The Place If you were to ask me for a good eating spot in the East, East Coast Road, or Katong as we called dearly, will be the first to come to my mind. Old conservation shop houses, narrow walkways and a strong Peranankan heritage, there is so much good food here that one day is not enough. I have seen new cafes opening along this stretch of road in the past year, such as Carvers & Co., as well as four months old The Holqa Café. Pronounced as Hol-qa, the Maltese word means “link” and the concept of the café is to link people together in this cosy corner of Katong. Holqa Café does not have a prominent interior décor, so it can be quite easy to walk past it without noticing its presence. It also does not help that the café space is small, with a seating capacity of less than 30 pax. That aside, there is so much to love about the food, which I can’t wait to share.
The Food The young owners of Holqa shared with us that the café fares here have an Asian twist, with the hope of suiting the palates of the older generation as well. The menu revolves around pasta, sandwich and eggs, fairly reasonably priced for cafes. Some of the highlights include the likes of the Braised Asian Pulled Pork Aglio Olio ($14.90), Braised Asian Pulled Pork with 3 Cheeses Sandwich ($15.90) and Bearnaise Eggs Benedict ($15.90).
For sides, I tried the Breaded Shiitake Mushrooms ($7.90) and the SnS-Ji ($9.90), which are both highly recommended.
The Breaded Shiitake Mushrooms stands out from the juicy mushroom texture and the uniquely paired Wasabi Mayonnaise sauce. I profess I am not a wasabi lover, but the wasabi mayo sauce goes well with my palate and the mushrooms, which I can only attribute to the well-mixed combination of the wasabi and mayonnaise.
The favourite dish of the day for all of us is undoubtedly the SnS-Ji , Korean-inspired fried wings marinated with Holqa’s secret sweet and spicy sauce. After a few bites, I conclude that the winning formula of the wings is the sticky and crunchy texture, with a tinge of spiciness. I can’t stop reaching my hand for another wing, which I promise will be so addictive that you wish your willpower is much stronger.
For mains, I like the Braised Asian Pulled Pork with 3 Cheeses Sandwich ($15.90) for its soft bagel bread and braised pork jowl with Asian spices. The cheese does not have an overly heavy taste, which allows me to taste every layer of the ingredients in the dish.
The Bearnaise Eggs Benedict ($15.90) is probably the choice for eggs lovers, being the only Eggs Benny dish at Holqa. The toasted brioche is the star ingredient here, with its soft texture and buttery flavour. The poached eggs are decently cooked, with a nice ooze of runny egg yolk, paired perfectly with the slightly spicy Bearnaise sauce.
How about having the Savoury Cream Cheese French Toast & Smoked Salmon ($15.90)? Sinful as it sounds, the buttered fried brioche is stuffed with cream cheese, and goes well with the maple syrup sauce.
Pasta wise, the Braised Asian Pulled Pork Aglio Olio ($14.90) is a notch better than the Almost Carbonara ($14.90) for me.
The Braised Asian Pulled Pork Aglio Olio, cooked al dente, is stirred fried with braised pork jowl and Asian spices, which I find quite a unique twist to the usual Italian pasta.
The Almost Carbonara was named deliberately so as the chef finds that conventional carbonara is too creamy and usually gets too rich (or “gelat” in Singlish) for the stomach after awhile, hence a less dense version. While the sliced shiitake and bacon go well with carbonara as always, it seems that the overall taste is still too creamy for most of us.
Rants Not the most cosy café in terms of setting to chill the whole afternoon. Skip the dessert as well, where I tried a Chocolate Mousse taste-alike cake paired with marshmallows. Sorry guys, but desserts are not your forte yet.
Will I Return Again? Overall, the food at Holqa Café impresses with its quality and Asian twist. It has been a while since café food leave an impression on me, and for Holqa, I will say bring on the SnS-Ji wings anytime!
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
The Holqa Cafe
37 East Coast Road
Tel: +65 6635 7010
Monday – Tuesday: 12pm to 9pm
Thursday – Friday: 12pm to 9pm
Saturday – Sunday: 9am to 9pm
(Closed on Wednesday)
Ranted by The Ranter