Dong Po Colonial Cafe, Singapore

While Jac enjoyed the hotel pool, Mandy and I went for a walk in search of morning tea. She took me to a coffee shop called Dong Po Colonial Cafe, known for its housemade cakes and ‘bostock’ (almond toast).

We shared a couple of set menu orders. I chose Set D, any two pastries with teh or kopi (SG$5). Mandy chose Set F, bostock with teh or kopi (SG$3.50). In addition to the famous bostock, my slice of strawberry mousse cake and the ‘good old’ lemon roll, Mandy couldn’t resist ordering something extra – a cylindrical chocolate cake, specially designed for dipping into your coffee or tea.

Dong Po Colonial Cafe set menus Dong Po Colonial Cafe set menus.

Coffee and tea

When in Singapore, ordering coffee (kopi) or tea (teh) is easy if you know the lingo. A similar vocabulary is used in Malaysia.

It helps if you know what the component terms mean:

  • kopi is coffee
  • teh is tea
  • ‘o’ or oh means without milk
  • kosong is Malay for ‘zero’. In this context, it means without sugar (unsweetened)
  • beng (sometimes peng) is iced
  • ‘c’ means with evaporated milk. Some say this originates from the Hainanese ‘xi’ (meaning ‘fresh’), which sounds like ‘c’. Others say the ‘c’ refers to ‘Carnation’, the ubiquitous brand of evaporated milk used to make these drinks.

So using the component terms, some of the common drinks are below. It’s important to note drinks are usually served sweetened unless ordered as ‘kosong’.

  • kopi oh – hot black coffee, sweetened
  • kopi oh kosong – hot black coffee, unsweetened
  • kopi c – hot coffee with evaporated milk, sweetened
  • teh oh – hot tea, no milk, sweetened
  • tea oh kosong – hot tea, no milk, unsweetened
  • teh c – hot tea with evaporated milk, sweetened
  • teh c beng – iced tea with evaporated milk, sweetened
  • cham – mixture of coffee and tea, made with milk and sweetened
  • cham beng – iced cham
Strawberry mousse cake and good old lemon roll. The sponge cakes were soft and fluffy. Strawberry mousse cake and good old lemon roll. The sponge cakes were soft and fluffy.

The bostock was made to order and was the last item delivered to our table. Our patience was rewarded with the enticing aroma of toasted almonds, hot butter and sugar. A wonderful treat.

Bostock (almond toast) Bostock (almond toast) – sliced almonds on frangipane (usually made with butter, sugar, egg and ground almonds), dusted with icing sugar.

DSCF7034sm My teh ‘c’ was strong and sweet.

DSCF7050smThe back of the shop reminded me of a bric-a-brac store. I’m sure now that she’s seen these pictures, Jac is shaking her head at the thought of all the dusting.

DSCF7052smIn every table is a display of assorted vintage items.

DSCF7002smYes, those are strawberry and orange lamingtons on the top shelf. There were more goodies on the counter, including jars of homemade jams, bread and butter pudding, quiche and chicken Cornish pasties.

It’s an cute little shop, with all kinds of interesting and distracting knick-knacks – perhaps more ‘retro’ than ‘colonial’ (that’s not a complaint). Even better than the nostalgia is the display case bursting with temptations.

As much as I enjoy the convenience of franchise kopi cafes such as Ya Kun and Toast Box, there’s something more ultimately appealing in the unique character of the slightly harder to find, individual, old-fashioned shophouse coffee shop. I may just have to return on my next visit to Singapore.

Dong Po Colonial Cafe Dong Po Colonial Cafe

Dong Po Colonial Cafe
56 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198904
Closed on Mondays

Singapore series

Jac and I were in Singapore for 8 nights in July 2014. We paid for this trip ourselves and our friend Mandy was our local guide and makan kaki (eating buddy).

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