Ronin – So “Hip” it Hurts

20140319_132317Myfriends took me to a hipster cafe the other day located at 17 Hongkong Street. Ronin doesn’t have a signboard – “cos it’s a hipster place!” – and it’s quite hard to find even if you have the address cos the “17” is hidden somewhere. (The place has glass doors, if that’s any help…) I assumed it is relying on word of mouth to gather the crowds in. Well, the place wasn’t packed when we finally found it and stepped in for lunch, but even so we had to wait a while as there appears to be only one big dining table that could seat the six of us and even then, we had to share it with two other couples. With a name like Ronin, I expected the place to look like a Japanese wine bar but instead it has a very industrial feel, with a central kitchen that’s modeled like an American canteen, surrounded by metal shelves, furniture that don’t match, bare-boned ceiling, etc. Basically what you would find in most hipster joints these days whether it’s a pub or cafe.

So what’s on the menu? There’s no menu? “Hipster, Markie, Hipster!” Oh yeah I forgot. Okay, some people might think it might be real hip but having to listen to the waitress, sweet and polite as she is, rattled off a list of food items with loads of ingredients to choose from can be rather frustrating when you don’t have an elephant memory, or attentive listening skills for that matter. To make a long story short, we finally got our orders through after a few “can you repeat?”, and though there are a few waitresses, we had to get our own drinking water which comes only in one container on top of a cupboard and which had to be shared with the rest of the customers.
20140319_133239 (1)The place is known for their breakfast-like sets such as the Scrambled Eggs with Portobello Mushrooms and Bacon which does and taste look mighty hearty as it sounds when it arrived for one of my party. Someone else ordered a Ham and Cheese sandwich (above) which was decent, but it would be nicer if there were some salad or fries to go along with it. Nonetheless, the bread was fresh and crunchy and it makes for a decent meal on the run.

A lover of French Toast, which I often make myself at home, I ordered the Bacon with Caramalised Pears on French Toast (above) which another friend and I soon regretted cos they took quite some time to serve it – please don’t tell me it’s “hipster” to be so. Luckily I ordered a coffee with mint (pictured top) – can’t remember the name – that helped me passed my time.  When it finally came, well, the bacon was spot on but the caramelised pears took some getting used to, tasting more sour than sweet. The biggest disappointment though is the French toast – it was thick and dry and had barely any egg flavour in it. French toast as far as I’m concerned is best when the bread is thoroughly soaked in egg and then fried with butter. I know it doesn’t sound healthy but that’s how it should be made and taste like…

Without a menu, it’s also kind of hard to want to order more stuff cos it means getting the waitress to rattle off the list again. Prices are more or less okay for a hipster joint – or could I say, typical modern cafes such as these – with prices starting from $10-$12++ for the main stuff and $5++ for the coffees.  That was the other thing that bugs me – after the waitress recommends one item, you have to ask, “Er, how much does that cost?” For sure, most of us can afford to eat a place like this but there are some of us who also like to eat within reasonable means, and knowing what we are paying for would help.

Well, Ronin is a cool idea and there are probably more delicious items “from the kitchen”, but it’s not a place I would go back in a hurry, and only if I happen to be in the Hongkong Street area. Even the taxis we called for to take us back to office couldn’t find the place…


One comment on “Ronin – So “Hip” it Hurts

  1. Ketan Shah says:

    Sounds like they’re trying to outhip No Signboard Seafood (various locations) and No Menu Restaurant (Boon Tat St) . The thing is ,No Signboard does have a signboard and while No Menu probably doesn’t have a menu,it’s ridiculous for a cafe like this to follow suit,especially when that entails having the poor servers memorise a full menu and waste their time rattling it off to you when they could be doing more important things like actually getting your orders to the kitchen and serving your food.You said yourself that it put you off ordering additional items,especially when you have no clue what they might cost.Sounds like all that hipness is just added inconvenience to people who might actually want to try the food. Seems to me
    like many poor decisions have been made to up the hip quotient without putting enough thought into the ‘getting people to come to your place’ and ‘making sure our food is up to scratch’ quotient.


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