Who would have thought that 12 years after the popular series “Friends” ended that fans, not in the US, but halfway around the world in Singapore, get to relive the café-filled days of the six famous friends.
I was a huge friend of the show. For ten years that the series ran, I felt I knew all six of them. They have accompanied me through school as a teenager all the way into my working world as a reluctant adult (just like them). It’s a café I had to visit.
Located at Central Mall in central Singapore, the café stays true to the atmosphere of its fictional namesake café in the series. From the couch where the friends always hang out, to the coffee counter (Gunther not included) to the side window where you can see the Central Perks sign, it will all look too familiar to fans.
There’s more. The café features an alfresco dining area, where you can dine next to the façade of the café, a mini merchandise section so you can grab Friends tees and mugs, and a tiny Friends museum where you can’t stop being trigger-happy with familiar scenes you’d recognise from the beloved series. There’s Monica’s kitchen, where the friends sometimes hang out, the foosball table from Chandler and Joey’s apartment, and a tribute wall dedicated to Rachel, Ross and Phoebe, each with replica pieces from selected episodes. There are other things that fans might notice, like the “Aux buttes Chaumont” poster hanging in Monica’s living room and the Laurel and Hardy poster in Joey and Chandler’s living room, among others (I’ll leave you to uncover yourself).
Based on a style guide from Warner Brothers, the folks from Central Perks pain-stakingly had memorable items from the show replicated- like Rachel’s wedding gown, that statue of the Pat the dog in Joey and Chandler’s apartment, and the freaky doll-painting of Gladys, Phoebe’s gift to the girls.
The staff are trained to be friendly and informative. Flashing wide grins and displaying great attitudes (customer service is not the best in Singapore), I was shown to my seat and given a comprehensive introduction of the menu. The coffee selection is all named after the characters from the series. The Rachel Green is a light frothy blend, much like the flighty but lovable friend herself. Phoebe Buffay gives off a nutty flavour, because Phoebe is often off-kilter and a little crazy. The Joey Tribianni blend is a strong Italian roast, while Ross Gellar is a medium blend, much like our average paleontologist friend. Then there’s the Chandler Bing that gives us the smokey blend, because he’s the only smoker amongst the friends. The most intense blend of them all, is of course, the high-strung Monica Gellar. You can order the different blends in expresso, Cappuccino and Latte form. The cups come in a gigantic size, just like from the show, but are only half-filled. For the price of S$8 (US$5.60), it’s pricey.
The café serves restaurant type food, with soups, salads, sandwiches and mains all named after select episodes from the show. There’s Janice’s Oh. My. God Baby Back Ribs, Phoebe’s “I can Eat” Meat Steak, Joey’s “You’re My Everest” Turkey and more, all of which were described to me by my young server, along with the gist of the episode each item of the menu was named after. She was probably still in diapers when the show ended its run, but it shows how much effort was put into the training of the staff to stay true to the brand.
The food menu pricing is steep. A simple Joey’s “Ride Along” Sandwich-a six-inch meatballs with barbecue sauce sandwich and no sides costs S$18. Prices for mains goes up to around $70 (for steak). Dessert ranges from S$12 for simple ice cream to S$16 for The One Joey isn’t Even Sorry for Eating- Heavy fudge chocolate mudcake.
Despite a tad put-off by the pricing and small serving size, I’m glad to visit Central Perk. I’ve watched every single episode of Friends and stepping into a place that dedicates itself fully to the show brings back fond memories of school days when I was busy cramming for exams and took to Friends to relieve stress.
The cafe’s devotion to the show is admirable. Apart from every single item on the menu, each nook and cranny of the café also has the series in mind. There is a microphone stand next to the bay window sitting area, just like in Friends. Instead of Phoebe serenading the crowd with Smelly Cat, the owner shared that he’s looking at aspiring singers to take the mike-stand soon, just like our cat-loving Friend.
Central Perk is a great place to visit with your friends who love the series as much as you did. The spacious interior and all things Friends make for a great place to get-together and relive Friends nostalgia. Most importantly, it creates the perfect opportunity to bond or re-connect with your mates whom you shared Friends memories with all those years ago.
Tags: Cafe feature, Central Perks
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