Since reading about Joan Bowen Cafe sometime back, I’ve been wanting to visit. As it’s not located near one of my frequent haunts, I postponed the visit indefinitely. As luck would have it, a new friend was willing to visit the cafe with me so yay! Joan Bowen Cafe is ‘known’ as the cafe which employs youths with special needs, but I won’t want to introduce the cafe as such. This is because I watched a video on Facebook recently, in which a lady with Down Syndrome was explaining that people who are labelled as having “special needs” don’t actually have needs that are “special” – their needs are the same as everyone else’s. Things they need are those such as love, opportunities, employment, etc. It’s exactly what everyone needs. So what’s so “special” about their needs? I agree with her.
Still, I think cafes like this one deserve to have more people come by and try the food, and know that people whom society thinks have “special needs” can actually be trained in industries like F&B, and they can excel in their jobs too!
The cafe is a little out of the way if you don’t drive, or aren’t familiar with the Sennett estate. But you can take the train to Potong Pasir MRT station, and head out of exit B. Then turn left (following the direction of traffic) till you see a tall, dark condominium block. Take another left and walk straight till you see the cafe. It’s located at 9 Jalan Wangi.
Joan Bowen Cafe is very cosy, just as if you’ve walked into someone’s home. Near the glass window is also an armchair and a study table where you might find a middle-aged lady working on a computer. I didn’t ask for her name nor inquire if she’s one of the owners (but I’m guessing she is). And just like a mother, she told us to tuck into the food (instead of talking and taking pictures) before it gets cold. And she even offered to heat up the mushroom soup (that we had yet to touch) if needed, but that we should eat the mains first.
I love how the cafe works around the preferences of the staff. Many are used to their particular routines, so if you have guests ordering from an extensive a la carte menu, it might be a very stressful situation. Hence, it’s a simple set lunch menu with 5 options for mains. It’s great for the staff and great for guests who cannot make up their minds about what to eat either! 🙂
For just $20, you get mushroom soup, your choice of main dish, and dessert (oreo cheesecake). The motherly lady recommends the Pork Belly Confit and the Chili Crab Pasta – they’ve been serving them for 8 years apparently. My pick was definitely the pork belly, no doubt about it. If I see beef cheek or pork belly, I’d always go for them. Interestingly, to help my new friend in selecting a main, she said that salmon is salmon (however it’s cooked) so why not try the pasta or pork belly? 😀 I found that remark pretty hilarious.
Anyway, my new friend ordered the pasta. I think the sauce looks legit. I’ll try it next time. I don’t usually ask to try food that people I’m not familiar with have ordered. If it’s my darling I’m dining with, I’d just go ahead and swop plates. Haha!
The pork belly I ordered was a little too salty, but I liked the crisp on one side – so sinful and so delightful. Some parts were a little dry and tough, but overall, pretty satisfying. The pineapple salsa was yummy, and I enjoyed the salad on the side too. A pity the mashed potato was a little dry and flaky.
As for dessert, we had the tiniest oreo cheesecake I’ve ever seen. I took it out of the mini cupcake liner and balanced the tiny confection on my fork…
While it may be small, I have to say the portion is just right. After a substantial lunch, the last thing you want is a huge portion of dessert to deliver you straight into a food coma. This one was perfect. It was the size of a mini icecream mooncake. And it tasted like vanilla ice cream between two oreo biscuits.
If you haven’t been to Joan Bowen Cafe before, why not schedule a visit soon? Visit their website, note the opening hours, and make an online reservation. 🙂