TomorrowFree Kafei @ Irving Place – Taking Singapore’s Food Culture Back to its Traditional Roots (Invite)

With its decidedly Singlish name and locally-slanted menu, TomorrowFree Kafei stands out from the belt of Western cafes in Irving Place. It’s a known fact that this place has injected Tai Seng with a bit of Singapore’s cafe culture, so why is this family-run eatery choosing to run the other direction with food that most would say “eh my mother can cook leh”?

Owner Steven Oh believes in evoking the fond memories of yesteryears through home-cooked goodness, hence his desire to preserve the cultures and flavours passed down from previous generations – with a few twists of his own.

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(photo credit: Hazel) 

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The name both encapsulates his philosophy of welcoming familiar faces, as well as a wordplay on the word “cafe” and the Mandarin word for “coffee”. This 9 month old establishment even serves the traditional pulled coffee to complement their food.

Come lunchtime on weekdays, TomorrowFree Kafei is abuzz with executives working in the Tai Seng area. Unsurprising given the rich flavours and comfortable air-conditioned space! (Whoever’s worked in Tai Seng will tell you how freakishly hot it can get in the afternoon, with no shelter to shield you when you head out of the office for lunch.)

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It’s clear that this family team is big on flavours and quality, as the food we sampled all had that “made at home” taste, with ingredients carefully picked and well prepared to fill our stomachs.

The meat in the various dishes stood out to me, as I really wasn’t expecting anything more than ordinary kopitiam food.

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The Curry Chicken is surprisingly tender and falls right out off the bone without much effort. The skin wasn’t too soggy from the curry, which uses little oil.

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Out of all the dishes, Braised Pork Rice was my favourite. The fat melted immediately in my mouth and the flesh was well flavoured with the sauce. So sinful but SO GOOD. I think this disappeared the fastest from our table because we simply couldn’t stop eating it.

Steven is also working on a “fusion” version of the dish, with pasta instead of rice. Notice how the plates are segmented so the sauce doesn’t soak immediately into the rice.

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And the award for most homely dish goes to the Bak Kut Teh, with its melt-off-the-bone pork ribs and piping out peppery soup. Another dish that makes you want to have more and more when you eat it.
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TomrrowFree Kafei also serves Western favourites like Fried Chicken Wings and Chicken Chop. Found it odd that Cupcakes are on the dessert menu instead of local desserts but if it’s comfort food to some then why not!

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One thing I noticed about this “generation” of F&B owners is their dedication to both good food and better service. The local F&B industry is a competitive one, with mom and pop shops like these opening alongside big chains and restaurants, but people like Steven still believe in bringing their cooking philosophy to the table, which makes me want to support the scene even more. 🙂

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Thanks SnappyTrends for inviting me along to this cozy taste session!

Address: 1 Irving Place, The Commerze Building 01-20
Contact: 9790 5576
Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 8am – 7pm
Saturday: 11am – 4pm
Closed on Sunday

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Directions: TomorrowFree Kafei is the first eatery you see when you take the short cut to The Commerze from Tai Seng MRT.

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