Aria (Cafe)

June 05, 2015 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Aria (Cafe)
8 Somapah Road
#01-204 Building 2
Singapore University Of Technology And Design (SUTD) Changi Campus


Opening Hours:
Mon - Thu: 10am - 10pm
Fri - Sat: 10am - 2am
Closed Sun



http://www.aria-sg.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Aria.Foodmusicarts


This was an invited media review. We paid a discounted rate for our meal here. Promotion details at end of blog post.


Eye-Catching Art, Live Music, And Modern Southeast Asian Cuisine

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 7
Ambience & Setting: 9
Food & Beverage: 6
Service: 8
Value for Money: 8
Spent about SGD $19 per person.


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Opening its doors in May 2015, within the brand new Singapore University Of Technology And Design (SUTD) campus next to the Singapore Expo, Aria (Cafe) is posed to be at the center of a creative pool of talent. Named after the Italian term for an expressive melody, and positioned as a place where art, music, a cheerful atmosphere, and affordable cafe food meet, Aria (Cafe) is a great place for relaxing.

Gourmet Coffee



Ambience at Aria (Cafe) is eclectic. Vibrant, eye catching murals / paintings by Singaporean graffiti artist Ceno2 adorn the walls and floor. A mix of furniture abounds, wide functional wooden benches, colourful modern plastic chairs, plush comfortable easy chairs, and reclining sofas. Natural lighting mixes with ambient decorative lighting fixtures. A foosball table / table soccer stands at the play area, along with a large screen television, and colourful bean bags. A live band stage has space for performances. Overall, a fantastic ambience, perfect for relaxing.

Aria (Cafe) Signage


Aria (Cafe) Contact


Aria (Cafe) Exterior


Aria (Cafe) Interior



Service at Aria (Cafe) is outstanding. The primarily Malay and Chinese (all Singaporean) staff here are friendly and chill, and will go around and speak to diners, as well as enquire for feedback on your experience here. You can even engage the pastry chef or baristas in conversation! Rather efficient, staff will also clear / turnover empty / dirty tables quickly. Food is also served quite fast, within less than 10 minutes. Staff are knowledgable enough to make recommendations, and are quite clear about ingredients that comprise the food or desserts. Overall pleasant, engaging service here, the kind that makes you want to come back.

Seating & Dining Area


Band Area


Beanie Bag & Play Area


Cashier Counter & Dessert Counter



Food at Aria (Cafe) is modern Western, with Southeast Asian influences. A fusion of American, Italian, Thai, and Malay cuisine, the menu here is extensive enough for repeat visits. All ingredients used to make the food and desserts here are halal, and the kitchen is staffed by Malay / Muslim staff, however, Aria (Cafe) is not halal certified, because the owners want to serve beer and wine on the premises. Dishes are designed for students, meaning large, substantial portions, at very affordable prices. Budget about SGD $19 per person for a 2-course meal (main course, drink, appetizer or dessert) here.

Paintings & Artwork By Singaporean Graffiti Artist Ceno2


Comfy Chair


Foosball Table


Lava Lamp & Window Blinds


Mask


Blame Ninjas



As Aria (Cafe) is open to all members of the public, the owners have chosen to forego the Halal certification (the food is still Halal) in favour of having beer and wine on the premises. Beer Meine Blonde Weisse (SGD $12) has a light honey golden colour, an aroma of clove and banana, frothy off-white foam head, and a taste that is refreshing and lingering with a light sweetness. Beer Weihenstephan Original Lager (SGD $12) has a light golden yellow colour, an aroma of malt and grains, with a frothy off-white foam head, and a taste that is mildly hoppy with hints of spice, moderate sweetness and bitterness. Cider Woodchuck Hard Cider Apple (SGD $10) is a refreshing beverage with a decent taste of apples, good sweetness with slight mild bitterness.

Beer Meine Blonde Weisse (SGD $12)


Beer Weihenstephan Original Lager (SGD $12)


Cider Woodchuck Hard Cider Apple (SGD $10)



Loved the Bonfire Hot Chocolate (SGD $5)! Italian dark chocolate is used, and while the texture is a little thinner than I like, the flavour is pretty good. What causes this to stand out are the torched marshmallows and chocolate powder garnish, the gooey marshmallows are comforting yet decadent, like a big warm hug! Highly recommended!

Bonfire Hot Chocolate (SGD $5)



The coffee here, including the Cappucino (SGD $3.50) and Latte (SGD $3.50), is strong and robust, with good flavour. I understand the coffee beans used here are sourced from TransZ Coffee, a Singaporean roaster! Portion is typical cafe size mugs, but the price is almost half of what you'll pay elsewhere! In fact, this is probably among the cheapest gourmet coffee you'll get in Singapore! Highly recommended!

