While cafes are a dime a dozen in Singapore, have you ever heard of a cafe offering bubble tea in a jug and served on trays? Introducing the first-ever cafe in Singapore, which started from none other than a bubble tea kiosk!
Nestled rather obscurely in Ci Yuan Community Club at Hougang is SOD Cafe SG. From its first bubble tea shop in Yew Tee, SOD Cafe SG has decided to branch out to a cafe setting serving up very affordable artisan food with a chill ambience.
Located on the ground floor of Ci Yuan CC, it has a cosy cafe setting with around 40 seats. With its clear open windows, the cafe has an air of spaciousness that adds to its relaxing vibes, making it absolutely ideal for guests to have a quiet afternoon while sipping their bubble tea leisurely.
For those wondering where the cafe’s seemingly random name comes from, SOD actually stands for “Super Oxide Dismutase”, an important antioxidant predominant in the unique tea leaves the cafe uses. SOD tea, as it is called, is caffeine-free and the main ingredient behind the delicious and healthy bubble tea served here.
Wait, that’s the bubble tea? In the jug? As if bubble tea in a cafe is not bizarre enough, imagine my surprise when I ordered bubble tea and was served a tray instead! Ready or not, here’s SOD Cafe SG’s signature SOD Milk Tea ($4.50).
And yes, you do drink the tea straight out of the jug! A few sips in and I was pleasantly surprised by the fragrance of the tea.
Compared to other alternatives, SOD Cafe SG’s version was lighter and did not have a bitter aftertaste, attributed to its caffeine-free SOD tea mix. The best part is that you can drink this at any time of the day and still get a good night’s sleep.
Served with your own choice of topping (Black Pearls, White Pearls or Aloe Vera) and syrup on the side, you can add in as much as you like. I like the mild sweetness of the tea without any additional sweetening, however, my advice is to leave the syrup out as the pearls add to the sweetness of the tea.
With its light, aromatic flavour, believe me when I say that this is one of my favourite milk tea renditions to date. And you can even share this drink with friends! But I’m keeping the jug all to myself.
A more intriguing tea ‘tray’ you can have is SOD’s Summer Fruit SOD Tea ($6.50). With the same signature SOD tea as the base, this tea is infused with passion fruit and adorned with an assortment of fresh fruit.
Don’t fret, your eyes weren’t playing tricks on you in the photo above. Served in a lopsided tilting glass is a piece of lime frozen in an ice cube. The glass is so cool, I almost felt like I was James Bond drinking a potent elixir.
Each sip of this beverage was a burst of vibrant fruity flavour. With strong notes of citrus from the strawberries and lime, the tea had a subtle sweetness that balanced the tanginess. Altogether, the drink was very refreshing and right for accompanying the heavier mains.
Apart from these two beverages, SOD Cafe SG have a progressive menu of drinks featuring its signature SOD tea. For those who are too busy to come down to the cafe, the good news is that a more premium list of tea can be purchased online. In fact, if you order above $30, you can wave goodbye to the delivery charge!
To whet my appetite, I started the meal with Glazed Chicken Wings ($7.50). Glistening golden-brown, these deep-fried mid-joints were very crispy. When I bit into them, I heard a glorious crunch that was really satisfying. I do admit, however, that the wings were a little too sweet.
Perhaps the most interesting dish on the menu was the Smoked Duck Spaghetti ($9.50). Within the bowl, the pasta was cooked al dente and flavoured with very thin slices of duck meat. My favourite part, clearly, was the bonito flakes, which were slightly crisp and added a nice contrasting texture to the dish.
Although the duck slices were tiny in size, the flavour permeated well into the noodles. Sinful and fatty, I would liken the smoked duck bits to adding lard to char kway teow.
Oh, how could I forget the lightly poached egg on top? Just watching the silky yolk burst out was absolutely sublime. While the egg could have used a touch of salt, the yolk itself coated the pasta well and added a more decadent flavour to the overall dish.
On to the fan-favourite among diners, the Spaghetti Aglio Olio With Prawns ($13.50) was a spicy combination of pasta, stir-fried with olive oil, garlic and chilli before being topped with juicy crystal prawns. When I say spicy, I mean spicy! I’m just baffled by how some diners would ask for this dish to be cooked spicier.
Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of this dish contrary to popular belief. The pasta I had could have been cooked longer, while the prawns, albeit thick and juicy, were a tad rubbery. Nonetheless, those hungry for something tongue-burning will definitely not be disappointed.
Presenting to you the Chicken Supreme ($9.50), this dish is a succulent chicken thigh cooked with melted cheese and sits atop a bed of potato gratin.
To my delight, I noticed the rather interesting addition of prawn pieces in the cheese that made for a more wholesome bite. However, the slight toughness of the chicken thigh was a bit of a letdown.
Finally, the desserts! Like any good cafe, SOD Cafe SG whips up some pretty spectacular desserts to round up the meal. Here is their very own homemade Yuzu Tart ($5.50) topped with fresh pomelo. Digging in, the yuzu curd filling had a heavenly silkiness and a zesty flavour that was really punchy.
While the shortcrust pastry was not as crumbly as I would have liked, the tart itself did hold well. The star of this dish, however, was the pomelo on top. The juice that burst out in every bite added a delicate sweetness and tanginess that really uplifted the tart.
I also highly recommend getting the Matcha Oreo Tart ($5.50). The Oreo cookie crumbs double as both a delicious base as well as the perfect complement to counter the bitterness from the matcha.
Upon closer examination, I was thrilled to see how smooth the matcha chocolate ganache filling was. It was rich, luscious and surprisingly not too sweet. Altogether, it was the ideal indulgent treat to wrap up the meal.
Even though some of the mains were hit-or-miss, some dishes like the Smoked Duck Spaghetti (my favourite!) were able to steal the show. On top of no GST and service charge, many plates are priced under $10, making it a prime spot for affordable cafe food to the HDB dwellers in Hougang.
The main draw is still the cafe’s delicious yet healthy bubble tea, which lived up to my expectations. With Singapore’s bubble tea culture following a buy-and-go regime, how about taking the time to sit down and fully enjoy a cup (or rather a jug) for once?
Expected Damage: $12 – $20 per pax