Pop’s Cafe, Yio Chu Kang: Come for the chilli beef fries, stay for the milkshakes

The name ‘Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe’ might ring a bell to fans of Archie Comics and CW front-runner TV drama, Riverdale. The 24-hour diner— practically a second home to Betty, Veronica, Archie, and Jughead— is where the group regularly gathers for burgers, milkshakes, and the latest gossip. Enter Pop’s Cafe, a quaint, Muslim-owned, retro-esque diner selling… you guessed it: burgers, milkshakes, hotdogs, and more! 

Image of exterior Image of interior

Run by a family unit of four and located at Yio Chu Kang, the secluded cafe will immediately pull you in with their ‘60s exterior decked with faux grass, wooden decor, and two vinyl players. Everything checks out except for their choice of music. Playing current hits in the background definitely doesn’t fit this vibe, does it? Cringe-y music aside, I was famished, and so I shifted my focus to the menu. 

What I tried

Image of milkshake trio

What’s going to a diner without starting off with a milkshake? As much as my body rejects dairy, I still love a huge mug of rich, creamy, and Instagram-worthy milkshake. And over at Pop’s Cafe, they serve you with just that. At a flat rate of S$6.90 per glass, and with 15 flavours to choose from, my makan kakis and I had ditched the classics and went for the Milo Dinosaur, Salted Caramel Pretzel, and Strawberry Cheesecake

If I hadn’t played by the rules and fed the lens of my camera first, there would have been zero milkshake images to feature because the milkshakes were that good. It tasted exactly as I’d expected, had the perfect balance of creaminess, and wasn’t too ​​cloying at all. 

Image of hotdog

Next up, Pop’s Coney Dog (S$7.90)— a seven-inch jumbo chicken hotdog stuffed in-between a fluffy, toasted bun, topped with homemade beef chilli, nacho cheese, and spring onions. 

Close up of half-cut hotdog

Granted, it doesn’t look like much at first, however, my first bite blew me away. The very classic combination of chilli and cheese was perfect, and this dish definitely screams comfort food on all levels. Something I can have at any time of the day whilst lounging in front of the TV. 

Image of burger

Like the milkshake, Pop’s Cafe also offers a handful of burger flavours to choose from. Think nasi lemak to the classic, black pepper. We were feeling a tad bit adventurous, and ordered the Hawaiian Crispy Chicken Burger (S$8.90)

Close up of half-cut burger

I’m a fan of pineapple— on its own— and not in my burgers or pizzas. Hence, the slice of grilled pineapple in the burger threw me off a little. Fussiness aside, I dug in. The patty was indeed crispy and slathered with teriyaki mayo, and lettuce, cucumber, and cheddar. Pineapple, when grilled, gives off a certain sweetness so when combined with the other ingredients, it adds a sweet yet refreshing twist. Sweet enough to get me doing the hula which each bite.

Image of spaghetti dish

Apart from the classic diner favourites, Pop’s Cafe also has three pasta dishes on the menu. I got the Spicy Chicken Bolognese (S$9.90). Visually, it reminded me of Jollibee’s spaghetti.

Close up of noodles

Taste-wise, the noodles alone didn’t add much depth to the bland-looking dish. The only saving grace was that it was al dente. The sauce was also lacking in the flavour department. There wasn’t a hint of herbaceousness one would usually get from a bolognese sauce, and it was too diluted for my liking. 

Close up of a piece of chicken

The chicken, alone, was crispy and spicy; a McSpicy patty’s distant cousin if you will. When combined with the noodles and bolognese sauce, it turned out to be somewhat comforting. Personally, the bolognese sauce can be tweaked a bit more to elevate this dish further. It has potential. 

Image of chilli beef fries

Lastly, Pop’s Cafe’s showstopper, the Chilli Beef Fries (S$9.90). So, good, I had another serving to-go. 

Using the same homemade chilli as Pop’s Coney Dog, this is one dish my makan kakis and I couldn’t get enough of. Much to my surprise, the fries maintained their crispness despite being doused with heaps of chilli and cheese. Talk about a well-calculated ratio. Unlike most chilli fries which usually turn into a soggy mess after a few minutes, the Chilli Beef Fries here are immaculate. 

Final thoughts 

Image of record player

Pop’s Cafe certainly isn’t the true blue American-style diner straight out of Archie’s Comics, but I love their simplicity and local touch. Despite a few misses that can be fixed over time, I can see myself popping by here every day. Alas, one can only dream as I do not live a stone’s throw away. 

If you love simple food that reminds you of home, I’d recommend for you to make your way down for a good ol’ burger and shake. Pop’s Cafe easily serves one of the best milkshakes I’ve tasted, and trust me, I’ve tasted a lot on this tiny island. 

Special mention to the youngest server I’ve ever seen with his oversized apron, meticulously serving each diner with a little skip in his step. Now, that left an indelible impression. 

Expected damage: S$6.90 – S$24.70

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Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Pop's Cafe

78 Yio Chu Kang Road, The Stradia, #01-01 , Singapore 545571

Our Rating 4/5

Pop's Cafe

78 Yio Chu Kang Road, The Stradia, #01-01 , Singapore 545571

Operating Hours: 4pm - 10pm (Mon, Wed & Thu), 12pm - 12am (Fri & Sat), 12pm - 10pm (Sun), Closed on Tue

Operating Hours: 4pm - 10pm (Mon, Wed & Thu), 12pm - 12am (Fri & Sat), 12pm - 10pm (Sun), Closed on Tue
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