Pub Grub

Pub Grub

Pub grub has evolved. It has gone from being a suspicious looking pile on your plate that you'd down with a pint and pray to God that you wouldn't die afterwards, to becoming tasty fare that wouldn't be out of place in a decent restaurant. Here's a list of the pubs with grub so good it convinced me to put my pint down and take a picture.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

Times are changing, and so are menus. A long time ago, @alteregosg got rid of the pulled pork dip, and most unforgivably of all, the loaded tater tots. However, they did keep their renowned Pizza Fries ($19++) on the menu. As you might’ve guessed, shoestring fries are blanketed by melted cheese and topped with beef pepperoni slices for a simple appetiser that works.⠀

The cheese is sexily stretchy, and the pepperoni is slightly spicy and satisfyingly salty. Best of all, the fries were crisp, salty and were role models for other potatoes to idolise. However, the serving of marinara sauce that used to arrive with every order of pizza fries was conspicuously absent. Yep, the pizza fries are just cheese and pepperoni. Unfortunately, the cheese was nowhere near sufficient to coat the mountain of fries, and so you’re really getting three quarters of plain fries in every order of pizza fries.⠀

The fix for this dilemma is astonishingly simple: add more cheese to the fries, get a large bowl, fill it with marinara sauce, and serve it alongside the fries so everyone can dip their fries into the tomato sauce for an enhanced pizza fry experience. And for nineteen bucks before additional charges, it’s the least anyone expects of these pizza fries.⠀

Thank you for having us, @alteregosg & @burpple!

@vingeeksg doesn’t have much on their food menu, but what they do have is optimised to complement the wines on tap. It don’t matter if you got a red, white, rosés or sparkling, you’ll definitely find a vino nibble that’ll suit your wine. If you’re looking for a universal crowd pleaser no matter what wine you get, then look no further than the Jamon Ham Croquette ($18++).⠀

While each croquette is on the diminutive side, there are five of them. Each croquette is essentially a piece of mozzarella cheese that’s breaded and deep fried, so it’s impossible for deep fried, molten stretchy cheese to disappoint. However, that ain’t quite enough yet, oh no sir. What goes best with cheese? That’s right, cured meat. In this case, each bite sized croquette is crowned with a long ribbon of Jamon ham. The smoked paprika mayo smeared beneath the croquettes weren’t out in sufficient quantity to make an impact on the flavour, which is a pity as a smoky, mildly spicy mayo is perfect with these fried darlings.⠀

The Jamon Ham Croquettes are so delicious that you’ll want to hog one whole plate to yourself. In the (paraphrased) words of Sandor Clegane from Game of Thrones: Here I am. Bring me one of those croquettes. Think I’ll take two croquettes.

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@cherki_sg is a modern Peranakan fusion restaurant that’s located in Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. The menu may look rather similar to other mod-Peranakan restaurants out there, but trust me, you’ll definitely wanna try it for yourself.⠀

Starting off the night right with Chili Beef Rendang Fries ($12++) is a must. The beef rendang isn’t notably spicy, but it is superbly sapid and perfumed with the aromas of lemongrass. While the tastefully tender beef rendang was pretty pleasant, the shoestring fries absolutely blew us away. It was perfectly salted and impossibly crispy, and you could hear the crunch of each bite if you listened. The insides were nice and fluffy, while the outer shell was just crazy crisp, almost like it had a thin layer of batter applied before getting deep fried. The fries were so irresistibly impressive that we ordered seconds of just the fries, minus the rendang.⠀

As for the Candlenut Baby Squid ($14++), it was a texturally terrific appetiser. The fresh, sprightly squid had an enjoyable snap to it, and the bouncy textures were contrasted well by the crispy fried bits strewn around the dish. I couldn’t really taste the candlenut in this dish, but it was gloriously garlicky. Great for getting washed down with a few of Cherki’s exotic cocktails.⠀

These starters were decent enough, but the mains were quite the showstopper. Stay tuned for those…

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Ordering bacon at an izakaya isn’t a common practice, but at @singaporehimonoya , it should be. Their Seared Fresh Bacon ($13.90++) is so unbelievably unctuous that you’ll start wondering why not all izakayas have bacon this breathtaking on their menus.⠀

Calling these a ultra, super duper dummy thicc cut of bacon is a bit of an understatement, as it’s really technically a chunk of pork belly. What it most definitely is, is deliriously delicious. It’s seasoned superbly, and it may or may not be painted over with a soya sauce glaze, and it’s satisfyingly salty & meaty. It possesses the ideal ratio of chewiness, fattiness & tenderness, giving you the satisfying bite of a good cut of meat before yielding obediently to your ministrations with a good dose of juiciness from the fat in the pork belly.⠀

The same charcoal grill that breathed life into the squid also elevates this bacon into something ethereal, with the charcoal’s seductive smoky aroma accentuating the meaty, savoury qualities of this THICK bacon even further. Wholegrain mustard is on the side to cut through all that meaty, smoky & salty pork, and its tangy spicy heat is the flawless foil to the richness of the bacon.⠀

Himonoya’s bacon is so damn good that it’s the bacon I wanna bring home. On god, no cap.

