Kampong Glam Cafe is not glamorous, notwithstanding the flashy cars we saw parked near it. Located in the middle of the historic enclave of Kampong Glam, it is more like a big sarabat stall where you can get a good kampong style meal and enjoy a teh tarik or a Milo Dinosaur at affordable prices. The socialites will likely give this place a miss because it is literally eating on the roadside but you will find that Kampong Glam Cafe is almost always crowded with unhurried ordinary people who seemed to be enjoying their food.
Kampong Glam is thought to have derived its name from the “gelam” tree. The area was home to the Malay royalty before the British arrived to colonise Singapore. The Sultan Mosque is the major landmark in this historic district. Many tourists are attracted to this precinct rich in culture with narrow lanes full of traditional stores selling carpets, spices, traditional clothing and a wide variety of handicrafts. Hip bars, trendy cafes and restaurants, offering cuisines from the Middle East, Turkey, Japan, Mexico and even Sweden, are aplenty. The one eating place in this area which is full of locals day and night is the Kampomg Glam Cafe.
Besides nasi padang dishes, Kampomg Glam Cafe offers traditional Malay food like Mee Rebus, Tahu Goreng, Soto Ayam and Gado-Gado. Its menu includes numerous varieties of nasi goreng and mee goreng. It also serves Western dishes like fish & chips, chicken chop and calamari rings. Dessert offerings include brownies as well as traditional Malay kuehs.
It is a self service eatery. Join the queue, and there is almost always a queue, to order your food and drinks. The only time you can bypass the queue is when you are ordering just drinks, and not food, – you can go straight up to the “drinks man” and place your drinks order with him. There are menu boards with pictures on the walls. If you are ordering nasi padang, just point out what you want from the food counter.
I visited Kampong Glam Cafe for lunch on a weekday. The queue was really long but it moved fairly quickly. You get to see the nasi padang food being offered only when you get towards the front of the queue. There was an extensive range – fish and chicken cooked in different styles, eggs, prawns, beancurd, curries and a variety of vegetable.
I picked a fried fish, beef rendang and sayur loleh. The portion was quite generous. The sayur loleh, vegetables in coconut milk soup, was mild and not spicy. The vegetables were cooked just right such that they were soft but still retained a good texture. The fried fish looked simple but was delicious with no strong fishy taste or odour. It was not dry. The beef rendang was easily the star of the lunch. It was well spiced and flavourful. The meat was tender and succulent but with a bit of a chew. The aroma and flavour of the beef simmered in coconut milk could be enjoyed with each bite. The nasi padang lunch with teh tarik came up to a total of $7.50.
It may not be the most nifty spot in the area, but Kampong Glam Cafe located at the junction of Bussorah Street and Baghdad Street is popular for good reasons – they serve good authentic Malay food at affordable prices and the sarabat stall style drinks there are good too.
Kampong Glam Cafe
17 Bussorah Street
Tel : +65 6294 1697
8am – 2 am Daily
#Street Fact – Many streets in Kampong Glam, like Bussorah Street, Muscat Street and Baghdad Street, are named after Arabian cities. Bussorah (or Bassora, Balsora, Bussra) is in Southern Iraq and is now more commonly referred to as Basra.
The Ordinary Patrons
Singapore Food Blog by Ordinary People looking for Places to Eat