Welcome to waffle world

Whether it is American or Belgian style, sweet or savoury, waffles never seem to stop delighting diners here.

Of late, however, waffles in Singapore have been getting a lot more posh. Batters are being infused with everything from squid ink to green tea. Even creations such as red velvet and blackforest, once associated only with cakes, have now turned into waffle flavours and toppings.

Of course, infusing flavours into waffle batters is not completely new. After all, neighbourhood bakeries have been serving the ubiquitous pandan waffle for years. But those are a little different. They are more like a pancake hybrid and are sweeter, soft and floppy.

American and Belgian waffles tend to be more airy in texture and crisp on the outside. There are also Belgian Liege waffles, which are chewy and heavier and have granules of pearl sugar in them.

While lighter waffles are often associated with dessert and drizzled with maple syrup or chocolate sauce and topped with scoops of ice cream and slices of fresh fruit, savoury options are becoming more popular here.

In fact, there are now more savoury options on the market. These include waffles topped with eggs and bacon, and even fried chicken. Fancier toppings include smoked salmon.

Many new cafes have also taken to including waffles, both sweet and savoury, with various toppings and in differing flavours on their menus.

SundayLife! found no fewer than eight new eateries with waffles, all of which opened in the last four months.

Life Is Beautiful Kitchen & Bar in Duxton Road has a pecan waffle with roasted beetroot and onion jam, while Waffle Slayer in Kampong Bahru serves squid ink waffles with bacon.

In Bali Lane, Stateland Cafe has Red Velvet and S'mores waffles. Over in Hougang, Hatter Street serves a waffle with pandan ice cream and gula melaka sauce.

Owners say they see potential in offering new interpretations of the timeless staple. Mr Yeo Chern Yu, 22, co-owner of Stateland Cafe, says: "Cakes such as red velvet are very popular and I wanted to see how this could be turned into a waffle because they seem to be a trend here."

On the appeal of waffles, a spokesman for Waffle Slayer says: "The more adventurous diners or those in search of new flavours will love to taste these new creations because they are interesting, unique and taste great."

The new cafes and restaurants add to the handful of eateries that already offer waffles, including wafflecentric cafes such as Wafflelicious in Upper Thomson Road and Waffletown in Bukit Timah.

Waffles are also popular at ice cream parlours such as Udders and The Daily Scoop.

The newfangled flavours, cafe owners say, appeal to diners, from children to teenagers and from working adults to grandparents.

For example, Ms Yvette Chua, 30, owner of Hatter Street, says there is a primary school boy who dines at her cafe once a week and gives her ideas for new flavours, and there is also an elderly couple who go to her cafe to share a waffle regularly.

Waffle creations in the works include everything from a ham and cheese waffle toastie to waffle batter infused with tea and more exotic flavours.

Diners can expect more innovative offerings in time to come.

Mrs Sarah Ng, 34, a housewife who is expecting her first child, says she has been craving waffles, one of her favourite desserts, over the last few weeks.

She says: "There are so many more options now, from savoury fast-food waffles with egg to flavoured waffles with ice cream from cafes.

"I don't have to hunt as hard now. I like that cafes are using waffles in place of bread in a sandwich. Waffles can be had at any time of the day - for breakfast, lunch and dessert."


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Waffle Slayer
Where: 37 Kampong Bahru Road
Open: 11am to 10pm daily
Info: Call 6222-4869

The latest waffle-centric cafe to enter the market is Waffle Slayer in Kampong Bahru Road.

It is an offshoot of Strangers' Reunion cafe, which started in the shop space two years ago before moving to a larger space next door.

The month-old cafe is owned by Strangers' Reunion partners Ryan Tan and Mervin Pang, both 28.

On its limited menu are nine waffle dishes, three of which are savoury.

Choice picks include the Matcha Buttermilk Waffle ($14.90), a green tea waffle with azuki beans, ice cream and canned orange segments; the Banana Brulee Buttermilk Waffle ($14.90), with caramelised bananas; and a sweet-salty Squid Ink Waffle With Crispy Bacon ($18.90), topped with bacon rashers, ice cream and pistachio tuile, with a maple-Dijon mustard glaze.

The cafe is always experimenting with new flavours. One of the newest additions is a buttermilk waffle with turkey salad and pineapple jam.

Strangers' Reunion started selling waffles when it first opened and noticed their popularity.

On why the partners decided to open a wafflecentric cafe, a spokesman says: "Opening a dedicated waffle house gives us the opportunity to continue to experiment and improve on our unique waffle creations."

