If you haven’t already heard, the latest bistro-cafe to sprout along North Canal Road is the stylishly secluded Punch, with a minimalist exterior that belies a very hip courtyard reminiscent of the now-closed Omotesando Koffee’s outdoor seating area in Tokyo.
Opened by the same good folks behind The Bravery, The Plain and Ronin (my go-to morning espresso stop), very decent coffee is a given. They offer only pour overs in the early morning, so as not to compete with Ronin, but switch up the beans every now and then – I’ve had Ethiopian, Columbian and Sumatran varietals each with their own distinct flavour profiles. Order some freshly made doughnuts if you’d like a sweet start to your day.
It’s not all about coffee though, as a compact menu offers modern takes on old classics. Some friends and I enjoyed a mountain of steamed mussels in a slightly spicy broth, accompanied by excellent sourdough soldiers. The chicken tsukune burger came with a raw egg yolk to be ceremoniously squished between a medley of brioche buns, cucumber slivers and a slightly bitter grilled chicken patty, half from the marinade and half from the char. Fried chicken, first brined to retain moisture, is accompanied by an addictive blue cheese dip, tomato marmalade, pickles and gherkins.
I do find the food offerings a tad overpriced, but appreciate that they do serve coffee late into the night, and the space and its people are charmingly hospitable. Now if only they would let me order – and devour – an army of sourdough toast…
32 North Canal Road
Hours: 0800h-2300h (Tues – Fri), 0800h-1800h (Sat-Sun)