COCONUTS HOT SPOT — There’s a small stretch of businesses in Serangoon — housing a Teochew porridge stall, a Korean BBQ joint, and a laksa steamboat eatery — where a playful new cafe stands out from its neighbors. We were immediately drawn to Scissors Paper Stove. Just look at it.
Things did get slightly overwhelming upon entering, though. Between the rainbow zigzag pattern on the walls, and the chairs and cushions in every available shade, our vision went into overdrive. But that’s not to say we didn’t love it — the prismatic space exuded a quirky, eclectic character of its own.
However, if you’re, like us, a bit wary of the current wave of (sometimes tacky) themed cafes that keep coming and going, we could see how your skepticism might be on high alert already. On top of that — here, they serve tapas with an Asian-influenced twist, which already had our guards up. (How many times have we all been disappointed by “Asian fusion tapas”?) Plus, they plate items in colorful tingkats (tiered lunch boxes). Is this all one big gimmick to distract us from the food itself?
But our skepticism was unnecessary. Hey, we can admit it — we got served: Turns out there’s no need to judge an eatery by its whimsical decor (or small, equally whimsical menu). The food was great.
Helmed by the same young couple who took over Fratini La Trattoria and whipped it into shape a couple years ago — Chomel Yang, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, and Januver Chow, bartender behind the cocktails — Scissors Paper Stove makes good on its promise to deliver tapas with Asian flavors. Dish after dish, nearly everything we sampled (except the not-so-tender Iberico pork belly, $11) was spot on. They even seemed to outdo each other with each new serving.
The grilled chorizo sausage with sauerkraut and house made spicy chilli jam ($11) had a nice kick to it, but the lemongrass-infused lamb kebab with a side of gorgeously charred roasted pumpkin ($11) — we couldn’t stop munching on (and we don’t even typically like lamb). Then came the juicy rosemary minced beef skewers with a Thai-style chili sauce ($11) that pretty much overshadowed all the others before it.
Also on the menu: a tropical rendition of sea bass ceviche ($11.50) with mango, dragonfruit, kiwi, and pappadum on the menu; calamari with zucchini, basil, and harissa mayo ($10.50); and pineapple chicken with roasted asparagus ($10). Should you decide to order a couple items to share, you can get two tapas for $20, four for $36, or six for $48.
But hold up, we’re not done here. Hearty mains at Scissors Paper Stove come in lavish portions made for sharing, and the meltingly tender red wine-braised beef cheek ($18) served on a bed of mash and roasted veggies is a great place to start.
Other options on the menu include meats like BBQ baby pork ribs ($16/one person, $28/two people), as well as the signature Spanish dish of paella ($20/one person, $36/two people). But if you’re up for something different, try the Cartafata ($28). It’s an aromatic bag of prawns, sea bass, and mussels that’s cooked simmering in herbs and spices like lemongrass, served with Thai yellow fried rice.
For dessert, the quivering pan of lemongrass panna cotta with lime ($4) makes for a zesty finale. But if you prefer to imbibe liquid calories, sip on the Tak Kiu Peng ($12) — it’s a sweet grown-up version of Milo Dinosaur, with said malt drink, vodka, and amaretto.
Otherwise, the Nim Jiom ($13) is a lighter, more refreshing option made of bourbon, pei pa koa (cough syrup), lemon, honey, and mint. It’s not the most stiff of cocktails, but at the very least, you’ll leave the cafe with a soothed throat (and a satisfied stomach).
Scissors Paper Stove is at 9 Teck Chye Terrace, 6242-0021. Daily noon-midnight.