Western Grub

Western Grub

Everyone's favourite, be it if you are a child, teenager or an adult. Food that we will never get tired of and leave you wanting for more!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Not sure how things are like now for the youngsters these days, but Aston’s Specialties was the go-to place for the splurge during the days when I was still a polytechnic student (it’s been a decade; can you even?!) — and for the boys, it’s always almost certainly about the Double Up Chicken. Think about it — two slabs of chicken of your choice, along with two sides of your choice without costing twice the price (although it now costs $16); something that hits the maturing adolescents when it comes to the sheer flexibility and portioning.

One thing I am very glad about the grilled chicken dishes at Aston’s Specialties is would be their consistency over the years — right down from how it comes with those satisfying grill marks all the way to the flavours. Unlike some places where the “fiery” does not really mean much, the Fiery Chicken from Aston’s Specialties delivers despite its humble appearance; the chicken being all surprisingly spicy with quite an intense kick of heat that tingles the taste buds even for those who are tolerable to moderate levels of spiciness. Opted for the Pasta Salad and Onion Rings for sides; have always remembered how the former tasted the same — al-dente fusilli that carries a decent bite probably tossed in a very light vinaigrette for some flavour with a sprinkle of pepper over the top and coming with some capsicums for contrast in terms of taste and texture, while the onion rings are crisp on the exterior with its golden-brown batter.

Admittedly there are times where they are little up and down in terms of their consistency, but Aston’s Specialties isn’t a bad dining option — probably just one I would skip given my preference of dining at more “indie” establishments. For those who are not too fussy with the overall dining experience, Aston’s Specialties does not really go too far in the unknown — always been more of a safe option to fall back for all sorts of occasions; and that’s how they seemingly have become a sort of memory for me now of the simpler times that I would return back to for a taste of nostalgia.

Checked out the new Teahouse 1973 at 53 Sims Place recently; one of the latest additions to the Sims Place neighbourhood that is located along the same row of shops as Builders at Sims.

Kinda bummed by the limited selection of dishes in the menu that are unavailable for the day during our visit — there was a good variety of items being served up on the menu including a Penang Laksa that is only available on Thursdays and Saturdays (we made our visit on a Saturday during dinner service), but they were only serving up only 8 of the hot food items being listed on the menu.

Found ourselves opting for the Sous-Vide Pork Chop that turned out to be pretty decent, though nothing much to shout about. Served with the bone in, the pork chop did came in a decently-sized portion and drizzled in a brown sauce; the meat did come rather tender and juicy though it’s an item that should be enjoyed as it arrives the table — given the nature of the meat, the pork chop did turn out to become a little stiff and dry after being left there for a while, especially when we started to have the second piece. Thankfully, the brown sauce does attempt to alleviate the dryness somewhat; a buttery sauce almost akin to that served at Aston’s/Andes by Aston’s, infused with Rosemary for a slightly herb-y fragrance. Fries were decently fried; crisp on the exterior, whilst being well-salted, though I did wish they had provided a better tasting chili sauce instead — the one that it came with was a tad bland overall, which had us guessing whether was it ketchup or chili. The mixed greens on the side came crunchy — pretty refreshing to have in between the fries and the pork for how crunchy they were, and comes drizzled with a goma dressing for a roasty, sesame flavour; all that whilst also being adorned by a slice of canned pineapple and candied cherry that seems to be there more for the aesthetic value.

To be fair, perhaps the Sous-Vide Pork Chop was probably something that we should have skipped for the Sambal Prawn + Nasi Lemak instead; an item which carries more character over their Western cuisine offerings. That being said, Teahouse 1973 feels more like a neighbourhood hangout that residents in the area would enjoy for the vibe; probably not something which I would go all the way out for considering the Western cuisine items that we have had given how there are just simply other options that probably serve Western cuisine just as well as them, or even better around.

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Prodigal Cafe is one of those places that I have recently skipped on quite a lot recently — one of those places that I used to visit on a weekly basis, but with them being closed on Sundays, it has also been one of those places which I have also found it difficult to plan for, considering it will have to be a Saturday if I were to drop by this nook in the MacPherson Lane estate.

