Last Updated: October 18, 2018
Muslim-friendly and halal cafes and restaurants that serve other cuisines besides local don’t particularly sit well with me. It just seems that there aren’t enough of these places that serve food worthy of my return.
With that bias in mind, I decided to brave the preconception and try my luck with The Hashtag Cafe, located along North Bridge Road. Prior to this dinner, I’d only had coffee and cake here, and it was the menu that compelled me to return. I wanted to see if they lived up to their hype on social media (read: Instagram).
Starting off with the Smoked Duck Salad (S$15.90), I especially loved the combination of duck with poached pear, and given its sweetness, there was little need for dressing. The accompanying greens were really fresh, with crisp spears of romaine lettuce.
The Crispy Chez Wanton (S$9.90) with homemade plum sauce was plump and filled with cream cheese. The plum sauce had a nice acidic edge to it, helping ease the fattiness of the cheese.
Despite its elementary execution, I would still recommend this to anyone who loves cheese. I mean, what’s there to not love, honestly?
Cream cheese, good. Crispy wanton skin, good. Plum sauce, delightfully good. There’s really nothing to complain about.
Moving on to a slightly heavier appetiser, the Sausage Dengdeng Mix (S$15.90) comes with Mexican chicken sausage and beef dengdeng (much like bakwa), and homemade nam chim sauce (Thai for ‘dipping sauce’).
The sausage was rather earthy, but lacked smokiness, which I do prefer. No matter, the dengdeng was on the sweet side, rather than savoury, but given the deep flavours of the chicken sausage, everything was balanced out nicely.
The nam chim sauce, however, left little impact; it neither impressed nor disappointed. It’s best described as being akin to a sweet chilli sauce.
Being one of the few unique pasta dishes I’ve come across, their Kesom Olio (S$14.90) is an Asian take on traditional pesto pasta. At The Hashtag Cafe, in place of basil, they have used laksa leaves, and regardless of it being meatless, the dish was every bit rich and aromatic.
Also known as Vietnamese coriander, its scent is unmistakable, making this dish arouse memories of enjoying hearty bowls of laksa and pho, all at once. It’s only lightly peppered with parmesan cheese, so you’ll get to experience all the crunchiness and freshness of the vegetables without being overcome by an avalanche of cheese.
Many places try to do a no-frills roasted or grilled chicken, and more often than not, it turns out bland. The Poulet Supreme (S$24.90) at The Hashtag Cafe surpassed my expectations with a succulent grilled and baked (yes, cooked two ways!) chicken breast, stuffed with chicken ham and cheddar cheese.
The chicken itself was lightly seasoned, and accompanied with simple seasonal vegetables, potatoes croquette and homemade velouté sauce (a savoury sauce made with roux and a light stock). I actually appreciated the candour of this dish, making it an ideal low-carb option.
Feeling a bit more adventurous with your pasta dish? Try the Spaghetti Wanton (S$20.90), which has the best of East meets West. The tender slices of roast beef contrasted greatly with the crispy fried wantons.
I particularly enjoyed the sweet and spicy sauce, which was packed a whole lot of heat for something that looked deceptively tame!
The next meat dish was one that I’d been dying to try, based on solely its name — Korma Beef Steak (S$38.90). Its price alone may put off many to try it, given it’s not exactly a “cafe-friendly” price. However, judging by its uncommon taste found in its homemade korma aioli.
The korma (date) lent a honey-sweet flavour profile to this hearty dish, so I would liken it to the common BBQ sauce as a point of comparison. It wasn’t overpowering, but I still found myself on the fence about whether or not I really loved this dish overall.
Flaky dory fish is used in their classic Fish & Chips (S$22.90). The portion was hefty and I absolutely loved how airy and light the batter was. Even their tartare sauce is homemade, so you can expect this one to be addictive!
I don’t really eat a lot of fried food, nor do I order fish & chips off a menu often, but I would order this without hesitation should I get a craving for it. It didn’t leave an oil slick on the palate and everything was done to perfection.
The durian season may have come and gone, but it won’t stop durian desserts from dominating our dining scene. The D24 Durian Molten Lava Cake (S$29.90) carried a potent durian flavour and scent, but there wasn’t anything remotely molten about it, sadly. It proved to be more a mini durian sponge cake.
There were more hits than misses, and with that overall impression, I would say it’s a relatively recommendable cafe. The North Bridge Road stretch is already home to a couple of halal cafes, and this is just one of those I would consider returning to.
Expected Damage: S$30 – S$40 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
The Hashtag Cafe
743 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198711
743 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198711