Tucked away in the heart of Haji Lane is a really interesting Malaysian café that offers you your selfie printed on the froth of your drink.
Yes, we are serious. You get to drink your own picture.
And a pretty good quality print, too, I must add.
What is this fascination of ours with selfies? I admit … I’m perplexed. Data on the web suggests that a staggering 93 million selfies are taken worldwide each day. The human desire for pictorial representations of the self apparently goes all the way back 4000 years, when humans dipped their hands in paint and made prints on cave walls. It can be argued that the selfie is simply an evolution of the need for approval and self-affirmation of social animals like human beings.
We humans love to look at ourselves! People naturally glance at a mirror if there is one nearby, wanting to ensure they look good. At the same time, we pay more attention to a person’s face than anything else about them, both online and off. As per data from Facebook and Instagram, we appreciate seeing a human face more than any other visual content.
Combine this with the human love for control, and selfie-craze makes perfect sense. The amazing front-facing camera in smart phones allows us to take our pictures exactly like we want them to turn out! And that, too, on our own, and as many as we want at a time. Bring photo editing software into the equation, and we can manipulate lighting and angles to look like a movie star.
Need we say anything more to understand our love for selfies?
Back to the cafe in the beautiful Haji Lane of Kampong Glam filled with candy-coloured shophouses and intriguing murals. The interesting history of this area is that it provided shelter to pilgrims to Mecca in the 1960s and ’70s; hence the name. Haji is the Arabic word for pilgrim.
The place is easy to get to, with bus stops close by and Bugis MRT station a 5-minute walk away. While there are many parking lots in the Kampong Glam area, parking can be difficult at peak times.
From the exterior, the unit looks inviting, with outdoor seating perfect for an evening of enjoying the hustle and bustle of the lane. The first floor is a small kitchen-and-counter area. Fitting the typical artsy hipster style of Haji Lane, the menu is written on a black wall, and offers a decent array of cakes and drinks.
The overall ambience of the place is pleasant. It was quiet with only one other customer when we went on a weekday afternoon. The wooden staircase is interesting, and at the end of it, there is a little space decorated with a pink flamingo behind a glass window. There are several pieces of artwork and quotes on the walls, and the cafe has plenty of artificial plants (and even artificial animals).
We got busy taking photos.
We ordered the Frappe drinks – the Signature Coffee, the Mocha and Matcha (the cold drinks are recommended because the picture lasts longer on the foam). Staff provided us a phone to take the selfie on. The selfie came printed as frosting on the foam of the drinks. There were 4 of us, and the excitement was phenomenal – all the photo-snapping of us dreading the use of the straw to disintegrate the image; all of us taking pictures of the picture! To accompany our drinks we ordered the Ice Cream Partha, Red Velvet Lava Cake and Tiramisu. With all the excitement, I had high expectations from the food and drinks.
Unfortunately, my expectations were not quite met in terms of taste. The Signature Coffee was too weak, and the Matcha too sweet, though decent in flavour. The Mocha was nothing great to write home about. The foam on the drink was a very thick layer of cream which I was very tempted to drink but decided against, thinking of the calories!
The Ice Cream Partha, a novel concept in a pretty presentation, was a challenge to cut with the knife. The Partha was like a dry rubbery puff pastry, and the vanilla ice cream was ordinary. The Red Lava cake could have been better – the centre did flow when cut but it tasted of uncooked batter.
The Tiramisu, which I was most excited about because it was a non-alcoholic version, which is difficult to find, was served right out of the freezer, with icicles formed inside, biting the tongue. It would have tasted better had it been taken out of the freezer some time before serving.
The drinks and desserts were mediocre, to say the least. We did not order any savoury items so we don’t know if those might be a saving grace for the cafe. While the food items were reasonably priced, the Frappes were expensive. All that aside, the experience of the Selfie On the Drink does merit a visit to the cafe. All my friends were super amazed when I shared the pictures with them.
So, my verdict is to manage expectations tremendously with regards to food, but enjoy the selfie experience to the max.
Address: 11 Haji Lane Singapore 189204 | Tel: 6341 7212 | Opening Hours: 11.30am to 11pm daily