The Tai Seng area is shedding its image as a drab industrial estate as a crop of new cafes and restaurants inject buzz into the once- utilitarian dining options of food courts and coffee shops.
No fewer than 10 eateries have opened there over the past nine months. The bulk of them have sprung up on the ground level of the nine-storey light industrial building, The Commerze @ Irving, in Irving Place. They include salad bar Round 8, coffee spot Grasso Coffee and Carol Mel Cafe, which serves Asian and Western food.
Here are 9 places you can try when you head out for lunch!
THE COMMERZE @ IRVING, 1 IRVING PLACE
1. CAROL MEL CAFE
Started by Liew sisters Caroline, 44, and Melissa, 39, both chefs, this 25-seat cafe serves Western and Asian dishes such as pan-fried lemongrass chicken with rice ($8.50), braised pork belly and potatoes with rice ($8.50) and chicken lasagna ($11.90). Those with a sweet tooth can zero in on the waffles ($13.90) topped with salted caramel gelato, which is jazzed up with banana, cheese and marshmallows.
Where: 01-30, open: 9am to 6.30pm, Tuesday to Friday; noon to 10pm, Saturday; 10am to 5pm, Sunday; closed on Monday
Info: Call 6635-5755 or go to www.facebook.com/carolmelcafe
2. GRASSO COFFEE
Previously located in Simei, this cafe offers sandwiches (from $2) and ice-blended drinks ($6) such as Mocha and Cotton Candy (a raspberry and vanilla mix). For lunch, it serves baked fish in mushroom, tom yum or lasagne flavours ($9.80).
Where: 01-27, open: 8am to 7.30pm, weekday; 10am to 4pm, Saturday; closed on Sunday
Info: Call 9123-8399 or go to www.facebook.com/GrassoCoffee
3. SWAG (Salads, Wraps and Greens)
Images: The Straits Times
Choose from eight varieties of hearty salads or wraps, including Southern Pulled Pork (from $8.90) and Greek Apple (from $7.90), which has greens, green apple and turkey ham drizzled with maple bacon dressing. It also serves salmon mousse ($4.90) and juices.
Where: 01-26, open: 11am to 8pm, weekday; closed on weekend
Info: Call 6341-6126 or go to www.swag.com.sg
4. THE OVEN CAFE BISTRO
The repertoire of 15 spaghetti dishes and pizzas is inspired by what chef James Loh learnt from his five-week course at At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. Try the salmon sashimi spaghetti ($16.80) and crispy baked chicken spaghetti ($10.80). Feeling peckish? Order the baked tandoori chicken cubes ($8) or bratwurst pizza ($8.80).
Where: 01-22, open: 11am to 9pm, weekday; 11am to 11pm, Saturday; closed on Sunday
5. OLEH OLEH TEA HOUSE
This Muslim-owned cafe is an offshoot of the popular kueh kiosk in Parkway Parade. Besides its popular kueh such as Lapes ($1.50) and Onde Onde ($0.70), it also serves Malay fare such as Nasi Ambeng ($7.50), a festive rice dish.
Where: 01-21, open: 9am to 5pm, weekday; closed on weekend
6. 23 JUMPIN
This 30-seat cafe offers surprisingly exotic fare such as pork goulash stew ($12) and duck confit ($16). For dessert, it serves Black Volcano Waffle ($18), a chocolate lava cake with ice cream on a charcoal waffle.
Where: 01-25, open: 11am to 9pm, Tuesday to Sunday; closed on Monday
7. ROUND 8
Meat does not play second fiddle to the eight types of salads and wraps here. Try the Chicky Chix, which has baked chicken breast topped with fried egg ($6.50), and Captain’s Choice ($6.50), which comes with baked fish fillet and greens. Interesting sauces include passionfruit plum and truffle mayonnaise. The cafe also serves cold-pressed juices ($5.50).
Where: 01-24, open: 8.30am to 7.30pm, weekday; closed on weekend
Info: Call 6702-3188 or go to www.facebook.com/round8sg
8. THE BOILER LOUISIANA SEAFOOD & BEER
Seafood fans can choose from two Cajun-style seafood boils served in bags: Boiler’s Bombdiggity Bag ($145 for four) and Boiler’s Duo Bag ($52 for two). The seafood selection includes Dungeness or brown crabs, prawns, mussels and clams. Diners can choose from four piquant sauces, including the house special, The Works, which is a blend of eight spices, including paprika and lemon powder. Other popular lunch picks are fish and chips ($10.90) and St Louis- style ribs ($18.90).
Where: Novelty Bizcentre, 01-06, 18 Howard Road; open: 11am to 2.30pm, Tuesday to Friday; 5 to 10.30pm, Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday; 5 to 11pm, Friday and Saturday; closed on Monday
Info: Call 6635-1285 or go to theboiler.com.sg
9. MY SISTER BAKES
This 16-seat cafe serves up to eight types of cakes, including Milo Dinosaur ($6 a slice), a Milo sponge cake filled with Milo buttercream; and Earl Grey ($6), an Earl Grey tea-flavoured cake dressed up with vanilla buttercream. There are also tarts such as Chocolate Salted Caramel ($4.50) and Yogo Berry Chocolate Tart ($4.50), which is made up of Greek yogurt, chocolate ganache, strawberries and caramelised cookies.
Where: 01-55, Block 81 MacPherson Lane, open: 11.30am to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday; closed on Monday and Tuesday
– See more at: http://sph.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/food-wine/story/tai-seng-industrial-estate-ups-hip-factor-20150412#sthash.zgxzcy5M.dpuf
This story was first published in The Sunday Times on April 12, 2015. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.