Hello Kitty Cafe Orchid Garden, T3 Changi Airport
To all of my new followers, let me start off by saying that I have a bias towards Hello Kitty as it has always been my favourite Sanrio character. And for those of you expecting a glowing review of anything Hello Kitty, I am sorry to disappoint. In fact, I believe I am far more critical of anything Hello Kitty as a fan.
So let me get started by saying that when I first saw the cafe, I was very underwhelmed. I cannot believe that people started queuing hours before this cafe opened. I expected it to be a lot bigger. The shop doesn't really inspire me to shop much - unlike the Bangkok outlet, which had me pulling out my credit card and personifying the "shut up and take my money" meme in extreme exaggeration.
Of course the shop is very cute with all the Hello Kitty things on display in a Hello Kitty cutout display... But postcards, weird teas and seeds?! What kind of combination is that, even?! I would never send out the postcards or display them. They would end up in my shrine somewhere, collecting dust. Since I decided I wasn't going to collect useless things anymore, it wouldn't have fit in. I love tea. Give me a good chai, masala, Earl Grey, chamomile, I can appreciate it. But what on God's earth is Strawberry Marshmallow tea?! The Queen would be appalled. And let's not forget that Hello Kitty is an English girl.
Does strawberry marshmallow sound remotely English to you? NO. It doesn't. It is some bastardised, Americanised crap they claim is tea, but really, is piss. Okay, that was a bit harsh. I actually drank the whole pot and it was fairly reminiscent of cough syrup. I have never tasted piss. So, that wasn't a fair comparison.
The other tea option was Apple Pie. It smelled sickly sweet and I wasn't in the mood to have yet another dessert tea so I passed on that.
As you can see, queuing is a sport Singaporeans love. I stood there for 1.5 hours with my friends but didn't feel so bad about it because we had queued for 2.5 to eat at Hai Di Lao the night before. Don't even get me started on that. But yes, a 1.5 wait in the queue outside this tiny cafe that can maybe seat 50 people at a time. And because they were going with a minimalist, classy, orchid garden themed interior, it isn't as though we could have taken a lot of shots from the outside.
Not that there was much to shoot inside the cafe either.
And let me go on a short tirade here about her bows. BOWS. Two of them. Not one, as she was classically designed to have. Yuko Yamaguchi, do you approve of this shit?! Okay, I think I am just too traditionalist in thinking that Hello Kitty should look a certain way and not have this ridiculously large and in-your-face bow on top of her head and then one more on top of that. And where the hell did her wink come from? Hello Kitty was originally designed without a mouth so that everyone around the world could project their feelings onto her and she would reflect whatever they are feeling.
Now when I look at her in this cafe, I feel like I need to wink and feel slightly sexy... which is wrong because she is a little girl and it is just NOT RIGHT. It is just a little too suggestive. They might as well have added some cleavage while they were at it.
Okay, enough shaming. I actually still liked the cafe overall. I just feel like it could have been bigger and designed a bit better... The furniture was great and fit into the theme very well. But if you look at previous pictures and you can see random posters at the back, plastered on diagonally as though it has been done by a kid... If they were going for a classy, grown up, modern look, the posters just ruined it all.
But! If you are coming just for food (LOL YEAH RIGHT, queue for 1.5 hours for just the food?!), it is by far the best food I have ever tasted in a Hello Kitty cafe. I have visited the ones in KL, Bangkok, Taiwan and now, the one in Singapore. And Singapore has managed to surpass the standards of all the other Hello Kitty cafes in terms of food.
I had very low expectations going into the cafe to eat because I knew from my previous experiences that it would be at best, slightly below average. But the food here, it was hovering above average.
I was in the mood for pasta. Even though I saw someone ordering it while I was queuing outside and I knew that it would not be Hello Kitty-fied, I just wanted to try it. Not everything has to be Hello Kitty to be good...
The Land of the Rising Kitty (the names could use some help, just like me lol checking into the mental hospital now bye) is actually not too bad a dish. The teriyaki chicken is actually very tender and soft on the inside, cooked perfectly and seasoned very well. And the pasta, despite its colour, carried the makings of a great aglio olio. If you look very closely, my pasta had a Hello Kitty shaped carrot, which kind of looked like an upside down car...
A point to note is that food is served very quickly here at the cafe, I suppose to accommodate the crazy long queues.
Estee ordered a beef rendang with rice - something local. The rice came shaped in a Hello Kitty head, the very least they could do to Kittyfy the whole thing. Estee was also pleasantly surprised that her dish tasted quite good. I know the CEO of the group that owns this restaurant wanted the food to stand out alongside the catgirlcharacterthing. And they have done a decent job of that here. But how long can it last, I ask very skeptically...
We also ordered a side of nachos to share. I was a bit disappointed that only ONE nacho had her damn face printed on it. I happily ate it. The nachos were a little oily, but the cheese dip was actually not too bad. Just be sure you limit your photo taking to a few minutes as the cheese is always best consumed hot.
Estee's other half was around so we could order more... He had a lovely crusted fish that he also said wasn't too bad but as you can see, it isn't very Hello Kitty... Also, maybe they could have given us serviettes with Hello Kitty on them?!
Erm, I was craving fries (don't judge me, I was eating clean for so damn long, I deserved a cheat!). Nothing special about it. It came in a metal tin with a printed Hello Kitty sticker on the side. I think if you really want Hello Kitty looking food, you would have to go for the waffles and perhaps the desserts.
The drinks were not too bad. I have already ranted about my pink tea... but Estee and her partner ordered a speculoos latte (what the hell is this food trend anyway!) and a refreshing cucumber soda. I think overall, the dining experience here isn't too bad. Service is fast and there are sufficient waiters around. But the design is a little too subtle for my liking.
Hello Kitty Orchid Garden Cafe @ Changi Airport T3 Open daily 24 hours