Give new dining experiences a try
Issue: Jun 2011
At Tea Cosy, a quaint and European café, you can buy almost anything you see and use at the shop.
In the Asian food capital that is Singapore, diners are spoilt for choice. Not only are there cuisines of the world for the sampling, there are different types of dining experiences to suit every pocket. Given this culinary climate, restaurants have to be extra innovative to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Enter eateries that provide novel dining experiences by incorporating more than just food and ambience into their establishments. INSIDE gives you the inside story of some two-in-one dining options.
Like a Victorian home-styled attic stocked full of history and memory, Tea Cosy invites you to explore its inner recesses as you sample its menu
Cosy Up for Tea
Stepping into Tea Cosy is like being invited into a charming English cottage, complete with wooden accents, warm lighting and the inviting smells of home cooking. Here, vintage-style furniture, angel figurines and angel-themed lifestyle accessories jostle for space and attention in an eclectic mix that works to cosy perfection. At first glance, this shop nestled on the fifth floor of family-friendly mall, Plaza Singapura, looks like a furniture-cum-home bric-a-brac store. But it is that and so much more.
“It’s a retail-cum-dining concept that is seamless. There is no segregation of the two spaces,” explains co-owner, Daphne Lee. “Our two retail partners, TenThousand Angels, bring in the angel products and A Thousand Tales sources for the furniture, while Tea Cosy takes care of the menu.”
The novelty lies in the fact that everything there can be purchased – from the furniture you sit on, the decorations in the dining area and beyond to the porcelain ware and even the accessories on the wall. It is the ultimate marketing ploy. You actually get to try the products and see them in a home setting before you buy them.
A fusion of East meets West, Tea Cosy serves up its signature dish - Laksa Pasta
Ingenuity and Tradition Culminating in Culinary Genius
But the innovative concept goes well beyond just giving diners a chance to live in the European-inspired furniture and home décor gallery, at least for the duration of the meal. Tea Cosy’s creativity extends to its menu as well. Apart from the usual high tea fare, one of their specialties is Laksa Pasta. This dish features penne in a red, creamy laksa lemak gravy topped with succulent pan-grilled prawns. An Italian take on a Singaporean favourite, it is like laksa sans the copious amounts of gravy. But it works on several levels. Pasta makes a worthy substitute for the usual white laksa rice noodles. The dish has all the essence of laksa – the fragrance and oomph from the paste – while retaining its own identity.
“We make the laksa paste from scratch with our own recipe. We also add shredded cucumbers for the added crunch and to give a health spin to the dish,” says Lee.
Another dish that has hints of Asian in it is the Braised Duck Pasta. Here, pasta is accompanied by generous portions of braised duck, sundried tomatoes and a spicy-sweet broth that is more soup than gravy. The dish is comfort food redefined.
Stocked with wholesome fun, The Mind Café is the perfect place to eat, chill and bond with friends.
Eat and Play
Another innovative dining concept can be found in The Mind Café at Funan DigitaLife Mall. Obviously, the owners of this café have never been told not to play while they eat because that is exactly the idea behind their restaurant. The Mind Café is a restaurant that rents out board games to diners so they can play while they eat.
“I love board games and I wanted to promote a board game culture in which people would come together to interact with clean fun that would also develop them intellectually,” says managing director of The Mind Café, Alvin Tan.
There are over 2000 different board games across their four outlets and they are continually sourcing for more. Forget about Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk. Their games are some of the most innovative and exciting ones you will ever come across. Sorted into 20 different categories, there is something for every bent. Lovers of history can pick from the Ancient or Medieval categories where you can travel back in time to Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia or the Far East of old; or to the land of castles, knights and dragons. Those who fancy combats can count on War Games and Fighting categories to get their fix. Action-lovers can look to games in the Action and Racing categories. If you prefer mind games, pick from the Bluffing, Deduction, Negotiations, Memory or Word Games categories. Finally, for something out of this world, try Fantasy, Suspense and Horror board games.
Thai flavours with Western preparation, the tom yam roast chicken is a novel twist to the iconic Thai dish.
The Mind Café is also creative in their promotion packages. Themed nights and special packages for off-peak periods – they have thought of all kinds of ways to not only keep you there but keep you coming back for more.
Menu-wise, expect a lot of finger food that make eating and playing easy. But they do have some rather creative offerings. The tom yam chicken that can be served roasted with rice or done with pasta is a novel twist to the iconic Thai dish. The tom yam sauce packs a punch and connoisseurs of the tangy and spicy flavours will not be disappointed.
Bottoms Up - History in a Glass
Drink in a little Singapore history at the Singapore Sling Boutique
At uber hip, waterfront dining and entertainment destination, Clarke Quay, is a bar that has a theme like no other. Singapore Sling Boutique is dedicated entirely to the local cocktail that has won international acclaim. Housed in a refurbished preserved building, this shrine to the Singapore Sling not only gives you a chance to try the cocktail, it also gives you a lesson on its origins. Collect brochures about the Singapore Sling, then sip the drink and watch a video about its history. In addition, to help you recreate the experience at home, Singapore Sling cocktail pre-mixes are sold at the bar. You can even buy the Merlion cocktail holder that your drink comes in to complete the experience.
The menu includes innovative re-interpretations of the original Singapore Sling. The cocktail, which incorporates Cherry Heering, Benedictine and fresh Sarawak pineapple juice, now has an ice-blended version called Sling on Ski. Sling on Snowball is the cocktail in sorbet form while Sling Bites are chocolates filled with the Singapore Sling.
Shop, play, get a history lesson – dining out in Singapore is no longer simply just about the food.
Be innovative in your dining choices at CapitaMalls Asia:
68 Orchard Road
Tel: (65) 6341 9318
The Mind Café
Funan DigitaLife Mall
109 North Bridge Road
Tel: (65) 63344426 / (65) 63344427
Singapore Sling® Boutique
3B River Valley Road, The Foundry
Clarke Quay, #01-05
Tel: (65) 6334 4033