White-washed walls, wood furnishings, and floor-to-ceiling windows seem to be the ID norm of every recent café - such is the direction taken by month-old café-bar Five by Five. Formerly November 8, the now-defunct waffle café has been re-branded, re-located and re-opened as Five by Five. It now joins the already massive F&B conglomerate along Sin Ming, competing with the likes of Salted Caramel, Brownice and Habitat Coffee among others. Featuring an improved waffle recipe, better variety of beverages, and a brand new food menu, Five by Five seems set to reclaim the hearts of café-hoppers. Question is, would that fly well in the highly-saturated Upper Thomson district?
We visited one afternoon, barely a week after their opening and were surprised to find a pleasant stream of customers. First off: their drinks. Five by Five brews with the 22 Martin Blend supplied by Common Man Coffee Roasters, so expect a bold and full-bodied cuppa. My Long Black (S$4.50++) was a delight, boasting a wonderful balance between nutty and lightly fruitty aromas. Fans of matcha would be pleased to know they make a mean Japanese Matcha Latte (S$6++).
Classic Waffle topped with Ferrero Rocher & Pistachio
On to their waffles: Five by Five's Classic Waffles (S$6++) is improved from that served at November 8 and is, according to the owner, intended to boast more flavours and a buttery fragrance.
Indeed, their waffles did not disappoint. They were crisp on the outside, yet moist, eggy and super buttery on the insides. Think the waffles sold at HDB bakeries featuring a much crispier exterior - very much a cross between local and western dessert waffles. Not everyone would agree, but we found Five by Five's waffles maddeningly addictive. It may not be the best waffles, but it is by far one of the most texturally interesting ones with great flavours.
Classic Waffle topped with Coconut Taro, Thai Iced Tea, Salted Caramel
Besides the delicious waffles, Five by Five's extensive variety of enticing ice cream flavours is something else to look forward to. From the classic Peppermint and Chocolate Fudge, to more exotic Durian and Bubblegum, it's hard to not feel spoilt for choice. A scoop goes for S$4.20++ (deluxe)/S$4.80++ (premium). Of the flavours we tried, our favourites were the Salted Caramel and Coconut Taro, with Thai Milk Tea and Matcha Azuki coming in as close seconds.
Exceedingly creamy, the Salted Caramel boasted a strong dairy undertone, leaving a rich lingering taste that's hardly unpleasant. While it didn't fully hit the notes of a bittersweet caramel, the unique creaminess made it unforgettable. Coconut Taro has an intense coconut flavour, interlaced with beautifull purple albeit not too memorable yam. The Thai Milk Tea and Matcha were both delicious, nailing the flavours, though aggressively sweetened to the point of being excessive. Give the Ferrero Rocher a miss: lacking neither an intense chocolatey flavour nor a rich nuttiness, it tasted artificially unpleasant.
Japanese Beef Stew (S$18.50++) - Slow-cooked beef in Japanese curry with carrots, served with toast
One of the biggest changes from its predecessor is its new savoury food menu. Five by Five offers a short and concise menu, featuring several all-day breakfast items like 5by5 Breakfast (S$15.50++) and Salmon Florentine (S$16.50++), as well as heartier mains like Chicken Bleu (S$15.50++) and Miso Roasted Pork (S$16.50++). The Japanese Beef Stew we tried was essentially a simple Japanese curry with beef. Though the meat was tender and fairly flavourful, the portion was extremely small and certainly did not warrant the hefty pricetag. We can easily enjoy a hearty Japanese curry elsewhere at half the cost.
Portobello Beef Burger (S$15.50++) - Beef patty with portobello mushroom, bacon, honey ham, melted cheese, sunnyside egg, served with salad
Their Portobello Beef Burger fared tons better. The beef patty was juicy and well-seasoned, topped with an entire grilled portobello cap, bacon, ham, melted cheese and egg. All of that was held together by two fluffy and nicely toasted sesame buns. A simple and delicious burger, this was not a game changer, rather a simple burger done much better than expected. Our only gripe was the BBQ sauce they were a tad heavy-handed with.
Five by Five may only be into their first month of operation, but they are already gaining fans for their waffles and ice cream. While there are several good ice cream and dessert stores in the vicinity, we'd much rather head to Five by Five with its shorter queues and uniquely delish waffles. It's also a bonus that the café transforms into a laid back bar at night, offering beers on tap. What better way than to end a long day with some waffles and ice cream, and a beer in hand?
Five by Five
9 Sin Ming Rd
#01-03 Thomson V One
Closed on Tuesdays