Neil Road | Populus Coffee & Food Co.

Populus Coffee & Food Co. is housed in a shophouse built in the 1900s – 1940s along Neil Road. The branding was done by Chad Lesch while the interior design was done by bhatch Architects. It is a warm and cosy space which can be really pleasant during the off-peak hours. With great ambiance, does the food (and coffee) match up?

Seafood Linguine ($24 on weekdays, $25 on weekends)
Linguine Braised in Homemade Seafood Bisque, Crab Meat, Scallops
We start off with a Seafood Linguine which was pretty well done. The linguine was just right and the seafood bisque was robust and flavourful. Together with the succulent shreds of crab meat, this was pretty decent.

Spring Pancake & Fried Chicken ($21 on weekdays, $22.50 on weekends)
Spring Onion & Corn Pancake, Signature Crispy Succulent Fried Chicken Thigh Fillet, Hint of Cumin, House Special Ranch Dressing.
This took a lot of work and effort to prepare. Some of us thought the dish is good on its own without the pancake which came across as a little dry and limp. The chicken however, was undeniably good.

Roasted Cod & Soba Noodle Salad ($21.50 on weekdays, $24 on weekends)
Roasted Cod Loin, Soba Noodles, Marinated Mushrooms, Lightly Pickled Vegetables, Broad Beans, Lime & Sesame Dressing
Thought the roasted cod loin was good but that's it.

Pulled Pork Grain Bowl ($19 on weekdays, $19.50 on weekends)
Slow Cooked Pulled Pork, Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat & Pearl Barley
All Grain Bowls served with Furikake Baby Corn, Red Cabbage & Apple Slaw, Chargrilled Zucchini, Roasted Butternut Squash, Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes, L&P Mixed Mushrooms

The grain bowl is a dish where there is something for everyone and the different combinations of eating it makes it an even more enjoyable experience. It is a very colourful dish without any rules. Just enjoy the way you like it and recommended for sharing. I like the roasted butternut squash a lot.

‘Heirloom Rendang’ Donburi | LIMITED EDITION ($20)
Homemade Heirloom Recipe Rendang, Peranankan Archar, Daikon, Carrot & Zuke Pickles, Seasoned Japanese Rice
The Rendang Donburi is the star of the dinner. There is limited portions of it everyday and based on a secret recipe by the owner's mum. It was delightfully rich and tasty and the owner explained that it was prepared with traditional charcoal fire thus the extra fragrance. There are two kinds of pickles served with the rice, a Japanese style tsukemono and a Peranakan-style archar. A lot of effort is put into preparing the beef. The fruits of the labour is evident in the flavours, tenderness and juiciness of the beef.

Dark Chocolate Sundae ($14)
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream, Passionfruit Curd, Raspberry Puree, Hazelnut Crumb, Honeycomb, Chocolate Crumb, Whipped Cream
Probably one of the richest and slowest-melting sundae I have seen. It was explained to me that the sundae was made from a high-percentage of cocoa thus it takes longer than the usual sundae to melt which conventionally has higher ratio of dairy content. Unsurprisingly, this chocolate sundae was very rich and recommended for sharing unless you are huge fan of dark chocolate.

Buckwheat Pancakes ($19.50 on weekdays, $20.50 on weekends)
Soft & Fluffy Buckwheat Pancake, Berry Fruit Compote, Passionfruit Curd, Cornflake Crumb, Thyme Infused Maple Syrup, Flowers
This reminded me of the Kaiserschmarrn, perhaps because it was served on a cast iron pan. The pancakes have a nice addition of sweet & tangy berries, a beautiful buttery crust and a fluffy interior. This is a rather decent dessert or brunch dish.

Coffee Time
Populus Coffee and Food Co. is serious on coffee and it is one of the reasons why people would go to Populus. In fact, the cafe is also frequented by well-known baristas around the world. One of the enjoyable experiences at the cafe is not getting a coffee and relax one corner but rather also be a little bit more educated about the coffee. It is a subjective matter thus it makes for a lively discussion and conversation when you get to talk about coffee (and life) while enjoying the drink. The experience becomes more personal and more meaningful. I met Isaac, a barista who became fond and interested in coffee after discovering the diverse flavours of the beverage during a visit a cafe. After some conversation, he recommended a cup of Kenya Thiriku AB filter coffee which is rather mild and smooth but carries a bit of character (or flavour).

Hence, instead of going about with my limited knowledge of coffee would be a crap load of pretense, I urged you go down, have a conversation with the barista if time allows and have a coffee. Afterall, one of the key vision behind Populus was to not only create a nice space to have food and coffee but also engage the public on the topic.


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