Having revamped their menu fairly recently, Prodigal Cafe has since stopped serving up their previous menu — the famed Grilled Cheese Sandwich is also currently axed off in favour of a whole new Sourdough Pizza menu that is as good, if not even better than what they were serving up previously. Making their very own sourdough pizza crust from scratch, the Lychee Bacon was our choice during our recent visit — a pizza that featured elements such as Smoked Lychee and Bacon, Homemade Tomato Sauce, Buffolo Mozzarella, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Found the Lychee Bacon Pizza to be pretty much like a twist to the all familiar Hawaiian pizza that locals know and love — the ham seems to be effectively replaced by the bacon, while the lychee’s sweetness seemed to have replicated that of the zingy sweetness of pineapples in a typical Hawaiian pizza; the bacon also aptly savoury whilst being lightly smoky, with the melted cheese providing that additional cheesiness from the usual mozzarella found in Hawaiian pizzas. What really set their pizzas apart from the many others we have had over the years is the sourdough crust — brilliantly executed when it comes to the fluffiness and chewiness, yet beautifully blistered with charred marks from the baking process that also provides for the light crispness in the crust; simply a joy to have on its own, and forms a great base to any toppings that are subsequently added to it.

Prodigal Cafe/Roasters is a spot I have been following ever since they had opened their doors at Ang Mo Kio; had tried many iterations of the various items that they have to offer but their sourdough pizzas seems to be the best items that have came out of their kitchen of the late; it’s the best time to check them out if one hasn’t done so yet!

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Isle Cafe is probably a name that will ring a bell for students and office workers around the Selegie area alike — serving up food meant for the mass market, I know of folks who swears by their Chinese economic mixed vegetable rice for an affordable lunch — and I also do find it a pretty appealing option for those days where I don’t really want to fuss over what to have for a decent weekday lunch whenever I return back to the office.

It’s not news that they do have two locations within Parklane Shopping Mall — the original being situated at Level 2 but it’s the spot at Level 1 that is the one where they do serve up more “upscale” fare at pretty pocket-friendly prices; the selection spreads far and wide with Thai cuisine such as Basil Minced Pork Rice, Vietnamese Fish Soup Vermicelli, and even salad/rice bowls. Quite intrigued by their Pork Katsu Sandwich which costs $5.50 — no doubt a simple sandwich to put together and nothing particularly artisanal; the pork cutlet and bread used doesn’t lie, but it’s a good attempt with its toasted bread, sweet-ish and slightly vinegary Tonkatsu sauce that is mixed with a bit of Dijon mustard and crisp panko-battered fried pork cutlets (though a little thin and not particularly juicy). Coupled with crisp and well-seasoned fries and a garden salad drizzled with Thousand Island dressing (would prefer a Goma salad dressing to keep with the Japanese theme though; but come on ...), I think it does work as an accessible cheap thrill that does help to cure some cravings for a decent Japanese-inspired sandwich if one does manage their expectations well especially with its price point.

If anything, Isle Cafe is a true saviour for the folks in this part of town — ask any Kaplan student from their city campus or office worker in the area and you would find plenty who are regulars here; despite it being a rather economic option, they have actually never been disappointing be it when it comes to allowing patrons to drizzle braised sauce and curry sauce to their mixed vegetable economy rice to their own whim and fancy, or serving up their roast meat noodles with both fried and soup wantons by default. Their more hipster counterpart at Level 1 of Parklane Shopping Mall follows the same exact philosophy — still aiming for the mass market but with a more cafe-esque approach with more themed dishes served on porcelain plates; heck, they even serve some pretty decent supplied cakes here. And it’s little wonder how they have captured the heart of the masses here — providing true value to the common folk; they do certainly deserve more attention for feeding people well with a wide variety of dishes at wallet-friendly prices.

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Taking over the former premises of Manna at City Gate, Happy Ending Pizza Parlour is a new pizzeria which had opened its doors as a physical store rather recently — the establishment was previously more of an online operation serving patrons through delivery since June 2020.

Admittedly we did give Happy Ending Pizza Parlour a visit for its quirky name, but someone else had to point out the name of the pizza that we had ordered that things sound more twisted than it felt initially (😝). That being said, the Sweet Dreams was a pizza off the “Unique Pizza” section of the menu — essentially a four cheese pizza featuring elements such as mozzarella, blue cheese, parmesan and ricotta with a drizzle of honey; a pizza that fits well for those who don’t necessarily find meaty pizzas appealing (yes, such folks do exist — don’t be surprised especially for those who grew up eating the Hawaiian). Coming in a size of approximately 10 to 11 inches, the Sweet Dreams does seem reasonably sized to feed one really hungry human being, or two with a rather typical appetite — the crust comes beautifully blistered from the baking process; slightly bready but still light, airy and fluffy, though I could see those who love crusty charred edges probably find this less aligned to their preferences. Whilst wafting of a pungent cheesiness when it arrived the table with most of the aroma coming from the blue cheese, the pizza was pretty light taste-wise; sufficiently cheesy but doesn’t carry the punch I had initially expected from the blue cheese especially — perhaps much of it was already complimented by the drizzle of honey which gives it a tinge of sweetness amidst the slight saltishness which does remind us remotely of the Honey Soy craze a couple of years ago. So sinful, but yet so comforting somehow.

