Visited the new Social Smoker recently for dinner — a new barbecue restaurant that serves up artisanal wood-smoked meats good for a communal setting; think the likes of establishments such as Red Eye Smokehouse at Cavan Road and Decker’s Barbeque at Robertson Quay. Social Smoker takes over the former premises of Sin Ming Roti Prata’s second location at Jalan Leban, and is located in the first shophouse on the road that leads to the Sembawang Hills estate behind Sembawang Hills Food Centre. The entire space has seen quite a revamp; the space does have a vibe of a speakeasy bar with somewhat dim lighting and neon lighting on some of its walls; the menu here features communal platters that offers patrons a fuss-free option with pre-selected choices of meat that is good to share with portions catered to two pax, all the way to five pax. Those who are keen to do their own mix-and-match can go for the “Meat by Weight” section — essentially a la carte meats charged by weight (i.e. at 100g), whilst they also do offer sandwiches and burgers as well. A small selection of tacos are available on weekends, while they do have a list of starters to go along with their wood-smoked meats. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available — the former consisting of draught beers and craft beers, as well as cocktails and wine, while the latter comprises of a small selection of tea and lemonade options.

Was in to actually just try small portions of what they have to offer; the folks behind the counter then recommended us to order some of the a la carte meats, and also to get one of the sandwiches since we are a party of two pax. Opting for the Pork Belly Burnt Ends at 100g and USDA Beef Brisket at 100g for our a la carte meat orders, we found both meats to really well-executed. The Pork Belly Burnt Ends is that sort of item that would work well for those looking for some bar bites — the Pork Belly Burnt Ends being cubes of pork belly that has been smoked that really carried a good bite; it’s smoky, yet meaty with juicy bite, all that whilst being coated with a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce for good flavour. The USDA Beef Brisket on the other hand was especially tender and melt-in-the-mouth; slices through like a knife on hot butter — all that without being particularly gamey. We actually went with the Creamed Spinach with our choice of a starter to go with the meats and no regrets on that — they probably serve up one of the best creamed spinach around that is creamy without being particularly jelak; the spinach here also coming with a consistent fibrous texture without having pieces that are too distinctly different in size which we found to be a joy to have.

Despite being a new pretty new establishment in the neighbourhood, Social Smoker does seem to have garnered a decent following — the restaurant does seem to be full reserved for the evening on the weekend that we had visited, though we were allowed to dine-in considering they do have some time to turn around the tables before the party that had made the reservation was going to come in. It is also little wonder why; Social Smoker is pretty much the only establishment of its type being located in this region of the island — the other similar establishments are usually only found in more central locations, thus the appeal. Most importantly however is how the folks at Social Smoker do seem to have the expertise in their craft; despite the playful aesthetics of the establishment, one could tell the effort and passion placed by the folks behind the counter in the execution of the food, whilst trying to provide their patrons with a good experience throughout their time here. A laid-back, easygoing establishment that not only pushes out delicious wood-smoked meats and sandwiches for the community around it, Social Smoker is a destination in the heartlands that is also a breath of fresh air in the Sembawang Hills estate that sees only small changes over the years that is worth making the trip for!

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