Monday, 21 July 2014

The Lokal at Neil Road

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore

The Lokal is the latest addition to the cafe scene in the Cantonment / Everton Park area. With a strong track record at its sister cafe - Sarnies at Telok Ayer Street - The Lokal is set to be the next big hit among the cafe-hopping enthusiasts.

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Interior

The Lokal is situated in the shophouse at the corner of Neil Road and Bukit Pasoh. It is right next to Goethe-Institut Singapore, and near The Phantom Joker Escape. Perfect location for a cafe if you ask me - a healthy distance from the MRT station (Outram Park), a relatively quiet area plus there are many pretty historical architecture in the neighbourhood (the famous Dong Ya building which now houses Potato Head Folk is just a stone's throw away).

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Lunch Menu

At The Lokal, breakfast is served from 8am to 1130am which lunch is served from 1130am to 3pm. The Lokal lunch menu consists of 4 sandwiches, 1 salad and 2 main courses. The Lokal prides themselves in offering comfort food that is made lovingly from scratch. Even the tiniest detail like butter and pickles are made by the chef from fresh ingredients.  Now, this is what we call passion and sincerity and we would definitely love to see more of these in the (almost saturated?) industry.

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Drinks Menu

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Slayer Expresso Machine

The Lokal uses coffee beans from their sister cafe, Sarnies. The coffee is handcrafted using a cool, super slick custom-built Slayer expresso machine. Apart from coffee, The Lokal also serves craft beers and ciders, as well as a selection of tea and homemade smoothies.

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Bar Counter

Apart from what is stated on the menus, do look out for the daily specials, dessert selection and happy hour promotions that are scribbled on the huge blackboard right behind the counter.

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Roast Chicken Panini

The Grilled Chicken Panini ($15) was such a feast on our eyes when it arrived. Set on a huge grainy wooden board, the sandwich was bursting with colours and oozing avocado and grilled chicken. There was a generous serving of pure avocado in the sandwich, and it was a little overpowering for us. The grilled chicken was nicely marinated and the panini was crisp and chewy.

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Smoked Salmon Pita

We wondered where was the smoked mackerel and concluded that they must have ran out of it hence the two chunks of orangey smoked salmon ($22). The salmon was hot-smoked over cherry woodchips right at The Lokal itself, and we certainly could taste the sincerity and passion put into it. We could also identify the thought put into the creamy potato salad, and the perfectly toasted pita. Such an amazing combo!

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Mushroom Parmesan Toastie

The toastie of the day was mushroom, sundried tomatoes with parmesan and pesto sauce ($14). This was da bomb for me - best combination ever for a toast! There were generous portions of nicely sauteed mushrooms, with savoury sundried tomatoes nestled in between. The mushrooms and tomatoes were held together by a lovely blend of pesto and melted parmesan. I could eat this everyday!

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Latte

The latte at The Lokal was very much to my liking. It was smooth, creamy with a nutty aftertaste. There are options to upsize the coffee to medium (+$1) or large (+$2), and I would definitely go for a bigger portion the next time we visit.

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Pear & Almond Tart with Ice Cream

We settled for the Pear and Almond Tart with Ice Cream ($12) for dessert. While the vanilla ice-cream and pastry was lip-smacking, the caramelised pear was a little tough and bland. We felt that the price was also a tad steep for the size of the tart.

The Lokal Neil Road Singapore Interior Decor

We certainly enjoyed the wholesome and hearty food at The Lokal, and the awesome laid-back atmosphere of the cafe. It is by far one of my favourite cafes, and I would definitely return to spend an indefinite amount of time lounging on one of the cushioned seats. Did I mention that they also have free wifi and electric sockets? And as if the level of awesomeness is not high enough, The Lokal will also be offering a dinner menu and extended dining hours come end July. Now, don't miss out.



The Lokal

136 Neil Road Singapore
8am to 6pm (Mon to Fri, kitchen closes at 330pm)
10am to 4pm (Sat & Sun)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Bangkok - Talad Rot Fai / Train Night Market at Udom Suk

Talad Rodfai Train Market Bangkok

We have officially found the best market in Bangkok. No, this is not the popular Chatuchak Market. This is Talad Rot Fai, or in english, Railway Train Market. Unlike Chatuchak, Talad Rodfai is only opened in the evenings, from 5pm onwards until midnight during the weekends. The absence of the sweltering heat and narrow alleys makes the shopping here at Talad Rodfai so much more enjoyable.