Still found it a shame that we didn’t really get to try the meatier renditions here (oh, we ended up going for a round of Thai Mookata cos’ Golden Mile) — probably something that I might considering making the visit here again next time. Interestingly, Happy Ending Pizza Parlour does also serve up their pizzas with add-on sauces — think Chili Crab, Zesty Red Pesto, and Bacon Jam; all for one to dunk their pizza in for yet another flavour contrast. Unique concept, I would say!

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Found ourselves at this gastro bar along Pasir Panjang Road because we were in the area and didn’t exactly knew where to head to for dinner — the only perimeters which the dining partner gave was a place that serves up Aglio Olio, which he was craving for.

While the pasta was eventually something we felt could have been done better, the Lemongrass Chicken is one of the items that left us pretty impressed. Of course this isn’t the sort of gastronomical affair that some may dig, but the Lemongrass Chicken does work as their own rendition of Thai-inspired Western fare. The slab of chicken may not be something that suits all taste buds, though we found it to be actually pretty intriguing considering how the chicken carried a light tanginess that somewhat helps to cut through the meatiness; the chicken being juicy and sufficiently tender. Coming with a fried egg over it, the fried egg does come with a molten yolk that oozes out as one slices through the egg — a nice touch for the dish considering its addition here, while the accompanying Thai chili dip carries a zippy note amidst the slight spiciness that should do well with for those with moderate tolerance to spiciness; goes incredibly well with the chicken and the sides. Patrons do have a choice of opting for two sides — we found ourselves going for the Cajun Fries and Broccoli; the former being pretty well-executed fries being all crisp, though lacks the spiciness and the flavours of cajun spices somewhat given how the seasoning does not really seem to cling on well with the fries, while the latter was expectedly crunchy and great to dip into the chili dip for more flavour.

Given the items that we have ordered at 3 Monkeys, it seems that their strongest suit are in their meats and mains which is pretty fair for a gastro bar. Apart from a wide selection of alcohol, 3 Monkeys also serves up milkshakes, tea and coffee — the specialty coffee being brewed from beans roasted by Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee using a blend of Colombian and Guatemalan beans, and also includes a signature offering that is the Milo Latte — a concoction of espresso, milk and Milo; a less heavy, Mocha-esque drink

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Opened for around a month, ASAP & Co is a Muslim-run establishment that had recently gained traction within the past few weeks — being a collaborative effort by the folks behind The Smok Hous and Brulee.sg, the former is known for their smoked meats while the latter serves up the various desserts displayed at the counter when one first walks into ASAP & Co; the space being decked in lush greenery amidst the clean and white aesthetic that carries a slightly rustic-ness with its wooden elements and metallic frame chairs.

Case in point, the Salmon Lemak Api Bowl showcases the very best of what The Smok Hous has to offer for their smoked meats despite being a fish dish — whilst being a rice bowl dish, the same smoked salmon also appears in the Smok Norwegian Salmon Linguine for those who is looking for a pasta variant. The Salmon Lemak Api Bowl features elements such as Smok Norwegian Salmon, Creamy Lepak Cili Api, Edamame, Cherry Tomatoes, Steamed Short Grain Japanese Rice, Toasted Black Sesame Seeds, and Sous-Vide Egg; a pity that the yolk of the sous-vide egg was already leaking out of the whites by the time it arrived at the table, but the star of the dish is no doubt the Smok Norwegian Salmon. Beautifully smoked, what we really loved about their smoked salmon is how it came with a distinct smokiness from the grill; yet the fish comes with a slightly pinkish centre that is done medium rare — carrying notes of savouriness that is almost akin to cured salmon, but not being overly salty. The slab of salmon is absolutely delicious, served with skin-on, and well-executed on its own; left us pretty much craving for more as it gets wiped out in no-time; comes topped with the Creamy Lepak Cili Api smothered over the top — a rich coconut cream that somewhat further brings out the flavour of the salmon, though does seem to lack spiciness in general, which may be purposely done so to avoid overwhelming the flavours of the fish. Whilst the menu seem to suggest elements such as Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes are supposed to be served with the dish; almost akin to that of grain bowls served at other establishments, our order came with what seems to look like achar on the side — does give the dish a more local touch and is especially refreshing being crunchy with a slight tang and was a pretty welcoming change from what was listed on the menu. Mixing up the sous-vide egg into the rice bowl, it helps to create a creamier texture and binds all the elements in the bowl together.

