It might seem like an oxymoron as to why the words “local” and “western” are together…similarly to “British” and “Hainan”. Well, let’s talk a little bit about history before I go into the full review on the food.

The Hainanese Chinese were mostly working as cooks and nannies when they first came to Singapore as the other groups (Teochew, Hokkein, Cantonese and Hakkas) had migrated to Singapore earlier and had already dominated the other industries such as trading and transport. And who were the pay-masters during colonial Singapore? The British. So the café British Hainan is a nod to the heritage where it serves Western cuisine as well as some traditional Hainanese dishes as well loved by locals.

My friends and I decided to try out this place to celebrate one of their birthdays and he chose it because he wanted to get in touch with his Hainanese half through culinary.

The starters

We had ordered soup (Mushroom and French Onion; S$6 each) as well as Ngoh Hiang but we were so hungry that we forgot to take photos of the soups! I had the French Onion and it was chockfull of onions in a very delicious broth. One of my friends who had the mushroom soup described it as “entering a mushroom forest”. So yes, I would recommend getting a bowl of soup and you may be declined to share.

Thank goodness we remembered to take the above photo of the ngoh hiang (S$10) before it was inhaled! I have eaten quite a lot of dud ngoh hiangs in my life and the bar has been set high thanks to my grandmother, grandaunts and even my old Teochew neighbour who makes super delicious ngoh hiangs. How did British Hainan’s version fare? One word – GOOD! Go order it if you have more than 2 people so that you can share the deliciousness.

The mains

Braised Lamb Shank (S$28.90) Baby Back Ribs (S$26.90) The 3 Porky Combi (S$18.90)

I tell you, the servings aren’t small and thank goodness we were in a group so that we could share a little bit of everything and get a taste of more dishes.

See how big the plate is! That lamb shank is definitely enough to feed two people in 1 sitting! Since I’ve started on the Braised Lamb Shank, let me tell you that it is one of the best lamb shanks that I’ve ever had. The meat was tender and while it did have a bit of lamb/mutton smell, it wasn’t too strong. There was plenty of gravy so that you can use the pieces of bread to soak up the goodness. I wished the bread was a bit more toasted though.

We also shared the Baby Back Ribs and this was also really really good. The ribs were well marinated and the meat simply fell off the bones. Knives? What knives? You can simply use your fork (and spoon if you want) to eat this dish!

As for The 3 Porky Combi, it comes with a pork sausage, a grilled pork chop and a Hainanese pork chop as well as sides. To be honest, I think this dish paled in comparison to the ribs and lamb shank. The Hainanese pork chop was better than some *ahem* famous Hainanese Curry Rice stalls where the pork chop is so thin that you wonder whether there’s any protein in it. At least British Hainan’s pork chop resembles a tonkatsu where you can see the distinct layer of meat between the fried batter and crumbs. The sausage was well…a sausage. Wasn’t impress with the grilled pork chop.

Overall impression

Not sure if you noticed the cupboard behind me in the photo above but what we also loved about British Hainan was the decor, which they call as their “Antiques and Vintage Studio” where you’ll be brought back to the past and I’m sure our parents would’ve gotten a sense of nostalgia.

The food is generally delicious and we also love the fact that their foods do not contain MSG and prices are NETT – with no GST and no service charge! You’ll definitely see me back again and I’m going to bring my parents this time!


British Hainan



Vinomofo SG evergreen

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