Talad Rodfai Train Market Bangkok Entrance

The Talad Rot Fai Train Night Market is around 20km away from downtown Siam, but it was definitely worth every ounce of our effort. The simplest way to get to Talad Rot Fai is to take the BTS to Udom Suk station. The BTS ride from Siam to Udom Suk took around 20 minutes, and cost THB 50. After alighting at Udom Suk, take the exit on the left and hop on to a taxi. Many taxi drivers are not aware of this night market, so the landmark to tell them is 'Seacon Square'. Seacon Square is a sprawling shopping mall and the Train Market is located right behind it. The taxi ride took another 20 minutes and cost THB 120. Follow the throngs of Thai youngsters/hipsters after you alight at Seacon Square, and you would surely find the big sign that indicates the entrance of the night market.

Talad Rodfai Train Market Bangkok Entrance Walkway

Talad Rodfai Train Market Bangkok Entrance Cafe Decor

We fell in love with the night market the moment we stepped into Talad Rot Fai. We were greeted by totally rad and retro furnitures that filled every crack and cranny of the individual shops and even the walkways.

Talad Rodfai Train Market Bangkok Vintage Items for Sale

Talad Rodfai Train Market Bangkok Vintage Bicycles

Talad Rot Fai is HUGE. Beyond the numerous stalls selling clothes and accessories, there is a dedicated section for vintage items. It was like a scene out of a junkyard - rusty lockers, leaking bathtubs, scratched tables - but it was this exact randomness and ruggedness that made the whole place very charming. We loved looking and peering into these shops, and wondered about the stories behind the items there.

Talad Rodfai Train Market Bangkok Car Boot Sale

Another section of Talad Rot Fai was like a huge car boot sale. Vendors were selling their wares straight out of their vehicles. Some were vintage sedans or SUVs, but many were the much coveted Volkswagen Kombi (to die for!). The vendors were mostly chilling by their cars like they would be chilling in their backyard- business or competition seem nowhere in their mind or written on their faces. They were talking or drinking with friends or fellow vendors, only stopping when an interested customer has a query. Totally loved the laid-back atmosphere!

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Vintage Gallery

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Gallery

There was also a gallery with a full collection of vintage items ranging from cars to bikes to musical instruments to even a confession booth. We thought it looked like it was part of the Universal Studios, or it could be the set for a hunt by Sam and Dean from Supernatural. It was totally mind-blowing to be seeing these vintage babies upclose.

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Bus Bar

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Vintage Cafe

Besides shopping and ogling at random vintage items, there were also many food options at Talad Rot Fai. There was a really cool bar/pub that was converted from a bus and blasting soft rock music from the 1980s. Totally chill. There were also old-school cafes selling drinks and retro knick-knacks. And of course, there were many many street food stalls here at the night market.

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Tom Yum Goong Stall

Talad Rot Fai is mainly frequented by the locals - we did not meet much foreigners (and that to us, was also a major plus point). There were minimal signs in English and most of the menus and boards were in Thai. However, the stallholders were able communicate in basic English so we could still find our way around.

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Tom Yum Goong Seafood Combi

We joined the queue at the Tom Yum Goong Noodles stall. Through charades and basic English, we ordered a bowl of mixed seafood with glass noodles. It was a huge bowl full of slices of fish, squid, clams, mussels and prawn (THB140). The seafood was fresh and the soup was very fragrant. Very hearty and comfy in the cool evening breeze.

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market BBQ Seafood

We were attracted by the prettiness and neatness of this barbeque seafood stall. Signs were purely in Thai but the stallholder was able to tell us his offerings in basic English. Again, through charades and simple English, we got ourselves very yummy BBQ mussels and scallops.

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market BBQ Mussels

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market BBQ Scallop

The combination of 3 BBQ mussels and 3 BBW scallops cost THB 200. The mix of cheese, garlic and parsley on top of the shellfish were simply heavenly. The melted sauce was very savoury, and it very much complemented the freshness of the seafood. Simply lip-smacking!

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Drinks Stall

Even the drink stall looked like it had been there since the 1980s. The tins of tea, ovaltine, milk, and the very brown coffee sock indicated the authenticity and passion of the drinks.

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Thai Iced Coffee

What I particularly like about drinks in Thailand is the huge heap of crushed ice that they use in their cold beverages. The tiny crystals of ice makes the drink more uniformly cold, and the coolness is able to last longer. The Thai Iced Coffee we had was a tad sweet, but hey, that's the spirit of Thai coffee right? The coffee was smooth and creamy, and left a slightly savoury aftertaste.

Talad Rodfai Train Night Market Decor

We thoroughly enjoyed the time at Talad Rodfai. The train night market exuded a charm that could not be replicated elsewhere - it takes many like-minded and creative people to put together a place that is authentic, vibrant and endearing. The Train Market will definitely be a permanent fixture on our Bangkok itinerary.



Talad Rot Fai/ Train Night Market

Soi 51 Srinakarin Srinakarin Rd
Nong Bon Prawet Bangkok
5pm to 12am (Fri to Sun)