Coconut and Cranberry Granola. Source: Dearborn

Dearborn Granola’s title as the first granola-speciality cafe in Singapore is a click-bait enough title, but there’s a lot more to Dearborn than their food.

Located in Everton Park, a cosy neighbourhood in Chinatown, Dearborn Cafe offers a unique cafe experience as it specialises in granola.

Our honest review of Dearborn Cafe

A whole cafe dedicated to granola? Trust us when we say that Dearborn Cafe is far from a gimmick.

More than just “baked oats”, the granola here is seriously made to impress. If you’re not convinced, read on. Dearborn Granola is founded by Chef Christopher Kong, who trained at Michelin Star restaurants before opening his own private dining eatery, which was later converted to a granola speciality cafe — the first of its kind in Singapore.

Chef Christopher Kong, chef and founder of Dearborn Granola Cafe
Photo: Dearborn

Enough yapping. How was the food?

Chef Kong approaches granola the same way he approaches any dish. Most people don’t find granola interesting. However, he sees many ways it can be presented.

Case in point: their Strawberries & Cream ($14) elevates Dearborn’s basic granola with macerated strawberries, creme fresh ice cream, cranberry granita and lemon oil.

Strawberries & Cream, yogurt and granola at Dearborn
Strawberries & Cream, only available on the weekends

The bowl comprises simple ingredients. Yet every bite retains the element of surprise the first bite offers. Sometimes, the crème fresh dominates. Others, the tartness of the gravelly granita cuts through. It was impossible to slow down as the different layers tease your palate.

“For me, it’s about kinda getting obsessed with it [granola] and diving deeper to see how else you can make it more interesting,”

Christopher Kong

Strawberries & Cream is only available on the weekends. On the weekdays, Dearborn’s menu is limited to granola bowls and coffee.

Sourdough toast and kombu butter
Sourdough with house-made kombu butter

Also exclusive on the weekends, you can order a few slices of sourdough toast with a touch of kombu butter. So simple, but so good, because every element was executed perfectly.

How Dearborn all started

Chef Kong is well-known in the private dining world. But for those who are unfamiliar, his story is as vibrant as his recipes. He started out in his family’s Italian restaurant in Seattle where he made fresh pasta. It was a safe environment. However, in order to grow as a chef, he needed to get out of his comfort zone.

He embarked on his culinary journey and found himself in Southeast Asia where he experimented with the robust elements of Asian cuisine in Malaysia and developed a gentle touch that French fine dining necessitates at Guy Savoy. He later finds himself at Waku Ghin and NoMad; both are Michelin Star restaurants.

The 35 year old chef did not foresee himself opening a granola cafe. However, when the pandemic hit in 2020, they had to pivot from modern American cuisine to granola in order to survive.

Granola had always been a takeaway gift for Dearborn Supper Club’s customers. Recalling the praises it received, Chris started selling 25 jars a day on Instagram; then 50. And before they knew it, they had reached 100 orders daily.

After a few months, it proved to be a business that could grow. Dearborn moved their kitchen to Clarke Quay where they shared an oven with another cafe. It took eight months before they found their own space at Everton Park, a short walk from Chinatown MRT Station.

Keeping it sustainable

However, for Chef Kong, it wasn’t just about the food.

“It’s all about keeping it sustainable and getting ingredients organically,” he said.

While sustainability is a word that gets thrown around frequently, he has never deviated from his vision of creating a business that leaves the world a better place.

Prior to their current 100% recyclable paper bags, Chris packed the granola in glass jars; return the jar to get $2 off your next purchase. Initially, people weren’t keen on doing so, but it eventually gained momentum till the return rates were 60-70%.

“We were like the modern day milkman,” he said, describing how he personally delivered every jar of granola. It was a good way to connect with the community, especially when everyone was isolated.

Our verdict

Based on our review of Dearborn Granola, I’m guessing our answer is pretty obvious.

If you’re looking for a unique cafe in Chinatown, you’ve gotta head down to Dearborn.

Dearborn Granola

Location: 1 Everton Park, #01-29, Singapore 081001
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Sat-Sun: 9am-3pm

Looking for the best cafes in Chinatown?

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *