Wednesday 28 September 2022

Friends Café HK – Classic Cha Chaan Teng Comfort Food

It was our second try to visit Friends Café HK (‘FC’) at Sembawang, and it was more of an unplanned visit as we are waiting to pass time. Our 1st try was thwarted after we saw the queue to get into FC. This time around, it seems the hype has settled and we manage to get a seat easily.

Friends Café HK
From the outside, you will be welcome by the Friends Café signboard in Cantonese, brighten up by the light box with jade green colour as the background. I can’t read Chinese or Cantonese, so I need to rely on LD to confirm the place. Well, for those who do not read Chinese or Cantonese like me, the menu has English as well.

The Menu
Once you enter the shop, you will feel the familiar feel of the place. The décor, starting with mosaic tiles flooring and on the wall, together with the green chairs and steel and wooden table will totally transport you back to the Cha Chaan Teng in Hong Kong. Those who have never been to Hong Kong, think of those scenes from Young and Dangerous movies, God of Gamblers or any HK shows in the 80s or 90s. Well, the Cantopop music from the 80s and 90s definitely set the ambience of the shop.

Part of the Interior
I start my meal with Beef Balls Brisket Horfun ($7.50). I don’t think I ever tried horfun in HK, most of the time I only order the egg noodle or the instant noodle. The broth is robust and packed with MOO MOO flavour, as you can see from the layer of oil on top. The beef balls are smooth and bouncy, while the brisket is fatty, soft and fork tender. Surprisingly, the horfun is smooth and silky, plus it soaks up the essence of the broth. Totally amazed by this dish and it is a must-order here.

Beef Balls Brisket Horfun
Beef Brisket
Beef Ball
The Horfun
LD starts with the Black Pepper Chicken Chop Set ($8.50). The set is served with our choice of 1 side and toast with butter. For the side, LD choose a fried egg. In traditional HK style, the chicken chop is served on top of a big pile of rice. The black pepper sauce, infused with Worchester sauce generously drizzle on top of the chicken chop and occupied half of the plate. The chicken is well-marinated, thick, yet juicy and succulent. The egg is perfectly cooked, with the yolk oozing out in the middle. Meanwhile, the black pepper sauce just binds all the ingredients together. Yummy!

Black Pepper Chicken Chop
Black Pepper Chicken Chop
We decided to share another set dish, Satay Sliced Beef Instant Noodle Set ($8.50). I choose bacon as the side dish plus it is served with toast and butter. For those who never try satay beef HK style, there is no peanut in it. It tasted more like bbq sauce or the beef sauce you find in Hai Di Lau. The beef is tender and soaks up the flavour of the bbq sauce. The instant noodle is al-dente while the light flavour broth allows the flavour of the satay sauce to shine. I feel the bacon is too salty, it just feels alien on the dish. I should have ordered luncheon meat instead.

Satay Sliced Beef Instant Noodle 
Satay Sliced Beef Instant Noodle 
The toast is slathered with lots of butter; however, I was not sure how to enjoy it as we already have lots of carbos. The solution present itself when the Curry Fish Ball ($4.50) arrived. From the look, I can tell you the fish balls are different from HK version but the curry taste is the same. The HK fishball is about the size of a quail egg and dense, while the SG fishball is bouncy, airy and bigger. I prefer the SG fishballs. While LD and I finished the fishballs, I decided to polish the curry using the toast.

Curry Fish Ball
Toast with Butter
Toast with Curry Sauce
For the drink, I have the cold Homemade Milk Tea ($3.50) and LD ordered Cream Soda ($2). FC made their cold milk tea in big batches, bottled it and put them in the fridge. They are smooth, silky and packed with signature HK tea flavour.

HK Milk Tea
Cream Soda
Since we are waiting for time to pick someone, we decided to order desserts. Fish Meat Siew Mai ($3.50) and French Toast (Peanut Butter, $4.50). Although the size looks small, the fish meat siew mai is tasty and bouncy. The texture totally reminds me of the HK version of fish ball, but it is steam instead of deep fried.

Fish Meat Siew Mai
Of all the dishes that we tried that day, the French Toast (Peanut Butter, $4.50) was disappointing. The temperature of the oil is not hot enough, allowing the oil to sip into the middle section of the bread. The exterior is not crispy and the peanut butter was ruined by the oil in the bread. Hopefully, they can improve on the French Toast.

French Toast
Peanut Butter Fillings
Service on the day was friendly and attentive. Luckily, you will not get the Signature HK stern and bo chap (‘I don’t care’) service here.

Overall, it was one of the best HK café experiences that we have had in Singapore. LD gave the Chicken Chop Rice two thumbs up, while I enjoy the Beef Ball Brisket Horfun and Satay Beef Instant Noodle. The HK Milk tea is good and the creamy soda drink is just a nostalgic HK drink. Hopefully, we have more chances to visit them in the future and enjoy the classic HK comfort dishes. Cheers!!

PS: I saw FC posted their homemade Bolo Bao with Butter on Facebook. Looking forward to trying this in the future.

Food & Drink: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 8.5/10
Budget per Person: $11 - $25

Friends Café HK
60 Springside Walk
#01-18, The Brooks 1
Singapore 786020

T: +65 8621 1125
Daily 11.30 – 20.30

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