The Prix Emile Hermès is back this year. If you’re unfamiliar with what...
I'm unofficially calling Maison Ikkoku the August Man establishment because this three-in-one concept embodies the few things we love in life - good coffee (we don't count weak, bland brews at Coffee Bean) in their ground floor cafe, an exclusive multi-label menswear boutique on the second floor and a semi-alfresco cocktail bar right on top, slated to open in the middle of next month.
Newfangled cafes are giving old breeds like Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Dome a run for their money because hipsters and arty types alike are venturing further and further into obscure suburban areas for their coffee fix. It's a first world problem of allowing yourself to be seen by the right people at a certain place, and the less others know about it, the better. What could once be described as unconventional in terms of design - think bare floors, industrial-themed lighting or stuffed with vintage knick-knacks - is now in a new world of prevalence. And upcoming start-ups have to rack their brains for even more.
A cafe can't just be a cafe any longer - it needs to be shrouded in rad packaging, and that's exactly what Maison Ikkoku is about. Located in the fashionable Haji Lane district, the 4000 square feet, three-storey shophouse on Kandahar Street has been opened less than eight weeks but has already hooked a loyal following in the evenings and the weekends.
Started by two husband-and-wife couples, Thomas Ho & Janice Ong and Franz Chua & Shanie Teoh, Maison Ikkoku's decor is defined by an interesting use of raw and polished fixtures, such as white-painted brick walls, exposed copper piping and weathered doors of cupboards reused as cafe table tops. My favourite part was how they decided to use the bottom half of shelves as a design feature. These wooden shelves are placed right below the ceiling and it looks like the other upper half of the same shelf connects on the floor above.
"We were inspired by the quaint and trendy boutique-cafes from our frequent travels to Tokyo and felt that there is an opportunity to offer such a cafe-retail-bar concept here, especially with the increasing interest in artisanal coffee joints as well as the rise in the sophistication of fashion knowledge of discerning male shoppers in Singapore," says Thomas on his decision to open Maison Ikkoku.
It's a consensual obsession for us. Here's what you can expect, storey by storey.
Maison Ikkoku's ground floor serves artisanal coffees brewed using four different methods - filtered, french-press, drip and syphon - with coffee beans from Brazil and Ethiopia roasted weekly by their own baristas, who were trained by Japanese celebrity barista and latte art specialist Hiroshi Sawada.
If you're looking for a little filler to go with that warm latte, order their MI Musubi ($3), a traditional Japanese snack of Japanese short grain rice with seasoning and luncheon meat or their MI Pork Bun ($3.90), affectionately known to us as Kong Bak Bao, stuffed with home-made stewed pork belly.
The multi-label menswear boutique on the second floor has brilliant offerings from Japan, France, USA and the UK. They bring in few key pieces from each collection at a time, making the range limited to its buyer and the space easy to navigate. We spied on their racks Deluxe, Discovered, Hobo, Kuro and Lad Musician from Japan; Industry Of All Nations, Miansai and Publish from the USA; Lucien, Teddyfish and Twins For Peace from France and Orlebar Brown from the UK.
On the third floor is the perfect place to unwind on a weeknight - Maison Ikkoku's semi-alfresco cocktail bar serves up a whole range of drinks, including delicious coffee-cocktail concoctions and light bites. While your evening away peering at the crowds below, if it gets our nod of approval, it should yours as well.
Maison Ikkoku, 20 Kandahar Street, +65 6294 0078
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