Have heard that waiting times for food can be a tad long here for walk-in orders – pretty understandable because each order of the smoked meats are painstakingly smoked upon order; speaks a lot of their determination to serve up the best tasting meats for their patrons. That being said, ASAP & Co does allow patrons to make reservations and pre-order their smoked meats — helps to reduce the waiting times a little. Must say that we left pretty impressed by the smoked meats here; guess I am gonna develop cravings for their Smok Norwegian Salmon — difficult to find a spot that smokes their own fish and does that so well!

Taking over the former premises of Plentyfull at Millenia Walk, Patisserie G have since expanded their operations; their original shop space within the same mall is still in operations, and Bistro G is their latest venture which serves up starters, sharing plates, meat & fish, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and pasta dishes — more of a full-service establishment dishing out bistro fare as compared to Patisserie G which is more casual and focuses more on cafe fare apart from their signature patisserie.

One dish that I have always wanted to try out for myself is the Beef Wellington — pretty glad that Bistro G does serve it here so it’s definitely one dish checked from my to-try list when I come across one. Coming with elements such as Medium-Rare Tenderloin, Oxtail Ragu, Mushroom in Puff Pastry and a Red Wine Reduction sauce, the dish was very well-executed — loved how the pastry was buttery and flaky whilst the mushrooms in between the pastry provided a good bounce; a gradual progression of textures towards the medium-rare tenderloin which is done just right with a pinkish centre. The tenderloin was also on-point; the fibres of the meat came off easily — juicy, succulent and melt-in-the-mouth, absolutely tender yet sufficiently beefy without being overly gamey as one easily slices through the beef without needing much effort. The red wine reduction helps to cut through the meatiness of the dish pretty elegantly, while the mash on the side was immensely smooth and came just savoury enough to pair nicely with the Beef Wellington. Having this rendition was enough for me to be impressed; definitely would want to try a Beef Wellington elsewhere — just makes me wonder who was that genius in history who decided that puff pastry would go so well with a well-executed slab of beef, because the two elements are something which I would never think about putting together in this manner.

That being said, do expect some teething issues with Bistro G; little things such as the waiting time for food being a little long (going possibly near a 40-minute wait after ordering), orders being served more than once and the wrong items coming to table — just part and parcel of being in a new establishment trying to get used to things given how running a bistro is still different from a self-service cafe. Still, the food is pretty decent here with prices that reflects rather well on the type of cuisine, the generally execution of the food and the type of establishment it is. A spot that would work well for a date night at a convenient location in town.

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Builders at Sims had always been a cafe that is on my to-visit list, but the thought of going into the neighbourhood at Sims Avenue daunts me for some reason (perhaps it has something got to do with me staying up north). So I got pretty ecstatic knowing that Builders Cafe had recently opened a new outlet at Wisteria Mall within Yishun; the same mall that houses the new outlet of Hei Lun Shi Tang 黑轮食堂 which we had written a while ago and Wild Wood Cafe; definitely somewhere that is more accessible to me.

The cafe dishes out quite a wide variety of dishes, but the Truffle Chicken Pot Pie was something that we went for because we were craving for some good chicken pie for quite a while. Featuring elements such as chicken, truffle cream and puff pastry, the Truffle Chicken Pot Pie bears more resemblance to a Puff Pastry Soup rather than a pie due to how the dish is being served in a casserole and topped with pie pastry over the top. That aside, the pot was actually pretty appetising; we liked how the pastry was buttery, flaky and light, but not particularly greasy — digging into the pie, the pastry soaks up the truffle cream and creates a relatively good chew for some texture, while the truffle cream itself comes with only a light whiff of truffle to ante the flavours up just a little to prevent the cream from being too heavy or jelak without feeling overpowering. Inside the pie, one can find the usual bits of potato and carrots that create a good bite, while chunks of chicken provides the meatiness that the pie promised.