She adds that there was a gap in the market as there were few places focusing solely on waffles.

On the decision to make flavoured waffles, she says: "Instead of just playing around with various toppings, we thought we would experiment with different flavours of waffles too.

"Ingredients such as matcha and squid ink add flavour to our regular buttermilk waffles and bring them to another level. The toppings complement the waffles and the colours make them look really interesting."

Yellow Cup Coffee
Where: Central Square, 20 Havelock Road, 01-09
Open: 7.30am to 6.30pm (weekdays), 11am to 5pm (weekends)
Info:Go to www.yellowcupcoffee.com

Singaporean brothers Hans and Bing Kristanto decided to bring a bit of the United States to Singapore.

They hope to impart some American cafe social culture - that of sitting at large communal tables and chatting with strangers who then become friends - to the Central Business District.

Yellow Cup Coffee, where coffee is served in yellow cups, even when you get one to go, opened four months ago.

Both brothers studied in the US - Hans at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and Bing at New York University's Stern School of Business in Manhattan. One of their older brothers is a silent partner and declined to be named. They are three of six children. Their father is in the building business and their mother is a housewife.

Hans, 26, who studied industrial engineering and used to handle operations at an airline catering company in Honolulu for two years, runs the cafe, while Bing, 25, who has a day job in a bank, handles the finances.

The cafe, which is inspired by boutique American coffee chains such as Stumptown and Blue Bottle, uses a handmade La Marzocco Strada coffee machine which costs $30,000. Its coffee beans come from a supplier and change regularly. It offers coffee from Nicaragua and Sumatra now.

Because of their American influence, the brothers decided waffles had to be on the menu.

There are two options for now - waffles with fruit and maple syrup ($8) and a Twin Salmon Nest ($15), two 63 deg C poached eggs wrapped with smoked salmon and served on a waffle with a side of cream cheese.

More waffles, such as one with ham and cheese, are in the works.

Stateland Cafe
Where: 30 Bali Lane
Open: Noon to 10pm (Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), noon to midnight (Fridays and Saturdays), 11am to 6pm (Sundays), closed on Tuesdays
Info: Call 9296-4997 or go to www.facebook.com/statelandcafe

In the hipster area of Haji and Bali lanes near Arab Street is a new cafe offering everything from pasta to dessert.

Two-month-old Stateland Cafe in Bali Lane happens to be run by three young hipster men too. They are in their early 20s and wear fitted black T-shirts and skinny Nudie denim jeans. Two of them also wear trendy dark-framed spectacles.

The trio: Oong Bing Hui, 20; Yeo Chern Yu, 22; and Chia Kai Chao, 23, met in the army, where they were combat engineers.

Mr Oong is the barista, while Mr Yeo, who has a diploma in culinary and catering management from Temasek Polytechnic, is the chef. Mr Chia, who has a business diploma from Singapore Polytechnic, handles the marketing and business side of things.

Mr Oong, who is from Anderson Junior College, is currently waiting to enter the National University of Singapore where he plans to study economics.

They spent all of $1,800 to set up the cafe, as they paid cost price for many of the materials used. Some items such as wooden pallets, were also free.

It was cheap for them because each of their families run various building-related companies - Mr Oong's family runs a developing and construction company; Mr Yeo's family is in steelworks; and Mr Chia's family runs an aluminium business.

The metal grills, wooden-pallet tables, doors and counter tops, for example, were made by the family companies.

The food menu is pretty extensive, considering the shoebox-sized kitchen. Breakfast items include dishes such as French toast ($11.90), scrambled eggs on waffles ($14.90) and Eggs Benedict ($14.90).

There are also three types of pasta ($10.90) - carbonara, bolognaise and aglio olio.

For dessert, there is thick toast baked with honey and butter and topped with fruit, Nutella, nuts and ice cream; as well as six waffle variations. A plain waffle with berries and maple syrup starts at $9.90.

Mr Yeo, who uses a yeast starter for his waffle batter, also infuses them with chocolate and chocolate chips.

The Red Velvet waffle is served with cream cheese and vanilla ice cream, while The Black Forest waffle is topped with a cherry compote and chocolate ice cream.

Another innovative creation is the S'mores waffle topped with toasted marshmallows, digestive biscuits and Belgian chocolate ice cream.

Mr Yeo says: "Everyone likes waffles and cakes, so I wanted to translate the flavour of traditional cakes into waffles."

