Chye Seng Huat, a nondescript, hole-in-the-wall coffee bar located deep in an industrial area, has been making waves in the foodie community. I'd heard great reviews of this place and was eager to try it out. People apparently found it very cool and kitschy that its facade, restored to its original hardware store decor, is so very well hidden amongst the rows of shuttered metal grills and old-school wooden doors of actual hardware stores. FYI, CSH's entrance is through the adjacent corrugated metal swing gates with the "towing zone" sign. I witnessed a couple of poor fools tugging furiously at the seemingly main entrance doors (which are deceptively fake and purely for decorative purposes) of the small-ish establishment.
As it turns out, from the pretentious try-hards hogging the limited seating to the mediocre food and limited menu, everything about this place screams overhype. The only good and real thing about this place is the coffee. Although their coffee menu is limited, their brews are rich, potent and full-bodied. A real zinger. That said, the coffee alone isn't mind-blowingly sublime enough to draw me back. I wouldn't go out of my way to a middle-of-nowhere place like that, just for coffee. Of course, coffee addicts may beg to differ. But, if you're nearby, at Lavender Food Centre or somewhere in the vicinity, you could swing by here for a strong cuppa coffee.
The Ham Omelette ($8.50) with Mushrooms ($2), toast, greens and half a supposedly grilled tomato (it was barely cooked). The omelette was average fare, and quite forgettable. Something a decent home cook could whip up easily.
Also, the omelette didn't have $2 worth of mushrooms. Sufficient ham but not enough mushrooms.
The Pancake Stack with Blueberries ($10) was nice but pedestrian, and very reminiscent of Mickey D's version. And the abysmal number of blueberries were also quite miserable. 5 blueberries to 5 pancakes meant each pancake had its lone blueberry mate.
We also sampled their cakes, which was such a big mistake. Their dry and uninspired cakes aren't worth the calories or moolah. The Old Fashioned Banana Cake ($4.50) was dry and lacking in that rich fragrance evocative of really good banana cakes fresh out of the oven.
The Chocolate Bundt Cake ($6.50) was also dry and insipid. Generously portioned but the fact that we hardly touched it spoke volumes.
The Hazelnut and Ginger Tea Cake ($3) with candied ginger was awful. We all hated the combination. The ginger was so overwhelmingly strong that it totally outshone any accent of hazelnut.
The Espresso with Milk ($5.50), CSH's equivalent of a latte, had really pretty, albeit simple, coffee art. The latte was bold and aromatic, it was honestly a really good cup of brewed coffee. Everything else kind of fell flat here, except the coffee. Which I like. But unless they move closer to town, I don't think I'll be back.
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
160 Tyrwhitt Road
Tel: 6396 0609
Open Tuesdays to Thursdays from 9am to 7pm;
Fridays to Sundays from 9am to 10pm