I have been conscientiously avoiding the Hong Kong style cafes that have sprung up all over Singapore. Mainly because the "cha charn tang" or Chinese teahouse serving modified Western cuisine simply does not sound appealing to me. However, one day I was enticed by Tong Shui Cafe (some good reviews, delicious website pics and unusual decor).
My friend and I shared an oven-baked rice with chicken wings (S$8.88). He too, had never tried a cha chan tang, not even in Hong Kong. The baked rice came in a bamboo steamer. It had a casual homemade feel and taste about it. The cheese and sauce on top was quite delicious. I wished there was more. The rice is a bit like fried rice, topped with two fried chicken wing drumlets coated with BBQ sauce. Surprisingly the rice didn't taste greasy or overly satiating at all. Yum yum. I would eat this again.
Yes, my FIRST ever HK-style thick toast (S$2.88), believe it or not. My friend's too. The bread is extra soft, just lightly crisped on the outside and fluffy inside. That plus the peanut butter and condensed milk make this a total carbo bomb!
Oh, we had to have this when we saw it on the menu. D24 durian puree on toast (S$3.88)? It was heavenly! I'm sure sugar was added to sweeten it further but the durian fragrance was unmistakable. Another carbo bomb but some things are worth it.
The cha chan tangs are particularly famous for their fragrant milk teas, and some weird concoctions like that awful "yuan yang" coffee and tea mixed together - something I *still* can't get my head around to (yuck yuck). My friend's milk tea with grass jelly (S$3.88) was nice and light though.
I had the 8 Treasures Tea (S$3.88) which came in a tall carafe, with more than enough for two glasses. Extremely refreshing and best of all - it seemed sweetened only by the longans within.
The decor is one way Tong Shui Cafe stands out from the rest of its competition. Bright walls, bold Chinoiserie, dark furniture and French chandeliers. "Tong Shui" means "desserts" in Cantonese but this place serves well more than that, as its menu of over 300 items can attest to. What's even better? Free wi-fi, Chinese movies on cable, football match screenings, and operating hours that run from noon to 6am - good news for night owls seeking a place to chill, eat and chat! I will most certainly be back!
TONG SHUI CAFE
Five outlets across Singapore (I tried the one at Liang Seah Street)
Open daily, noon to 6am