Cafe Hopping: Rouse on Dunlop

Slowly but surely, more cafes that cater to the dietary requirements of Muslim patrons are popping up in Singapore. For someone like me, who is very particular about where I eat, the knowledge of a new Muslim-owned cafe, Rouse on Dunlop, opening, was music to my ears.

The latest Muslim-owned cafe to enter our cafe scene is located, as its name would suggest, at Dunlop Street, just a stone’s throw from Masjid Abdul Gafoor and can easily go unnoticed if you’re rushing past this street. In fact, if I hadn’t been consciously looking for the cafe, I know for a fact, that I would have gone right past its black doors.

Stepping into the cafe is an interesting experience. There are a lot of things going on at the same time – the eating, the conversations, the tables, the coffee making, the counter… and the most intimidating thing for an introvert is  the fact that when you open the heavy black door of Rouse, patrons immediately look up from their Shroom Shrooms and Crabby Patties and look straight at you since the seats at the front of the house all face the door. Thankfully, their staff is attentive and seat you (maybe I looked lost) almost immediately.

The interior of the cafe looks like a work in progress, but together with the dimmed lights, it all sort of works together. There are different types of seats for different groups of people – wall seats, box tables and your normal tables and I think the cafe might sight about 30 people quite comfortably.

I asked Fizah, the co-owner of Rouse, about their inspiration behind the decor and was candidly informed that originally, they were gunning for a rustic and eclectic feel with a lot of metal and wood elements to bring out that feel. But things like decor can rack up a huge bill so they decided to improvise and constructed their own version of what they wanted or recycled what they already had to achieve their desired look. In fact, according to Fizah, three quarters of the stuff in Rouse is second-hand!

Their unique selling point, apart from their ambience and design is of course, the unique dishes that they serve. While cafe purists might pick on the fact that their favourite cafe staples like eggs benedict, waffles and brioches are not on the menu, I welcomed the change. After all, that’s what sets one cafe apart from the other isn’t it?

While they initially had a 5-page menu, they compressed that to ten items which deviated from the usual cafe fare simply because they wanted to “go completely different, and to introduce new kinds of food for the community.” According to her, the response has been good and she shared with us that they do have plans in the near future to introduce more ‘risque’ dishes!

Between the three of us, we ordered two servings of Crabby Patty (SGD $17.90), a Quinoa Quake (SGD $16.90) and a Shroom Shroom (SGD $11.90) to share. Unfortunately, their hot favourite, and Fizah’s personal favourite, the Beef Wrapped Asparagus was not available for order so we couldn’t try this much raved about dish.


My main was the Quinoa Quake which I thought was delicious. The dish is made up of a few ingredients – a quinoa patty, a poached egg, a generous serving of smoked salmon and a very delicious lemon dill sauce. This is of course served alongside an even more generous serving of baby spinach leaves, but the stars of the dish where the quinoa patty and that lemon dill sauce which is in my humble opinion, liquid gold. I would buy bottles of it if they ever sell it. Quinoa is a tricky superfood to cook – it dries easily, and in its patty form, it also breaks easily if it is not held together well. I loved how they ‘asianised’ the patty with red chilli and good seasoning so it wasn’t bland at all. If they hadn’t included the other ingredients, I’d have happily eaten the patty and the sauce on its own. However, the combination of all the different elements on the dish worked well together to bring a nice tangy taste to my mouth.


My cousins each ordered the Crabby Patty and I of course stole a bite from them. According to Fizah, this dish is made with fresh crab meat which is then seasoned and served with their home-made mango salsa and spicy dill. My personal opinion is that the mango salsa was definitely the hero of this dish and I thought the crabby patty was alright but I still preferred my dish. Perhaps, I had no real idea of what this dish would taste like so it took a while for me to try and wrap my head around the dish. My cousins also agreed that the sweet mango salsa was the star of this dish. I will say though that with such unique flavour combinations, it really is up to you to try and make the decision for yourself. Certain dishes are definitely acquired tastes and the Crabby Patty’s mix of sweet and spicy is definitely one of them. I’ll give them props for uniqueness, that’s for sure!


We also ordered a side of Shroom Shroom which is a dish of swiss brown mushrooms with ricotta cheese and crispy goodness. When we decided to order this side, we were originally worried we wouldn’t be able to finish it but we were quite surprised that the mushrooms were small in size so we actually finished it quite easily. Taste wise, I thought the mushrooms were well baked and the ricotta filling did not overpower the taste of the whole dish. I also though the crispy bits, which are flavoured soy bits fit for vegetarian consumption, that garnished the dish added a nice salty element that tied the entire dish together. Now I just wish that the mushrooms were bigger.


To wash it all down, we ordered an Iced Lemon Earl Grey Tea (SGD $6.50), an Iced Chocolate (SGD $6.50), and I had a pot of Blissful Berries ($7.50). The two iced drinks came served in mason jars and my pot of hot tea was served with a beautiful floral cup. My cousin raved about the perfect flavour combination that presented itself in the Iced Lemon Earl Grey Tea – bitter earl grey complemented the tangy lemon. It definitely got her seal of approval. My Blissful Berries was light and very flavoursome. What I liked about it was that the tea was not sweet like how some flavoured teas can be – so that was a plus point for me.

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Despite my protests of “No cake! Must eat clean!”, my cousins sat two plates of Farah Affandi’s cakes in front of me and told me to live a little. Now with that in front of me, how was I supposed to say no, really? You can see more of Farah’s work here.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you’ll know that I am all for the experience. Sometimes, food misses the mark and well, that’s really all about personal preference, but it’s how I feel when I’m at a particular eatery that helps me make an informed decision about the place. Rouse on Dunlop did not disappoint with servers who were polite and considerate and who always had a smile on their face. What I also liked was their attention to the little things, like this Instagram post apologising for their air con malfunction yesterday. While the heat bugged me a little, after a while, I forgot they had air con issues because I was really having a good time with my cousins.

Inside the cafe, the feeling is unpretentious and as it is, it is almost laissez-faire. The walls are as they are, the chairs don’t really match and some tables have legs while others don’t and amongst the organised chaos, I could see people enjoying their dishes, cameras being whipped out, and laughter floating through the air. Watching patrons enjoy their food, I realised that perhaps, Fizah’s dream of wanting “to make them feel like home, every time they enter our quaint little coffee house”, was really coming true.

Where:  36 Dunlop Street

Contact No: 6292 2642

How to get there: Nearest MRT stations: Little India and Bugis. Bus Services in the vicinity: Bus 64, 65, 130, 139, 147, 857

Halal Status: Muslim-Owned eating establishment. See message from the owners:

Can I also confirm that your meat supplies are from Halal meat suppliers?

YES! We are personally very particular about our own food, so when it comes to ROUSE, we go to extents to ensure that EVERYTHING should be fit for Muslim consumption.

Vegetarian Options: Available for ovo-lacto vegetarians.

Our Ratings: ♡ ♡ ♡  / ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡  (3.5 out of 5 hearts).

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Tags: , , ,

Categories: Asian, Cafe, cakes, Halal, Vegetarian options


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