Maison Ikkoku – Marrying Style with Coffee – Gastronomic Ruminations

The specialty coffee scene is heating up in Singapore with the latest addition, Maison Ikkoku which means ‘House of the Moment’, opening its doors over the past weekend at Kandahar Street.

Triple Rosetta

 Image courtesy of Maison Ikkoku & Word of Mouth Communications

Named after a Mangga comic, Maison Ikkoku is the brainchild of two married couples and close friends, Janice Ong & Thomas Ho and Shanie Teoh & Franz Chua. Located within a three-storey conservation shophouse, Maison Ikkoku houses a hip cafe on the ground floor, a multi-label menswear boutique on the second floor and a semi-alfresco cocktail bar on the third (scheduled to open in mid-November 2011).

Maison Ikkoku

Image courtesy of Maison Ikkoku & Word of Mouth Communications

The cafe has a minimalist interior with comfortable pin-cushioned seats lined against a dark wooden panel that provides a stark contrast against the whitewashed brick walls, sparingly adorned by industrial copper piping and lit by warm lights. Looking up at the dark wooden ceiling, one cannot help but notice the seemingly out-of-place protrusions which turned out to be the bottom half of antique wooden cupboards. The sight of the suspended cupboards had me thinking of Alice in Wonderland and her fall down the rabbit-hole with floating cupboards lining the sides of the tunnel walls.

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The cafe offers a range of artisanal coffee drinks brewed using four methods with beans imported from Brazil and Ethiopia, roasted in-house weekly by their baristas.

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Piccolo Latte @ S$4

This being my first caffeine fix for the day, I ordered a quick pick-me-up Piccolo Latte (small latte), which was poured by Barista Rizuan (previously from Cuppa Choice) with a heart-shaped latte art. Thomas and Janice explained that their baristas were trained by world-famous Japanese celebrity barista and latte art specialist, Hiroshi Sawada. Pretty latte art aside, the cup of Piccolo Latte was well-balanced with the sweetness of steamed Greenfields milk. No sugar required.

MI Musubi S$3.50 (2)

MI Musubi @ S$ 3.00
Japanese short grain rice with seasoning & SPAM
Image courtesy of Maison Ikkoku & Word of Mouth Communications

I love luncheon meat so I was totally game to try one of the house specialties, MI Musubi, which is an Onigiri (Japanese rice ball) that had been seasoned with Furikake (a dry and savoury Japanese condiment) topped with a slice of grilled SPAM (ie. the luncheon meat and not to be confused with unsolicited bulk emails). It tasted awesome with the slightly crisp slice of SPAM adding bursts of saltiness to the lightly salted but sweet flavour of the Japanese short grain rice. Janice told us that this specialty was made personally by Shanie. Shanie and Franz used to eat alot of Musubi whilst studying in Hawaii and wanted to share their favourite snack with guests at Maison Ikkoku. This is a Must-Try for its Comfort Food factor, unless you have a major aversion to processed meat.

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MI Pork Bun (Kong Bak Pau) @ S$ 3.90
Steamed bun with home-made stewed pork belly

Another house specialty is the MI Pork Bun known to Singaporeans as Kong Bak Pau. The stewed pork belly is cooked by Janice. Served in a soft, fluffy freshly steamed open-leaf Chinese bun, the pork belly was juicy, tender and flavoursome with the richness of the gravy that it was stewed in. There aren’t many places left in Singapore that serve good Kong Bak Pau, so finding a delicious version here that reminded me of the flavours that I grew up with, was indeed a very pleasant surprise for me. The Kong Bak Pau here is definitely a Must-Try!

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Bite-sized samples of home-made Carrot Cake @ S$ 6 for a standard slice of cake

Maison Ikkoku serves up gourmet sandwiches and cakes as part of their food menu. We were given bite-size samples of their cutely decorated home-made carrot cake to try as we were already feeling full after eating the MI Musubi and MI Pork Bun. The carrot cake was moist and soft without being cloyingly sweet. Though I am generally not a huge fan of carrot cake, this was yet another carrot cake (besides my current favourite from Cedele) that stayed on my mind. Definitely worth a try if you like carrot cakes.

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Cafe Latte @ S$ 5.50

Exhausted from working late the past few days, I downed another cup of coffee to wake me up. A little less strong than Piccolo Latte because of the higher milk content, it was nonetheless a decent caffeine fix to chase the perk-me-up effects of the previous cup. If you like a leisurely breakfast with good coffee on weekends, this is a place worth checking out as they serve all-day breakfasts on weekends. Looking at the menu, I’m going to be back for Eggs Benedict (S$16.90) – poached eggs topped with home-made Hollandaise sauce, served with English muffin, Prosciutto de Parma and asparagus.

MI Boutique

Image courtesy of Maison Ikkoku & Word of Mouth Communications

Now that we had filled our stomaches, it was time to work off the calories by climbing the stairs to the second floor, to preview the multi-label menswear boutique. Carrying a range of merchandise from Japan, France, United Kingdom and the United States of America, the discerning, style-conscious male can indulge in retail therapy from a selection of designer wear, some of which are exclusively sold at Maison Ikkoku.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes S$4.80

Peanut Butter Cupcakes @ S$4.80
Image courtesy of Maison Ikkoku & Word of Mouth Communications

When the third floor is ready in mid-November, Maison Ikkoku hopes to serve coffee-based cocktails in the semi-alfresco rooftop bar. Till then, I have another item on my “To Eat” list, Peanut Butter Cupcakes!

Thank you, Maison Ikkoku for the hospitality and Word of Mouth Communications for the invitation to the media preview.

Maison Ikkoku
20 Kandahar Street, 
Singapore 198885
Telephone: +65 6294-0078
Email: cafe@maison-ikkoku.net (cafe) & boutique@maison-ikkoku.net (boutique)
 
Operating Hours: 
Monday to Thursday & Public Holidays: 9 am to 7 pm
Friday & Saturday: 9 am to 10 pm
Sunday: 9 am to 6 pm
 
Notes: Casual attire, Visa & Mastercard accepted, all prices are nett and WiFi is available.
 
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