After yesterday’s food court adventure, I went searching for a recommendation outside the world of hawker sites. But Singapore is not built for the early-rising tourist. In New York City you can find breakfast 24-hours a day. So it took some work to search for a new breakfast spot in the early morning. I fell on what seems to be a chain called Toastbox that had some interesting choices, and was a short walk from my hotel. The recommender suggested the Kaya Toast Set, and with that knowledge I set out to find it.
Toastbox claims to have been:
“… developed in October 2005 to recreate the warm atmosphere of local Nanyang coffee shops of the 60s and 70s. It seeks to bring an old-world charm to the current vibrancy of life as we know it now. Toast Box harks back to the simplicity of a bygone era, with its pleasurable comforts of coffee and toast. It serves up traditional favourites like peanut toast thick, Asian favourites such as mee siam, nasi lemak and soft-boiled eggs. South-east Asian coffee, the mainstay of the concept, is made the traditional way where it is ‘pulled’ to bring out the flavour.”
The path to Toastbox was through very quiet and empty streets. If it was not for the constant reminders that Singapore is a very safe city, I might have been more concerned, but quiet Singapore is a treat worth savoring.
Every storefront, every business and every residence along the path to Toastbox was closed, save for a martial arts studio with a block-long floor to ceiling window showcasing kickboxing and karate classes.
But Toasbox was open! Huzzah! There were twenty-odd outdoor tables and only six customers in total, and a short line. I found the “Kaya Toast Set” listed as number 2, and waited for my turn in line to place my order with the cashier:
I felt silly: people here speak excellent English. “Number two, please.”
“Kaya Toast Set,” he said.
“Yes, Kaya Toast Set.”
The cashier prepared a tray with two eggs on a dish.
“Soft boil,” the cashier said.
“OK,” I said. “Soft boil.”
Someone else poured a cup of thick coffee. I asked for a little milk, which they happily added. The cashier put a metal sign that said “16” on the tray, and I took that to mean the toast would be delivered to my seat, which I then went to find.
Given the lack of an egg cup I assumed the eggs were actually hard-boiled with a runny interior. But one crack revealed otherwise: these eggs were properly soft. I could improvise, but in decided instead the best choice was to wait for someone to deliver my toast.
Less than a minute later a young woman arrived with the toast. I asked for her advice on eating the eggs. Her answer helped only somewhat: “However you like.”
The toast had thick slices of Kaya, a tasty paste made from coconut, eggs, sugar and butter. The thick coffee, which I believe is called Nanyang Kopi, was sweet and delicious, and might not have needed milk, though that’s just my style. The eggs were runny and tasty. In the end I cracked them into their serving dish and used a second spoon I found hidden behind its partner on the coffee dish.
I’ve seen many restaurants offer English Breakfast, or even an American variety of that (eggs, toast, coffee, bacon, sausage) but my experience with international restaurants claiming to provide American fare has been disappointing at best. I’d much prefer something similar yet based on ingredients local people know well. This was a great having plenty of familiarity on my plate, and a few items to explore. A bit of a long turn comfortville.
Toastbox has a few varieties on this breakfast dish which will entice my return, and incidentally, my friend enjoyed their Laksa later that morning.