C-Jade HK Cafe, Bugis+

One afternoon, the colleagues and I headed to Bugis for lunch, and thought we’d try something different. We would usually just head straight to Ramen Champion in Bugis+ where we could all choose whatever type of ramen we liked, whichever was available anyway. This day, we had wanted to go to this place that sells Taiwanese street food, or something like that, but as we were walking past we saw that the eatery was completely devoid of customers, so instead of giving it the benefit of doubt we chose to walk on, until we reached the end of the level where C-Jade HK Cafe was. C-Jade, I presume, is meant to be some attempt at modernising the Crystal Jade name because I don’t see how abbreviating it this way makes it any easier to read. There are less syllables to read yes, but it really does not make much difference.

The items do look rather nice on the menu, to be honest, and we saw some people having the mini steamboats which looked rather appetising too. But I am typically a boring eater, and when it comes to HK cafes, my usual choice would be noodles, and to be exact, fried/dry instant noodles. It is odd, that I don’t even eat instant noodles at home these days, but I would order instant noodles when I am out. I am not opposed to it, or it is not because I don’t like it but it is just that I don’t normally eat much at home, and if I am actually at home for lunch/dinner, it would be food that my mother has cooked.

I liked the fried instant noodles at the Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe, and also the Indian versions at the various prata stores around, so since they have this on the menu, it was an easy choice for me.

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I was quite disappointed when my food was served, because just by looking at it, I could already see that there is a difference from what I usually have. They have somehow drenched the noodles in an overkill (to me at least) of a gooey sauce, maybe it’s oyster sauce, Hoi Sin sauce, or whatever, I cannot remember now, but it just made the whole plate of noodles soggy, and made eating difficult. The sogginess also affected, in a bad way, how the noodles tasted. The fried egg was done pretty ok, a sunny-side up egg with its yolk still in liquid form, so that was a compensating factor because I don’t like sunny-side ups that have a solidified yolk. Because the sauce was also spread over the luncheon meat, it also made it soggy, and that’s not how I like fried luncheon meat. Diced luncheon meat stir-fried with potatoes in tomato sauce sits well with me even though they are both fried and then fried in sauce, but fried luncheon meat soaked in some gooey sauce is not nice.

Being in a Hong Kong cafe of sorts, I wouldn’t miss out the HK Milk Tea of course. Nothing spectacular but it wasn’t bad. I like the HK version of milk tea because it is not sweet and is generally much stronger than our teh-c (kosong), the closest comparison that I can think of. The one I had here had the tannic taste of tea but it lacked in the fragrance of the milk. So maybe the next time we go to Bugis+ I should stick to having ramen instead, and save HK cafe food for Hong Kong, or Xin Wang that is closer to home.

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Hood Bar and Cafe, Bugis+

There was a period of time when I went to Hood Bar and Cafe on a relatively frequent basis. Back then, it was still located along Keong Saik Road, near Chinatown, and as my friends knew the people who owned and ran the place, it was a great location to chill out. In the past, Hood was housed in a shophouse that was fairly small and cosy, when it first started there were limited seats and generally on those occasions when I was there, the place was comfortably occupied. I liked it then because it kind of was like a round up to the night for us sometimes, after having some wild (or so now that I think about it) drinking escapades elsewhere, we would continue the drinking party there.

Somewhere along the way, there was a change in management and with that, the concept started to change a little as well. The change was still among my friends’ circle of friends, so we still dropped by occasionally, because they now hosted more seating capacity and the line-up of bands was also pretty good. I can’t recall when it happened but they needed to move out of the space in Keong Saik, so while they prospected for a new venue and thereafter began renovations, I stopped going to Hood. It was probably also because one of the friends whom I hung out at Hood with then had relocated out of Singapore for work, and others I just don’t hang out as much with anymore. That’s how friends are these days aren’t they, it’s like one giant merry-go-round, just that in this case, when someone passes you by, there is a chance they will hop off the carousel and therefore you don’t see them when the same spot comes around again.

Back to Hood. They reopened sometime in the middle of this year in Bugis+ or what used to be known as Iluma. I think in its previous incarnation, Bugis+ was kind of like a failed shopping mall. It has a very expansive interior with a giant atrium to make the mall look even bigger and more spacious. Natural light seemed to filter in easily but perhaps it wasn’t located in the best of spots as compared to say, Bugis Junction, which although lacks any great anchor shops (I don’t really think of BHG as some successful department store as compared to say, Isetan or Takashimaya or even Robinsons), always sees a constant flow of visitors and shoppers. After Capital Mall took over and renamed/rebranded it, a new lease of life was injected into it. International brands moved in, and coupled with smaller, independent shops, Bugis+ is now really enjoying a higher traffic flow these days. So that was where Hood reopened, on the 5th level of the mall.

When I first visited, I thought it felt very different. There is no longer the cosy feel of the shophouse unit that we used to frequent, and the higher ceiling kind of exacerbated that. Being in a mall, it does benefit from having less of the vibe of a typical shophouse-pub that reeks constantly of stale smoke. But the distinctive mural of the bar remained, which is something that I use to entertain myself sometimes, looking for stuff on the mural like I was playing a game of Where’s Wally.

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My first time in the new Hood was when Shirlyn & the UnXpected played (every Wednesday) and I could already feel the difference in how they sounded. Of course without their usual Rene Hombre (who plays with Timmy Band on Wednesday nights at Wala Wala), perhaps they would sound a little different but I have only really heard them play on a regular basis in Wala Wala, with a much lower ceiling and probably different sound systems as well. Here, it sounds more spacey, if that’s how it can be described. Of course, the crowd response was replicated here as in Wala Wala, and so far not really that many local bands I have heard (not that many anyway) are able to garner such a great response from the audience.

Back at Keong Saik Road, the one thing that we liked to order (and which I believe they ordered from nearby coffee shops), was fried luncheon meat. Somehow, this thing, with its glorious oiliness, is a favourite among many of my friends. I wonder if it is because it reminds of us childhood days where our mothers would fry some luncheon meat that would be eaten together with porridge. Or maybe that’s just me.

They have included this as part of the menu at the new location, and it’s called luncheon meat fries or something. Somewhere else I went, they actually call this porky fries. Haha. But nevertheless, I still love this bar food very much.

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I haven’t been to Hood that many times yet since they reopened, because of some not-so-great experiences on my second and third visit. Besides, I really don’t enjoy sitting on the bar stools because they tend to move/revolve when a weight is being placed on them, i.e. my ass. I prefer those high chairs that are static, that comes with four legs, but those are usually only placed at the bigger tables whereas if you are just 2 or 3 persons the round tables with the ‘revolving’ bar stools are what you are going to get.