Update June 2020: Pompompurin Cafe has closed.
There’s just something about character cafes that makes them so darned irresistible, even to us grown-ups. Hot on the heels of Japan, the mecca of kawaii-themed eateries and pop ups, Singapore is now home to not one, but two permanent Sanrio character cafes, including the Pompompurin Cafe at Orchard Central!
Voted as Sanrio’s most popular character in 2015, Pompompurin is a lovable golden retriever whose cream coloured skin and trademark brown beret make him resemble a pudding, hence his name.
As my first character cafe experience at the Gudetama Cafe in Osaka had left me eager for more, there was no way I could miss out on this.
It’s telling that the pudding-like dog is wildly popular among Singaporeans, as there was already a healthy sized crowd when I dropped by around opening time (typical kiasuism at work here). And this considering that it was the second day of the Pokemon pop up cafe, which should have diverted some of the hype hunting foodies away, right? Not a chance.
Keeping in line with Singapore’s image as a garden city (or is it city in a garden now?), Pompompurin Cafe’s concept is: village garden. Think wooden furniture, mock alresco set up, vibrant green plants and lots of pastel.
Oh, and did I mention that if you come in groups of three to four and are incredibly lucky, you get to sit in one of four house-shaped booths? Each of them dedicated to one of Pompompurin’s friends: Bagel the squirrel, Coconut the monkey, Mint the frog, and Macaroon the golden retriever. Kawaii!
For those hankering after these Purin-themed fixtures, you can get your Purin fix at the merchandise shelf next to the cashier.
Like most character cafes in Japan, Pompompurin’s is Western, with a couple of Japanese options here and there. Hungry diners can feast on pasta and rice based mains, while the sweet toothed can indulge in pancakes, puddings, and parfaits. All modelled after Purin, of course!
While all the dishes are visually appealing (who can resist a smiling dog on their plate?), there is none quite like the Taco Rice in a Cup of Friendship ($19.99 ++). This Okinawan dish had that eye-popping, 3D element, thanks to the yellow, Purin shaped rice peeking out of a cup, with a pat of beef for his beret and his BFF Muffin as a glob of sour cream. TOO CUTE!
Trust the chef to draw their features on too. No wonder this is one of the recommended items on the menu – and it takes 30 minutes to prepare. I guess good things are worth the wait?
Spent so long trying to get the perfect close-up of Purin and Muffin. Don’t they look like two best friends sailing together in a sea of vibrant colours? Reminds me of those whimsical fantasy anime scenes.
The best way to eat Taco rice is to mix everything together. That means toppling Purin and Muffin over into a bed of tortilla chips, avocado, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and minced beef. Nooo. 😦
My first thought when the rice spilled out of the cup was – wow so much! And there was a lot of minced beef hiding under that avocado, cheese and tomatoes. Too much, even. It was like the ratio of beef to rice was two and a half to one. That’s the drawback of a character cafe I suppose; it’s tricky to strike a balance between photo worthiness and the right proportion of food.
It was also a bit hard to break up the rice, so try not to take too long with your photos. 😛
The beef was satisfyingly savoury, and the variety of flavours and textures from the vegetables and the cheese made for an interesting and varied main. You can even use the chips to scoop out the ingredients if you run out of rice! That said, this dish filled me up very quickly – more than I expected, and I was struggling to finish it by the last spoonful.
Already quite full – but not yet willing to give up in the name of dessert – I had the I am Purin ♪ Pompompurin Pudding ($9.99 ++). No, not trying to be cutesy here. The name of the dessert actually has a musical note in it.
Ahem – moving on, the pudding shaped dog as his favourite food, pudding! Why not! #puddingception
The milk pudding itself was on the dense side, and the stickingly sweet caramel syrup added to its heaviness. Not forgetting the chocolate-covered biscuit beret which had softened while I was trying to get to the bottom of the pudding bowl.
You might have noticed that I did not order any drinks. Well.. that’s because they were all a tad pricey, and contained copious amounts of cream just for the visual effect. $11 ++ for that, to me, is just plain exorbitant. If I wanted to down another serving of cream, I would have just ordered another round of pudding.
All in all, visiting Pompompurin Cafe is like taking a trip back to your childhood – playing pretend tea with your stuffed toys, only now, there’s actually food and drinks! I was also pleasantly surprised by how detailed the food was.
Taste wise, it’s also pretty good for a character cafe, and certainly ranks above other local eateries that simply embellish their dishes with a logo or two and pass it off as themed cafe fare. Be sure to come early, though, or you’ll have to contend with the queue!
Address: Orchard Central 04-08 (nearest MRT station: Somerset)
Contact: 6509 8672
Opening hours: 11am – 10.30pm daily (last order at 10pm)