New Bukit Timah cafe Kara dishes out healthy grain bowls, gooey cheese toasties and mochi waffles

Grain bowls. Photo: Kara Cafe

COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Cafes in Singapore are aplenty. They come and go so often that we barely bat an eyelash when a new one sprouts up and an older one fades away. But here’s one that we hope will stick around: Kara Cafe & Dessert Bar.

Photo: Kara Cafe

A prettily-decorated space along Bukit Timah Road — it’d probably fit right in a Wes Anderson film — with pastel hues, warm lighting and wood furniture, the eatery is a new concept by froyo brand Sogurt. But don’t expect the usual line-up of eggs benny, pancakes, and burgers here; the menu takes inspiration from the owner’s travels, with an eclectic mix of Japanese, Thai, Korean, American and Mexican cuisines.

Plus, it’s got a good mix of healthy and indulgent items, making it an ideal suggestion for you to throw out in group chats consisting of healthy eaters and those who just wolf down everything in sight, calories be damned.

Photo: Kara Cafe

Grain bowls and gooey grilled cheese sandwiches take the spotlight, amongst a selection that includes small bites, salads, and soft-serve desserts. To start, order a plate of crispy Korean chicken wings ($13) slathered in a savory-sweet glaze made of honey, soy and garlic; or try the tater tots ($12) drenched in kewpie mayo, unagi sauce, truffle dressing and furikake. Both are kind of really addictive, just sayin’.

Korean wings. Photo: Kara Cafe
Okonomiyaki truffle tots. Photo: Kara Cafe

If you’re watching your diet, go for the superfood salad ($16) tossed with pumpkin, quinoa, berries, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and leafy greens, or get the sesame soba bowl ($14) with avocado, edamame and soba for a touch of carbs in your meal.

For those who’ve proudly earned the nickname of ‘rice bucket’ among your friends, you’ll be pleased to know that the grain bowls come in four types here: taco mexx chicken ($14) with chipotle salsa and avocado, coco cashew pomelo ($13) with coconut curry, black tofu and kale chips, tempura fish kimchi ($16) with the slightest hint of kimchi, and pork belly miso ($16) with fatty cubes of braised pork belly and ramen crisps. You can opt for garlic Japanese rice or quinoa salad as your base for any of the bowls.

Pork belly miso grain bowl. Photo: Kara Cafe

Otherwise, if you’re never one to say no to a slab of grilled cheese sandwich that’s crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, you’ll have to visit Kara Cafe a bunch of times to try the five sourdough options. There’s the good old classic grilled cheese ($10.50) that’s actually not so traditional ’cause it’s spread with a sweet pickle relish; the pepperoni salami with marinara herb sauce ($11.50); the truffle mushroom pesto with brie ($15); the smoky bacon and blue cheese with apple chutney ($15); and the open-faced shaved ham with creamy burrata ($17).

But like any cheese toastie, you’re bound to start feeling rather jelak after a couple bites, so think along the lines of ‘sharing is caring’.

Smoked bacon cheese toastie. Photo: Kara Cafe

Now for the desserts. The cafe’s mochi waffles ($12.50) offer a nice crunch on the outside while maintaining a chewy interior, and you can get ’em in flavors like matcha berry, red velvet, banana nutella and charcoal sesame. But for something that’ll really satisfy your sweet tooth, it’s gotta be either the s’mores skillet with dark chocolate softie swirl ($11.50) or the peanut butter cookie topped with speculoos softie swirl ($13). Just beware of the crash after your sugar high comes to an end.

Skillet peanut butter cookie. Photo: Kara Cafe
Cacao mochi waffle. Photo: Kara Cafe

Of course, since it’s a cafe by Sogurt, you can’t escape from the soft-serve ice cream and froyo machines in the back — they’ve got flavors like original, dark choc, maple lavender and strawberry thyme. As for the drinks, you’ll find the menu offers a standard selection of coffees and teas, alongside beverages like sparkling citrus ($5) and roselle iced tea ($5).

The soft-serve area. Photo: Kara Cafe

Kara Cafe & Dessert Bar is at 617 Bukit Timah Rd, 6468-8940. Daily 10.30am-10.30pm.

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