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Food Glossary: Good Morning Nanyang Cafe Re-booted!

This place is closed
Kaya-Toast

I first met Byron way back in Nov 2006 when the blog was just three months old.  He had come across the photos on my blog and wanted to engage me to take some photos of his food for him.  That was when I discovered, what I would still consider to this day, one of the best Kopi and Kaya Toast in Singapore.  Unfortunately for Byron, every time his business started to boom, he found that he had to relocate due to renovation works! So, over the years I had followed him from The Majestic to Chinatown Point and then from there to Telok Ayer CC and now, Food Glossary at JTC Summit.

A few months back, Byron made the very difficult decision to close his flagship Good Morning Nanyang Cafe at Hong Lim Park to run the Food Glossary, which is the cafeteria for people working at JTC Summit.  Although he no longer operates under the Good Morning Nanyang brand, he is still making his Kopi and Kaya Toast there.  Aside from this, he has also teamed up with Jemmy, a local Peranakan Chef to dish out local meals for the office crowd.

Byron

Over the years, I have brought many guests to his Good Morning Nanyang Cafe for a cup of Kopi and orange Ciabatta Kaya Toast and my guests have never once been disappointed.  The reason is simple, Byron still makes his Kaya by hand every day and his kaya is the most fragrant and artisanal in my books.  He also insists on making the kopi himself whenever he can because he remembers how each of his customers like their coffee and wants to make sure that they get the cup of satisfaction they seek.  There are not many kopi chains out there where the owner still insists on pulling the kopi himself!

Kopi baristas like Byron are becoming very rare nowadays.  You will still find them at the hawker centres and coffeeshops, but with the development of kopi brands like Ya Kun, Killiney, Toastbox and the like,  we consumers are slowly being trained to trade artisanal quality for the convenience and comfort of an air-conditioned environment selling affordable coffee breaks.  At one time, we visited a particular kopitiam just to drink the kopi made by a kopi tao chiu (master barista).  Nowadays, that tao chiu has been relegated to a John Tan wearing a Kopi brand T shirt.

Kopi

What I would really like to see in the next phase of the development of our local kopi culture is for a new generation of Singaporean Coffee Baristas who would be willing to ditch the Expresso machine to focus on making that perfect cup of sugar roasted, sock brewed Nanyang kopi and artisanal kaya toast.  That is probably going to be a pipe dream for a long time because, as Byron tells me, although we Singaporeans are willing to pay $5 for an expresso, a 10 cent increase from $1.50 to $1.60 for a cup of kopi is usually greeted with a barrage of complaints and a retaliatory drop in sales.  At this rate, the only way for any boutique Kopi place to make money is to remain in a government subsidized hawker centre, since you will need economies of scale and capability of expansion in order to make money selling $1.50 coffee.

I feel that it’s a bit of a shame that one of Singapore’s best kopi baristas is now brewing kopi in a cafeteria especially after Good Morning Nanyang Cafe managed to be listed in TIME magazine as one of the 24 world’s best kept secrets (Mar 25, 2013 issue)!  I guess the “best kept secret” has just gone into hiding again!

Stall6

Conclusion

I lament that fact that I now have to travel from Tampines to Jurong in order to get my kopi and kaya toast fix!  But my loss is a big gain for kopi lovers living and working out in the West!  I especially envy those of you who work at JTC Summit — the world’s best kopi and kaya toast is now just an elevator journey away!  If you haven’t already visited your newly renovated cafeteria, then what are you waiting for?  Mai Tu Liao, and don’t say Bo Jio! (Don’t delay anymore and don’t say I didn’t tell you!) 4.5/5

Food Glossary

Address:
JTC Summit, 8 Jurong Town Hall Rd, #02-01, Singapore 609434
View Map
Opening hours:
8:00AM to 5:00AM

Closed:
Sat, Sun
Contact:
81331882

  • DAVIDPD

    Wow~! What a shame to hear. I am traveling to Singapore in January and will still make it a point to visit, but now I will somewhat curb my expectations.

    • yin

      Maybe it will be to your liking. Do share your experience after you tried it

      • DAVIDPD

        Tried Food Glossary. The staff was nice to me, but I did not get kaya toast this time. My kopi-c was delicious. I did find it curious Mr. Byron seemed to be in the kitchen most of the time instead of working the coffee cans. Will update again when I return for breakfast.

  • DAVIDPD

    Dr. Tay, I am not sure what is happening with Mr. Byron’s franchise, but just for fun I walked where the Chinatown-Pearl Street location was, and found it still in service. I also came across another location near the Red Dot Design Museum. I assume Mr. Byron sold the franchise? The kopi was still like I remember it in 2012, smooth and creamy. There was still orange ciabatta toast!~ Although I am sad to no longer see Mr. Byron, I am happy to report the franchise’s quality has not waned, significantly.

    • Those franchises are still going. They are run by fanchisees.

  • DAVIDPD

    So I made the pilgrimage out to Jurong East. Firstly, I was shocked how large that dining area was for just Food Glossary. It was huge! I foolishly arrived on a full stomach and ordered a kopi-c and a chicken curry (I will return shortly to try the kaya set). The kopi was still very good. Nice and smooth. The chicken curry was fabulous! Very flavorful and quite spicy as well. Like I remembered from 2 years ago, it still contained many large pieces of spices. A nice touch, in my opinion. I also liked that it included wing pieces, which are the most flavorful pieces of the chicken. Overall, a great experience. Just wish it was not so far.

