The follow up to this review:
Hoshino Coffee Review Part 2
Hoshino Coffee Review Part 3
In case anyone didn’t get the memo, Hoshino Coffee in 109 in Japan is one of my FAVOURITE cafes in the whole wide world. First of all they have those AWSOME fluffy souffle style pancakes and most importantly, they have god like royal milk tea. I ADORE milk tea, the only thing is, Singapore didn’t have any place that actually serves milk tea, at least not in the same style as they do in Taiwan, Japan and Korea, until now.
It was a complete coincidence, I saw that new place at Dhoby Gaut station while walking to the MRT station and decided to check it out and have lunch. And lo and behold, right up the escalator on the second floor is the cafe that I have dreamt about every since February, Hoshino Coffee!!! It didn’t matter that I was practically broke this month, I HAD to eat it and HAVE MY DAMN MILK TEA.
So I went in, got seated and looked at the menu. Menu wise, It didn’t differ much from the one in Japan, except there were English words printed on it. They also had that awesome service button on the table so you could call for a waiter or your bill with a push of a button instead of waving your arms around like a madman. However the whole atmosphere was a lot more sophisticated, as was the set-up. At 109, it was more like NYDC, where you have youngsters sitting around after a good day of shopping eating desserts and a few creative professionals having afternoon tea and meetings. Here in Singapore, it’s mainly families and teens dining. Compared to the shop in 109 where you get served by part-time university and high school students, both male and female, in Singapore, you get well-dressed butler-style waiters, all of whom are quite decent looking by local standards.
I’m almost sure that they sacrificed some utility for those looks though because service was quite slow, granted the restaurant (because it seemed more like a restaurant than a cafe) was rather busy but it wasn’t a full-house and there weren’t exactly long queues. I had to wait roughly 20 minutes between each dish I ordered. So what did I order?
I got a Baked curry rice, royal milk tea (like DUH) and a chocolate fondant with a softee (aka chocolate lava cake).
They came in that exact order. So lets talk food shall we?
My glorious baked curry rice in a pot, it was served sizzling hot but it smelled so good, and thank god, it tasted as good as it smelled. I never actually dined in Hoshino in Japan, only ate dessert there but I don’t think this dish is any bit less delicious than the things they serve in restaurants and cafes in Japan. It is quite rich and oily though, I’m pretty sure a lot of butter went into that recipe, the rice was a little hard by Japanese standards but here in Singapore everyone should feel quite at home (everyone except me). Unlike your typical curry baked rice, the Japanese curry that was used to make this sauce is SOAKED into the rice, not just spooned over top, so you’re likely to get soupy curry-oil like substances when you dig down. This could mean heaven for some and hell for others, depends on whether or not you like the idea of consuming rich butter and putting on a pound or two. The almost runny egg was perfection and the sausages were damn good too, but the sausages being salty on their on made the whole dish a little to strong in salt, add that to the already rich and buttery (oily) curry sauce, it’s definitely for those who prefer a rich and hearty meal. Still delicious though.
Then 20 minutes after I finished my meal, they served my tea. Strange I know because don’t people usually serve you tea first?
So it’s the moment of truth, did Singapore’s Hoshino live up to its Japanese counterpart’s Royal Milk Tea?
The answer is?
I think the answer is quite obvious just by looking at the photos. The Japanese Hoshino’s milk tea has a copious amount of milk foam over top, the Singapore version barely has any. Any self-respecting milk tea lover knows that the milk foam is half the game when it comes to milk teas. But fine, the real deal is the drink itself. Now, all good milk teas should be velvety, rich and smooth, you should be able to smell the fragrance of the tea when you sip it and taste a buttery richness only achievable through steamed milk followed by an aromatic aftertaste of the tea leaves. It should be mildly sweet without adding any sweeteners to it and taste like a little cup or toasty heaven. That is EXACTLY what Japan’s Hoshino Royal Milk Tea tastes like.