The young entrepreneurs are not daunted by the cut-throat food and beverage industry, they say.

Mr Oong says: "We're young and energetic. We have the energy to take whole shifts every day. If the business doesn't take off, we can still look for other jobs or go into our family businesses."

Hatter Street
Where: Block 212, Hougang Street 21, 01-333
Open: 1 to 10pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on Mondays
Info: Call 6988-4591 or go to www.hatterstreet.com

Walk into dessert cafe Hatter Street in Hougang Street 21 on a weekday afternoon and you might not be able to get a seat.

The cafe, which seats 28 indoors and about 10 outdoors, is usually packed.

It opened in January and serves traditional desserts with a twist. Ms Yvette Chua, 30, who has a degree in culinary arts and management from the Culinary Institute of America in Singapore, owns and runs the place.

Among the offerings are macarons flavoured with haw flakes; and Serradura, Portuguese-style pudding made with crushed biscuits popular in Macau, but hers has been infused with smoke. Her tiramisu is not made with marsala wine, but a floral Chinese rice wine instead.

But the most popular item is the waffle, called a Whoa-ffle here. It is served with various sauces such as salted caramel as well as housemade ice cream, priced at $8 a serving.

For something with a local flavour, opt for the waffle with pandan ice cream and gula melaka sauce.

Ms Chua, who spent about $100,000 to set up shop, says she is now working on a sweet and savoury waffle served with bell pepper ice cream and turkey ham.

Also in the works is a Hong Kong-style egg waffle with hae bee hiam, or spicy dried shrimp sambal.

She says: "The idea behind this cafe is to have a hint of madness. Here, anything goes - the more absurd, the better."

The former secondary school home economics teacher, who is single, decided to pursue her passion for food after four years of teaching. While at the culinary institute, she worked at two-Michelin-starred Hong Kong restaurant Bo Innovation, which is known for its molecular cuisine.

On opening a cafe, she says: "It was a gamble to open something after I graduated, but I felt that if I started worrying about competition, I would lose the essence of who I am."

Where: 204 Rangoon Road
Open: 11am to 10pm (Tuesdays to Thursdays), 11am to 11.30pm (Fridays), 9am to 11.30pm (Saturdays), 9am to 10pm (Sundays), closed on Mondays
Info: Call 6299-4308 or go to www.facebook.com/woodshed204

Woodshed is a two-month-old cafe in Rangoon Road, two doors away from popular bak kut teh shop Ng Ah Sio. The spacious 1,600 sq ft cafe has a simple menu with all-day breakfast items such as baked eggs ($8.90) and a Full House ($15.90) breakfast plate of scrambled eggs, mushrooms, sausages, potato and salad. There is also a mushroom dip and quiche.

Waffles feature as its only made-to-order dessert. Other sweet offerings range from red velvet cake to chocolate tart.

The waffle, created by its chef Cheng Shu Ting, 25, has a subtle orange tang, from the orange zest that is added to the batter. Waffles (from $10.90) are served with ice cream and other toppings such as maple syrup, chocolate sauce and fresh fruit.

Savoury options, such as a pizza-waffle topped with pineapple, ham and melted cheese, are in the works. Ms Cheng is also experimenting with incorporating ingredients such as ham into the waffle batter.

Fronting the 50-seat cafe are three friends-turned- business partners Jerrel Tan, 30, Jackiey Kwek, 39, and Adam Goh, 33. They met nine years ago when they were working in a telecommunications company.

Each of them hold day jobs. Mr Tan works in real estate, Mr Kwek runs a dating agency and an events company, and Mr Goh is a financial planner.

On offering waffles, Mr Kwek, who is also the cafe's barista, says: "We were trying to decide between pancakes and waffles, but decided on waffles because they are lighter. It is something you can eat at any time of the day - after lunch, at tea time or after dinner for dessert."

Other waffle haunts

Sweet and savoury

Spathe Public House
What: For savoury, opt for the Belgian waffles and fried chicken with Mornay sauce ($17). Two more savoury options are available on weekends for brunch: waffles with bacon and eggs ($17) and steak with peppercorn sauce ($24). It also serves waffles with Nutella, kaya or maple syrup, with a scoop of its daily ice cream ($17).

Where: 8 Mohamed Sultan Road, 01-01
Open: 11am to 11pm (weekdays), 10am to 11pm (weekends)
Info: Call 6735-1035 or go to www.spathepublichouse.com

The Beast
What: It serves the American soul food dish chicken and waffles ($20). The chicken is coated in a buttermilk batter, deep fried and served with housemade Bourbon maple syrup butter sauce.

