Mary’s Kafe

Posted on January 8, 2009 by Aun

I’m pretty sure that with this post I am going to upset a pretty big group of Singaporeans who have been keeping a collective secret for the past two years. That secret is Mary’s Kafe, one of the best places for Eurasian food on the island.

For readers unfamiliar with Singapore’s history, here in the Little Red Dot, Eurasians are considered a race. And while in most parts of the world, the term can refer to any person of mixed European and Asian heritage, here, historically, we mean the descendents of 19th century marriages between Straits Chinese women and predominantly Portuguese or Dutch men. Eurasian food, as you might already have guessed, is early fusion fare — the result of the mingling of these different cultures. Some of the most famous and popular Eurasian dishes include Devil’s Curry (a super hot chicken curry), Feng (a minced pork curry), Smore (a beef stew), and Shepherd’s Pie. A lot of the dishes are traditional European or Straits Chinese dishes that have been tweaked significantly over time.

Today in Singapore, it is pretty hard to find good Eurasian food. Even restaurants that friends have told us are the best they have been to in recent times are, sadly, nothing to shout about. Mary’s Kafe (and I can hear the knives of angry patrons being sharpened), however, is one of the few exceptions. That said, let me make it very clear that Mary’s is by no means a chi-chi restaurant. It is, as indicated in its moniker, a simple cafe. It is open Monday through Friday and for lunch only. It is also tucked away in the Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations headquarters on Waterloo Street — a building I, for one, would probably never have set foot in if not for the lure of awesome pineapple tarts and good ayam assam.

The Mary who runs Mary’s Kafe is a bit of a celebrity. Mary Gomes is the author of two excellent cookbooks, one on Eurasian food and the other on Singaporean fare. Before opening Mary’s Kafe in the SCWO building, she used to rather famously run the canteen at St Joseph’s Church on Victoria Street. Suffice it to say she has a cult following and does not really need my help to make her tiny cafe any more popular than it already is.

The cafe itself is tiny. Just two tables (and one of these is really a couch with a coffee table in front of it) in the air-conditioned room which also houses Mary, her team, and her kitchen. All other tables, that line a narrow hallway, are outdoors. Every day, Mary offers around a half dozen different items. The set lunch, which includes one of these items, a drink and dessert, is S$7. The last time I visited (as pictured above… again, apologies for the resolution, all pix shot on S’s iPhone), S had the chicken assam while I had the beef rendang. These were served with rice, omelette and some veggies. While the portions look small, for lunch, they were perfect, especially given the rich bowl of pulut hitam we were served for dessert.

In addition to the set lunches, Mary also offers a range of cakes and pastries that can be taken away. S and I couldn’t resist trying some of her pineapple tarts. They were so good — seriously, the best I have had in years — we could not resist buying back a pretty large box for our colleagues.

So, the next time you’re craving some good, home-cooked Eurasian food (or if you’ve never had it before and are now curious), be sure to think of Mary’s Kafe.

Mary’s Kafe
#01-07, SCWO Centre
96 Waterloo Street
Singapore
Open 1030am – 5pm Monday – Friday

Posted using the new Mini HP 1000.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. P.A. Moed January 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    I’ve just sent your blog to a friend who’s moving to Singapore. I wish I could visit too to try some of the wonderful restaurants that you review here on your blog! Thanks.

  2. Pete January 9, 2009 at 11:30 am

    You’re right – I’m upset ;-) I’ve been going to Mary’s Cafe for ages – she cooks up the BEST beef Smore in Singapore. And we’ve been keeping it a secret. Now, thanks to you, I’m going to have to fight for seats with a whole new bunch of devotees.

  3. stephen January 14, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    article read using my old but reliable Thinkpad T40 ;) I like ur website. Thanks for all the contributions!

  4. Ashley January 21, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    On one hand I’m excited at the thought of sharing this secret cafe with the rest of Singapore… But on the other hand, I’m hoping that it’ll still remain small and quaint… That’s what attracted me to the place (besides the fab food of course)…

  5. Chris April 3, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I was at Mary’s today and overheard on the way out that she’s moving out of the current premises over to a church sometime in July… Anyone has a clue on where she’s heading to?

  6. Michelle April 5, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Apparently her lease is ending/ended. Last heard she is moving to the cafe space at Kam Yan Church (Not sure if spelling is right), its on Queen Street, in July after her 1 month holiday in Europe. She was in negotiations on the lease the last time i spoke to her. The new space is fully air-cond and is supposedly much larger AND closer to the street (more visible)

  7. Michelle April 20, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I promised Mary that would post this.
    She is packing up at SCWO end May (a couple of days left!) and will move in at Kam Yan Church (1 Queen Street, next to 8Qsam) in July.

  8. Ivy June 1, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Hoiiii, why you write about Mary’s Kafe? Why? Why? Now sure don’t have any more seats at lunchtime!

  9. Stella Wong January 6, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    pls tell me where has Mary moved to? I want to try the tarts.

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