“Hidden Zhi char in the west”
Blocked by surrounding multi-storey carparks and the mrt track, this zhi char coffeeshop was definitely not easy to find in the mysterious area of Toh Guan Road. Do keep a lookout for the signs which point you in the right direction if you are taking public transport. An unexpected location, the place was pretty busy for a weekday night.
The chefs at Dean’s Cafe are claimed to have been from atas upscale restaurants, and the main focus of Dean’s Cafe would be its live seafood options. Also, for the office crowd looking for affordable lunch options, Dean’s Cafe actually has free shuttle bus service running from the International Business Park during lunch hours.
Let’s get down to business shall we.
Pumpkin spare ribs ($10/15/20).
Spare ribs are commonly found on the menu of most zhi char places, while the spare ribs at Dean’s Cafe are relatively tender, using creamy pumpkin sauce which is generously poured over them. Plus points for the pumpkin sauce that was not too jelat (overly heavy); but those who are watching their diets may want to skip this as it is a tad oily.
Prawn with Oatmeal ($15/22/30).
Another resident item on zhi char restaurant menus, but with a spicier kick. The prawns were succulent and fresh, and had a slight crunch to them. The chilli padi here are not just for decorative purposes, but intended to give that extra spicy kick to cut through the otherwise potentially cloying sweetness of the oatmeal.
For those who love to eat the oatmeal on these prawns (with the shells or otherwise), Dean’s Cafe is pretty generous with their crunchy and fragrant oatmeal.
Golden Beancurd ($10/15/20).
A rather generous serving, with a party of seafood, fried beancurd, and vegetables. Highlight of this dish is probably the thick slices of fish, which are definitely fresh given the sweetness, firmness, and minimal fishy taste.
Cai Po Hor Fun ($6/9/12).
Dean’s cafe rendition of a teochew dish, this perfectly fried signature golden omelette actually holds savoury ribbons of hor fun with loads of prawn – A pretty unique twist. This is actually a little on the bland side, but the crunchy cai po helped to add hints of saltiness with every bite.
Frog with Onion and Ginger ($14/21/28).
Served piping hot, the aromatic scent of onion and ginger started to waft through the air once the dish was served. Its the kind of dish you have to eat with rice, with the savoury and sticky sauce that coats each grain of rice with deliciousness. A pity that the frog was overcooked, leaving it with a chewy texture we were all not fond of.
Dean’s Cafe prides itself in their seafood options, but it was a pity we didn’t really get to try a variety of them except for the prawns, so we can’t really comment on how good the fish or crabs are. On the plus side, the items at Dean’s Cafe are very reasonably priced, compared to many other zhi char places with crazily marked up prices.
If you wish to enjoy decent zhi char fare without burning a hole in your pocket (save the money for travelling there), you may want to give Dean’s Cafe a visit. We have also heard that a plate of fried rice costing $5 at Dean’s Cafe can feed up to 3 people. Wow. Again, that’s what we’ve heard, but seeing is believing.
Expected damage : $18-25 per pax (more if you’re splurging on expensive seafood like crabs)