Tiong Bahru is quickly becoming known as one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Singapore, and one of the reasons is the presence of cafes like Forty Hands. This Melbourne-inspired cafe has an artsy atmosphere, fantastic fair-trade coffee and makes one of the best breakfasts in Singapore.
The cafe’s name comes from the fact that, on average, twenty people (and therefore forty hands) are involved in production of coffee from field to cup. The coffee served at Forty Hands is fair-trade and prepared by expert baristas, resulting in happy coffee workers and happy coffee drinkers. At S$3.50 for a single espresso to S$5 for a latte, Forty Hand’s prices are lower than chains like Starbucks for a far better quality product. Their house blend is always available and is well balanced, but coffee connoisseurs should enquire about the seasonal single-origin coffees that are available until they inevitably sell out.
If you like to start your day with more calories than in a cappuccino, Forty Hands makes a mighty good breakfast. The “Big Boy Breakfast” (S$18) with grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, chipotle sausage and eggs any way you like ‘em will keep you full through dinner, while for the health-conscious there’s tropical fruit salad with yogurt (S$11). My favourite is the eggs benedict (S$14) with creamy hollandaise, a generous portion of ham and a side salad. Best yet, you don’t need to get up early to enjoy breakfast at Forty Hands – breakfast is available all day on Saturdays and Sundays.
The lunch and dinner offerings aren’t quite as extensive, but everything is delish. For a quick bite order one of their toasties (S$10-12) with gourmet fillings like Jamaican jerk pork, spicy Thai chicken or, for the vegetarians, four different kinds of mushrooms. On Friday and Saturday nights when Forty Hands stays open late and more people are drinking beer than coffee the order of choice is gourmet hotdogs or Asian-style sliders – both spicy, savoury and a big step up from your usual bar food.
If you just want something to nibble on, the baked goods are on display near the cash register – a selection of tarts, cookies and even Asian red bean buns. In line with Forty Hands laid-back vibe, the restaurant is partly self-service – place your order at the counter, pay and the staff will bring it to your table when it’s ready. This also means that the usual 10% service charge is not automatically added to the bill so the prices on the menu are what you pay.
Forty Hands is rightfully popular, especially having recently been named “Best Coffee Joint 2012” by I-S Magazine. That said the coffee alone makes it worth the wait to snag a table in this cosy shophouse cafe and you can kill time by browsing at Books Actually across the street – one of Singapore’s best independent bookstores.
Address: #01-12, Blk 78 Yong Siak Street, Singapore
T: 6225 8545
Tanya Procyshyn is a freelance writer and photographer. With a passion for unusual destinations, she has camped alongside Komodo dragons and shook hands with soldiers in North Korea.
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