Author: Sassy Eater.
40 Hands Cafe is not a newbie in the hustle and bustle of specialty coffee cafes in Singapore. What I can recall, it is one of the pioneer cafes that triggered off this whole cafe craze we are experiencing today. Since it’s debut in 2010, this cafe has been doing very well all these years. You’ve no idea the commiseration I have towards cafes that open and shut within a year. Yes, the Food&Beverage industry here in Singapore is that tough, so kudos to 40 Hands for staying afloat!
Despite the fact that the Forty Hands founder opened another gorgeous coffee joint, Common Man Coffee Roasters (check out another review of mine) it doesn’t affect the regulars who come here, due to different concept, different ambience and totally different menu.
The 40 Hands name was inspired from the fact that an average of 40 hands are required in the production of coffee, from the initial process of planting coffee seeds to the end product of a delicious and aromatic fresh brew.
Forty Hands, being tucked away in the once quiet Yong Siak Street, is kind of difficult to find with lots of lanes and streets in the neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru, especially for non Singapore residents. The nearest (not too near, I must say) MRT station is Tiong Bahru station where you should disembark the train there and you have to walk about 10-15 minutes to the residential area, until you finally hit the stretch of an area with cafes, cute little book shops, bakeries, funky homeware stores, and quaint places that sell unique items.
The entrance of 40 Hands is so tiny and from the road, it is blocked by the pillar so if you are not observant enough, you are likely to miss it.
Once you step into Forty Hands, the rich irresistible coffee aroma will engulf you. The shiny tri-coloured white, red and navy tiles, looks more polished than ever. If you’re tired of minimalist interiors and cement floors from lots of typical pictures of food bloggers in instagram, you may appreciate the solid wood floors and ceiling here.
There is indoor and outdoor seating. The indoor seating was rather cramped especially when 40 Hands is busy during weekends, expect to brush some shoulders trying to make your way through. And it happened quite a lot since food and drink have to be ordered at the counter. The outdoor seating was a a covered courtyard, downstairs at the backside of 40 Hands with industrial vibe, with naked pipes on one side of the unpolished wall and mural painting on the other side. Be prepared for the Singapore warm weather as the outdoor seating wasn’t air conditioned.
Food menu has variety & creativity. You can choose their Eggs Benedict served with Juicy Steak ($18) or with Organic Bacon and Sautéed Baby Spinach ($17). Both comes with side of spicy roasted potatoes. We chose the latter one. The Eggs Benedict was tasty and well cooked. The eggs were beautifully poached, just like those at Common Man Coffee Roasters, and the spicy potatoes cooked with sun-dried tomatoes were so addictively good, they deserve a solo spot in the menu.
The breakfast menu that never fails me every time I come here is Kong Bak Pau (Asian Sliders) $7.50 for a set of two and $10 for a set of three, which is steamed buns with braised pork in soya sauce. The seasoned pork was simply succulent. They must have painstakingly braised it for long hours. The steamed buns were light (in terms of density), fluffy and smooth in texture. The skin of the bun was good in the sense it didn’t stick to my teeth. It may seem strange to match the Kong Bak Pau with the western coffee, but apparently they worked together very well, at least for me (Hot buns and porky make Sassy Eater ho**y).
If you are not into pork, you can try their famous Tau Sar Pau ($2.50), Forty Hands version of red bean paste bun with the same feature for the steamed bun, light, fluffy and soft.
The 40 Hands Cubanos ($18) which consisted of Mojo pork, honey-smoked ham, mayonnaise, jalapeños, and cheese on crusty Tiong Bahru Bakery baguette, sounded intriguing on the menu, but arrived looking less interesting, and tasting rather uneventful. Though this menu may be a slight miss for me, I wouldn’t consider it as one as others may like it.
For a touch of local flavour, go for their Ondeh Ondeh and Chendol Cupcake ($4.50). The former was unfortunately sold when I was there, so I ordered the latter. It was a dense cupcake that has a strong chendol fragrance to it. It’s a very interesting take on cupcake by incorporating the elements of chendol into it. Creative yet still delicious.
The coffee beans are from Common Man Coffee Roasters‘ Espresso Blend, so the character of the coffee is similar too. From my several visits to Forty Hands, I always came with different coffee-lover-friends of mine. I usually had the Mocha ($6.50) which was very good, richly fragrant and well balanced in terms of sweetness. Once my friend had the Piccolo Latte ($5) which he claimed was very strong with a tad of a sour finish. I can see this type of coffee being loved by some, and disliked by others. It really depends on what kind of coffee you fancy. But most agreed with me that the coffee here had a beautiful roast, depth of flavour, and nicely done latte art.
From my many visits here, their food and service had been consistent and good.
40 Hands is a cafe that does not rest on its laurels. It’s the spirit of constantly innovating, optimizing and change in Forty Hands that shows their respect for consumer tastes for hearty, good quality food.
Five years now, Forty Hands does certainly seem to have retained its glorious spot as one of the best cafes around. Having garnered a loyal following yet drawing hopping fans to its cafe, the new and improved menu are changes that potential customers will look forward to.
78 Yong Siak Street #01-12
+65 6225 8545
7.30 am – 5.30 pm