I consider myself to be somewhat of a cafe connoisseur. Now that the premise is set, I provide fair warning that it takes quite a bit to impress me, considering I spend a sizeable portion of my monthly budget on drinks when I work at cafes. When Daizu Cafe emerged along Rangoon Road, Farrer Park, the only natural response was to check it out for myself.
High ceilings and minimalistic decor gorgeously frame the space—now to find out if the offerings taste as good as the interior feels.
What I tried
Bernard, Daizu’s marketing manager, catapults us straight into the night with a Strawberry Latte (S$7) and a Strawberry Cocoa (S$7). The latte is a sweet meld of a succinct espresso shot over strawberry milk while the cocoa can be thought of as essentially Meiji Apollo Strawberry Chocolate in liquid form.
The Thick Cut Salmon Sashimi Slices (S$12) are a sight for sore eyes, especially in this economy when twelve dollars gets you nothing more than half a portion of pasta at best. If I could sum the philosophy behind Daizu’s offerings in a dish, the—as the young people say—thicc, juicy salmon slices really set the tone of the hearty and generous fare to follow.
My dining partner expectantly squirms in her seat at the mention of the Tempura Hiratake (S$12), which presents kinako soy tempura togarashi oyster mushroom with mayonnaise on the side. Though the tempura batter could use more seasoning, the unfailing Japanese mayo sweeps in for salvation. If Daizu could provide diners with the option to change out various sauces or even have them all at once with a platter, that would do the Hiratake many favours.
There’s no way to fault the Mentaiko Chicken Dumplings (S$10)—perfectly crispy gyozas and toothsome filling made all the more elevated by a brilliant, smoky mentaiko coating. If you’re contemplating spending S$2 more for the mentaiko option, I say go straight for the kill.
It’s uncharacteristic of me to pit brands directly against each other because I’m a firm believer that everyone brings something unique to their iteration of any concoction. But I dare say that the Mentaiko Fries (S$12) is really like Genki’s, but better. I still unabashedly love Genki Sushi with my every fibre, but Daizu’s over-the-top mentaiko fries has a charred fragrance that’s unparalleled.
At first bite, the Garlic Butter Sakura Ebi Pasta (S$16) is a delicious burst of flavour, and is everything I’d hoped for in an ideal rendition of an aglio olio. The ikura and buttery sauce work in tandem to keep the spaghetti well-bound together, though it’s missing a contrasting pop that would’ve definitely helped to keep the dish from falling too flat.
For a meat-free alternative, there exists the Okonomiyaki Style Pasta (S$12) which is an interesting twist on the famed Hiroshima dish.
For the one who seeks a wholesome, substantial main dish that’s guaranteed to keep you stuffed for the next couple of hours, I believe Daizu’s Bara Chirashi (S$18) is where the money’s at. Alternatively, swap your carbs out for a bed of greens with the Mixed Spicy Chirashi Salad (S$19).
Heaps of akami, sake, and tako smothered in an arresting togarashi dressing sit atop an even more generous mountain of rice, and there’s really nothing more that my sashimi-loving heart can ask for. Because if overdosing on chirashi is how I go out, so take me.
Inspired by Daizu’s sales manager, the Petit Breakfast (S$10) birthed out of Claire’s penchant for a brunch plate that packed a punch without crossing the line of overwhelming. It’s straightforward and features a duo of french toast slices, scrambled eggs, and chicken sausages to pair.
Interestingly, the highlight of the Petit Breakfast for me was the barbecue sauce which really tastes nothing like the conventional old fashioned condiment and more garlicky and umami if anything.
The Lime Meringue Tart (S$8.50) and Bourbon Pecan Pie (S$9) close our meal with a saccharine finish, with the latter coming in as a strong favourite at the table. My two partners battle it out, forks scraping the edges of the plate and clamouring for the last piece of pecan pie, while I peacefully mind my own business; the lime meringue and I savouring an intimate moment.
Arguably, the spritzes of whisky upon serving is more than just performative; the aromatic bourbon couldn’t have complemented the oaky, earthy notes of pecan any better.
Vera’s ‘Chef’s Kiss Award’
As always, there comes a point in the article when I’ll need to hand out a Vera-approved chef’s kiss to a well-deserving item on the menu, and it’s clear that today’s chef’s kiss goes out to the Strawberry Cocoa (S$7).
Splendidly balanced and steadily addictive, I already find myself craving for another glass as I write this. Had the baristas added just a little more strawberry milk or even included fresh strawberry puree, I would’ve fallen head over heels.
Still in its infancy, Daizu Cafe already brims with much promise and goodness. What’s really impressive is that all mixes, powders, and blends are handmade from scratch, and I deeply appreciate the intentionality and ownership behind every dish.
The cherry on top is that Daizu’s alfresco seating area is a hundred percent pet-friendly, so come expectant to spot jolly Shiba Inus attempting to make friends with Singapore Specials—and with you too, if you’re lucky.
Overall, it’s refreshing to see unpretentious, honest, and value-for-money fare in a gorgeous space like Daizu’s. I know I’ll be able to swing by and enjoy exactly what I’ve paid for, and that’s a line I haven’t written in the last two years of being a journalist.
Daizu Cafe operates from 11am to 10pm on Mondays to Fridays, and 10am to 10pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The last order for mains and sides will be at 9pm, while the last order for drinks, cakes and pastries will be at 9.30pm.
Expected Damage: S$14 – S$26.50 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
129 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218407
129 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218407