The Place I went to 195 Pearl Hill Cafe the first time and left disappointed as the satay was sold out. Located at 195 Pearl Hill Terrace is Pearl Hill Cafe, which houses the famous Tiong Bahru Satay by Ah Pui. This was a former Singapore Police Force Operational HQ, and the setting of the cafe is quite unique. The space is not air-conditioned, so best to dress light. While there are ample tables, it is still recommended to reserve before heading down.
To get here, walk into People’s Park Food Centre and exit from the back of the food centre. You will see a flight of steps near the car park gantry opposite the food centre that leads up to a four-storey building that is 195 Pearls Hill Terrace.
The Food Tiong Bahru Satay is really the reason why I went down the second time, as I didn’t reserve on my first visit and the satay was already sold out. Ah Pui was an old satay street peddler who used to go around Tiong Bahru selling satay, and is known for his Hainanese satay on his push-cart since the 1970s. I was quite excited to finally watch the satay man in action!
I pre-ordered both the Chicken and Pork Satay (S$9/10 Sticks), and watched earnestly as Ah Pui grilled the satays upon order.
The pork satay is the signature of Ah Pui, and is a mix of lean and fatty meat. The satay is grilled to a nice char texture, and I do like the bits of fatty pork meat sandwiched between the lean pork meat, which lends it a more balanced and satisfying flavour.
Other than the pork satay, I also enjoyed the peanut-pineapple satay sauce which is delicious along with the satay.
Comparatively, the chicken satay doesn’t stand out much and I suggest skipping it altogether.
You can reserve Tiong Bahru Satay via WhatsApp at 97489904. There is not enough satay for walk-in customers at the moment, and to avoid disappointment do book at least 3 weeks in advance according to its website.
Satay aside, there are also other dishes on the menu such as pasta and meatballs. My dining companions decided to try the Pesto Prawn (S$13.90) and Saturday Grandpa Meatballs (S$7.90) as well. For the price, the Pesto Prawn pasta is cooked al dente and is quite a decent pasta for its price. The pasta flavour is rich, topped with sautéed prawn and cheese.
The Saturday Grandpa Meatballs is handmade and drizzled with tangy tomato based sauce. It comes with 6 meatballs deep-fried with chef’s secret sauce and topped with parmesan cheese. Go for it if you have some space for a side dish other than the satay, though it is definitely not the highlight for my visit.
Drinks wise, the coffee menu is quite extensive and I tried the Iced Nanyang Latte (S$6). I am personally not a big fan of Nanyang style coffee, so this is expectedly not something I really fancy.
Rants The flow of operations is not that smooth, especially when one of our coffee order was missed out. While it is called a cafe, the coffee was a letdown for me.
Will I Return Again? Overall, I do like the old school dining vibe at 195 Pearl Hill Cafe, which is definitely one of a kind in Singapore and a solid example of a successful destination dining. It was packed during my visit, and the rustic style satay by the legendary Ah Pui is worth the trek here. Worth a try at least once, and let me know if you like the satay!
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
195 Pearl Hill Cafe
195 Pearl’s Hill Terrace, #01-56
Tel: +65 9748 9904
Monday to Saturday: 11am to 5pm (or until sold out, whichever comes earlier)
Closed Sundays and PH
Ranted by The Ranter