Lee Teng’s New Café Serves Modern Taiwanese-Style Dishes Like Chicken Lu Rou Fan - 8 Days Skip to main content

Lee Teng’s New Café Serves Modern Taiwanese-Style Dishes Like Chicken Lu Rou Fan

The café — located within his hair salon at The Cathay — was opened in partnership with the Mosanco Enchanted Café chain.
Lee Teng’s New Café Serves Modern Taiwanese-Style Dishes Like Chicken Lu Rou Fan

Did you know Taiwan-born, Singapore-based host Lee Teng owns a cafe-cum-hair salon at The Cathay, and it has been open for two years? Neither did we, till now. 

The 40-seat cafe, which takes up a third of the entire space, was recently revamped from Jomo to Mosanco Enchanted Café – The Gallery, and opened on July 27. If you find the latter brand familiar, that’s because it’s a collaboration with local café chain Mosanco Enchanted Café, which has six other outlets with different themes like “The Rainforest”.

“I thought running a café is quite easy, just make a few cups of coffee can already. I didn’t know it’s so tough,” admits the 39-year-old towkay.

Considered giving up the cafe space due to many “difficulties”

The idea for the salon-cum-café first came about in 2019 when Lee Teng and his two biz partners were looking for a bigger space to relocate their hair salon Air Salon, which was previously on level three of the mall. Although the 6,000 sqft unit on the second floor was “very huge”, they decided to rent it and turn it into a “one-stop shop” where customers could fill up their tummies while getting their hair done. That’s where a portion of the unit was converted into Jomo café.

“Hair colouring and perming can sometimes take up to five hours, and many customers have told us previously that it would be good if we could serve some finger food. Since the space was available, we thought why not turn part of it into a very simple café offering drinks and some cakes? But like a wedding, it is never that simple. It always ends up very complicated,” quips Lee Teng.

For two years, Lee Teng and his partners tried running the café on their own, but it was “so tough” that they considered throwing in the towel. “It’s not just about the food. You have to find the right suppliers for ingredients, market the food, consider things like wastage. We faced a lot of difficulties,” he laments.

During their best month, they made “at most $10K” in revenue for the cafe — rent for the entire space cost "a mid five-figure sum" monthly. “Overall, we did not lose money as our hair salon was doing very well, but it was still very ‘heart pain’ to see money flowing out like that. We needed to offer a full menu for the business to be sustainable ’cos our overheads were just too high. After a discussion, we decided it was better to find someone experienced in F&B to run the cafe,” he explains.

How everything fell into place

How Lee Teng came to partner the folks behind Mosanco Enchanted Café was pretty serendipitous. “I got to know them through mutual friends and we were just casually chatting when they mentioned that they were looking to open a new outlet in town, so I suggested we collaborate,” shares Lee Teng.

“Mosanco Enchanted Café has a different theme for each of their outlets and just so happened, they were going for a minimalist concept, so we didn’t even have to revamp the place. We just changed the signboard, did some touch ups, and were open within a month.”

The gallery concept was chosen for the café as they wanted to use the minimalist space to “showcase NFTs and art pieces or even use it as an event space”.

The menu

According to Lee Teng, the revamped café now offers a far more extensive menu. Think “Western-fusion dishes with local, Taiwanese and Korean flavours” such as brunch nosh, burgers, pasta, finger food, and desserts.

While the dishes are largely similar to other Enchanted Café outlets, there are some items that are exclusive to The Gallery, like Taiwanese-inspired eats including chicken lu rou fan.

“I wanted some Taiwanese dishes, so I suggested we offer lu rou fan with a twist. Instead of pork belly, we use big chunks of chicken thigh. The taste is authentic yet a bit different. We also have sour plum sweet potato fries,” shares the host.

He is also working with Enchanted’s R&D team to come up with other dishes like “karaage-style” yan su ji or salt-and-pepper basil popcorn chicken.

Lee Teng says that he will drop by the cafe when his filming schedule allows, but will not be too involved with running its daily operations.

Here are some of Lee Teng’s recommendations:

MEC Lu Rou Fan, $14.90

Sour Plum Sweet Potato Fries, $9.90

MEC Mega Burger – Korean Spicy, $25.90

Sambal Chicken Linguine, $16.90

Enchanted Hash, $13.90

Almond Butter Toast, $10.90

Korean Spicy Crispy Mid Wings, $16.90 for 8 pcs

Bandung Waffles, $7.50 for 4 pcs

Hot Crème Brulee, $5.90

Hot Bandung Latte, $5.90

Lee Teng introduces Mosanco Enchanted Cafe's signature dishes on #JustSwipeLah:

Mosanco Enchanted Café – The Gallery is at #02-01 The Cathay, 2 Handy Rd, S229233. Open Sun to Thur 11am-9pm; Fri & Sat 11am-1am. Instagram Facebook

Photos: Mosanco Enchanted Café – The Gallery

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