Cappucino (SGD $3.50)


Cappucino


Latte (SGD $3.50)


Latte



The Thai Iced Tea (SGD $5) here is decent, with a good solid taste of tea, and the condensed milk is just the right amount so that you get a little sweetness and the colour, without it being overly sweet. An average beverage, decent enough to order.

Thai Iced Tea (SGD $5)



They have 2 versions of the Vietnamese Drip Coffee (SGD $4.50) here, the powdered instant version (which I feel is not worth getting), and the traditional drip version, which is decent. The drip version coffee is extremely fragrant, with the essence of floral vanilla! Taste is pretty good, though the texture is a little thin, but this is worth ordering.

Vietnamese Drip Coffee (SGD $4.50)



The Mango Coconut Milkshake (SGD $5.90) wasn't too great, as the texture was a little like drinking melted ice cream, instead of a milkshake. Taste of the mango was strong and sweet, overwhelming the much milder taste of coconut. I didn't like it.

Mango Coconut Milkshake (SGD $5.90)



Update 10-Jun-2015: So we had a rather hilarious situation happen on this visit. A colleague ordered 'Doppio', which everyone heard as 'Kopi-O'. To the staff's credit, they did make a cup of 'Kopi-O' for my colleague, even though it's not on the menu, serving him instead a modified Americano / Long Black. And while the rest of us were laughing at our colleague for ordering 'Kopi-O' in a cafe, I must commend the staff for not batting an eye even though they must have found the request to be unusual.

Kopi-O Not Doppio



The Truffle Fries (SGD $5.90) are hand cut on premises, a generous portion of thickly sliced, steakhouse style English chips. Tossed in a light truffle oil, the fries are fragrant, and have solid potato flavour. Served with a tangy, slightly spicy chili mayonnaise dip. Worth ordering!

Truffle Fries (SGD $5.90)



Loved the Chili Con Carne With Fries (SGD $7.90)! The thickly sliced, steakhouse style English chips are topped with a generous portion of house special beef chili, made with marinated and spiced minced beef, kidney beans, onions, jalapeno peppers, and nacho cheese sauce. The sauce is meaty, savoury, and utterly delicious. Very good!

Chili Con Carne With Fries (SGD $7.90)


Chili Con Carne With Fries



While the Thai Beef Salad (SGD $8.90) is a good salad / appetizer / main course on its own, it doesn't exactly live up to the description of its name. A generous portion of fresh wild arugula, tossed with juicy cherry tomatoes, crunchy bean sprouts, sour green mango slices, sharp onions, savoury thin sliced grilled beef, and dressed with crushed peanuts and a sweet Thai chili sauce. The textures are distinctly Thai, but the flavour tends to be more sweet and savoury, rather than well balanced and equal. Still, it's a very good dish on its own, worth ordering!

Thai Beef Salad (SGD $8.90)


Thai Beef Salad



The best thing about the Smoked Salmon Sandwich (SGD $7.90) is the well grilled, crisp toasted French loaf bread. The actual smoked salmon is the store bought version, decent, but not outstanding. I like the use of sliced gherkins, which lends a nice sour tangy taste, but the delicate ricotta cheese spread was overwhelmed by the other flavours. An average sandwich, decent enough to order.

Smoked Salmon Sandwich (SGD $7.90)



The Phillys Pulled Beef Sandwich (SGD $7.90) is possibly the best dish here! Fork tender, marinated braised pulled beef with onions, incredibly soft and so flavourful, on a soft, buttered and toasted French loaf bread, drizzled with savoury barbecue sauce, and topped with red cheddar. Incredibly tasty, a must try here. Highly recommended!

Phillys Pulled Beef Sandwich (SGD $7.90)


Phillys Pulled Beef Sandwich



The Chicken Rendang Pasta (SGD $8.90) is a novel idea that falls flat on execution. Macaroni, chicken strips, and cherry tomatoes are sauteed with onions in a rendang gravy. Sounds great, but the taste is way off... the chicken strips are dry, and the rendang gravy is more sweet and mild, instead of being bold, deep, and savoury. Seems to lack spices, as it's more chicken tomato paste gravy than a full flavoured rendang. I hear this experimental receipe is still being tweaked, so it's possible that it'll be improved. For this visit though, I didn't like it.

Chicken Rendang Pasta (SGD $8.90)


Update 10-Jun-2015: Chef has improved upon the recipe for the Chicken Rendang Pasta. Now, at least the savoury, deep flavour of rendang is present, making this dish edible. They've also added on a begedil / fried potato patty, which makes this even better value for money.

