rouse, little india

cute little cafe in little india, with decent food. I know its particular unique selling point is the fact that the food is halal – status of which I suppose indicates a dearth of suitable cafes for the muslim community, and deserves recognition – but the flavours are pretty alright, which is to say it wouldn’t lose out to many cafes in this genre (an expansive one crowded with competitors, with only a few truly stellar stand-outs ), halal or not.


the decor is recognizably hipster – and you already know the like: unfinished walls, a ceiling that looks mid-construction, crates and mismatched furniture strewn all over in some sort of designer, organised chaos. food is served on aluminium pans lined with hawker-style brown waxed paper – and that’s probably all you need to know to judgily judge recognize the cafe type.

it’s a homely place too – owners hang out with friends at the back of the cafe with their kids, and the counter-people are friendly and just about personal enough – sort of like that barista you say hi to every morning, but have no wish to say anything more to in your decaffeinated state.

and I give them props for serving food that’s differentiated from the usual menu of eggs and pancakes – my steak-wrapped asparagus was particularly tasty, with charred outer and not-stringy asparagus served with a well-executed poached egg (but cold) on pumpkin mash (which could be a little sweeter and richer, but at least it felt healthier).

as well as a curry crab burger, which had a thick, breaded patty loaded on toasted burger buns. it’s a very rich meal, given the sauces and fried croquette-type patty, but the crab seems is real – and the salad served alongside helps cut the fattiness.

the quinoa patties were chunky, loose cakes of well-seasoned grain topped with savory smoked salmon and a poached egg. love the idea – but the poached egg was a little overcooked for this purpose. it would have been much-improved if the yolk were runny enough to bind the salmon and quinoa bits together; but at least the flavors worked, even if execution could be improved.

we also had a couple of the open-topped steak sandwiches, cooked technically-perfect with a tender, pink inside. not nearly on the same level of creativity as the other dishes, but more-than-eatable.

I’m going to warn you against getting these mushrooms though, which are baked with a slightly creamy centre of ricotta and topped with fake bacon bits – long gone are the days when I appreciated these colored, slightly stale bits atop a baked potato, and they haven’t improved with time. it’s a pity though – I liked the texture of the wrinkly, slightly dried-out button mushrooms: it doesn’t sound sexy, but it’s a rather lovely texture.

perhaps it needs a slight rework of the recipe to include something like actual turkey bacon bits.

the cakes are also missable. I was forewarned by a friend that had visited earlier not to do dessert – so I only did one cake, the flavor of which I can barely remember now (carrot cake, perhaps?). the experience was obviously unmemorable – and the cake was just a bit too wet and sweet and dense. no thanks, very much.

obviously, the savories do much better than the sweets (they need to change suppliers), and the items are interesting enough to warrant a visit. not a bad choice at all.

ROUSE – Cafe
36 Dunlop Street
Singapore 209364
tel +65 6292 2642
$$: 15-25 per person

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