Gone may be the '60s-inspired interiors, but remnants of it do remain – particularly in the signage and the 'kopitiam floor tiles'. Though its old-school coffeeshop bar stools have been replaced with polished wooden tables and seats that came straight out of IKEA's catalogues.
You’re given a small paper menu with a short selection of hot savoury dishes, drinks, hot and cold desserts and ice-cream; tick off your choices and pay at the cashier. Part of the fun while waiting for your food to arrive is in checking out the retro features, painstakingly curated, and overhearing the older folk reminisce about days long past – an auntie next to us, unfortunately, had to spoil the moment by whipping out her camera phone, taking pictures and tagging herself on Facebook.
A good place to start if you want a square meal is the sambal fishball ($6), a common hawker snack sliced in half and smothered in Sinpopo’s own blend of sharp and fiery sambal chilli. Then there are the requisite classics with a modern spin, like the Rojak Slaw ($10), a traditional Malay favourite of vegetables and fruits slathered in sweet brown sauce that is still common in some hawker centres. In terms of value of money, however, the signature Sinpopo nasi lemak ($25 serves two) fall short – is a brave attempt at replicating local favourites, but is let down by bland rice and an overwhelmingly taste of coconut.
Desserts are much more impressive, and the real reason why it’s worth a visit to the place. Start off with a bowl of the gula melaka soft jelly ($8), a silky smooth palm sugar concoction to rival the best Japanese chawanmushi or the softest tau huey. Another rare sweet treat – and not for the faint-hearted – is the D24 durian pengat ($9), a porridge-like mixture made by cooking the durian flesh, and finished off with a liberal drizzle of coconut milk and gula melaka syrup. It’s pleasantly sweet, with a slightly sourish aftertaste that might even go down well with the durian haters.
Consistency seems to be the key behind their sometimes overlysweet desserts, but overall the nostalgia factor still outshines what’s more important – the food. Change that, and we’re sold.
|Venue name:||Sinpopo Brand||Contact:|
458 Joo Chiat Rd
|Opening hours:||Sun, Tue-Thu noon-10pm, Fri & Sat noon-midnight|