Check out the review of their new menu here!
Sin Lee foods, is one place that pops up on my Instagram feed almost on a daily basis. I’ve first been drawn to this place when I saw a post on their signature Salted Egg Sweet Potato Fries. A marriage of 2 of my favorite foods, and that just looks and sounds like heaven to me. Another plus point was that, they have one of the most photogenic foods amongst the cafes in Singapore. It was DEFINITELY my calling to pay this place a visit, so much so that I visited them THRICE.
It’s quite funny how the first visit was linked to the second. The boy intended to surprise me for dinner by bringing me to Sin Lee on a Sunday night, but as usual, his surprise failed. Apparently he was being cheated about the opening hours online, and Sin Lee was actually closed by 6pm on Sundays, much to our dismay. The second visit happened when I randomly helped the boy to rant about our wasted trip to Sin Lee, and we accidentally won the signature One and Only Waffle with Fried Chicken from Shaun (@shauniee) and the owner of Sin Lee, Sean (@battermaker). We immediately marked our calendars, and decided to head down for our Christmas Lunchner! Well.. The third, was the most interesting one of all. Sin Lee was where a group of friends and I decided to hold our Instameet at, because we thought the new menu was coming out!
On Google Virtual Tours, contact The Red Marker
Check out the 360 view and have a tour at Sin Lee Foods above! DAMN COOL!
Just like many of the hipster cafes these days, Sin Lee rocked the retro look with their old school signboard right at their entrance. Apparently, Sin Lee used to be a coffee shop here in the void deck of Bukit Ho Swee (7-10 mins walk away from Tiong Bahru MRT) that used to sell Prawn noodles and such. The current cafe retained the charm left over by this now defunct kopitiam, by keeping its name and signboard, which I thought was pretty cool.
The seating capacity of the cafe is sufficient on any regular day, but definitely not enough for a weekend lunch crowd. They have limited dine-in tables, an “al fresco” dining area, and on a crazy day, they even have to expand their premises to the chess tables nearby.
To cater the bustling weekend crowd, reservations can be made through Chope SG. Be warned that you might not be able to get the indoor seating even if you make a reservation though!
In my opinion, I think the ratio of their seating capacity to efficiency and kitchen size may be a little skewed to their disfavor. The semi open kitchen concept seemed too small to be able to have more hands to help before the law of diminishing returns set in. As a result, this has caused a number of patrons to complain about the waiting time for their food during their weekend peak.
By the way, I took a picture of this as soon as I reached to make sure that I conveyed the right opening hours to you guys.
Alright enough talk about the place, let’s look at what they have to offer!
Indeed. I am so sick of all the brunch menus in cafes, with their ultimate breakfasts and eggs benedict and what not. Sin Lee’s menu was definitely refreshing and exciting to look at, only if you covered up the prices.
On our first visit, we got ourselves The One and Only (waffles with fried chicken), Aburi Broccoli Salad and of course, the Salted Egg Sweet Potato Fries. We also tried out their Malted Pie Crust Shake. Malted Pie Crust Shake ($9): this is made up of pie crust and malted milk. We didn’t quite enjoy this rendition of the shake, probably because we weren’t too huge of a fan of malted drinks like horlicks. I guess I got too excited when I saw that the shake has pie crust, and forgot to take the malted aspect of the shake into consideration. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who don’t really like malted drinks, because it was pretty difficult to finish! The One and Only: Sin Lee Fried Chicken and Waffles ($21.90): I guess what they meant when they said “The One and Only” was the fact that they are the one and only $22 waffle in Singapore. When you decide to brand a particular dish as your signature dish, I guess it should either be 1) unique or 2) damn finger lickin’ good. Yet this dish fell short in both aspects. I even thought the mini waffle and fried chicken bites from The Boiler tasted better than this. The serving of the chicken was huge. However, taste wise, it was just average, perhaps a little lacking of flavors in my opinion. I thought the dish was made better by drizzling the melted maple butter over the waffles and chicken. The sweet and savory combination saved this dish a little, because having both of which individually was not too impressive. Then again, I’ve seen people commenting about how they did not like the maple butter, so please do it with discretion. Salted Egg Sweet Potato Fries ($12): Twice fried sweet potato fries, house made salted duck’s egg sauce, with crispy curry leaves. Like I said, this dish sounded just like a dish made in heaven. What perfect combination of both of my favorite ingredients. As the salted egg yolk fries from Leban left such a deep impression on my palate, I had relatively high expectations for this dish, because I prefer sweet potato fries to normal fries any day!
