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Food

Deja Brew Cafe: Local Favourites With A Modern Twist Tucked Away in Tanjong Pagar

Last Updated: July 1, 2019

Written by Nicole Lam

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Nestled in Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre is where you’ll find the quaint Deja Brew Cafe 似曾相识. Seven minutes from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station, this is a perfect spot for a quiet scrumptious lunch.

Deja Brew Cafe is a place to celebrate and appreciate the food that reigned during Singapore’s early days. When the Chinese immigrants came to Singapore, the rich diversity of cultures and food fed into the local favourites we know and love today.

Thus, Deja Brew Cafe aims to honour these early roots with dishes that are reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s but with a little modern twist, just to keep us on our toes.

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Deja Brew Cafe boasts a modern and spacious interior, a great place to bring friends for a relaxing lunch.

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We started the meal with the Hokkien Kong Bak Pau (S$9). You know the classic kong bak pau, thick and fatty slices of pork belly cradled in between a pillowy pau.

For Deja Brew’s rendition, their kong bak pau comes in a ciabatta bun instead of the traditional pau.

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The pork belly was tender and tasty and had a good fat-to-meat ratio. All important markers for an excellent piece of braised pork belly.  The ciabatta was soft and fluffy and served as a good replacement for the pau. 

While I still preferred the traditional kong bak pau, I wasn’t hating this combination.

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Next, we tried the Hainanese Curry Chicken Bread Bowl (S$8), a perennial favourite. Just from the looks of it, this curry chicken was thick and creamy. As any bona fide curry lover will tell you, this was a promising sign.

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I excitedly dug into the curry and was pleased that the curry tasted was as good as it looks. Not as spicy as I would like but still just as comforting. Plus, the chicken was plump and fork-tender, making it a rather satisfying bread bowl.

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Of course, the best part of this curry has to be the fact that it’s presented in a bread bowl. This served both function and practice, as there has to bread to dip when one is eating curry.

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Another bread bowl that Deja Brew Cafe offers was the Nanyang Chili Crab Bread Bowl (S$8). Diners will receive a bread bowl full of the chilli crab zhup with a little bonus pincer.

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While the pincer was smaller than one would normally find in chilli crab dish, given the price of the dish, I was pretty impressed there was any pincer at all. The chilli crab sauce was little forgettable to say the least, while it tasted decent I found the texture slightly too starchy.

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Normally, I’m not one to shy away from carbs but bread with chilli crab sauce was a little odd. I would have much preferred the chilli crab sauce to be served in a large mantou.

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For our next dish, we tried what has to be everyone’s comfort food but with a slight variation. Unlike the usual chicken rice you find at your local Kopitiam, the Hakka Salt Baked Chicken Rice (S$8) takes a cue from Hakka-style chicken rice.

The chicken is first poached before being baked in the oven; this not only helps to seal in the flavour but ensures the chicken doesn’t dry out during the cooking process.

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Without a doubt, the chicken was tender to a fault which is always a huge brownie point for me.

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Another important component of chicken rice has to be the rice. The rice was certainly fragrant and quite good on its own.  When eaten together with the chicken, it made for quite a delectable mouthful.

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Surely nothing beats a hearty plate of fried rice, affectionately named Deja Brew Grandma Fried Rice (S$8) this was comfort food at its best.

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Deja Brew’s fried rice consisted of the usual ingredients you’d find in a good plate of fried rice — not to mention the fried rice also had good wok hei. A simple and no-frills plate of fried rice that I’d happily go back for.

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The last item on our agenda was the Opeh Leaf Bee Hoon with Seafood (S$10). For me, this is a dish that I would gladly every day if I could. Chock-full of seafood and swimming in tasty zhup, you can never get enough of this.

Deja Brew Cafe serves their Bee Hoon in an opeh leaf which was a nice touch, paying homage to how the dish was traditionally served.

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Deja Brew Cafe was certainly generous with their serving size, the bee hoon was loaded up with a good portion of prawns, fish and mushrooms. The bee hoon itself was fried well but needed just a touch more seasoning. But otherwise, a filling and satisfying meal.

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I’m also happy to report that white fish chunks were fresh and sweet.

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To round out our entire meal, we were given Traditional Muah Chee With Peanuts And Black Sesame (S$3). Another personal favourite of mine, this brought back fond childhood memories of sticky fingers and happy tummies.

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This traditional dessert was a great sweet treat to round out the meal.


Deja Brew Cafe is a quaint little cafe that honours the early Chinese settlers that came to Singapore. You get a good dose of nostalgia as well as a somewhat creative take on the dishes.

Not to mention, all the items are priced below S$10, so Deja Brew Cafe is wallet-friendly and great for lunch.It gets better Deja Brew also offers the cheapest beer in the CBD area, coming in at only S$6 for a Carlsberg.

If you’re looking for something a little different from your usual hawker fare, Deja Brew Cafe is a good place to be.

Expected Damage: S$4 – S$10 per pax

*This post was brought to you in partnership with Deja Brew Cafe

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Deja Brew Cafe

1 Straits Boulevard, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, #01-02, Singapore 018906

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Deja Brew Cafe

1 Straits Boulevard, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, #01-02, Singapore 018906

Operating Hours: 9am - 9pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun & PH

Operating Hours: 9am - 9pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun & PH
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