Head to Fujin Street to shop for eclectic homeware at Funfuntown and trendy Japanese apparel at BEAMS; browse boutiques selling Zakka (anything and everything that improves one’s home, life and appearance) and designer goods for children; and chill out at zen cafes. The dense retail and F&B cluster exudes a sense of calm, and is an ideal street to while away the afternoon, cappuccino in hand.
1. Fujin Tree 353 Cafe by Simple Kaffa
The Fujin Tree Group owns several of the neighbourhood’s retail outlets, so its cafe is clearly the epicentre of Fujin Street and an obvious pit stop or starting point. Extremely hip, the cafe is home to 2016 World Barista champion Berg Wu, who selects the coffee beans used in its brews and espresso-based coffee drinks. The Dark Brown Sugar Latte is a popular choice – the sugar forms an almost bruléed crust to the milky cup, and pairs well with the mildly bitter Green Tea Roll Cake (made with premium green tea powder from Uji, Kyoto). The outdoor area is perfectly sun-drenched, while the indoor area is cosy. The decor is, naturally, hip: edgy wall art, artfully placed potted plants and coffee paraphernalia. Start your exploration of the neighbourhood here.
Like many cafes on Fujin Street, Pausa has a retail area – stocking high-end, on-trend fashion apparel and accessories. While the wares on display may be aspirational, the cafe itself is very approachable and zen. A must-try is its signature drink, the Roasted Almond Latte. Toasty, nutty and robust, it is served hot or iced. On its food menu are items such as waffles and quiches, but Pausa really strikes us as a place for coffee and quiet reflection, not dessert and indulgence. Still, if you cannot resist, the matcha tart (available in limited quantities) is a delicious choice. The tableware used is as lust-worthy as the confections; some are available for purchase.
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3. Cafe Mode
The first thing that strikes you about this quirky space is that there are a lot of wooden rocking horses scattered about – there are larger ones that kids can ride, as well as miniatures that dot the tabletops. It is theme of sorts, and some are even available for purchase. There is spacious outdoor seating, with wrought-iron high stools that allow you to sit outside but still look in on the staff preparing your food or coffee. This is a dessert cafe, and the chestnut tart is a popular choice, as are the mango waffles. The cafe serves espresso-based drinks, hand-dripped coffee, and pots of herbal infusions and milky teas by Kusmi Tea.
4. Beans & Beats
A popular stop along Fujin Street is Beans & Beats, which is also the headquarters of local hip-hop record label Kao! Inc. It has a cafe-cum-retail concept that lets you browse a collection of vinyl in a non-intimidating fashion. There is always music playing in the background, and we like the sleek, dark interiors. It serves coffee, tea, beer and hearty eats. The signature drink is a root beer espresso; food-wise, expect sandwiches, sliced cake and daily specials such as Thai minced pork served with rice and a fried egg.
5. Au Petit Cochon
Technically, this is not a cafe. Au Petit Cochon is a cosy little French restaurant with an unhurried vibe that makes it a very welcome pit stop along Fujin Street. It does serve coffee (cafe au lait should be your order, since it is a French eatery), and the food here is of the simple, comfort-food variety – think tea-smoked pork sandwich for brunch, grilled pork chops for dinner and a luscious crème brûlée for dessert.
– TEXT BY PRIYANKA AGARWAL
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.