Chicken Rendang Pasta



The Coconut Cake (SGD $5.90) is very good! A soft, moist vanilla sponge cake encases tender coconut meat, with a fragrant, light pandan / screwpine leaf cream on top. Coated with coconut flakes which lend texture, the cake has a nice sweetness, with the floral, nutty essence of coconut taking the center stage. Highly recommended!

Coconut Cake (SGD $5.90)


Coconut Cake



The Rocky Road Pound Cake (SGD $5.90) is a chocolate lover's dream. A soft, moist dark chocolate cake, rich and deep in flavour, baked with dried fruits which lend a slight fruity taste, topped with gooey torched marshmallows. Rich, sweet, decadent, this was recommended by the staff, and it didn't disappoint. Good dessert worth ordering!

Rocky Road Pound Cake (SGD $5.90)


Rocky Road Pound Cake



The Red Velvet Cake (SGD $5.90) is good, with a moist, soft texture, and a nice vanilla taste. The cream cheese frosting is somewhat lacking though, not as rich or creamy as I would like, knocking this dessert down into the decent category. Not really worth it.

Red Velvet Cake (SGD $5.90)


Red Velvet Cake



The Banana Date Pudding (SGD $5.90) was pretty good, with a soft, fluffy, moist sponge cake base, strong with the sweet essence of banana. Top it with your choice of Strawberry Compote, Butterscotch Sauce, Toffee Sauce, personally, I prefer either the default butterscotch sauce, or the strawberry compote. Good dessert, worth ordering!

Banana Date Pudding (SGD $5.90)


Strawberry Compote, Butterscotch Sauce, Toffee Sauce



The description for the Nutella Brownie (SGD $5.90) is spot on; a dense and rich chocolate brownie, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. While my friends loved it, I personally felt it was a little firm, and too sweet, for my liking.

Nutella Brownie (SGD $5.90)



The Beef Ramly Burger (SGD $8.90) seems incorrectly named, because it's nowhere close to a typical Malaysian ramly burger. However, this hearty burger is still decent enough on its own, with a large, crisp, buttered toasted burger buns, a juicy slice of tomato, a fluffy egg omelette, and a huge beef patty, hand formed. The only drawback is the size of the patty means the center is rather dry.

Beef Ramly Burger (SGD $8.90)


Beef Ramly Burger


Beef Ramly Burger



Catch live music performances every Monday night, Friday night, and Saturday night! As well as the monthly art showcase!

Aria (Cafe) Events



Overall, Aria (Cafe) is a great place for snacks, desserts, and drinks, while relaxing and enjoying the art / music ambience. Staff are friendly enough, and make you feel welcome. Could be even better, if they work on improving their main courses. I will return again to Aria (Cafe) for more!


For all followers of my blog, Aria (Cafe) is extending a promotion: From now till 29 August 2015, simply show this blog post to enjoy a 10% discount off your bill. *Do note that this promotion is not exchangable for cash, and is not applicable with other ongoing promotions or discounts.


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Update Jun-2016: Almost 1 year on, and Aria (Cafe) looks to still be doing well, drawing a good size crowd most days. There's more seating space now, though they've since mostly done away with the weekly live band. Menu has also been paired down to popular items, but these are executed well. In particular, the dessert pastries have been revamped, and I find their dessert cakes to now be pretty good!

The Red Velvet Cake (SGD $5.90) has improved. Besides the now larger slice, the cake texture is moist, soft, and fluffy, with good flavour from the cream cheese. The dried cranberries on top still do little to enhance the overall flavour though. But it's now much better than before!

Red Velvet Cake (SGD $5.90)


Red Velvet Cake



The Ondeh-Ondeh Cake (SGD $5.90) is a spinoff from another dessert cake. This won approval from all of us, for its moist, soft, fluffy texture, and good flavour. Strong with fragrant pandan / screwpine leaf, earthy floral coconut, and sweet gula melaka / palm sugar jelly on top. Really rich, sweet, and decadent, best to spread the joy and share! Highly recommended!

Ondeh-Ondeh Cake (SGD $5.90)


Ondeh-Ondeh Cake



Felt the Almond Seed Chocolate Cake (SGD $5.90) is decent. Love the intense chocolate flavour and contrast of floral crunch from the almonds and pumpkin seeds on top. But the texture of the cake itself is rather dense, almost heavy like a brownie. Would be better if the texture was lighter and more moist.

Almond Seed Chocolate Cake (SGD $5.90)


Almond Seed Chocolate Cake






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