KARA Café & Dessert Bar is the new concept eatery that was developed from Sogurt, which has been tucked along the cosy stretch of family-friendly shops on Bukit Timah for the past seven years. Besides its popular self-served frozen yoghurt that has become synonymous with the brand, KARA now offers an eclectic menu of hot food and healthy eats, which also shows Sogurt’s transition into a more sophisticated level.
The metamorphosis from Sogurt to KARA is definitely a labour of love by the owner, Lee Li Ping, as she explained how she was inspired by her personal experiences of the vibrant food culture in Los Angeles while she was attending college as well as how she wanted a place where people across generations could come to relax, have a good meal and have meaningful connections.
KARA is a Hebrew word to mean to be at the right place at the right time, to chance upon divine encounters with the right people. It also means “love” or “beloved” in Italian, which is what Li Ping also wishes for the brand to encapsulate. “The birth of my new café concept is an amalgamation of the learning and hardship through the years and my own story of hope,” Li Ping states, “KARA is a reminder to myself to always return back to my child-like sense of wonder. To see beauty in nature and in the ‘ordinary’ moments, and rediscovering again the very simple things in life that truly make us come alive and filled with joy!”
This child-like wonder is also evident in the decor of the café, with really adorable characters on the stools and walls, instantly appealing to the young and young-at-heart.
Nonetheless, a café is only as good as the food it serves and KARA’s menu offers both food and sweet treats. The food was inspired by Li Ping’s travels and favourite cafés around the world, which is why KARA’s menu has many fusions of cuisines – Japanese, Korean, Thai, Mexican and American.
The trend of eating healthy has definitely influenced the menu and you will see super foods such as quinoa, kale and acai making their appearances. Needless to say, vegetarians, vegans and carnivores will all be able to find something to please them.
Okonomiyaki Truffle Tots
Firstly, we recommend going there with a group of friends or with your family so that you get to share the starters. And as for which starter to choose, go for their Okonomiyaki Truffle Tots which are Tater Tots (fried mashed potato shaped in small cylinders for those unfamiliar with this American snack) drizzled with Japanese mayo, unagi sauce and truffle oil. The smell alone will make you drool and make you think of both Osaka and LA. The taste is an interesting mix and a less dense version of traditional okonomiyaki. However, be warned. These little tots are very addictive.
Taco Mexx Chicken Grain Bowl
For mains, you can choose either from the Grain Bowls or Toasties (toasted sandwiches). The Asian in us gravitated towards the grain bowls and there are three signature bowls that will appeal to all taste buds. If you like Mexican food, then you’ll like the Taco Mexx Chicken Grain Bowl (S$14) which has a base of short grain rice and topped with avocado, roasted chicken slices, crushed nachos, jalepeno slices, chipotle salsa and red onion. It’s a lot like a burrito bowl minus the cheddar and black beans.
Pork Belly Miso Ramen Grain Bowl
Although there’s “ramen” in the name, the Pork Belly Miso Ramen (S$16) has rice as its base while the crispy ramen is what adds texture to the dish. The pork belly is sous vide and torched before serving and the result is meltingly tender meat with a slight char.
Coco Cashew Pomelo
The Coco Cashew Pomelo (S$13) is a grain bowl with quinoa as its base instead of rice and topped with coconut Thai green curry sauce and a generous sprinkling of cashew nuts. Kale chips also garnish this dish and this dish is definitely for those who love their superfoods. It’s creamy and slightly spicy, with bursts of pomelo that made this dish very refreshing. One would think of it more of a salad than a grain bowl but nutritionally speaking, this packs a lot more protein and good fats per spoonful compared to the rest.
Smoked Bacon Blues
If you’re in the mood for bread instead, try the Smoked Bacon Blue(S$15), which has the right amount of blue cheese together with bacon and caramelised onions between two slices of sourdough, toasted to perfection. The cheese can be a bit pungent to some, so only order this if you’re a cheese lover. Otherwise, stick to the safer options of Classic Grilled Cheese (S$10.50) and Shaved Ham & Burrata Tartine.
Mochi Waffle with a softie swirl
If you’re a fan of waffles, you’ll find KARA’s mochi waffles (S$12.50) really interesting. They’re slightly chewy (hence the name mochi) and less dense than their Belgium counterparts but just as crisp. You can even choose the flavour of the waffle – plain, matcha or black sesame. You’ll be further spoilt for choice with Sogurt’s signature soft-serve flavours such as original and dark chocolate, while those a little more adventurous can try the Maple Lavender or Strawberry Thyme, and other interesting flavours such as Lychee Rose and Salted Speculoos.
Skillet PB Cookie
Something a little more indulgent and traditional would be the Skillet PB Cookie (S$13), a peanut butter cookie baked in a skillet, crispy on the outside and chewy inside, topped with a softie swirl and gula melaka. If you would like to try s’mores, then you can also opt for that in a skillet.
If you don’t want to ruin the healthy eats you had for your mains, you can still opt for the froyo or soft-serve ice cream (S$3.20 per 100g) or wash down the meal with some healthy thirst-quenchers such as the Roselle Iced Tea which is full of antioxidants and also comes with a serving of nata de coco for added fibre and texture.
Whatever your tastebuds are looking for, you’ll definitely find something for someone in KARA and eating good food in good company will definitely help you get some kara moments with your friends and/or loved ones.
KARA Café & Dessert Bar is located at:
617 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: +65 6468 8940
Opening hours: 10:30am to 10:30pm Daily (last order at 10pm)
Photo credits: KARA Café & Dessert Bar