Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tiny Cafe & Lounge - A Hidden Gem @ 566, Woodlands Road (Mandai Estate)

Judging from its ulu location along Woodlands Road and near to Sungei Kadut industrial park, no one will actually expect the existence of such a 'character' cafe (or restaurant which i thought is a more appropriate category).

The facade might give you the impression that the interior is really run-down and you would not expect more than the usual stalls from a typical coffeeshop setting in an industrial area.

It might be the case when you first step in; a messy layout of round tables in the middle and square ones filling the rest and counters coated with real wooden sticks.

This is dining area two which seems like i have given you the picture of an entirely different restaurant! A traditional kopitiam setting, the owner tried to make it as authentic as possible with the display of artefacts back in the good old days.

Generation that have been through the 1960s might recognise the above charcoal-powered device that dispenses hot water, coffee and tea when electricity was a luxury thing to have and not as needy as now.

The third dining area is more European style (with the iconic red London telephone booth) although the refreshing design is mixed between classic and trashy. There's even a safari theme that would be available for diners at the end of this month.

Enough on the dining areas; let's start with the all-important food!

Genghis Khan Style Pork Ribs
Otherwise known as Mongolian pork ribs in other restaurants or tze char stalls, i was not expecting this to taste any different; too sour, too salty and likely too spicy.

Thank god for the sparing use of pepper, resulting in a subtle spicey flavour that did not burden my taste buds yet remain zesty. The bite was the most tender i ever have for pork ribs!

Prawn Paste Chicken
Long accustomed to seeing chicken wings for prawn paste chicken (or har cheong kai), i was surprised to find this plate of odd shaped deep fried chicken nuggets on the table despite Kon pre-informing me that Tiny Cafe doesn't use the typical chicken wings in this dish.

My feel is that the chef could be more generous with the prawn paste, which is barely discernible. Nonetheless, it makes for a very good plate of deep fried popcorn chicken (with bones if i could add). Would you mind passing some Thai chilli sauce as a dip?

Bean Curd with Vegetables
Fresh ingredients aside, i have to give some credit to the sauce which tasted almost like the thick, savoury gravy used in horfun. Nice!

Sotong with Salted Egg
Our main purpose and motivation for this trip; strongly recommended by Mr Kon!

I have always mentioned that Uncle Leong's salted egg crab is the best. This is as delicious (and as addictive) as that and is definitely worthy of its position as the signature dish in Tiny Cafe!

The benefit of having sotong over crab is that you can eat them whole without having to withstand the eventual torture of licking only the hard crabby shell!

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Will definitely bring mummy here! Gosh, i have already promised her too many dining places in recent months!

Location
566, Woodlands Road,
Mandai Estate.

From BKE (towards Woodlands), turn out at the exit with a sign showing the Zoo and Night Safari, turn left towards Mandai road, continue all the way until you reach the T-Junction where you turn left again. Turn left at the second exit and that will be Mandai Estate.

Opening Hours
11am to 10pm. According to my conversation with one of the service staff, i thought he mentioned 9pm. Well, you can always call up the restaurant before going.

Reservation
6362-1233

Price
Genghis Khan Style Pork Ribs - S$8
Prawn Paste Chicken - S$6
Bean Curd with Vegetables - S$5
Sotong with Salted Egg - S$8

Good news; No GST and Service Charge!

Additional Information
Tiny cafe has a zone that sells creative stuff like a clock made from a metal pan, designer chairs, attractive bookends etc. I would be buying some, like the clock with the design of a bottle cap, once my pay comes in!

The management of the building (which manages the cafe as well) tries to incorporate some unique, interesting factors to the surrounding of this dull building in order to build up its character.

In addition to a koi pond and a tortoise enclosure, a big metal cage was built around a real tree to house birds like the ever cute parakeets!

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