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Home / Chinese Cuisine / Cafe De Hong Kong On Balestier Road
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Cafe De Hong Kong On Balestier Road
By Alfred May 31, 2009
Readers' Rating
(1 rated)
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Editor's Rating
Cafe De Hong Kong On Balestier Road
Fast Facts
Salt Pepper Pork Tofu Hor Fun (河粉)
Chinese Cuisine
Price Range:
S$31- S$40
Rating Range:
6 to 6.9
Balestier (马里士他)
Food Centre:
Recommended For:
Dinner Lunch
Reviewed by:

Now we all know that Indonesia were once colonized by the Dutch. Of course the main reason was for economical purposes. Indonesia was full of resources like coffee, sugar and spices back then and the Dutch were crazy over spices like cloves and nutmeg.

If I were to tell you that French also once colonized some parts of Indonesia, would you believe? Of course you wouldn’t believe since according to history that never happened.

But yet there is this place in Indonesia somewhere in Bandung that is so very French. This place even has a French name, it’s called Pasteur. The only shopping centre there is called Paris Van Java. The restaurants there have all funny names that looked like they had been influenced by the French culture or something. Even the people there looked French……….ok that’s for humour, people here looked the same as anywhere else in Indonesia. But the weather here is slightly colder due to the higher altitude, it’s like 20 deg when I was there and I heard it can go down a little more sometimes.

Ok in singapore we don’t have a place that sounded French but we have lots of cafe that tried to say they’re from France. For those who doesn’t know, ‘DE’ in French means ‘From’ so if a cafe says Prata De India then it means Prata from India, or Sushi De Japan then it means Sushi from Japan. Now it does sound strange to me to use a French word in any restaurant names especially when there is nothing ‘French’ about the restaurant at all. Obviously neither Prata nor Sushi came from France. So really I can’t stop myself from wondering, are these restaurants just trying to be cool?

Anyway I’ve heard and read so much about this restaurant somewhere in Balestier who are purportedly selling Cze Char food with a lot of Hong Kong flavour. Now that got me really really excited because there are very very few eating places in Singapore that are selling real authentic Hong Kong food. I really love Hong Kong food and for me it is really superior when compared to Singapore food because I think they used a lot of cooking wine, I think. So this recommendation sounded very very good to me except that I was wondering why it is called Cafe De Hong Kong. That’s a very unglamorous name as far as authenticity is concerned. I mean most Hong Kong restaurants would be dying to use something like Golden Dragon or Phoenix Palace etc. But I must admit that lousy name is still not as crucial as lousy food and so here I am on this fine shine day to find out how ‘Hong Kong’ actually is this Cafe ‘DE’ Hong Kong.

I don’t know about you but usually when I’m at a new eating place, there will be some feelings formed. The feelings will be formed from a few factors like how the eating place looks to how busy are the staffs to how many customers are in there. Well if at lunch time and it’s almost empty then it doesn’t look right, is it? Truth be told, I almost wanted to walk away when I first arrived at Cafe De Hong Kong. Now eventhough that place is hard to find a parking lot and I walked like 15 mins to the cafe. I had the option of either to trust my gut feeling and walk 30 mins(to and back) for nothing in order to save my lunch or to take a risk in the hope of discovering something special that somehow eludes the first impression. The thing is I haven’t really read a bad thing about this place so far therefore I decided that whether this place is good or bad, I’m going to find out for myself.

There was not even a single customer inside at around 12pm on a Sunday afternoon, if that’s not strange enough for you, I don’t know what else is. Anyway I quickly flip through the menu and realised that it is extra confusing. First they have this promotional thing sitting on the table which tells you about the signature dishes, then they have 2 sets of menu. I saw a waitress and took the chance to ask her the difference of the 2 menus. She said one menu consists of the signature dishes while the other menu consists of all the dishes. There are 2 things here I couldn’t understand. Why do they need to have their signature dishes in different 3 places on the table. First it’s on that promotional leaflets on the table. Then it’s on the signature dishes(which is quite a long list) menu and then it’s again on the menu that has the entire list of dishes. That really got me confused with names repeating itself unncessarily in different places. All I needed were just the original menu and all they needed really is to put a star or something beside a signature dish to let customers know that it is a signature dish. Another thing is that their signature dishes menu is too long, it’s so long that it looked like another menu.

The menu here didn’t made me feel like dining at an authentic Hong Kong restaurant unfortunately. Most of the dishes are their own creation I think, and the fact that from the photos on the menu, they seem to be very into food decoration but yet I’m the sort of person who are more concern about how the food taste. I have to also mention that while looking through the menu, there’s this waitress who was standing beside our table. There’s nothing wrong in that except that she just can’t seems to stop talking. Ok that got to the point where it was quite annoying especially when I’m not a fool when it comes to Cantonese cuisine but yet she’s trying to give me information which I don’t really need.

