I consider myself a seasoned café-hopper, so if you say “aesthetic”, “minimalist”, or “coffee” enough times, you’ll definitely see me blocking out dates in my planner to make a trip down. And it’s precisely why I braved the rain one afternoon (as one sensibly does, for their oat milk coffee fix), and found myself at Asylum Coffeehouse, located in a heritage shophouse in Farrer Park, not far from City Square Mall.
Credit – Asylum Coffeehouse
Just a little fun fact; Asylum Coffeehouse has the same vibes as my dream apartment—big windows with a glorious abundance of natural lighting, an eye-catching floral display that brightens the space, and an overarching cave-like canopy that’s chic, minimalist, and oh-so-pretty. Coupled with the quiet hum of their shiny coffeemaker and Nordic-style furniture, it was quite the dream come true for me.
What I tried
Caffeine addicts like myself will definitely not want to pass up a cuppa at Asylum, especially with their very own espresso blend inspired by buah keluak. Keluak, available in Black (S$5), and White (S$6.50), was pleasantly strong, with a delightful blend of chocolatey, nutty, and earthy notes. It’s a coffee that reminds me why I can’t survive uncaffeinated, and neither would you if you could have one of these every morning.
Maybe hot coffee isn’t your thing, especially if you walked to Asylum under the sweltering heat. If you’re anything like my friend, Kelly, who’s never seen in class without a cup of iced coffee in her hand, Asylum makes a mean Iced White (S$7.50)—Speaking of which, I need to introduce it to her soon. It is strong, not to be underestimated, and when you’re sipping it seated in an air-conditioned minimalist coffeehouse bathed in sunlight? Afternoon slump, begone!
I’ve said it so many times that it might as well be plastered on my forehead, but if you went to a café and didn’t take Insta-worthy aesthetic photos of your food… did you even go there? Asylum’s dessert really took the cake (pun intended), with a beautifully decorated sugee cake using the founder’s grandmother’s own recipe. The Block (S$6.80) is topped with flame-torched Italian meringue and bathed in a burst of colour in the form of a dainty edible flower.
I found it a tad too dry for my liking and would’ve had more praises to shower upon it if there was simply more lemon meringue. Can you ever have too much lemon meringue? I don’t think so.
Anyone who’s met me at least once knows that I love bread, and can corroborate that I tuck into any and all sandwiches with great gusto and a sparkle in my eye. In that regard, Asylum gets my seal of approval and picking the one I liked the most feels as difficult as asking a mother to pick a favourite child. Cue the Cubano (S$18.80), with savoury mojo pork, piquant gherkins, Emmental cheese, and spicy mustard.
It’s sandwiched (yes, pun also intended) between two slices of toasted ciabatta—oxymoronic as hell because it’s crispy, crunchy, yet melts in your mouth. A word of caution for those who feed their cameras before themselves like I do—this sandwich loses its sparkle once it’s no longer hot, and the ciabatta’s crunch that was music to my ears mere moments ago became lamentably soft.
As always, I save the best for the last—and Asylum’s was The Overload (S$21). Its price point is admittedly on the heftier side for what seems to be just a sandwich, but what’s not to love about double pressed butter ciabatta? Call off the diet and dig in, because The Overload is literally loaded with mac and cheese, a carbs-on-carbs combination that I’ll be willing to run the extra few kilometres for afterwards.
Pair that with smoked barbeque pulled pork, barbeque sauce, and jalapeño slaw, and you’ve got yourself a sandwich so satiating and decadent that it would blow even the likes of Joey Tribbiani away.
The café is aptly named after the sanctuary it seeks to provide—a calming respite from the hustle and bustle of Jalan Besar. As much as the food’s pretty and the photos come out prettier, Asylum is not the first place that’ll come to mind if I’m talking about getting the best bang for your buck. Especially so if you’re a part-time explorer of lovely aesthetic cafes and a full-time student who’s on a strict budget.
Expected damage: S$20 – S$25 per pax
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