Now let me tell you what Singapore’s Hoshino milk tea tastes like. Bland watery mix of a miserable teaspoon of milk and tea leaves. You know how DISGUSTING watery milk tea tastes? Or even watery TEA for that matter? Yes well that’s what I had to live with. You can barely taste the milk, that is so watered down by…well water. And the tea was not aromatic or front and centre, the only reason you know it’s tea is because you’ve probably tasted the same bland favor at those cheap chinese restaurants where they re-use the tea leaves for days on end. I had to add 4 spoonfuls of sugar to make the drink remotely tolerable. I should have known that it would be a complete failure the moment I saw the lack of milk foam on it….no really, it was 7 bucks for that milk tea and even at hawker centers you can get better milk tea at like 1 dollar. I was in despair, I mean REALLY REALLY in DESPAIR.
And then I took a second risk and ordered chocolate fondant cake with softee instead of their famous souffle pancake (aka Fuwa Fuwa, which means fluffy in Japanese, pancake).
I promise you that it is as soft as it looks and is the fluffiest pancake you will EVER sink your teeth into. But I’ll get back to you on how the Singapore branch’s Souffle pancake compares to its Japanese counterpart because what I ordered is THIS baby!
Like before, this was only served 20 minutes AFTER I finished my milk tea. The only reason why I didn’t blow up at such slow service is because I was reading a novel and couldn’t care less about serving time.
Both myself and Hoshino Coffee Singapore should be VERY greatful that this was the last dish because it actually helped the cafe redeem itself. This is hands down one of the BEST chocolate cake of ANY SORT that I have every eaten. And let me tell you, I have eaten a LOT of chocolate cakes. Especially them chocolate lava ones.
The cake was most likely made on order because of the time it took and because you can’t find any trace of frozen core or overheated exteriors on it, the cake was room temperature as well, normally if they re-heat chocolate cakes, you can tell because the plate never comes to room temperature. The cake looks dark and it should because it was made from dark chocolate, mildly sweet, deep in flavor and the best damn chocolate concoction I’ve ever put in my mouth. The centre is gooey and warm and CHOCOLATEY! What more do you want!? The cake is moist and sticky that crumbs stick to your spoon after you’ve dug in and you just can’t help but lick every bite clean.
And whoever decided to serve it with the softee is a fucking GENIUS. Alone the cake is marvelous, stupendous, gorgeous, beautiful, delicious, amazing, breathtaking and all that good stuff but with the softee it’s like someone in heaven decided to announce that there’s heaven above heaven. Alone the softee is like your typical sweet soft-served vanilla ice-cream, not too rich or deep in flavor, merely cooling and sweet, but with the chocolate cake it’s just decadence in a bite. The richness and warmth of the chocolate cake matches so well with the coldness of the ice-cream, the bittersweet flavor of the dark chocolate is complimented perfectly by the sweetness of the vanilla…just when you think the hot cake is going to burn your tongue you quickly find that soothing patch of ice-cream and everything just sings in your mouth. And no I’m not exaggerating.
It helps that whoever decided the proportions was actually good at math, there is just enough bites of softee to match the cake. More importantly, the dangers of rich chocolate cake is that too much of it makes you sick from its richness, but the small dosage coupled with the ice-cream was the perfect serving size, enough to blow your mind AND satisfy your chocolate urge without it crossing into richness induced nausea.
In short, this cake saved the day.
So how do I rate this cafe? It gets a 7/10 for me on a whole, the service staff are REALLY nice and aside from the disappointing milk tea, the food is actually good. It’s price-point is reasonable given its class, location and quality (once again, minus the milk tea). However the speed of service really needs help, aside from me who had a book to distract me, every other patron was asking as to why their food is taking so long to be served. A couple times, I actually caught the waiters ALMOST serving orders to the wrong table as well. Waiting time in between food was also unreasonably long.
I’m pretty sure this cafe will stick around even after initial hype is over because its food is good, its staff are easy on the eyes and its atmosphere is really cozy. But really, for the love of god, someone PLEASE let the kitchen know that their milk tea is a DISGRACE and needs to be rectified IMMEDIATELY. It simply is unacceptable for a JAPANESE cafe to serve bad milk tea.
So yea, do check it out with your loved ones!