  • No, if it is a sponsored review it will be stated clearly. You can read from the other people who have been there that the coffee is good. I have been drinking the coffee from Byron for 8 years. I know him as a friend and I know his coffee is good. Your experience is probably a one off but it is good that you share it. The lady who made the kopi is probably a new worker.

  • DAVIDPD

    I wanted to share my latest experience with Food Glossary so maybe there can be some beneficial changes made. I am closing out my time here in Singapore on March 2nd, and as a last hurrah I went to visit Food Glossary one more time before making the trip back to South Korea.

    Sadly, it seems this “house” is in disarray.

    I came upon Food Glossary with solemn omen, a sign saying three of the kitchen staff quit and the menu was cut back as a result. I thought to myself, “that is fine since I just want kaya toast set.” As I looked at the menu just to make sure they have something labeled as “set” I observed a large stack of kaya toast pre-assembled on top of the toaster-grill. I thought to myself, “Oh, that is strange, are they preparing a large order for some one?” I threw caution to the wind and ordered my “set”. As per usual, I was given a beeper and told to take a seat. Five minutes later, my beeper goes off and I go to collect my food. I get my eggs and kaya toast, but no teh. When I inquired to the auntie about where my teh is, I got a stern retort of, “Next time you collect it here after ordering!” Ok, that is fine, my mistake.

    Unfortunately, things did not improve from here. Firstly, my eggs were raw. Like completely raw. Just slightly above room temperature. The whites where still translucent! I am not a picky eater at all (in fact, I still ate these raw eggs!), but not being able to time the eggs’ done-ness is a critical foresight, in my opinion. Secondly, the toast. I want to say that I am a huge fan of Byron’s kaya toast. Last time I was here in 2012, I went to his Hong Lim Park location of GMNC dozens of times, I even took my mother there when she visited. The kaya toast I received was pre-toasted, cold, and soggy. Toast is something that must be cooked “a la minute”. It seems that the kitchen staff is precooking the toast to save time and as a result, the quality of the kaya toast has fallen off. This is such a shame because the kaya toast is the highlight of the traditional Singaporean breakfast (at least it is to me). I still frequent the Pearl Street GMNC, and even when they are swamped with customers they toast every thing to order.

    I don’t want to be too critical or negative here, as I really want to support Food Glossary and Byron’s continued success, but something must be done to ensure my experience is not replicated other customers. I only wish my last experience with Food Glossary could have been a more positive one.

    *If you are asking yourself, why I did not take anything back to the kitchen, I have a strict internal policy with myself about never sending food back to the kitchen. In that regard, maybe this whole situation is “my fault,” but mistakes were made nonetheless.

  • DAVIDPD

    Sorry for late reply. It is on the same street as The Red Dot Design Museum. Going toward Tanjong Pagar Station, away from Maxwell Food Centre. I am not a local, just a passionate eater.

  • T.T

    Randomly chance upon this post while trying to find out where the old cafeteria at OG people’s park move to after the renovation years back.

    Am surprised to hear that GMNY at Hong Lim no more, I’ve been following the coffee from Chinatown Point to Hong Lim, particularly love the scones and chicken stew back then.
    Unlike other ‘coffee joints’, GMNY at Hong Lim does not operate beyond office hours on weekdays. Hence, my caffeine-deprived visits get lesser by the weeks.

    Will try to make time to check out Food Glossary.
    Hope the understaffed issue improve soon…
    We look fwd to awesome toast & great coffee!

    • DAVIDPD

      I recommend the location on Maxwell Street. I have been going there frequently. The Pearl St one is closed for renovations until mid-summer.

  • Jerome

    Finally got down to Food Glossary trying to recapture the memories of Telok Ayer CC.
    But I was left disappointed.
    Coffee was weak even after I ordered a kopi gao. Sourish to say the least. The milk remained undissolved at the bottom even with repeated stirring. Either the air con blast at summit is too strong, or the coffee was not hot to begin with.
    Ordered a ciabatta set and when it came, it was also not even warm. Very strange. The ciabatta was well toasted, but there was no orange peel in it, nary any orange fragrance.
    I blame myself for not checking that it’s just ciabatta set and not orange ciabatta.
    Kaya was still the rustic kind, but seems oilier.
    Overall, its disappointing but perhaps my expectation have been pampered by GMNC in the past.

    • I have informed Byron of your feedback. Thanks!

  • Yai Kevin Boodkhun

    We followed ur post to this breakfast place on our first morning in singapore, and was disappointed to find the place had closed down or moved. If you have their new location we may find time to visit.

    • So sorry about that. I have updated the post. They just closed recently.

      • Yai Kevin Boodkhun

        Thanks for reply. We found “Nanyang Old Coffee” at china town and wanted to know is that the same shop that we looking for Tay ?

        • Its their frachisee.

          • DAVIDPD

            Any update whether Byron will be making another run at a coffee shop??

        • DAVIDPD

          No-no! This one is not the same. The Chinatown one has been closed for months now due to renovations. The only Good Morning Nanyang Cafe in the area is on Maxwell Street.