Saturday, October 02, 2004


Killiney Road

Last weekend, R. and I went to attend a workshop near Killiney Road. This place is an estimated 5-min walk from the bustle and noise of Orchard Road, yet its rows of quaint, old, conservation shophouses are a marked contrast to the surrounding tall, modern office buildings and apartments.

About two-thirds of these shophouses are now occupied by restaurants and eateries, the most famous one being
Killiney Kopitiam ("ko-pi" means "coffee", and "tiam" means "shop" in Hokkien). Customers, most of them die-hard regulars, flock to this unassuming coffeeshop for its famed kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and traditional kopitiam coffee. Kaya toast is an all-time favorite Singapore breakfast food, but it's so popular that we also have it during tea-time or as a snack. More on Killiney Kopitiam later.

Before the workshop, we needed to grab lunch. There was a huge choice, ranging from local fare like chicken rice and minced meat noodles, to international cuisine like Italian food and Vietnamese noodles. With growling tummies, we settled on this cheery-looking cafe called OA Bakery & Cafe. There was a sizable crowd inside. Since it seemed popular, the food couldn't be too bad, right? When in doubt, just follow the crowd.

To our pleasant surprise, the prices were very reasonable. Look at this picture, all this for only S$5.00! In fact, all the set meals here are priced at S$5.00 (prices not inclusive of 5% taxes).

Breaded chicken cutlet with Japanese curry. S$5.00 This set includes rice, miso soup and dessert.

Close-up of the generous cutlet, fried crisp to golden-brown perfection. What I liked was that it isn't too greasy, unlike some others which I've tried elsewhere. The fresh shredded cabbage, with slivers of carrot and two slices of tomato beneath, is smothered with a deliciously tangy sauce (I think it's largely made up of Thousand Island dressing).

The curry is mild, hardly spicy at all. Good news for those who are averse to spicy stuff. Gravy comes with some carrot chunks.

A generous serving of rice, sprinkled with black sesame seeds. On the right are two slices of watermelon, the dessert of the day, a refreshing ending to the fried and spicy food. (Btw, I don't understand why some eateries pass fresh fruit off as dessert. Shouldn't dessert be some kind of sweet pastry, or ice cream?)

The miso soup that is chock-ful of tofu and seaweed. I like their version; it's tasty without being overly salty.
As for R., his dish didn't look exciting when it arrived. I thought I had the better deal with the huge Japanese set meal.

Taiwanese beef noodles in soup. S$5.00 Topped with chunks of braised beef, a braised hard-boiled egg, stewed Chinese pickles and baby bok choy. It also comes with a dessert.

Halfway through my meal, I asked R. if I could try his unexciting dish. Boy was I wrong. It was awesome! The beef broth was absolutely rich and flavorful, and the beef chunks so tender, they nearly melted in my mouth! Mmm...what a great choice. Lucky for him I'm not a beef fan, otherwise...

I would definitely return to OA Bakery and Cafe again if I'm in the vicinity. The prices for this standard of quality and presentation is absolutely unbeatable in Orchard Road area. Looking at the packed cafe, it seems that I'm not the only one who has discovered this little gem of an eatery.

Btw, we noticed this at the side of our table: whole dried red chillies in a canister. Couldn't figure out what they were for. Certainly not for decor or consumption. We gave up and asked the waitress. You wanna know the answer too? Heheh, it's at the end of this blog.

After the workshop, R. suggested going for Killiney Kopitiam's famed kaya toast. I wasn't very hungry, but then, how could one go to Killiney Road and leave without paying Killiney Kopitiam a visit?

Clockwise from top left: kopi (coffee with condensed milk), kopi-c (coffee with evaporated milk), two soft-boiled eggs, two slices of toast with kaya and butter. Forgot how much the individual items cost, but R., who paid for the treat, said the bill was less than S$4.50.

Here, the bread is still manually grilled over an open fire, as it has been for 50 years. You can see the grill marks on the bread. The kaya here is also made fresh daily. I like their version; it's really fresh and aromatic. Nothing beats fresh, homemade kaya. Kaya is made with eggs, coconut milk and pandan leaves. These ingredients combine to produce a wonderfully thick and fragrant jam. Take two slices of toast, smother with kaya, and slap on a slice of cold butter. Best eaten warm with traditional kopitiam-style coffee.

Another local breakfast favorite. Singaporeans like their breakfast eggs soft and runny. Add soy sauce and/or pepper to taste, break the yolks slightly, and slurp down the contents of the bowl. Eating eggs this way is supposed to help women increase the size of their breasts mammary glands, but don't quote me on that!!

So if you come to Singapore, do have a go at our local breakfasts. Of course, Killiney Kopitiam isn't the only coffeeshop that offers kaya toast, but few coffee shops make their own version and grill their toast over a fire. There is another famous kaya toast specialty franchise; I'll cover that in a later blog when I get a chance to eat there.

OA Bakery and Cafe
71 Killiney Road

Killiney Kopitiam
67 Killiney Road

For those who've been wondering about the dried chillies (or did you scroll down without reading the rest of the blog, you cheat?), they're there to keep flies away. What a cool and useful tip!



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