Tai Seng isn’t the first place that pops to mind when I think of steamboat, but The Flame Cafe has been making its rounds in the steamboat scene recently. It’s less than a five minute walk from the MRT station and with ample basement parking lots available as well, you shouldn’t have a problem getting here.
Newly opened, the spacious interior is inviting and warm with minimalist industrial chic decor. Besides being a cafe, the space also serves as a great venue for events, with catering provided.
As with any other cafe, expect a variety of coffees and drinks on the menu. Do take note though that alcohol, like their range of craft beers, is only served after 3pm. The Flame Cafe opens till late so you could definitely come for a drink after work.
The Flame Cafe aims to serve restaurant quality Western-fusion cuisine at cafe prices. The menu is pretty extensive and it’s obvious why this seems to be the go-to place in the area for the working crowd during their lunch break.
If you have more time to spare though, you must get the family together and try the popular 4-Tier Cheesy Hotpot & BBQ Pagoda Steamboat (only served after 3pm).
Start by choosing from a selection of combos like the Seafood & Meat Combo ($48.90) which would probably be good to share among two to three people.
A platter of *takes deep breath* sotong, mussels, clams, tiger prawns, mud crab, sliced salmon, chicken fillet, cheese hotdogs and chicken wings arrived ready to be steamed, boiled or grilled.
You could also just go for the Meat Combo ($42.90), which would include all the meats mentioned previously, as well as sliced beef and sliced mutton.
I would recommended ordering the Sides ($15) for a more complete steamboat meal. You could also add $8 to get the Mushroom Set, Meatball Set or Seafood Set (subject to availability) if your group is feeling extra hungry.
The whole set-up looks pretty impressive and it truly comes with FOUR tiers; a whole new level of multi-tasking if you ask me.
The top tier is a steamer, and one of the most effective ones I’ve ever encountered. You can literally steam seafood and vegetables in minutes! We tried steaming the sliced salmon for one minute, and even without any sauce or marinade, it tasted awesome.
Cheese fondue or melted cheese seems to be a food trend that’s been gaining popularity recently, and the second tier of the pagoda steamboat has jumped on the bandwagon, featuring a cheese dip. Think nacho-type cheese that actually goes really well with the cooked meats.
Try grilling the chicken then dipping it in the cheese sauce, mmmm. Cheese top-up is free! So go crazy with slathering it on everything.
The third and fourth tier are the very necessary components of a good steamboat – BBQ Hotplate and Soup Bases. Grill the meats and seafood in butter on the hotplate and don’t forget to make sure the chicken wings are cooked all the way through!
As for the soup part of the steamboat, get the Yuan Yang Soup Base ($10.90) of Clear Chicken Soup and Mala Soup. Other soup base options include the Herbal Tonic Soup ($9.90) and the Tom Yum Soup ($8.90).
Soup top-up is included in the price, so don’t worry about overfilling the soup with lots of ingredients.
The Flame Cafe may be gaining popularity for the Pagoda Steamboat, but it actually also serves a pretty decent selection of Western and fusion dishes as well. The experienced head chef prides himself in ensuring that everything is homemade and of top quality ingredients.
A must-try from the selection of appetisers is the Buttermilk Fried Frog Legs ($10). I wouldn’t have pegged frog legs as something I would like fried in buttermilk, but it really works and tasted like a yummy fried chicken wing.
If you’re looking for a satisfying main for lunch, I would highly recommend the Duck Leg Confit ($22.90) which comes served with braised red cabbage and potatoes. It was my favourite dish from the a la carte menu and it’s rare to find duck confit that’s crispy on the outside and still very juicy on the inside.
If you’re after a classic Western option instead, perhaps try the Fish and Chips ($14.90) which features a sizeable fillet of Pacific dory fish.
A flavourful fusion dish to try would be the Lemongrass Marinated Chicken ($12.90), which comes with black pepper sauce and crunchy vegetables that I very much enjoyed.
I love having pasta for lunch and for a different take on a local favourite, try the Laksa Pasta ($12.90). The homemade fish cakes and laksa paste were combined aglio olio-style and made for very interesting flavours.
The Flame Cafe also recognises the importance of serving balanced meals and there are many healthier options and vegetarian options available on the menu.
The next time you’re in the East and looking for somewhere new to try, grab a few friends and head to The Flame Cafe to experience the hype of the 4-Tier Cheesy Hotpot & BBQ Pagoda Steamboat. That may be what gets you there, but the extensive menu and friendly staff will keep you coming back for more.
Expected Damage: $10 – $30 per person