Address: 13 Stamford Rd, #01-11, Singapore 178905
Opening Hours: Daily 10:00am – 10:00pm.
Official Website: maisonkitsune.com
Cafe Kitsune Singapore Menu
Many think I thrive in roasting restaurants and cafes, but it’s difficult to write about disappointment post mortem. I have to relive the feelings of disappointment again, but perhaps my higher than usual expectations were to blame. With outlets around the world from London to New York, Seoul, Paris, Tokyo, Jakarta, and recently Manila, it is expected for customers to be excited at the much-awaited opening of Cafe Kitsune in Capitol, Singapore. So much so that a soft launch is not about to deter me from trying it out.
I truly, truly understand when a franchise says they’re on a soft launch. Operations are likely to be bumpy, the quality inconsistent, the service trying to gel itself together with whatever it can hold itself with. But here’s the rub: not all customers are aware that Cafe Kitsune is on a soft launch. Passersby who recognize the brand won’t even know, unless you’re invited to the media preview, follow bloggers, a Maison Kitsune fan, or a blogger yourself. There isn’t a big shiny banner outside of the cafe that it’s on a dry run. And that made one irate customer scream at the staff for waiting 30 minutes for a cup of coffee when the cafe was half empty. No lines for a day 2 morning, to be frank. And she was well within her paying rights.
That drastically changed the entire atmosphere and soiled my experience. I waited longer than her for a cup of flat white, a matcha eclair and a chicken katsu sando, yet she was angrier than I was. But her anger levels were, unfortunately, understandable and the staff had to bear the brunt of her complaints… which in my opinion, wasn’t the fault of the servers. It was the management’s fault.
Yes, you may argue that Cafe Kitsune isn’t officially opened until the 1st of December, but what is the difference between today and 5 days more? Shouldn’t the staff be at the tip of the learning curve by now? Trainings exist prior to soft launches, as with any restaurant, not just big chains. Operations can be redeemed in time, but it cannot too long. The market in Singapore is well known for its preferences in efficiency. Cafe Kitsune shouldn’t dwell too long in its soft launch state, even well into the first days of official launch. (This reminded me of the early days of eggslut. Steep climb to getting the crowds back. 1 hour for a damn takeaway.)
When cafes go into soft launches, there are certain forgivable aspects of the food. The pastries were magnificent (if they come out fresh, and not melting for a long time in the display.). I enjoyed the matcha eclair ($11). The flat white ($7) — thank the coffee gods — was excellent against the 30 minute wait, an evidence to the barista’s experiences from Daizu Cafe in Farrer Park.
But the Chicken Katsu Sando was a $15 mistake. Cold as the winter winds of Paris.
My friends confirmed the Pork Katsu Sando at the Manila outpost was served warm. Meanwhile, the staff said they serve the Katsu Sando cold.
There is no place on planet earth where Katsu Sandos are served cold. But a tough to chew fried chicken breast that tasted like it came from a pack of frozen chicken tenders is, by no means, redeemable. This isn’t niçoise salad or chicken croissant sandwich. This is fried breaded chicken between shokupans. A Japanese dish.
I tried to ask them to warm it for me, trying to give them another chance. But it remained to be the worst sando I ever had. It just didn’t work. (Forget the fact that I don’t know where they shoved the half eaten sandwich to warm it, but they returned to me in the same half-bitten state. Rule number 1: always, always serve a new one if the customer returns the dish to the kitchen. Especially after covid.)
The outdoor atmosphere is excellent, perfect for Singapore’s sunny weather and the cafe is decked in its iconic Maison Drucker brasserie chairs. But it still won’t make up for its misses.
All things can go wrong during a soft launch, but here’s my take: I do think Cafe Kitsune rushed themselves to open before December. December 1st sounded like a hard deadline from the management. But they are by no means ready. It shows. And while I like that the staff were persistent in learning throughout the dry run — coffees served faster, customers were warned the sandwiches are cold upon ordering… Bits and pieces highlight a proud excuse that the brand is too large to fail. I hope that fades away well before the year ends.