EAT AT: Singlish Cafe, Lilac St

CEREAL PRAWNS. That’s all I really wanna talk about right now lah.

It’s the reason why I coaxed two friends to go with me and try out the newly-opened Singlish Cafe in Lilac St, Marikina City (but hey, we all live around 3-7 minutes away so it didn’t take much effort).

Cereal Prawns
CEREAL PRAWNS. First tried at Lau Pa Sat.

I had my first taste of the proverbial manna at Lau Pa Sat. The juicy morsels offered to us were not just drizzled, but smothered with spoonfuls of that sweet, flaky, addicting cereal. With my can of beer, stick of skewered beef, and Singaporeans dining around us in red plastic chairs, it was a perfect moment of experiencing something so ordinary yet utterly new to me.

Here in Manila, you don’t find cereal prawns on the street. You find them inside mall restaurants serving overpriced hawker food. I’ve had different versions, and they’re actually all good. But in my nostalgic heart, Manila’s cereal prawns don’t live up to the first bowls I had in SG. And sometimes they’re shrimp!

Maybe it’s the good old tragedy of remembering the past through rose-tinted taste buds. Had it not been that precise moment and time, an exciting afternoon of walking and Harry Potter exhibits and possibilities, everything might have tasted less glorious.

Singlish Cafe
SEEMS LEGIT. Hawker style seating arrangements and a neutral, pleasing wood design.

But no matter: now I can nom on cereal prawns closer to home. It’s a small, charming, wood-covered square, with red chairs too! Decidedly quieter, less stuffy.

Singlish Cafe
CEREAL PRAWNS. Now I can have them everyday if I wanna.

And yes, the prawns, with my beloved cereal, were delicious. I wish they’d served bigger portions, but they got the buttery, juicy taste right. I piled every last grain into my fork.

Turns out that its owner, Ritchie, actually runs Ang Mo Kio, that popular SG hawker food place at the Podium (which I kind of group-dissed in my introductory paragraphs sorry!) It’s a sign of how well the Lilac food scene is doing that well-established food proprietors are setting up shop here. Singlish only opened last Dec 21 but in the two nights I’ve passed by, as well as tonight, it’s never been empty.

After being warmed up by strong Oolong tea (on the house, as much as you want), we dove into the other things in the menu.

Singlish Cafe
INDIAN CHICKEN CURRY. Flavorful but could use more spice.

This is the Indian chicken curry. It lacked a little something, but it’s decent. Wish it were spicier and more tender.

Singlish Cafe
HOKKIEN MEE. Oriental, warmed up by copious amounts of sambal.

This was the Hokkien Mee. A little like Pinoy-style pancit canton. We asked for more sambal to mix into it, and it became pretty interesting. Ranie will flip with all the sambal he can have here.

Singlish Cafe
BURGER. Fit for a hungry queen.

This is Ica’s burger. This is from the Western part of the Cafe’s menu (or the “lish” in Singlish, heh).

It was HUGE. It’s probably meant for sharing. Fun to eat, but not as satisfying as you’d expect, considering the high quality of burger masterpieces “foodies” in the city are now spoilt with. You should probably try this only after having all the other Singaporean dishes.

Anyhow, it was a pleasing experience overall. The menu is pretty extensive for a Marikina food spot, and it’s a novel experience when you wanna eat out, but still want laid-back convenience. For now, Ritchie is still there to take your orders, give you his recommendations, and probably share a  minute or two gushing about SG hawker fare. I’m looking forward to coming back.

60C Lilac Street, Hacienda Heights Marikina City 1800
Open 10Am-10PM
Visit Singlish Cafe on Facebook.

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