I have been meaning to check this place out; so when we just so happened to pass by it on way to the car, I had to insist on going in and giving things a once over. There has been quite the buzz surrounding it since its grand opening, and its following continues to grow on food focused social media channels. A hype definitely worth investigating.
This isn’t your tiny, dark or cramped coffee house. With ample space and a multitude of seating options; lingering is allowed and almost encouraged. Spaced out wooden tables make the ideal spot to camp out with textbooks or lap tops. Tables come in a variety of styles, colours, and arrangements. With no two that matched, you can find the arrangement that is as unique to your needs. Family style tables for sharing, a dining room table large enough to seat ten, round tables good for just the one, with additional couch seating in the corner for that added comfort. The latter is where we chose to perch.
Its newness was reflective in the freshly painted white walls, the bright lighting from different bulbed fixtures, the large open windows looking out towards either corners of side walk outside, the waxed hard wood floors, and the shiny counters pieced together like a wood grain puzzle.
The room had a modern boutique feel. The decor, a mishmash of upscale pieces, a few done in vintage and others crafted to look worn out on purpose. On walls were clocks, photos, and paintings. Unique artwork left for individual interpretation; between retro swatches of paint and a bicycle spanning across two canvases. Actual shelves held items to be sold, and a ratty ladder was repurposed as one to carry old tomes.
There is a wall that lists all the cities currently hosting one of their many locations. A catalog of where you can get their buns. Kuwait, Thailand, Japan, South Korean, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Canada, Australia, Egypt, United Kingdom, Lebanon, Singapore, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. There was much more that I couldn’t make out from behind the two girls seated in front, impeding my view.
You approach the counter, situated in the centre of the room. Samples are available for those who wish to try some of their famous buns. Samples that encourage a sweet add on to their drink to go. At this counter is where you place your order, pay, and are given a marker to indicate purchase. You order gets assembled and is taken to you at your self selected, and self seated table. The numbered wood block leads the way. Behind the counter stood a uniform collection of teas. Each sealed in a large colour coded and clearly labeled canister. Each with a corresponding tiny glassed sample on the counter. The sample being a way for you to see and smell the tea before you committed. If tea isn’t your bag I am sure they can prepare some artisan coffees using one of the several stainless steel machines situated alongside the teas.
Today three employees worked behind the counter. Each holding their own role: taking orders, preparing drinks, and serving up buns. The menu is adhered to the counter top. A list of coffee, teas, frappes, and smoothies under a picture of their signature bun, the “Pappa roti”. A sweet dough pastry made fluffy and sweet with a crisp outer coating. Its flavour is perfectly described in its tag line, “one bite, different expressions”.
Each bun starts off the same, an “original” with no filling at $3.65. Quadruple the order for $13.20 a box. The flavours come by way of their topping. At $1.25 per topping you can go crazy and customize your bun to your prefect preference. Choose from their soft and creamy “labneh” aka “Pappa cream cheese”; the ever so popular hazelnutty “Nutella”; their own organic jam in blackberry, strawberry, or raspberry; fresh fruit varying by season; a dark chocolate spread; honey; maple syrup; whipped cream; ice cream; and caramel.
I went with one of their three chalk drawn combos for $4.90. A specific melding of two ingredients: ice cream and maple syrup or strawberries and whipped cream. We choose the classic banana and Nutella and added a side of “kaya” for nostalgia. “Kaya” is coconut honey I haven’t eaten since my last trip to Malaysia over 15 year ago. It was as sweet and as delicious as I remembered.
Before ordering and when asked, we did mentioned that this was our first time here. So it would have been nice to be given a walk through their pastry. An explanation on what it was, and what they would recommend for the first timers. Upon first bite I can see why its so internationally known. The crust remained relatively crisp despite its cooling down though our slow snacking. The coating on top was like buttery cookie; the breading inside, like a cake. A fusion dessert, with a unique texture and a better taste. Being not too sweet it makes for a decent breakfast, a quick snack, or a light dessert.
We shared a pot of mint tea, served on a “breakfast-in-bed” tray with matching red pot and tea bag holder. The set also came with a couple of double walled glasses and two spoons. Originally our beverage of choice came to our table with pot empty and an absence of both tea and water. But once boiled and ready, this minty herbal was what we needed after devouring the sweetness before. We were most amused with their three sectioned hour glass. A display of three that counted down to the perfect brew time for light, medium, and strong coffee. The coloured sand also corresponded to the types of tea regular, black, or green.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Its name sake bun is one of a kind. I have yet to try anything similar, though have seen and tried close duplications. The texture is what really sets them apart, making this a destination to fulfill that equally one of a kind craving. And while here you can’t help but to enjoy the elevated cafe experience. Between the homey setting and the upbeat techno music this isn’t your business attire only or student budget coffee place. Don’t deny your cravings.