You might have heard about Chye Seng Huat Hardware, a café that taught us not to judge it by its seemingly out-of-sorts name. Or even its shopfront. A café? Chye Seng what? Huh? Where?
This name has been popping up rather frequently on all social media platforms and by the favourable reviews, I just had to journey there myself. For non-drivers like me, fret not as the café is a short ten minute walk from Lavender Station.
Even though Chye Seng Huat Hardware is famous for its clever disguise complete with a construction site entrance on the left, the owners ensure that you don’t miss it in the midsts of all the neighbouring hardware shops by having its name prominently decked in front (and the side too).
Stepping in brought me into a whole other world. The interior was posh yet rustic at the same time with bolts of creativity in every corner. Seats mark the perimeter of the shop with an oval-shaped island coffee bar in the centre, surrounded by plenty of bar seats. It’s like watching a play with the stage in the middle — I wonder if the baristas ever get stage fright. Outdoor seats are available at the courtyard, though not a popular option for a scorching midday.
If you listened carefully, you’d probably be able to tell that the music played there had a distinct quality to it. Real quality — from a real vinyl. ‘Authentic’ is right.
Chye Seng Huat Hardware definitely sunk into its theme well with a floor-to-ceiling ‘Retail Rack’ of shelves against the wall made from wielded steel rods, which housed items like espresso machines, grinders and tea cups. One thing I enjoy doing is picking out little details around me like:
This. How cute! A nut for a napkin weight. It looks as though it belongs nowhere but there.
For food, we were glad to find the ‘Tummy-fillers’ section with items like the Seared Dory Fillet ($15) and the Ham Omelette ($8.5). However, once we came across the words ‘Pancake Stack’ ($10), hands smacked the table and the decision was made.
Topped with banana slices and walnuts, the pancakes were the right sort of fluffy and brown to perfection.
Of course with every café comes a tantalising array of pastries at the counter. We couldn’t resist getting the Hazelnut Ginger Tea Cake ($3) as well!
This might sound silly but I liked how the hazelnuts and ginger bits were generously present on both sides of the slice, which made it so convenient for sharing.
What’s a visit to a coffee bar without our caffeine doses for the day? The ordering is made simple with 4 plain options: Espresso, Espresso + Water, Espresso + Milk & Brewed Coffee. We had a cuppa Flat White ($5.50) and Latté ($5.50) respectively. The Nuts & Bolts blend was slightly more roasted & simply aromatic. Good news for those who arm themselves with packets of sugar to battle really bitter coffee — the house blend has a tinge of a caramelized taste so you can ease up on the additional sweets!
CSHH also offers something special – Coffee beer! No, your eyes did not fool you. It is a specialty mixture of Jungle Beer and Papa Palheta’s signature blend, Terra Firma. Possibly the answer for a humid afternoon.
From what I know, CSHH is brought to you by the people behind Papa Palheta & Loysel’s Toy. Coffee is definitely serious business here and they have their own tasting boutique known as The Annex where experts and novices can experiment with coffee! Sounds like fun.
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
A Papa Palheta Establishment
150 Tyrwhitt Road
Tel: 6396 0609
Tue – Fri: 9am – 7pm
Sat – Sun: 9am – 10pm
(Kitchen closes at 5pm)