Sunday 17 February 2019

Kafe Utu – Blending African Flavours with Modern Flair [MEDIA INVITE]

Caribbean Goat Curry

The hipster Keong Saik neighbourhood has welcome a new Café and Lounge, that brings with it the culture of Africa. Kurt Wagner, the owner of Kafe Utu grew up in Kenya and wanted to bring a piece of home to Singapore. Actually, Kurt brought more than a piece, he decorated almost the whole three stories of the building, even the doors, with items homemade and handmade in Kenya.

Welcome to Kafe Utu

For food, Kafe Utu is presenting a combination of east and west African dishes, together with modern café cuisine as well. A few of the recipes originated from Jon, Kurt’s brother whom together owned a few restaurants in Nairobi. Those dishes are Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew ($28), Swahili Fish Curry ($29), Caribbean Goat Curry ($28), and West African Spicy Greens ($28).

Kafe Utu - Level 1

Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew – Sakura Chicken Thigh, Natural Peanut Butter, Smoked Fish and Habanero (served with coconut rice). Surprisingly, the taste feels familiar. To put it in a local context, tasted like a combination of creamy satay sauce with chilli padi and served with basmati nasi lemak. Instead of sweet, it tilts towards savoury version. Yum Yum.

Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew

Swahili Fish Curry – Red Snapper, tamarind, coconut milk, house curry paste & habanero (served with coconut rice). I like the firm texture of the fish fillet, cooked with tangy, assam curry fish-head like flavour, with extra richness from the coconut milk. It is best to eat the fish together with Kafe Utu version of tomato salsa.

Swahili Fish Curry

Caribbean Goat Curry – Fresh goat meat, house curry paste & habanero (served with coconut rice). You can expect a strong gamy flavour from the goat. The curry paste helps to minimise the strong gamy flavour, and the spiciness of this dish is definitely higher compared to the rest of the African dishes.

Caribbean Goat Curry

West African Spicy Greens – Mixed Greens (cassava leaf), chicken thigh, smoked fish & habanero (served with coconut rice). At first, I thought it was a vegetarian dish, however, under those greens come the surprise. It is packed with umami flavour, originated from the smoked fish and chicken thigh. It did well to nicely balance the greens and meat proteins.

West African Spicy Greens

Although the above dishes supposed to come with rice, we had ours with Homemade Chapati ($2 per serving). Aromatic, fragrant and crisp roti, works nicely to scoop the curries.

Homemade Chapati

Complementing the African cuisine are the modern brunch dishes that is comparable with modern café in Singapore and Australia. The spread includes Pulled Pork Breakfast ($24), Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding ($18), Curried Avocado with Raw Garlic and Toast ($16, add egg +$3), Mama’s fresh garden salad ($25), Utu Bowl ($20).

Kafe Utu - Level 2

Pulled Pork Breakfast - Fresh pork shoulder, house hickory smoked BBQ sauce, curried avocado, corn salsa, poached barn egg & potato hash. Amazing flavour on the plate. The pulled pork shoulder is super juicy, the poached egg is perfectly cooked, while the creaminess of the avocado and corn salsa really spiced up the dish. Not to be missed is the perfectly crispy hash brown. Oink Oink.

Pulled Pork Breakfast

Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding representing the healthy brunch cuisine. It has chia seed, quinoa, Greek yoghurt, seasonal fruits (grilled banana, grapefruit and blood orange) topped with roasted almonds and pure maple syrup are just delicious. Who says healthy food can’t taste delicious.

Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding

Curried Avocado with Raw Garlic and Toast with egg. Style like modern breakfast in Australian café, the fresh and creamy avocado on sourdough toast definitely get your tongue wagging. The twist here is red curry paste and raw garlic, which helps to overcome the richness of the avocado together with the bitterness from arugula leaves.

Curried Avocado with Raw Garlic and Toast with egg

Mama’s fresh garden salad. This salad has a nostalgic feel to Kurt, reminding him of the salad that his mum made. A generous dose of baby leaf, fruit tomato, cucumber, avocado, red radish, alfalfa. The earthy flavour definitely stands out here, but I like the twang from the apple cider vinegar dressing.

Mama's Fresh Garden Salad

Utu Bowl - Quinoa, Orange Zest pickled carrots, apple cider pickled cabbage, fresh kale, marinated goat’s cheese, sous vide egg, roasted pumpkin, fresh avocado & spiced pumpkin seeds. What an explosion of healthy flavours in your mouth. Simply put, delicious.

