I first came across Mary Gomes’ wonderful cooking when I visited her cafe at its old location inside the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) building on Waterloo Street. That was back in 2007. Mary operated a small, no-frills cafe, and was assisted by her sister (they are Portuguese-Eurasians) and a Punjabi lady who was one of the women seeking shelter at the SCWO which, among others, provides support for women in vulnerable situations.
Mary had actually gained quite a following when she ran the canteen in St Joseph’s Church on Victoria Street. It’s been said that some people attended the church just to taste her cooking, and she rustled up some of the best Eurasian food (THE best, if you ask me) in Singapore.
Mary Gomes subsequently wrote two best-selling cookbooks: “The Eurasian Cookbook” and “A Celebration of a Singaporean Kitchen”. In July 2009, she moved her cafe to the current location at the Kum Yan Methodist Church Building on 1 Queen St., across the road from the Singapore Art Museum.
What we had at Mary’s Kafe last weekend:
Eurasian chicken-and-potato curry
“Tau yu bak” - soy-braised pork belly.
“Ayam tempra” - Mary added a Eurasian touch to this otherwise Nyonya dish of chicken braised in a mixture of soysauce and lime juice by introducing dried chilis to add a spike of spiciness much preferred by Eurasians.
“Pang Susi” - this is a Portuguese-influenced filled “pao” or bun, with corned beef filling.
- Dessert, given gratis, was a sago pudding (with rose syrup and palm sugar flavours) rolled in freshly-grated coconut.
Mary’s Kafe, because of its limited size, rotates its offerings on a daily basis, so what you’ll find on the menu board that day depends upon what fresh produce Mary finds in the market that same morning. One of Singapore’s hidden dining gems.
1 Queen Street
Tel: +65 9852 0348
Operating hours: 10.30am-5pm, Mon-Fri (Closed Sat, Sun)