There is a lot of hype on the take-over of the iconic Tong Ah Kopitiam shophouse at Keong Saik Road and L, S and I trooped down for lunch with great anticipation.
L nagged us to leave early and luckily we did as the lunch queue built up quickly just past 12:15pm. The place has a cool, trendy and festive vibe and I can see why there is a buzz.
Service though would probably need to be spruced up to cope with the crowd – the overwhelmed servers seemed to avoid eye contact and the sea of waving arms, many orders were left waiting to be taken, our appetizer came after our mains and they got our bill wrong.
Thank goodness the food sorta made up for it though only 1(of 3) columns in the menu was dedicated to food. Even the most flexible of us would only have 6 burgers (the only mains) to choose from whilst poor S only had 2. Quite an achievement that we came up with 3 different choices – Burning Man (beef), Rambo (lamb) and Honky-Tonk (chicken)!
It was a tough call between this and a beef burger, but I thought this would be more unique – no regrets! The lamb patty was nicely done, pink inside, tender and terribly juicy. It had an Indian flavour and I would say this is the most distinct and flavourful lamb burger I have had in Singapore. Obviously, do not order this if you are not into lamb, aubergine, feta, cumin or strong flavours! The only bit that I disliked was that the bottom bun got really soggy with the plentiful sauces.
Burning Man ($24) – beef patty, smoked cheese, roasted jalapeno relish, hot ketchup & dashi mayo
L had this and we had a 1/5 burger swap. My first reaction – woah, it is really really spicy(!) – the jalapeno and hot ketchup really hits you. Order only if you have a high tolerance for chillis; I don’t think I would be able to finish the whole burger on my own.
Honky-Tonk ($19) – Buttermilk fried chicken, coleslaw, lettuce, ‘Big Poppa Hot Sauce” & den miso mayo
I didn’t have the stomach to also try this. S seemed to like it (especially the coleslaw) but she did comment post-meal that it was too oily and she had to settle for salad for dinner.
Note that the burgers do not come with sides. And… gasp(!)… they ran out of fries (and we were their first lunch customers!). We settled for a basket of wing-its ($8) – sauce lathered chicken wings topped with sliced red chilli, fried shallots and spring onion…
The sauce was sweet/salty/smokey – it may be some kind of BBQ sauce but it has a unique taste that is quite hard to describe – S hazarded a guess of marmite and some
tau-you (edit: S says she said “cang tao you” – well, not that it adds any more clarity ;)) plus some peppercorn which she bit into. I don’t know whether I like it – it was odd especially with the Chinese toppings and yet it was pretty tasty in a non-conventional way.
The drinks menu was far more extensive. I ordered a Ginger Ninja (spicy ginger root fizz) but the raw ginger taste was too much for me; L kindly swapped his Sherbie Hancock (lemonade with orange, lemon & grapefruit fizz) with me which was a gentler sweet blend.
Overall, a cool place to hang out. The burgers are not huge (and on the expensive end) though extremely big on flavours.