Utu Bowl

For starters, we had Beetroot Burratini ($18), Potato Wedges ($14), Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($15) and Padron Peppers ($14).

Kafe Utu - Level 3

Beetroot Burratini - Picked beetroot, white truffle oil, burratini & fresh basil leaf. I definitely like the combination of beetroot and burratini. However, the white truffle oil definitely does not belong in this dish. Instead, they should just replace the truffle oil with apple cider vinegar dressing or maybe balsamic vinegar.

Beetroot Burratini

Potato Wedges. The wedges are good, crisp externally and moist internally. However, the three homemade dips here are extraordinary. They are mango chili marmalade (Fresh Mango, habanero, onion & coarse black pepper – Spiciness level LOW), Congo Bongo (Fresh Veggies, habanero, natural peanut butter & house spice blend – Spiciness level MEDIUM) and House Chili (Garlic, chili padi, habanero, citrus & butter – Spiciness level MINDBLOWING).

Potato Wedges with the homemade dips

Buttermilk Fried Chicken. This is Kafe Utu version of Popcorn chicken. Bitesize crispiness to be eaten with homemade dips.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with the homemade dips

Pardon Peppers - Pimentos & Citron Sea Salt. For those who live on the edge. Definitely not for me, but a must try for those who like everything and anything spicy. Good Luck!

Pardon Peppers

The desserts line up included Ricotta Hotcakes ($23), Mandazi ($8), Tiramisu ($8) and Canele ($5).

Ricotta Hotcakes. This is definitely one kick-ass hotcakes. It is fluffy and creamy, topped with delicious ice cream, icing sugar and apple syrup. A must order for a pancake lover. Although it is listed as brunch, I think the ice cream made it suitable for brunch or desserts.

Ricotta Hotcakes

Mandazi - Swahili Coast Fried Bread with Coconut Flakes & Cardamom. Interesting flavours, however, the cardamom is too strong for my liking.


Canelé has a dense texture to the pasty due to over caramelisation. I find it needs a bit of liquid to smoothen up the pastry, like Utu soft serve ice cream. In Kafe Utu, it is likely that the soft serve cream is made using House Ubuntu Coffee.

Canele and Tiramisu

Tiramisu - House Ubuntu Espresso, layered with sponge fingers & mascarpone frosting. A signature dessert here that exploit your love for desserts and coffee. It is fully caffeinated and creamy, a perfect dessert to showcase the nutty and chocolaty roast profile from their signature coffee beans.

Not forgetting, the coffee here definitely suits my palate. I like the chocolate and nutty flavour from their coffee beans. I tried Bidi Bado (Abracadabra – Utu Style Mocha, $7). Mocha rimmed with natural peanut butter, pink peppercorns and toasted almond. Almost like the coffee mocktails, filled with a lot of nutty ingredients and sparks from pink peppercorn. Best of all, Kafe Utu uses Hokkaido Milk, known as one of the best milk in Asia for your coffee.

Bidi Bado - Abracadabra

If you are a coffee junkie, this information might interest you. Kafe Utu are using the LaMarzocco Leva coffee, it is also one of the first to be in the F&B market. Their coffee bean is their house blend, “Ubuntu” consisting of Uganda, Mexico and Brazil. Therefore, you can expect a rich buttery texture with hints of cashew nuts & brown sugar, subtle notes of red wine, caramelized apricot acidity and intense dark chocolate finish.

Ubuntu Coffee Bean

Cold Brew, Protein Balls and Hokkaido Milk in the background

I loved the décor of this place. Without a doubt, you will be exposed to culture and visual art of Africa sub-continent. During the day this place is to be known as Kafe Utu, as the sun set, it will turn into Utu Lounge.

Kafe Utu - Level 2

Overall, Kafe Utu has definitely introduced to me a taste of African food. The menu here is curated to present the best of modern brunch cuisine together and the best of African Flavours as well. Not forgetting, their House blend, Ubuntu coffee bean is just amazing. Definitely, a must visit place. Cheers!!

Outdoor Bar - for Utu Lounge

Thank you very much to Kris and Kafe Utu Team for the tasting invitation.

Food: 8/10
Value: 7.75/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Ambiance: 9/10
Budget per Person: $26 - $50; $51 - $80

Kafe Utu
12 Jiak Chuan Road
Singapore 089265

T: +65 6996 3937
IG: @kafeutu
Tue to Sun: 08.00 – 17.00
Closed on Monday

Utu Lounge
Tue – Thu: 18.00 – 23.00
Fri & Sat: 18.00 – 01.00
Sun: 11.30 – 17.00
Closed on Monday

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