I remembered that when the Hong Kong Cafes craze just started, C Nai was one of the forerunners that made headlines with its true-to-the-origin cooking and late opening hours. So when I saw their new express outlet at Far East Plaza with some of my favourite cafe food on the menu, I gotta give it a try!
Taking over the previous tenant of Gelare, furnishings were decked in cheerful red and yellow with choices of booth seats at the side. Payment was made upfront upon ordering at the counter, while you get a number and self-collect your food when its ready. Not an issue since they don't charge for service, but can be rather troublesome if the place gets more crowded.
Iced Milk Tea ($2.50), Yuan Yang ($1.80)
As always, start with the basic! Sad to say, the milk tea was just, fail. Overly sweetened, it bore more resemblance to Taiwanese bubble tea (but not even close to the good ones either) than a HK-style one. Even Full House right opposite can do a much better job!
Proportion of Yuan Yang didn't feel 50/50 as milk overpowered the taste of coffee. While I didn't try the Lemon Tea, I was told by a friend that it wasn't as good as before either.
Curry Beef Brisket Rice ($7.80), Macau Pork Bun ($5.80)
I have been dying to get my hands on some good ol curry beef brisket in Singapore, and previously only (surprisingly, of all places) Tampopo managed to do it well. The rendition here was rather good with tender cubes that had thin rims of fats, though the curry sauce had been adjusted to local palate, being more spicy and not quite what I was hoping for. The egg seemed to be rather out of place, acting as an overdone topping to make the rice bowl more filling.
Pork chop was juicy and well-marinated, though I wished it came in a more generous portion to complement the thick bun!
XO Fried Carrot Cake ($5.50)
Finally, something with no complaints! The neatly diced carrot cakes were fried upon order, retaining a crispy coating with soft, chewy interior. Their XO sauce was also nicely done, giving that bit of savoury kick while didn't make me break out in sweats. Serves as a good sharing snack!
Bill for two was $25 after GST only. More misses than hits really, but given that they had just started business, I can close one eye to let them sort out the QC before giving it another try. On a side note, I think I saw a Cafe De Coral logo on one of the units undergoing renovations. Keeping my fingers crossed!
C Nai Hong Kong Cafe Express #01-23 Far East Plaza