Cafés are islands of serenity, providing not just delicious food to fill our bellies, but also offering a respite from the crowds and bustle of the city. It is no wonder that many cafés have sprung up in Southeast Asian cities, especially in Singapore and Malaysia.
Some cafés have carved out a name for themselves by crafting a unique dining experience to engage restless customers. In this article, we take a look at the different types of cafés and café experiences found in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
For parents, getting their hyperactive kids to sit still for long hours during a leisurely family luncheon seems like a tall order. Parents, fret no more. Several family-oriented cafés have designed child friendly activities to keep children entertained, allowing parents to sip their tea and chat for as long as they like. In Singapore, the Tree House Café offers indoor treehouse play facilities, as well as balloon sculpting and face painting on Sundays. Another café, Rochester House is situated in a spacious two-storey bungalow and offers a myriad of indoor and outdoor play areas. These include a castle playhouse, trampoline, swings, and scooters.
Those who wish to spend more quality time with their family will also appreciate cafés that offer activities that allow the entire family to join in, regardless of age. For example, at Nook DIY House of Pancakes, all tables are fitted with a griddle in the middle so that both parents and kids can enjoy designing their own pancakes. Kids who like playing with their food would be thrilled at being able to create their own unique combinations of pancake flavors, colors and toppings. Alternatively, if there are Lego enthusiasts in your family, Bricks ‘N’ Cubes Café offers an unforgettable experience with more than 1,000 Lego sets and figurines. Adults and kids alike can take their pick from the sets and assemble their own Lego figurines while waiting for their pasta or pizzas to arrive.
Additionally, some cafés run a side business along their food so that patrons can partake in their hobbies while relishing their food. For instance, Arteastiq sells art jamming packages for couples, friends and students as well as delicacies like crabcake benedict and osmanthus crème brûlée with berries. At The Plant Story, café goers can sign up for gardening workshops, buy terrarium gardening kits, or just recline in a hammock with a cup of coffee amidst the rustic plant décor.
Other café owners have tried to customize their décor along themed concepts to distinguish themselves. The Pirate Bay, a pirate-themed café in Bali, Indonesia, caters to both the young and the old. The outdoor setting is perfect to catch the sunset while hanging out at your chosen spot – a replica pirate ship, a tree house, a lookout tower, on the sand, or even the pirates’ kitchen. Scattered around the grounds are numerous castaway-inspired setups such as thatch-roofed beach huts, bonfires, and tents. The Pirate Bay offers a package where customers can don pirate costumes, and search for treasure.
Just as unique is V1 Concept Bar & Restaurant, a car-themed eatery in Selangor, Malaysia. Black Hummer limousines and a sleek red Ferrari adorn its entrances, while diners feast from chairs modelled after racing car seats.
Apart from themed cafes, halal-certified cafes are now more commonly found in Singapore. Once an infrequent find, more cafés have made it a point to obtain official halal certification to cater to the needs of Muslim customers. Invariably, the universal appeal of the good food they offer also draws a great number of non-Muslim customers. One notable example is Fluff Bakery, which has attracted fans from beyond the Causeway for their delicious concoctions. Their star items include red velvet and ondeh-ondeh (a tapioca flour dessert filled with fondant melted coconut sugar) cupcakes. Penny University is another halal café famous for their all-day breakfast and coffee.
Whether you want to kick back with some halal café fare, bond with your family or work on your hobbies alongside your coffee, there is no shortage of café options out there. As for the adventurous, themed cafés may just very well be your cup of tea.