Review: Ronin @ 17 Hongkong Street


Ronin rəʊnɪn/


  a wandering samurai who had no lord or master.

True to its name, just like a samurai, Ronin lies along Hongkong street inconspicuously, just waiting to spring out at those who are seeking for it. From the same people behind The Bravery and The Plain, Ronin takes on the similar concept as its counterparts. What do these 3 cafes have in common? The air of mystery. No signboards, no shop front. The bravery doesn’t even have an apparent entrance. These people are not worried that cafehoppers would miss their store, they are confident that these group of hipsters would track them down by hook or by crook. And yes, they are indeed very right.

The first time I visited them when they were still a month old, I walked back and forth Hongkong street thrice, just because I could not manage to locate them. The first time I went to The Bravery with my boy, I was stuck inside because I didn’t know how to open the door. The first time I decided to pay The Plain a visit, it took me 2 tries to locate them on the short stretch of shop houses. They make you feel like a complete klutz but no other cafes would let you feel that kind of satisfaction when you finally locate them.

The Place

The Ronin is located on 17 HongKong street, lurking in a hole in the wall. Taking on a dark and industry theme on its interior, the place exudes the atas vibes. There are 2 communal tables available, and as the cafe is often packed with cafe goers on weekends, you would expect to find yourself sharing a table with other people. IMG_0336 IMG_9341 IMG_0334During 2 of my visits last year, they did not have any signboards, facebook page, contact number, nor menu available. Nothing has changed on year on, except that they actually have a menu placed right on top of the shelf right now. Previously, they had to have their servers verbally introducing the dish to you, and it’s some times pretty stressful because one may need time to ponder upon the choices, or need them to repeat, especially since the cafe can get pretty crowded and noisy. I think it’s only good for them to have a menu, so that we don’t have to be stressed out, or have the servers to spend their time explaining each dish, while they could be better off doing other things such as getting the food ready and serving them up to the waiting patrons.
Despite the introduction of the menu, I still found the service here to be pretty personal and sincere, as the servers are very keen to explain each dish if any explanation is needed, and you would tend to be attended to by the same server throughout your time in the cafe.

The Food
From my previous visit last year, I found out that they have expanded their menu quite a bit. When I last visited, they only had their French Toast and Scrambled Eggs available, together with some sandwiches.
Photo 23-11-14 5 48 21 pmThe menu is a little blurred but I’ve tried my best to snap a shot as discretely and unembarrassingly as possible. They now have a wider selection of hot foods, such as the curry rice and more varieties of sandwiches and salads. I tried their Brioche French Toast on my first visit, and their Scrambled Eggs on Toast on my second.
IMG_9345 French Toast ($14.50): And this was worth every single cent it is. Sorry the picture is a little blurred, this was back in the day when I didn’t give a shit about picture quality. The sweet and savory combination was like a party in my mouth, and on my palate. The braised apple was soft, yet not mushy, together with the hazelnut butter, and bacon, on the french toast just left me screaming in my head. This was indeed one unforgettable french toast. And at least it has a little meat in the form of the sweet savory bacon to give me my protein fix! SO DAMN GOOD, you definitely got to try!  IMG_9342Wicked Mocha ($6.50): This is a classic take on the peppermint mocha. What differentiates this from the rest in the market is the quality of the chocolate sauce used in their mocha. The peppermint taste was not too overwhelming, and the mocha was the right amount of chocolatey. None of the flavors overwhelms the other, and worked in perfect harmony. If I did not remember wrongly, the first time I had, this was on the menu as a Christmas special, and I’m surprised to have found it a regular, signature drink on its menu right now, which is the best news ever!
IMG_9532Scrambled Eggs on Toast ($9.00): I thought the scrambled eggs on toast itself was rather boring, and so I added on a portobello mushroom for $3.50. This dish may be a little too pricey, however, the creamy scrambled eggs made up for it. This plate of scrambled eggs beat any others I’ve had before hands down. I don’t know what they did to the eggs, but these scrambled eggs were thick, fluffy and creamy, it’s everything you’re looking for in a perfect scrambled egg.

I have not visited Ronin in a year, and decided to return for it’s wicked mocha because I’ve been craving for a peppermint mocha for a while, and hence I popped by 2 weeks ago!
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe iced version of the wicked mocha ($7.50) and a banana bread ($4) to go along with it. The iced version was amazing. I loved how the taste of peppermint and mocha did not get watered down despite the ice melting after a while. The thick chocolate sauce with thick, and surprisingly not too sweet. What a treat! The banana bread was, however, just average. It’s moist, but that’s pretty much to it, nothing to shout about! I’ve heard a lot about their salted caramel brownies, and that would definitely be the next on my list when I visit them for a cup of Wicked!

Closing Remarks
Ronin is a pretty nice place to chill and have your brunch fix satisfied. Even though their menu is not as extensive as that of many others, from my experience with their 2 dishes, I dare say that the quality of food is rather consistent. Drinks wise, their wicked mocha is a definite recommendation, and their matcha-tone, has pretty good reviews, for you matcha lovers out there.
The mains served here may be a little pricey for its serving and the kind of ingredients used, however the quality of their food makes up all for it. As hidden as it might be, the cafe is often packed during the weekends, even at non-peak hours, and it can get pretty noisy. A down side to this usually relaxing and quiet cafe is that they do not provide wifi, which is a pity because it’s the perfect place to grab a good cuppa and get some work done! If they had wifi, you’d probably see me there very often. And even without any facebook pages or signboards, they can get so packed, which really proves their quality and the power of social media.
How to get there? 
17 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059660
Opposite Clarke Quay Central
Keep a look out for the 17 HK ST square plaque.
Opening Hours
Mon – Fri: 8:00am to 6:00pm
Sat – Sun: 8:00am to 7:30pm
Prices are NETT, no GST and service charge!
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