Highway 6 can feel like a brick-and-mortar maze of retail shops and indistinct chain restaurants at times. Fortunately, there are a few places one can count on to transport you into a totally different environment, like the movies where a character pulls out a book from a stack of them on a shelf and reveals a passage into a secret room.
Singapore Cafe in Sugar Land is one such place. It’s difficult to pinpoint a dish as distinctly Singaporean. But given Singapore’s history of colonization by the British Empire and invasion and occupation by Japan during World War II, along with its proximity to Thailand, India and other South Asian nations whose cuisines have caught on and become very popular in America, it’s easy to see some of the influences that have shaped Singapore Cafe.
The first place to start is with Roti Canai ($4.50), an Indian-influenced flatbread served with a curry that is reminiscent of a chicken broth for dipping. You get two of them in one serving, and though they’re large enough to split one order with another person, I’d recommend getting your own order.
The mango is one of the staples of subtropical, humid climates across South Asia, and it is no different in neighboring Malaysia, from where the Mango Chicken dish I ordered ($12.95 as an entree, $7.95 as a lunch special) originates.
My theory from trying this dish, and other Asian dishes, developed back when I had the chance to review two local Vietnamese restaurants, and it is this: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Whereas in many American dishes, the meat or protein is the clear centerpiece, I observed an interesting difference in the dynamic of my meal. The main textural difference was the buttery softness of the chicken, which was sliced into tiny pieces and deliberately meant to be a part of the fabric of strips of mangoes, green peppers and onions soaked in a sweet and sour sauce and white rice.
To wrap it all up, I was presented with a chocolate fortune cookie — a major game-changer that caught me off guard in the kindest and most satisfied way — when I walked up to the counter to pay the bill. I must apologize to Forrest Gump, because Singapore Cafe is not unpredictable, like, say, a box of chocolate fortune cookies. In this case, I do know what I’m going to get — a decent meal served by a courteous staff at a very reasonable price.
Address: 3149 Highway 6, Sugar Land
Dining Options: Dine-in, takeout, delivery via Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, UberEats, Seamless
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday-Sunday (closed Tuesdays)
Entrée prices: $10.75-$14.95
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: Vegetarian, gluten-free options available
Star of the show: Mango Chicken