Where: 17 Jalan Klapa, off Victoria Street
Open: 5pm to midnight (Mondays to Thursdays), 5pm to 1am (Fridays and Saturdays), closed on Sundays
Info: Call 6295-0017 or go to thebeast.sg

What: The waterfront watering hole and restaurant has fried chicken and waffles with maple butter and gravy ($16); and blueberry waffles with streusel and vanilla ice cream ($12).

Where: One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road, 01-06
Open: Lunch, 11.30am to 2.30pm (weekdays); dinner, 5 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays); supper, 10.30pm to midnight (Wednesdays and Thursdays), 10.30pm to 2am (Fridays and Sundays), closed on Sundays
Info: Call 9129-8484 or go to overeasy.com.sg

Craft Bakery & Cafe
What: Try The Craft ($11.50), bacon caramelised in maple syrup topped with a green apple slaw and sandwiched between waffles, or waffles with mixed berry compote ($7.90).

Where: 24A Lorong Mambong, Holland Village
Open: 9am to 11pm daily
Info: Call 6467-7710 or go to www.facebook.com/CraftBakeryCafe

What: A plain waffle costs $2.90. It can be served with ingredients such as turkey ham, egg, chicken sausage, fruit and ice cream. Other toppings include maple syrup, butter and chocolate syrup.

Where: Balmoral Plaza, 271 Bukit Timah Road, 01-08
Open: 11am to 10pm daily
Info: Call 6836-6536 or go to www.waffletown.com.sg

Life Is Beautiful Kitchen & Bar
What: Tuck into a pecan waffle with roasted baby beets and onion jam ($22).

Where: 99 Duxton Road
Open: 6pm to midnight (Tuesdays), 6pm to 3am (Wednesdays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays and Mondays. Last orders at 10.30pm
Info: Call 6423-0939 or go to www.facebook.com/lifeisbeautifulsingapore

Sweet only

Shrove Tuesday
What: The new cafe serves waffles with gelato ($5, additional $2.50 for gelato). Savoury waffles are in the works.

Where: Block 94, Toa Payoh Lorong 4, 01-32
Open: 10am to 10pm (Sundays to Thursdays), 10am to 11pm (Fridays and Saturdays)
Info: Call 6258-2254 or go to shrovetuesday.sg

Assembly Coffee
What: The coffee joint has buttermilk waffles ($11.50 a serving) with three toppings - salted caramel; housemade chocolate sauce and strawberries; and Earl Grey-salted caramel and strawberries. Each waffle is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Where: 26 Evans Road, Evans Lodge
Open: 8am to 7pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on Mondays.
Info: Call 6735-5647 or go to assembly.sg

Wimbly Lu
What: Waffles are served with either maple syrup and butter, or with ice cream. From $6 a serving.

Where: 15-2 Jalan Riang
Open: 12.30 to 10.30pm (Tuesdays to Thursdays), 12.30 to 11pm (Fridays), 9am to 11pm (Saturdays), 9am to 10.30pm (Sundays), closed on Mondays
Info: Call 6289-1489 or go to www.wimblylu.com

What: Waffles (from $7.50 a serving) can be served with an ice cream flavour of your choice. Popular options include Sea Salt Gula Melaka and Pistachio.

Where: Block 128, Toa Payoh Lorong 1, 01-835
Open: Noon to 10pm (Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays), noon to 11pm (Fridays and Saturdays), closed on Mondays
Info: Call 6250-1476 or go to www.creamier.com.sg

What: The chain, which has been serving waffles since 1979, has two options on the menu: Waffles Supreme, a waffle served with honey butter cream ($6.90); and the Golden Gate, an ice cream sundae with waffles ($9.50). In July, it will introduce a new chicken waffle.

Where: Outlets islandwide including Thomson Plaza, 301 Upper Thomson Road, 03-23, tel: 6454-8502; Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, B1-31, tel: 6884-5967; Bedok Mall, 311 New Upper Changi Road, 01-77, tel: 6844-9759; and Bukit Panjang Plaza, 1 Jelebu Road, 03-04, tel: 6892-0319
Open: Various opening hours, all are open daily and close at 10.30pm. The outlet at Changi Airport Terminal 2 is open 24 hours
Info: Go to www.swensens.com.sg

This article was published on April 20 in The Straits Times.

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