Review: Delicious Asian Flavours at International Cafe Festival

Review: Delicious Asian Flavours at International Cafe Festival

Asia is known as the land of mysticism, and it is known for its flavorful cuisines. Check out the recent Asian entries at the International Cafe Festival.

Sparkling teas from Shanghai, lemony Thai coffees, and Balinese pancakes. Sounds foreign? That’s because it is, well to Singapore at least. These inventive Asian creations are big sellers on the menus of well-loved cafes that are now in Singapore for Café Culture. That's a first-ever gathering of 10 international cafés over four days ending 1 September 2019. Here’s 4 Cafés To Look Out For: 

1. Roots, Bangkok


Roots is a Bangkok micro-roastery that stays true to its name. The two-café chain is led by award-winning barista-owner, Varatt Tae Vichit-Vadakan, whose bold decision to use Thai beans seems to have paid off. Fans love their coffee brews for the delicious hint of chocolate, that originate from Arabica-producing northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. But beans is not the only thing that stands out in the six-year-old shop. Locally sourced honey too, makes a surprisingly bright addition in Hoppy Citrus Cold Brew, one of its two signature beverages. To be clear, this is coffee, but infused with summit hops that give a floral aroma, homemade lemonade that doesn’t sting and mildly sweet honey from Chiang Mai. Korn, 31-year-old head barista of Roots revealed that the pleasant lemony coffee was the winning result of the café’s monthly internal barista competition. Now if you’re more of a purist, be glad to know that their best-seller is still a plain hot milk coffee, followed by cold brew. And just for Singapore, they’ve brought in limited quantities of an exclusive Pangkhon Kenya Wash, which is a jammy, cranberry blend with a pleasant candy finish.

Prices range from SGD 6 –15.

2. Pushers, Shanghai


Selling tea in China can be a gutsy gamble. But at Pushers, they've managed to succeed with a fun blend of fizz and fruits. One can order beer-bottle-like teas blended with a carbonated mix of fruits. Its big sellers are MOMO, or oolong tea with peach, and PEPE,chrysanthemum tea infused with floral pear. All are sparkling and skillfully mixed by co-owner and mixologist Dannie Sorum. It’s an intriguing concept and one that works surprisingly well. The craft tea brand has a growing presence in Shanghai, where it’sbeen based in since 2017. For the moment, one can order their tea bottles (much like beer bottles) at many bars in the Chinese city. Soon though, they’ll be opening a café of their own there, aptly called Tea Chop by Pushers. It’s a concept where customers can pick their own fruits, from blueberries to cantaloupe melon, have it chopped and paired with any one of Chinese tea blends on the menu.

Prices range from SGD 9 –10.

3. Switch Coffee, Tokyo

Come here for coffee that is “not too bitter, not too sweet, not too acid”. That’s in Japanese owner-barista Masahiro Onishi’s own words, and it is quite true at Switch Coffee. Any cup of coffee from the six-year-old Tokyo-based roaster is carefully balanced, leaving a silky smooth mouthfeel. And that’s partly because the 34-year-old once trained under award-winning barista Izaki, who has a reputation for refine tastes. Pick from their best-selling lattes, or sip slowly on an unusual espresso tonic. The simple blend of Schweppes tonic and an intense espresso shot is a well-crafted thing that Masa launched in Japan’s incredibly warm summers, and it’s the kind of drink that sits well in Asia’s year-round heat.

Prices range from SGD 6 –12.

4. Sisterfields, Bali

It may not look it, but Australian café Sisterfields takes a great deal of inspiration from where it's based in Bali. Their Balinese Banoffee Pancakes, now a Singapore-exclusive, is made with Balinese vanilla, with a thick chocolate whip from Indonesia-based Samsaman, where single-origin pods are grown in a farm near the café. On top of two palm-sized pancakes is a thick drizzle of butterscotch blended with coconut palm sugar, and this gives it an addictive sweet finish. Executive chef Jethro Vincent is passionate about the “bold, aggressive” flavour profiles in much of Asian food, and does inject that into the menu. An upcoming café, Fika, by the same group will open on 15 September in the beach resort of Seminyak, with a focus on clean, Swedish-inspired styles and tastes. But for now, one can enjoy their signatures, Smashed Avocado Rye Bread and Pulled Pork Charcoal Roll, along with dessert-pleasing Balinese Banoffee Pancakes.

Prices range from SGD 16 –21.

Also at the festival is Lune Croissanterie. The Melbourne-based bakery's croissants have been hailed as “the world’s best” and don't come cheap -a box of two plain croissants sells at SGD 22. Sydney-based KOI Dessert Bar's signature mousse creations and tarts go for SGD 12 each. Café Culturebegins today and continues until Monday, 1 September at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands. One-day and four-day passes are available. Click here for purchase and more information.

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