In a world where working acquaintances are widespread and unemployed vehicle-equipped companions are few, making last-minute plans almost never follow through. This wasn't a huge deal to me, since I had a few solo activities to accomplish and was more than ready to engross myself with. (Amongst these was the latest episode of Real Thai, which had aired several days prior. Of course, it had taken a considerable amount of willpower to filtrate out the spoiler screencaps.)
I made my way over around the 9:40 AM mark, then proceeded to ease myself into one of the two small booths situated towards the back of the café. This area was not only dimmer than the table I had selected previously, but also much chillier. As these tables were camouflaged from sight from the bar area, bells had been provided to alert the counter staff of any requests.
Seeing as I had just set down my belongings, I strode up to the barista to inquire about the possibility of turning down the A/C in the back. She seemed troubled by this request.
"You can just ring the bell." came her blunt response. "I don't think so but I can ask the owner."
Instead, she suggested to move to a (larger) table near the front, closer to the blinding UV rays penetrating through the front windows. "When it gets busy, I will have to ask you to move though." she added.
There were no outlets at my table, but the Office suite doesn't drain much juice anyway.
It was odd to see the oils separating from the runny cheese mixture, then seeping into the remainder of the sandwich. Cheddar - especially heavily processed renditions of it - is arguably my least liked cheese variety, and I can't say that the scene left too positive of an impression.
Admittedly, I would have preferred the addition of sliced mushrooms - would it have further increased the moisture content though? As a result of the narrow serving board, bits of ham fell out during the consumption process, finding their way onto the not-so-immaculate table. Given that stains had remained from previous diners, I was unwilling to retrieve these bits. Honestly speaking, a large ceramic plate would have made my life easier; wax paper, a small wooden plank, and stained napkins should be reserved for the Insta-enthusiasts.
I requested a cup of water from the barista, to which she nodded before calling out to clearly indifferent male at the adjacent table, "Do you want water too?".
Service was relatively consistent with my last visit: The owner of the cafe had even stopped by my table for a check-in, simultaneously refill my water glass with a smile. Even when the single stall bathroom was clogged, she did not hesitate to verify its functioning status right away, without even the slightest grunt or look of displeasure.
The barista - aka the not-so-amiable part-timer - wasn't particularly observant nor efficient. Possibly the happiest response I was rewarded with came at the time of my departure: "Are we ready to go?"
On the other hand, the Tortoise Jelly (aka guilinggao or 龜苓膏) that we ordered to go was absolutely heavenly. The texture was a tad more rigid than Grass Jelly, and coincided with a sharp, bitter presence. A small container of ginger syrup - likely a mix of 片糖 dissolved with ginger root - was provided to neutralize the acerbic properties, ultimately yielding a soothing, herbal dessert.
By this point, my appetite had returned. We drove in the direction of First Markham Place, where I took to relieving my parchedness with a cup of Hot Water from Eggette Hut (which they have been kind enough to grant without charge!). In the cards was also a Coffee Bingsoo from The Cups. Besides the very minimal mochi portion and Cherrios overload, I liked this quite a bit.