The long awaited F.R.I.E.N.D.S themed cafe, Central Perk is here in Singapore! Located at Central Mall (even though we don’t have a central park here, this cafe is still located at a “central” area), they are now open for business.
Fans of this hit TV sitcom will definitely feel a strong sense of nostalgia as you step into this cafe, I know I did. When you first walk in, you can see a gallery and mechanising area that are based on each character. For example, Ross’s corner was displayed with dinosaur figures and fossils as he’s a palaeontologist. For Rachel’s wall you can see her wedding gown, cheerleading outfit, the book she always read and the cutting of her credit card. You can recognise Phoebe’s area at once when you see the smelly cat, her guitar and Gladys (one of the iconic parts of the show).
As for Monica, you can see the TV the gang always watch in her apartment and her chef outfit. Last but not least, it’s Joey and Chandler’s wall. You have the foosball table where you can play with, the fine Italian craftsmanship cabinet that Joey made and of course, Pat the dog. It’s really for fans of the show to bring back memories. There is also a replica of Monica’s kitchen where the group always hangs out, although it’s not for customers to dine in, it’s definitely a great spot for people to take photos and chill out. In addition, you can see a real and working Pac-man machine which was a gift that Phoebe gave to Monica and Chandler for their wedding in their apartment.
After exploring the gallery and merchandising area, head to the main dining area. The setting is of a studio where they created a Hollywood set feel with the director chairs as seats as though you are really filming the show. More seats are available “on set” and there’s an on air sign lit up so it’s like the filming is in progress. There is an “alfresco area” indoors, like the streets of New York where many scenes of the show shot in this angle. You can enter though the door where the cast usually go through to get into the cafe. Going through the door here makes you feel like you’re going on set and you can also hang your coat on the coat rag and take a seat.
They displayed the 19th century gold coloured espresso machine that the show used in their scenes and are actually using the 21st century version of the espresso machine for their coffee. They work with 4 different veteran roasters in the industry to create 6 custom blends. Having 6 custom blends serving at one time is unknown in the world as it is almost impossible for a single barista to manage more than 2 custom blends and calibrate it everyday. So by working out a different system, they dedicate different baristas to different beans to achieve this 6 custom blends kind of a standard.
Central Perk SG uses specialty coffee beans as they customise it based on the characters. For example, Rachel is very floral, sweet little bubbly girl, so they have a lightly roasted coffee for her with floral moods and light acidity. Phoebe is a bit quirky and nutty, so they used a lot of Brazilian beans with a bit more chocolatey and hazelnut-ty kind of a flavour to it. Next, it’s Joey who is Italian American, so they did an Italian roast on the beans, very dark, very manly, as this is how they interpret him. Then, there’s Ross, a very interesting guy. He is a very big guy, so there’s a very heavy roast, but yet very sweet as well as he can be a heartless romantic as well so there’s that kind of balance there. Chandler is interesting. It’s a city roasted bean, roasted right about the middle, very balanced, but yet he smokes so they created a smoky blend to have a very smoky finish in the beans. Lastly, Monica’s coffee is French roasted, a little bit darker than Chandler’s. It has a rich and snappy acidity to the bean and a very clean finish, like how she actually is as she’s a clean freak. So as the customer, you can order which ever bean you’d like to have and how’d you like to have it: Espresso, Cappuccino or Latte. If coffee is not for you, you can also try The One with Matcha, The One with Chocolate or The One with Soy Milk.
For their food, every single item on the menu is in reference to either a character or even a scene of the sitcom. During their staff training, they will playback the episode as to which the dish was presented in it to let them know that it came from that episode. In reference to characters, they serve ‘Janice’s Oh My God Baby Back Ribs’. For those of you who don’t know, the phrase “Oh My God” was commonly used by a recurring character, Janice in the show.
All the ground crew are only fans of the show and they even have to go through a trivia test before they are actually hired! Everyone has a personalised t-shirt with their name, the character team they chose to be in and their favourite quote on the back.
This cafe was started up by a group of Friends. The founder of the cafe always dreamed of opening Central Perk in Singapore ever since he went to the imitation cafe in China. He enjoyed his experience there as it felt intimate where people started bonding and talking to each other all on the common ground of how much they love F.R.I.E.N.D.S. However, he wasn’t sure of the demand in Singapore and by chance, he came across crowd-funding platforms to aid him in the market research. With his production background, he made a video, put it online and it got really successful. From there, he knew that there was a real demand and so, he brought the concept to life.
Now let us share the food we tried at Central Perk SG! First up, we have their chef’s specialty, Janice’s OH. MY. GOD. Baby Back Ribs. They used 72 hours to make this ribs, so it’s really Oh My God! They precision cook it so it needs time, a certain temperature and a certain environment. Using free range Iberico pork and a secret recipe with homemade barbecue sauce, this dish is definitely a must try!
Next up, we had Ross’s Thanksgiving Sandwich. Fans of this show must be really curious as to how this sandwich taste like. Why did Ross raged when someone stole his Thanksgiving leftover sandwich? After trying this dish, I fully understood why. With the tender turkey, fresh vegetables and not to forget the moist maker (gravy soaked bread), I would flare if someone stole this sandwich (especially if I already left a note!).
For dessert, we had Mrs Braverman’s Cheesecake. Is this cake really worth stealing, twice? The answer is YES! This cheesecake was so good, creamy, smooth and a little popping candy surprise. Mmmmmm~
For drinks, we had The One with Chocolate which is a sweet and calming cup of hot chocolate and a custom blend of Ross Geller coffee. The coffee was aromatic, with low acidity and a light sweetness. Drinking coffee off this ridiculously huge coffee cups just makes me feel like one of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
For the fans of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, this cafe is surely a trip down memory lane where you can enjoy the whole experience. For people who aren’t fans, you can still enjoy the good food, and view the playbacks of the show in the cafe, fall in love with this classic sitcom, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Who knows, you might even meet your Lobster here!
Where: 1 Magazine Road #01-01, Singapore 059567
Operating Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays – 10am to 10pm. Closed on Mondays.
Contact Information: 9025 2524