Ever since the opening of Fat Cat Ice Cream Bar, there hasn’t been any other new cafes that have caused such a hoo-ha in the foodies scene and on our Instagram feeds, until Paddy Hills came along.
In fact, I understood from one of their owners, Bryan, that Paddy Hills did not intend to start off with such a bang. However, their beautifully plated dishes and good reviews by just a handful of their close friends (who are instagrammers), took the whole instagram by storm. Everyone probed about their official opening and suddenly, Paddy Hills became the top of everyone’s to-go list, including mine. On their opening day, they even had a Japanese customer waiting for them to open their doors at 8.30am, their opening hour! Just wow.
Why Paddy Hills? The abundance of rice in the paddy hills. Rice is a staple for many of us in the world, and that was what they wanted their cafe to be. A place where people come for their food, as a staple.
Located on 38 South Buona Vista Road, as many people know this place by, “oh the cafe that replaced the famous duck rice stall ah?”. Yes, Paddy lies at the bottom of the 99 bends (the winding road) leading to NUH and NUS. They chose this location because it feels like an escape from the hustle and bustle from town, and they want people to come specially for their food. Seems like they managed to do what they wanted with the full house over the weekend and weekday dinners.
I was very fortunate to be living in NUS, where Paddy is just literally 5 minutes away. It took me a 10-minute cycle on my second visit there. I was blown away by how pretty the place looked. The mural outside their place is even freshly painted as I saw some works still ongoing when I visited them on their opening day. A good place for photos eh? SO PRETTY. I just can’t describe how much I love how this place look! The interior is also extremely spacious. The centre of the cafe lies a coffee bar, where you can see their skillful baristas at work and also the “Ferrari” of coffee machines equivalent, the Slayer Espresso.
Paddy Hills is easily the prettiest cafe I have been to. The pride in his eyes when Bryan shared about how the entire cafe started off as a blank slate, with just 4 supporting structures, to what it is today, was rather inspiring. Besides, did you know that this promising cafe is ran by an extremely young crew? The owners are just 21, head barista is only 20, and their head chef is 28 years old. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!
They do not only boast of fresh ingredients, innovative dishes, and quality coffees, they have an extensive menu to boot as well. Maybe, just a little too extensive for the kitchen crew to cope.
Do not expect the usual Eggs Benedict you can find at a regular cafe, because Paddy Hills is determined to give you an entirely different experience. The prices on the menu are also not exactly wallet-friendly, but I guess their quality and uniqueness of their dishes makes up for it.
Pinkish Lemonade ($7): Thyme, pomegranate and a dash of rose water. This was as good as it looked. Extremely refreshing and thirst quenching, indeed a quencher. I especially loved chewing on the bits of pomegranate floating in the drink, which adds another dimension to the drink.
Taste like Purple ($7): Cold Pressed Grapes, sweet basil and dehydrated lemon slice. I was honestly quite disappointed by this glass because it was supposed to look REALLY purple. But I’ve heard and seen a lot of variations of the color of this particular drink. Taste-wise, I thought it was not too impressive, a little too sweet for my liking.
Iced Mocha ($7.50): Easily one of the best iced mochas I’ve had. Well-balanced with the distinct taste of quality chocolate used in their mocha. This was also the first time I’ve seen chocolate served together with my iced mocha too! Made my day!
Salmon Carpaccio ($18): Rice crisps, house cured salmon, pickled wakame, yuzu caviar, cream cheese, baby radish and crispy capers. A mouthful, but the combination of textures in this dish was mind-blowing. A perfect dish to get if you’re looking for something light here, as their servings can get pretty huge! The rice crisps added a nice crunch to this dish. I loved how they were generous with the smoked salmon, however, I found it to be saltier on some pieces than the other. I heard, to get the perfectly cured salmon, their chef has actually used up 20 boxes of smoked salmon to get the recipe right. That’s dedication, for sure.
Squid Ink Tagliatelle ($23): Puffed rice, seared scallops, mentaiko, ikura, and tobiko. What an indulgent dish. This was also my first time having squid ink pasta, and it didn’t disappoint.
The taste of squid ink was distinct, and the added crunch and popping goodness from the various roes made this good tasting dish even better. One complaint though, I hate the fact that I have to be so conscious and wipe my mouth clean after every mouthful. Otherwise, this was pretty amazing.
Berry Ricotta Hotcake ($19): Blueberry sugar berries, pine nuts, mascarpone and maple syrup. By far the prettiest dish I ever seen and had. Oh my, I just can’t seem to get my eyes off this. Many people have related this this to the hotcakes at Top Paddock in Australia. I can’t comment because this is my first time hearing about Top Paddock. Haha! All I can say is, this dish was amazeballs. The hotcake was crisp and crumbly on the edges, while fluffy on the inside. This is probably how my mother should make me eat my fruits; put them on top of a hotcake. Everything on this dish went well with each other. It’s pretty crazy.
A word of caution though, you WILL have to wait for this dish, because it not just requires a relatively long preparation time, it is needed to sit for 10 minutes after it is done to prevent the hotcakes from becoming all too crumbly. We waited for half an hour for this to be served to us on a relatively quiet afternoon there.
I am blown away by the food Paddy Hills have managed to put together. The ambience, the coffee, the food. Everything was on point. The only I didn’t like was probably the prices because they are too steep for my liking and my pleasure to enjoy this everyday. Haha! Moreover, I am not too sure if there is service charge at Paddy Hills, as they seemed to charge me for that on my first visit, but not on my second. So I’m just a little confused, and I can’t advice on that. All in all, I have to say that the food is definitely worth its price, and I am willing to go back there again to try out the other dishes.
However, I’ve seen SO many posts about the crazy waiting times that people have been experiencing while dining at Paddy. There are even people who walked out without the food, after waiting for a good 1.5 hours. Must be quite scary for these new faces in the industry, and tough to cope as well. Even on quiet afternoons, I had to wait for 15 minutes for my mocha to be served. I’ve been told though, that it was because they are so particular about the quality of their coffee that some times they do throw out the coffee if it is not a perfect cuppa. I admire such perfectionistic approach to their food, and the will to serve nothing but the best. Yet, the tradeoff can be quite costly.
I guess Paddy Hills will require some time to learn to strike that balance, as well as to grasp the skill of time management in the kitchen. Despite the hiccups, I am still willing to give them another chance, maybe after they’ve got their issues ironed out.
How to get there?
38 South Buona Vista Road
Nearest MRT: Haw Par Villa
Daily, 9.30am – 10pm