Along the quiet road that is Hong Kong Street (at least in the day), hiding amongst a variety of shop units, lies an unassuming set of glass doors. Unless you knew any better those doors would probably mean nothing; but push in and you'd be greeted by the bustling café that is Ronin.
A dimly-lit industrial setting with lots of woods, metal poles, and naked lightbulbs, Ronin oozes hipster. They have but just one wooden menu mounted on the wall - which doesn't state all that they offer - instead encouraging customers to interact with their friendly staff to find out more.
Hot and Iced Matcha Lattes ($5.50 each)
Hot, lightly sweetened steamed milk with a delicate froth, artfully poured over spoonfuls of match powder, results in this beautifully bittersweet matcha latte. A huge fan of matcha I've had my fair share of matcha lattes, and this is by far one of the - if not the - best in town. Perfecting the balance between that creamy milk, bitter matcha and tinge of sugar, their Matchatone is my must-order on every visit.
This aside, Ronin makes amazing coffee. Opened by the folks behing The Plain and The Bravery, the exceptional coffee comes as no surprise.
Dirty Ronin ($13) - Chorizo, gruyere, soft egg, miso mayo, lettuce
This HTC shot of the Dirty Ronin does no credit to its amazing flavours. Crisp bread, amazing spicy grilled chorizo, melted gruyere and a fried egg, this is my favourite of their panini offerings. I love the addition of chorizo that really gives the sandwich that extra kick. Now if only the yolks could be a tad runny...
'Big in Japan' Curry Rice ($15) - with slow cooked beef, daikon and carrots
For something heavier, Ronin's rendition of the Japanese curry rice is gobsmackingly delicious. Huge chunks of carrots and radishes, tender cubes of stewed beef, and just the right amont of rice. Mix it all up and that messy goodness makes for an amazing meal.
Scrambled eggs on toast, with portobello mushroom ($9, +$3.50)
3 slices of toast, well toasted (for the lack of a better word) and generously slathered with butter - perfect. A huge, wonderfully grilled cap of portobello mushroom, retaining its meaty bite while losing its shroomy liquid - perfect. Creamy, silky, deliciously well-seasoned scrambled eggs - beyond perfect. I join other netizens and foodies in declaring this the Holy Grail of all scrambled eggs.
That aside, other add-ons include bacon ($3.50), a pork or lamb sausage ($4), and avocado ($3). Having everything as a
Brioche French Toast ($14.50) - with braised apples, bacon, hazelnut butter and syrup
It's so awesome it deserves 2 pictures. Savoury-sweet has been the in-thing in recent years, and the classic french toast has too followed this food trend. I, however, have never tasted anything as remotely good as Ronin's. Fluffy eggy brioche, crisp salty bacon, hazelnut composed butter, sweet and soft braised apples - all doused in syrup. Absolutely delicious. Sweet and savoury, fluffy and crisp, Ronin nailed the balance between both flavours and textures. Yet another addition to my list of 'Best ofs'.
Ronin has every making of the hipster cafe: from woody quirky furnishings, to the big round communal table and its nondescript entrance. But beyond hipster, what it has is great food and coffee that walks the talk; and most importantly amazing people running it. If there's one thing Ronin has nailed, it's that very customer interaction and service. Their friendly staff are always chirpy and attentive, happily offering any assistance required. The boss Vincent always steps out to greet his customers, asking if they would like coffee before their food. Every visit there feels like a meeting with old friends. So they may not have the most extensive menu nor the best food in town, but they are my favourite café.
17 Hong Kong Street
Opens daily from 8am-8pm