During my first visit, I was rather disappointed with how this dish turned out. The dissonance from reality and expectations was so great that I did not dare to pass any comment on this dish. I expected a lot more. The bowl of fries was surprisingly boring. The salted egg sauce was present in texture but not any where in its flavor. The sweet potato fries were not able to take up the sauce well, that it just felt like I was having a sweet potato fries dish on its own. Hence I vowed to try it on my second visit because I believe such a heavenly combination deserves a second chance. Alas, it once again, failed to impress me, as well as my dining buddies.
Aburi Broccoli Salad ($12): Smoky thorched broccoli florets, white balsamic, papadum, and red sugar. What. What kind of combination is that? Honestly, if I hadn’t seen the raving reviews on this dish on instagram, it would definitely be something that I would overlook. This particular dish, was mind-blowingly excellent. I don’t know how Sean does it, but it somehow had a different flavor in every mouthful, teasing my palate. A definite MUST-ORDER if you decide to head to Sin Lee. The downside to this, is its hefty price tag of $12. Well… this is indeed an amazing rendition of broccoli, $12… I’ll let it slip.
On my third visit, it was an apprehensive one, since it was my first instameet. I am just glad that it turned out WAYYYYY better than expected, and these guys are pretty cool and FUNNY.
Food instagrammers/bloggers/up and coming super stars at work. Look at everyone in the background just judging them.. If you guys are interested in following more foodies in Singapore, here are their instagram accounts: @benjamintheun, @huilingishungry, @lancetaey and @stormscape.
Since Lance and I are HUGE fans of bananas, we managed to convince the rest to order some Banana Beignets. We also got the sweet potato fries, ABURI BROCCOLI SALAD, Truffle Pops, and Rice and Grains to share amongst us. Benene Beignets ($9.50): Cake battered bananas served with condensed milk and freshly grated parmesan. I thought these tasted pretty good, because I loved how the warm banana filling within the cake batter just oozed into my mouth. Having fried banana is definitely a refreshing experience for me. However, my counterparts were not too impressed with this dish, as it was rather average to them, and they thought that this was just an overpriced version of goring pisang, which I have unfortunately not tried it in my entire life. Hence I was in no position to judge at all. But $9.50 for bananas… I think I’m going bananas paying off that bill. Truffle Pops ($12): Creamy mushroom and truffle duxelle balls fried to glory, served with house made basil dressing and parmesan. This dish sounded really good to us, because mushrooms and truffle.
Sadly this dish was overly salty, and there was almost an absence of the taste of truffle. It definitely did not make an impact on me, because right now… I do not have any impression of having this dish, or even, remember how it actually taste like. Beef and Grains ($24): Seared marbled stripling, wet orzo “rice”, fried and runny free range hen egg, sweet sour ginger and I don’t know what are the rest of the ingredients. This dish, to me, is yet another MUST ORDER! The wet orzo “rice” was so, very addictive. Being someone who doesn’t take much rice, I couldn’t stop myself from going mouthfuls after mouthfuls of this orzo rice. Besides, this is a perfect example of East meets West, as Sean explained to us that he used black bean sauce, which is usually used for Chinese dishes on this plate of steak and orzo, a generally Western dish. What a fusion, and what a culinary genius this man is.
Frankly, I am still very impressed with what Sin Lee has to offer. They definitely do stand out from the rest of the cafes with their dishes, together with the ingenious play in the ingredients used in each dish. Every combination is evidently well thought out, even though not as well-executed in some. Despite the misses and disappointment, I believe the efforts of Sean and Co. should be applauded, and the courage to stray away from the norm deserves a standing ovation.
However, like any food establishments, there bound to be hits and misses, and I think with such solid foundation, Sin Lee just has to be more receptive towards the feedback from its patrons and put some work into improving the subtle blemishes. I am confident of the improvement in the standards and taste of their food, however, price-wise, definitely needs some revision; a common sentiment amongst every patron. Despite the no GST and service charge claim, it is quite evident that the additional charges have been taken into account in its pricing.
Sin Lee would be worth the visit for you if you’re looking for something different from the usual brunch and cafe fare. Be warned that you may have to starve yourself for the week to save up for this sumptuous meal though. Or get a tailor because you may burn a hole in your pocket.
How to get there?
4 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee