I had the pleasure of visiting Olivia and Co. at their heartland branch at the Compass One mall in Sengkang. A delightful cafe with quaint pictures of cars on the walls, Olivia and Co. desires to provide the experience of travelling and eating through their diverse menu of cuisine from the East, West, and a fusion of both. Their menu is extensive: appetisers, desserts, main courses, and baked goods; the wide array of dishes and drinks means that there is something for everyone. It is a pity that one can only eat so much, and I only had the opportunity to partake in a select few dishes.
Uniquely, Olivia and Co. chose to pay special attention to their Thai fish cakes ($9+), ensuring that they are a standard above the usual store-bought ones found at cheap Thai food eateries. Their choice of fish is John dory fished from the sea instead of the cheaper Pangas farmed from the Mekong, which are usually produced unsustainably and unethically. I applaud not only their choice of fish, but also the tasteful result that comes from it: the thin crispy batter yielding to the firm yet not-too-springy meat could be described as an appetising fish croquette that goes well with the Thai sweet chili sauce.
To a Hokkien person like myself used to the kong ba pao (pork braised in black sauce in a bun), the Chicken Bao (choose any 2 for $10+) was a strange yet satisfying dish. The braised pork is swapped with chicken fried in a breaded batter, placed on a bed of lettuce and then drizzled with Thai-flavoured spicy mayo sauce. Served freshly prepared, I highly recommend having the pao quickly before the bun gets too soggy. Still, I wished for this dish to be spicier — it was so in its early days, but it was eventually toned down due to customer feedback.
We then move from the Orient to dishes of a more European persuasion. Fisherman’s Squid Ink Pasta ($18+), the chef confided in me, uses cuttlefish ink instead of the lighter hued squid ink. It’s supposed to provide a darker colour while tasting virtually the same. With a selection of squid rings, prawns, and mussels, this dish was certainly a pleasurable dish for any seafood pasta aficionado. The next time I have a squid ink pasta craving, I know where I can find a place that makes a really mean one.
While the Crispy Pork Confit ($19+) is decidedly German in origin, the sauces that come paired with it are more Southeast Asian in nature. The chef felt that the pork and crackling pork skin should be complemented with a trifecta of traditional sauces from Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. Nahm jim jaew (from Vietnam according to the chef), has a salty belachan-like flavour, while the Thai naam pla prik was a sweet and sour spicy fish sauce. The last sauce was a Filipino sauce (my personal favourite) whose name was not provided on the menu; it was made from a mix of light soy infused with plenty of chilies. All three sauces go well with the pork in different ways, and everyone at the table had a different favourite.
Some say that there is always a second stomach for dessert. If you go to Olivia and Co., there better be, because the restaurant serves up some of the prettiest and heartwarming ice-cream with waffles that I have ever seen. The Salted Caramel Waffle ($7.90+), was a clear winner in my book.
We also tried the Snorlax ($7.90+), a waffle sprinkled with a little berry compote, candied bacon pieces, honey, bananas, and their homemade peanut butter sauce. They named it the Snorlax (after the narcoleptic Pokémon) because the chefs anticipated that this dessert would induce a food coma in those who eat it.
It was tough, but I managed to stay conscious after the Snorlax to appreciate the beautifully prepared milkshakes and smoothies that Olivia and Co. had to offer. At the end of the day, it was clear that Olivia and Co.’s strong suit stands in their shakes, smoothies, and desserts. They come pretty on a plate, ready for your Instagrams and Snapchats. Who can resist beverages that look so good?
If you are already a fan of Olivia and Co. at Suntec City, their Sengkang branch should continue to please, especially if you live in the Northeast area. There’s a lot more to try such as their famous Black Forest Shrooms Burger ($19+) and other drinks with fun names such as Nuts about Nutelly ($9.50+). If you’re looking for a cafe that offers great desserts and intriguing fusion cuisine under one roof for the whole family, you can’t go wrong with Olivia and Company.
Thank you Olivia and Co. for the invitation.
Olivia and Co.
1 Sengkang Square
Reservations: 6337 2518
9am to 10pm (Compass One)