Anyway I decided to go for those kind of authentic cantonese dishes that are very very easy to impress and yet hard to fail. Black Bean Sauce Beef Hor Fun, Salt and Pepper Pork Chops and Supreme Tofu. My partner got herself a plate of duck feet which was recommended by the waitress and in her own words “Is really one of the top selling dishes here”.

Now usually for me I think no matter how good a restaurant is, the flow of customers is very important because only a constant flow can ensure that the food are kept fresh. I mean the last thing we want to dine at any restaurant is to be served food that they can’t finish selling and so had to keep it for long. Really, no matter how good the chef is, if the ingredients are not fresh then it really might take some magic for the food quality to score some distinctions. These were my feelings then about Cafe De Hong Kong. I was waiting to see whether are there any magic wand.

[xrr label=”Salt Pepper Pork Chop:” rating=”7/10″ group=”s2″]

The first to arrive was the Black Bean Beef Hor Fun. It wasn’t too bad to be honest, it had that familiar ‘cantonese hor fun’ smell but I was disappointed that the hor fun somewhat tasted like overnight Hor Fun. Now that’s the thing I dread whenever I go to any restaurant to eat because freshness of any ingredients is the basic. If the basic is not right, then it’s hard to be outstanding and this plate of Hor Fun could had been fantastic but it’s clearly not. The sauce, the beef and the smell was good but the quality of Hor Fun spoilt it.

[xrr label=”Supreme Tofu:” rating=”8/10″ group=”s2″]

The next that came was the Salt and Pepper Pork Chop and again it’s not too bad but definitely not outstanding. The ‘Salt and Pepper’ flavour just wasn’t thorough enough and the fact that they didn’t use a lot of garlic/spring onions/cut chillies like how it’s generously use in most good cantonese restaurants I’ve been to just shows how serious they were to make this really really good.

[xrr label=”Beef Hor Fun:” rating=”7/10″ group=”s2″]

The Supreme Tofu is the only dish here that were outstanding. The sauce had a lot of that seafood flavour and the Tofu(they make themselves) was smooth and soft. It blended very well together but then again 4 pieces of Tofu for $12 is really not something I would be happy coming here again for. I rather they take away that 4 thinly sliced scallops and throw in other seafood like squids, prawns and give me many more pieces of Tofu. Well the last time I had a Stir Fry Tofu at a Cze Char place, for $8 I had more than 10 pieces of Tofu with many big succulent prawns. That definitely can give me more value though I must admit that this dish looked fantastic but yet that sort of thing isn’t what I would travel all the way to Balestier for. My partner mentioned that the Braised Duck Feet was good but yet she said not comparable to some of the best she’s tasted elsewhere. The Hor Fun was the only thing we couldn’t finish eating. I think only a really hungry person can.

Surprise surprise. So many good reviews had been written and yet on a Sunday afternoon at around 12 noon there was not a single customer to be found. Now I can see the reason. Maybe Cafe De Hong Kong does have good chefs but a bit more work needs to be done before they can make me travel all the way here to have a meal again. I don’t know about those dishes that people have reviewed and found to be so good, like Winter Melon soup or Crispy Chicken but the basic cantonese food that I had today did not really lived up to my expectation and it definitely didn’t do justice to those excellent reviews I’ve read.

Cafe De Hong Kong just wasn’t ‘Hong Kong’ enough for me and the fact is, for $36.25 I can easily dine at Crystal Jade Restaurant.

Price: $6 to $18 per dish

Recommendation: Supreme Tofu(A bit ex though)

Conclusion: Kopitiam Cze Char’s quality sold at restaurant prices but served in a cafe. Not authentic enough though they are quite creative with their dishes.

Likes: The Hor Fun has nice cantonese ‘wok hei’ flavour.

Dislikes: Not authentic enough. Wish there were more cantonese flavours. Price also a little too high for a cafe.

Address Overall Rating

Cafe De HongKong
586 Balestier Road
#01-01 Eastpac Building
Tel: 62553865

[xrr label=”Food:” rating=”6/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr label=”Value:” rating=”6/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr label=”Service:” rating=”7/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr label=”Ambience:” rating=”7/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr label=”Cleanliness:” rating=”7/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr overall=true group=s1 label=Overall:]

Readers' Comment(s) : 5
Lim Boon Tiong says:

certainly feels weird and uneasy if you are the only customer in the cafe.
the Supreme Tofu looks good.

if i ever eat at this place.. i will try their other dishes.

Posted June 1, 2009
Lim Boon Tiong says:

i will avoid the HOR FUN at all cost….. maybe try their fried rice. 🙂

Posted June 1, 2009
Alfred says:

Well there were many people who said their crispy chicken is good but unfortunately that thing needs to be preordered. I cant understand why such a simple dish needs to be preordered? Chicken is not something that you cant get from market easily…..

Posted June 1, 2009
Alfred says:

Well the hor fun sauce in anything should be quite good….

Posted June 1, 2009
Tan says:

Went once with my in laws, taste so so only though price is reasonable considering it’s restaurant food.

Posted October 22, 2009
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