The Cook and The Barista – New Japanese-Local Eatery
The Cook and The Barista is a quaint eatery located at Jalan Sultan, and is aptly named because it is run by… a cook and a barista! Jyoji Masuda is the Japanese barista who owns the restaurant, while Zuno is the Singaporean cook who runs the restaurant alongside Jyoji. Both Jyoji and Zuno are friendly and personable, and these traits have helped them draw and retain customers, whom they first got by distributing flyers.
Opened just 2 months ago, The Cook and The Barista has been gaining steady traction, drawing a pretty strong lunch crowd from office workers. They specialise in Japanese and local food, and almost everything is made in-house, including the sauces.
We decided to try their Katsu Curry ($7.90), which comes with either pork or chicken katsu. Unfortunately, the pork katsu was sold out by the time we visited. Hence, we settled for the fried chicken katsu. The chicken had a crunchy, crispy breaded exterior, and was quite flavourful, albeit a tad salty. The Japanese curry tasted like the standard Japanese curry, with bits of chopped tomatoes and potatoes dotting the thick, brown sauce. I must say that the portion is quite substantial, and at $7.90, the dish is a huge bang for your buck, especially considering the fact that we were dining in a cafe.
We also tried The Cook and The Barista’s Gula Melaka Cheesecake ($6). The cream cheese had a lovely pale green hue, and was extremely soft and creamy. Coconut shavings which sat atop the cake added an extra chewy texture, and the drizzle of gula melaka sauce lent a lovely smoky sweetness. According to Jyoji, The Cook and The Barista introduced the gula melaka cheesecake simply because they wanted to add even more local flavour to their fusion menu. Apart from the gula melaka cheesecake, other cake flavours such as earl grey lavender are available too.
Of course, we had to try the eatery’s signature dish — The Cook’s Signature Soba ($8.90). The bowl of soba here is entirely homemade, including the pool of sauce at the bottom of the bowl. The savoury sauce was cold, salty and quite garlicky, with strong hints of mushroom. This particular soba bowl reminded me of wanton mee, as it was decorated with pieces of crispy wanton skin. The crispy wanton skins added a huge contrast in texture to the soba noodles, while the mushrooms and hanjuku egg introduced an unexplainable homeyness to the dish.
As we were enjoying our food, a repeat customer walked into the place and started a jolly conversation with Jyoji. Apparently, this regular customer had already pre-booked her meal, even before 12 noon! According to Jyoji, many regular customers are in The Cook and The Barista’s broadcast list, which notifies subscribers when a new dish is added to the menu, or when the “Daily Special” has been decided on. The “Daily Special” adds an element of surprise and variety to the menu. Jyoji stressed that the ingredients for the “Daily Special” are sourced from the market each day.
Finally, we were served the Osmanthus Jelly ($2.90/3 pcs, $5.50/ 6pcs, $9.90/ $12), which is also made in-house. Dried osmanthus flowers and wolfberries were embedded in the transparent jelly. The firm jelly carried a light and pleasant sweetness that comes from the wolfberries. The osmanthus jelly was truly a delight, and a really refreshing way to round off the meal!
The Cook and The Barista serves quite a tasty spread at affordable prices. Considering that they opened just 2 months ago, the lack of teething issues and the sophisticated systems already put in place to attract customers are very impressive. While the weekday crowd is currently quite strong, the Jyoji and Zuno are hoping to attract a larger weekend crowd. The Cook and The Barista also serves speciality coffee by the way. Note that they accept only cash or grab pay at the moment.
The Cook and The Barista
Address: 100 Jln Sultan, #01-26C, Singapore 199001
Mobile: 9852 1156 (Jyoji)
Email Address: [email protected]
Area: Lavender, Nicoll Highway, Bugis
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri: 8.30am to 6.30pm, Sun: 11am to 9pm, Closed on Sun
Cuisine: Japanese, Local, Fusion
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.