When you think of The Orchard Cafe, you will probably think of the famous pig trotter bee hoon your mum used to get and the wedding banquets held in the opposite Hua Ting. It’s nostalgic, but you probably won’t recall the interior other than the fact that it was…dated.
This year, The Orchard Cafe has officially unveiled their revamped interior and buffet menu. Keeping their focus on heritage food, which seems to be a trend these days, there is a sambal station (you heard me right), a kuih station and an open refrigerator of local-inspired desserts. This is not your typical hawker food, think cold tau suan (mung bean dessert) and pandan kaya ice cream.
How can Tau Suan be cold? How many sambals? So many questions on the food, but first, let’s talk about the interior. Throw away everything you have in mind because The Orchard Cafe is now oozing with modern cafe vibes, warm lighting, spacious walkways and an automated juice machine.
The buffet has its personal bar – set against the glass backdoor, the bar is a refreshing addition to the new space. The fairy lights and pendant lamps provide just the right amount of lighting for a good midday drink. Go on, it’s okay to start at lunch.
To accommodate the different dining preferences, there are also cozy corners for family or friendly gatherings. The restaurant seats 207 people (the al fresco section can hold 37 people so if you want a change of view, chope away).
On to the part we’re all waiting for. Food. Don’t worry, they’ve kept their signature Pig Trotter Bee Hoon. Fans of Chef Ah Huat will be pleased with this decade’s revamp of the classic bee hoon. Served in a leaf pocket, the Braised Pork Knuckle Bee Hoon is fragrant and absolutely appetizing. The chunks of shredded pork nestled within the silky bee hoon? Diamonds in the rough. Savoury and tender, I don’t want to be cliche, but, the meat literally melts in your mouth. Tip: Pair it with the sambal belacan from the sambal station for added flavour. Trust me, it works.
Speaking of sambal, Chef Bryce Li has put together a total of eight sambals for their sambal station. The Signature Class Sambals are Sambal Udang Kering, Sambal Belado, Sambal Ikan Bilis, Sambal Ijo, Sambal Belacan, Mango Sambal, Pineapple Sambal and Lime Sambal. I could go on and on about how each sambal tasted but to spare you from the heat, my favourite was the classic belacan (it wasn’t as spicy as I was used to but the shrimpy flavour was savoury and not pungent at all).
The Pineapple Sambal was another tastebud snatcher – it actually works the best with seafood. I know Singaporeans can be critical with our sambals and when something isn’t spicy enough, it’s almost always an immediate no. Well, Chef Bryce’s sambals have been toned down a little but trust me, they are tasty – you get sweetness, tartness and savoury notes all at once. And honestly, fruit sambals? Pretty sure you’ve never seen so many anywhere else.
On to the Chilled Tau Suan – purists are starting a war. A cold version of the traditionally warm dessert never sounds like a good idea but Chef Bryce makes it work. It’s basically inspired by a Thai dessert he discovered during his travels in Thailand. He left a bowl of the warm dessert in the fridge and forgot about it – the next day, he tried it out of sheer curiosity and that was the beginning of a revolution. Chilled Tau Suan was its anthem. The dessert comprises of a clear sweet soup infused with the perfume of the jasmine flower, and is served with a dainty piece of you tiao. The soup isn’t starchy and the mung beans come with a bite (not mushy). I wouldn’t call it a replacement for the traditional version but this dessert is hella refreshing.
More food to note
Wok Fried Slipper Lobster with Salted Egg-yolk Sauce
Don’t fret, the dish isn’t dripping in thick salted-egg-yolk sauce. A deep fried lobster (fresh) dressed in a fine, golden sand of salted-egg-yolk? Say no more.
Tau Kwa Pok with Tea-Smoked Duck
The dying hawker dish is being brought back to life inside The Orchard Cafe with elevated elements.Taking the traditional Tau Kwa Pok (with braised meat) to the next level, Chef Bryce has added Tea-Smoked Duck from Hua Ting to this tofu dish.
The mee pok noodles were really QQ – don’t you hate overcooked noodles that break apart before you even put them in your mouth. Served in small serving bowls and dressed in a savoury and slightly tangy sauce, this mee pok warrants a second round. There are little chips of pork lard spread throughout the dish – heaven in every bite. The noodle dishes are rotated everyday so even if you, for some reason, want to go for two meals in the same week, you won’t see the same noodle dishes here.
Adults: From $58
Children: From $29
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