It seems that Builders at Wisteria had already gotten some traction from the residents in the area — already being fully occupied a sheer 20mins after opening time at 11am. That being said, the cafe does seem to have teething issues that are considered rather minor; wished that the staff is more proactive in putting guests who are unable to get a seat (we were told to just walk around in the mall initially and come back later, rather than being asked for contact details when a seat is available), and that waiting times for food can take a little long. Otherwise, a spot that Yishun residents would appreciate having around.

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It seems like if there is anything good coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the fact that we seem to have been a little more motivated to try out F&B establishments that are pretty much fixtures in the neighbourhoods that they are at — established names that have been around for decades that not only serves the food items on their menu, but a slice of heritage and memory for those that goes through its doors; something which also inspired our recent visit to Steeple’s Deli.

Have heard about Charlie’s Corner for quite a while, and their rendition of the fish & chips is probably one that they seem to be very proud of. Being on the menu since their establishment in 1979, the Charlie’s Famous Fish & Chips still seem like a dish with a recipe that is very much relevant even to this day — something that not all establishments can pull off for an extended period of time. Much of the appeal for the fish & chips here lies in the batter; the fish itself is pretty flaky, and considerably void of a muddy odour, but I absolutely like how thin the batter was with this one — nothing too thick with pockets of air trapped within. Instead, the batter sticks closely to the fish encased within; all that without disintegrating as separate elements which makes it pretty neat to have. Even the fries are delicious here; still retains its crispness despite being left there for a while. Liked how they also provide more than just the garden greens on the side (which was a tad too bitter for my liking despite the drizzling of Goma dressing for flavour), but also a grilled tomato and corn that provides a refreshing zing and slight sweetness that cuts through the heaviness of the fried items.

Needless to say, Charlie’s Corner seem to be a spot where a lot of memories are held for some — overheard some conversation from another table reminiscing the good times they have had here over the years while having pints of beer at their table (because they were that loud; not that we wanted to hear 😅). That being said, there is something about the rustic charm of Changi Village that makes Charlie’s Corner a pretty unique spot with a heritage here ...

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Had been following this stall for quite a while — originally known as Cafe Wok Inn and subsequently as Mr. Fish & Chips at PoMo, they had since shifted out to Blk 125 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh ever since PoMo had closed for its revamp, and the stall had now recently re-opened its doors at Blk 206 Toa Payoh North under a new branding; now known as Master Chippy — a location that they had once been located in as Cafe Wok Inn.

Stuck to my standard order of the Tilapia for my Fish & Chips here — patrons can now pick between two sides, which I went for the Truffle Fries and Coleslaw. Glad to say that the fried fish still features a crisp beer-battered exterior; all that with the Tilapia still having its juices locked in and being flaky and sufficiently moist — pretty consistent standard from their days at PoMo when their operations had stabilised. Liked how each order also comes standard with crisp, fried crumbs of flour that are similar to the crunchy bits of fried batter that comes with the combo meals at Long John Silvers; fun to crunch on and provides a good break from the fish & chips. Truffle Fries are fairly decent; the generic fries are a little bit on the softer side here but it does come perfumed with an evident hint of truffle and shaved cheese over the top that further enhances those flavours, while the coleslaw comes served chilled; provides a refreshing crunch with a slightly milky hint of flavours in the mayo that it was mixed in.

Must say that they are one of the few establishments that are treating the pandemic really seriously — probably the only establishment I have encountered thus far that seals their dine-in cutlery (yes, metallic ones) in plastic wraps individually. Also recall that the couple running the stall to be very hospitable, friendly and passionate from their PoMo days — glad to have seen them expand their operations; pretty sure the residents around the area must be stoked for their return back here, considering how long a way they have come since moving out from here years ago!

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Have been waiting to give Homeground Grill & Bar a revisit for a while — pretty amazed by how the grilled meats that they have been serving up and how consistent the standards were during my first revisit some months ago.

Pretty torn between their Charcoal Grilled Whisky Ribeye and the Deep Fried Pork Chop but then ended up with the latter; and with good reason. Described as “savoury pork chops coated in buttermilk biscuit, paired with housemade coleslaw”, the Deep Fried Pork Chop is a dish I will gladly recommend on any visit here. Grilled pork chops have been notorious for being terribly dry and tough if not done well, but the fried pork chops here are absolutely delicious — not only was the flesh tender and sufficiently moist, it’s also the fried batter that is a winner here; crunchy yet crisp, the batter comes with a slight sweetness amidst the savouriness of fried food which was absolutely addictive. A dish that is difficult to give a pass on whenever I am here!

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