What would you do if you encountered a café-cum-boutique like The Contemporary Fix? If you were couples Thomas Ho and Janice Ong, Franz Chua and Shanie Teoh, you would be inspired by the concept and introduce it into the local coffee scene for all to appreciate.

(from left to right: Janice Ong, Thomas Ho, Franz Chua, Shanie Teoh)

Thus emerged Maison Ikkoku. The name is a French/Japanese hybrid. Co-founder Franz Chua broke the meaning down for us. “Maison means “play” or “house” while Ikkoku means “this moment”. Put them together and you get “House of the Moment”.

And this is definitely an interesting time for the local café scene. With 4,000 square feet of retail space distributed across 3 levels, Maison Ikkoku promises a distinctive shopping experience by housing an unorthodox combination of cocktail bar, café and male fashion boutique in a vertical space that takes little effort to traverse. Those with a penchant for alcohol will have to wait till November when the cocktail bar opens.

Located at Kandahar Street, Masion Ikokku is flanked by brownish-beige buildings. It’s impossible for the whitewashed façade to not catch your attention. If you find yourself inexplicably being drawn towards the glass entrance, do not resist. Instead, be sensible and make your way towards the warmth of the placid orange lighting.

From the lush pin-cushioned seats to the white brick walls illuminated by orange lighting flowing from light bulbs affixed to exposed industrial copper piping, there are plenty of pleasantries for your eyes to flutter through. The wooden tables may seem conventional to the untrained eye until you notice the keyhole in each of them, which is the point you realise that the tables are actually repurposed cupboard doors.

Speaking of cupboards…

Eyes up! You’ll find several imbued into the ceiling. Don’t worry about them conceding to gravity; the upper halves are tightly securely to the ceiling. It’s an impressive allusion to the clothing store on the 2nd floor and likely to leave an indelible mark in the minds of customers.

While all the drinks are available daily, diners are limited to just gourmet sandwiches and the house specialties on weekdays. Early risers can indulge themselves in the breakfast sets only on weekends.

Maison Ikkoku Musubi (MI Musubi in short), one of the house specialties.

For $3, you’ll get something that resembles sushi, but instead of fish, a slice of spam blankets a thick layer of plain sticky rice while seasoning (a seaweed/sesame combo) is interspersed throughout. The blandness of the rice functions as filler, enabling the saltiness of the seasoning and spam to spread evenly throughout your mouth. If you’re particularly ravenous, you might find an entire piece in your mouth without warning.

If you’re looking for something that’ll take longer to finish, simply cough up an extra 90 cents to enjoy another Maison Ikkoku specialty, the Pork Bun Kong Bak Bao. Essentially a steamed bun loaded with home made stewed pork belly and coriander, it’s a mouth-watering treat. Without revealing too much, the meat is stewed for approximately 3 hours in the morning but still maintains a slightly tough consistency. The pork is then coated in a layer of duck sauce that does a wonderful job of wringing out the full flavour of the meat while complementing it at the same time. Succulent and hearty, don’t be alarmed if you find yourself ordering second helpings.

Those with a fondness for meat will be enthusiastic to know that beef, chicken, ham and salmon sandwiches are available to tickle your belly. The Spicy Chicken & Gruyere (priced at $12.90), is a wholesome blend of Cajun chicken strips, gruyere cheese, rocket, fresh tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil compacted in between Ciabatta bread. Embedded with the right amount of pepper, your mouth would revel in the mildly spicy strips of tender chicken. The vegetables provided extra texture and flavours to keep this omnivorous sandwich appetizing with every bite.

But what if you weren’t getting along with meat that day? Retailing at $10.90, the Wasabi Egg offers you the simple yet yummy concoction consisting of chopped boiled egg, baby spinach and the key ingredient, wasabi mayonnaise. Neatly compiled in Ciabatta bread as well, each bite provides you with a generous dose of creamy wasabi-coated egg that promises not to ignite the inner depths of your nose the way too many enthusiastic sushi gorging sessions have. A flavourful mix, egg and mayonnaise lovers will find a soft spot for this one.

To top it all off, we were given a cup of the café’s signature drink, the MI Latte. With coffee beans imported from Brazil and Ethiopia, they also brought in Hiroshi Sawada, a Japanese celebrity barista and latte art specialist, to train the baristas at Maison Ikkoku. Having won the world championship in the art of “free-pour latte art”, he has done a fine job of imparting his style and aptitude to the café baristas.

You might spend at least a minute pondering the beauty afloat each cup of latte. The dexterity involved in etching intricacy with such precision boggles the mind. If you ask me, it’s a little bit too milky, but the espresso does hit out rather robustly and will deliver a wonderful kick to the nerves of weary patrons. I can imagine rousing myself on a weekend morning with a cup of finely crafted latte in the cosy setting of the café.

To all men with a penchant for indie labels, take note: the boutique is catered solely to the male market. The selection is lined with stylish and quality men’s apparel and accessories such as shoes, belts, bags and bracelets from Japan (Deluxe, Hobo, etc.), France (Twins For Peace, Teddyfish, etc.), USA (Industry of All Nations, Miansai, etc.) and the U.K (Orlebar Brown), including several new-to-market brands exclusive to Maison Ikkoku. Notably, Japanese fashion is the most dominant, a welcoming sight for fans of Japanese streetwear. Certain items piqued my curiosity, including a bag made of resilient parachute material (from Hobo) and footwear from Industry Of All Nations, where the shoes do not distinguish from left or right. Apparel prices start from $125 for a t-shirt, while accessories start from $120 for a modish camera or bracelet.

Photos courtesy of Joel Lee and Maison Ikkoku.

Why an emphasis on Japanese male fashion? Janice explains, “In Singapore, we already have a lot of brands for women. You’ve got H&M, Mango, Zara and Cotton On, to name a few. Even though most of them have menswear, they’re a totally different breed from Japan [clothing]. From my observation of Japanese men, they can spruce up a simple jean/t-shirt combination with accessories and hats and still leave me wondering, “How is every Japanese male so unique? They all have their own style!” That’s when I told my husband that we could bring more of their fashion into Singapore and raise the number of males with their own sense of style.”

“I’ve also noted that [local] men have spending power, but don’t know where to get nice, fashionable clothing. When it comes to fashion, there must be a statement. That’s why the majority of the clothing is from Japan,” she added.

Currently, there are plans to establish a second outlet on the outskirts of town within the next 2 – 3 years, with a boutique dedicated to female shoppers instead. But until then, those looking for a venue to indulge in an elegant tripartite of male fashion, coffee and in the very near future, cocktails, visit Maison Ikkoku at:

20 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198885
Rating: 4/5
Price Rating (for food): $-$$

Opening Hours

Monday to Thursday & Public Holidays: 9am – 7pm
Friday to Saturday: 9am – 10pm
Sunday: 9am – 6pm


  • Breakfast available only on weekends
  • All prices on menu are inclusive of service charge & GST
  • Wi-Fi available