It’s like IKEA, but for Asians. After a long wait, Japanese lifestyle chain MUJI has finally opened their first cafe in Paragon, to the delight of both their fans and the Japanese community in Singapore.
Knowing that there would be a huge crowd on its first day, I decided to pop by way after lunchtime, at 3pm – but boy, was I wrong. Queues were snaking outside the cafe’s premises long after I had finished my meal. It could have been due to the weekend crowd, but still.
The queueing system is a tad complicated, and you might wonder why there are two. Well, first you have to queue to reserve a seat (the staff will direct you to your place). Then you have to queue again to order your food.
Like the store itself, Cafe & Meal has an elegant and minimalist style, with their signature wood kitchen and storage essentials tastefully displayed around eating areas. Hey, lunch and planning your next furniture jaunt – who says you can’t multitask here? 😛
The food selection is said to be similar to the one in Tokyo, albeit smaller. There’s even a baked Bak Kut Teh with honey glaze, but in limited portions.
A set meal with 1 hot deli and 2 cold deli items costs $12.90, with an additional 1 hot deli item setting you back another $4. Otherwise, it’s $5.50 per hot deli dish and $2.70 per cold deli dish ala carte. Kinda pricey, looking at the rather small portions!
I opted for Ten Grain Rice at an extra dollar; like the typical Japanese rice, it’s sticky and carries a pleasant fragrance that’s actually quite appetising on its own. Trust the Japanese to make even the most simple details oh so enjoyable.
My trio of deli dishes were: Spinach Chicken Burger, Sakura Chicken and Pasta Salad with Lemon Flavour and Prawn and Edamame Salad with Spiced Mayo Sauce.
My favourite is the Prawn and Edamame Salad; juicy, succulent prawns and crunchy edamame drenched in mayo sauce with just the right amount of heat. The Sakura Chicken and Pasta Salad was kinda ordinary, and it wouldn’t have been my first choice if not for the fact that the hot favourites like Matcha Salad and Vegetable Omelette were already sold out.
The Spinach Chicken Burger – well – it wasn’t as piping hot as I expected. But still flavoursome and not too oily.
Don’t expect MUJI’s (very) modest portions to fill you up if you’re absolutely starving. Go for the four deli set, or get some dessert to quell any remaining hunger pangs.
The Caramel Egg Pudding that I had looked and tasted straight out of a Japanese lifestyle catalog (but that’s what MUJI is about in a way, amiright?) Subtle in flavour and texture, and not too sweet for me.
An interesting first try at this Japanese dessert, but I’m really curious about the Roasted Tea Pudding and will try it next time I come around.
At MUJI, it’s all about comfort and moderation, which the food definitely embodies.
The food station was a tad disorganized, and I was rather disappointed that they ran out of certain items so quickly. But overall, it’s an interesting, healthy alternative to IKEA’s Swedish meatballs and fried chicken wings. 😀 It’s a must-try for Muji fans.
Address: 290 Orchard Road, Orchard Paragon Level 4
Opening hours: 10am – 9.30pm daily (full menu from 11am, last order at 9.45pm)