Belacan Valrhona Chocolate Gelato (price TBC)—which will definitely do the trick to shocking you into sobriety. I didn’t hate the pairing though—in fact, I lapped up the entirety of the spicy-chocolately blend.
At some establishments, I struggle to even crown a dish or element worthy of this award, but for Daisy’s Dream Cafe, the opposite problem reigns true. For the first time in my writing career, I’m boldly handing out a solid 5/5 rating, so you can only imagine how much of a spot I’m currently in, having to choose just one menu item.
But the deed must be done, and so the award officially goes to the sambal belacan—capable of salvaging even the blandest of mistakes. If you’re planning to pay a visit, don’t go home without bringing back a bottle (or two) with you. Take it from someone who left empty-handed, and regrets it till this very day.
Not much else needs to be said of Daisy’s Dream Cafe. Go forth, and try it. Go back for a second time. Don’t stop going back. That’s the only, and correct way to dine when it comes to something as delicious as their rice bowls and sides. I know I’ll be back many more times to come, so I’ll see you there.
Expected Damage: S$13.30 – S$18.30 per pax
Our Rating: 5 / 5
Daisy's Dream Cafe
11 Tanjong Katong Road, KINEX, #B1-K1, Singapore 436950
11 Tanjong Katong Road, KINEX, #B1-K1, Singapore 436950