Text by Darryl Goh | Photos by Fazli
It’s not hard to spot REBEL: its walls are adorned with lively street art, putting a twist on Supreme and OBEY. Founder Sandy, upon having tasted the heavenly goodness of banh mi in Vietnam a few years ago, brought about an Asian sandwich business which challenged the status quo.
I walk into Rebel and immediately notice substantial differences from your neighbourhood chain sandwich shop. Staff serve with a smile, engage in small-talk with customers; it does not take long to realise that a warm community has been built here.
The bread is baked daily in the store, and portions are hearty, with wallet-friendly prices. Crowd favourites include the Original Rebel ($6.90) and the Asian Po Boy ($8.90). The Original Rebel features chicken patties, while the Asian Po Boy Sandwich is similar to the traditional banh mi, featuring fried shrimp.
Partnering with meat substitute provider Quorn, REBEL also has vegan and vegetarian sandwich options. My personal favourite was the Healthy ($6.90); the Quorn nuggets in the sandwich pack a whole lot of taste, encased in a crunchy, fried (but not greasy) skin. The best part? It was indistinguishable from real chicken meat.
Avocado fans should try the H.A.L.T. ($7.50), which consists of chicken ham, a generous serving of avocado salsa, lettuce and tomato. The Vegan H.A.L.T. (also $7.50) replaces chicken ham with a large Quorn spicy patty.
Pair your sandwich with a latte or if you are adventurous, an iced yuzu cascara tea. Cascara are the dried skins of coffee cherries, traditionally seen as a by-product of the coffee making process. It has recently made its way into tea products in eco-conscious food establishments, offering customers a unique and refreshing tea with a woody hint.
Sustainability is a big part of REBEL’s philosophy, from the the wooden tables and chairs salvaged from a demolished house in Malacca to eco-friendly packaging made by PACKADZ.
Another thing that stands out about REBEL is its business model. Apart from offering a competitive wage, Rebel operates a profit share model. REBEL staff are provided opportunities to learn the tools of the F&B trade through investing and ownership, and even fly the REBEL flag abroad, rebelling the franchising model itself.
So what is the ultimate goal for REBEL? Sandy describes REBEL’s current state as going the opposite way (read: better way) of traditional F&B businesses. Sandy wants REBEL to be the original changemaker for the good of the F&B industry.
111 Somerset Rd, #01-08, Singapore