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen onigiris served as just a big ass ball of rice that have been grilled, but @singaporehimonoya are putting out top quality drunk food. The basic Shoyu Onigiri ($6.90++) is just a humongous rice ball seasoned simply with soy sauce and topped with a sizeable pat of butter, which melts down & lubes the carbs.⠀

If you’re in the mood for more salt, the Ikura Onigiri ($11.90++) sees the same soy sauce seasoned rice ball topped with salmon roe instead of butter. These juicy little umami bombs explode to disperse their payload of salty, briny liquid and flavour the rice.⠀

Sure, these rice balls ain’t gonna win any food awards, but they’re the perfect sponge for Himonoya’s 90 minute all you can drink fiesta.

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Of course, you gotta chase your drinks down with food, and @drunkenfarmer_sg has a few tapas plates for your gluttonous gratification. I was on a se(e)afood diet, which is why I selected the simply named Prawn Sticks ($20++).⠀

To describe it as tempura prawn would be kinda inaccurate, but not entirely off the mark. The half dozen fresh & sizeable skewered tiger prawns are lightly battered and lovingly kissed by hot oil till it’s just cooked. They aren’t particularly seasoned, and relies almost exclusively on the smoked paprika aioli for flavour.⠀

Speaking of the smoked paprika aioli, it’s one of the most awesome aiolis in town. It’s sensually smoky and just slightly scintillating in spiciness thanks to the smoked paprika, and it’s rich, creamy & delectable due to the mayonnaise base. The problem with the Prawn Sticks was simply that there wasn’t nearly enough aioli for adequate satisfaction. No, I’m gonna need a whole bowl of aioli, that’s how damned delicious this dip is. And about five cocktails.

Oysters aren’t the only bar bites that you can order at a discount from @tanukiraw along with a happy hour drink, and this lobster salad & salmon bao goes for $5++ apiece with every drink. The usual price is a shocking $16.90++ for a pair. Yes, you read that right: SEVENTEEN DOLLARS A PAIR. Yep, happy hour is definitely a damn decent deal.⠀

Chopped lobster tossed in mayonnaise along with chunks of mentaiko salmon sashimi are spread into a deep fried mantou, and that’s all she wrote. It’s definitely much more mentaiko salmon than lobster, but there’s salmon aplenty to keep a man’s drink company. While the mouthfeel & texture of the salmon sashimi was splendidly satisfying, the seafood mix was rather bland.⠀

However, the most glaring deficiency in this dish is the ghastly greasiness of the deep fried mantou. Every bite renders out some of the oil that’s soaking the crispy bun, and it does get distastefully cloying with the mayonnaise that the salmon has been tossed in. Also, you get left with extra greasy fingers.⠀

If curiosity gets the better of you like it did to me, Tanuki Raw’s Happy Hour discounts are your best friend when it comes to exploring some of their menu. However, I’ll definitely be sticking to the oysters.

Chicken nanban? Well, not round these parts. These are @beerbasketkatong Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bites, which go for twelve bucks before the tax & service charge kick in. Yes, they look exactly like chicken nanban, but they are slightly different. The mayonnaise at the bottom does not contain bits of hardboiled egg, but instead features chopped jalapeños for a subtle sour & spicy flair to the otherwise bland mayo.⠀

The little bird bites are plenty piquant on their own. Chicken thigh is the juiciest part of the bird, and the bird that day was a juicy one. The buttermilk that they’ve been marinated in helps to enhance the tenderness by breaking down any tough fibres, and forms the base coat on which the batter adheres to. The layer of buttermilk marinade traps the juices & moisture within the batter, maximising the juicy factor. They are a little under-seasoned when going solo, but the creamy, slightly spicy & zesty mayo adds an alluring new dimension to the flavours of this piquant plate of ascended pub grub.⠀

The spicy chicken drumlets ($11++) are more sticky than spicy, but they are definitely delightfully delicious. Sure, they’re diminutive, but these petite flavour care packages are positively perfect beer bites. Juicy, salty, slightly sweet & spicy, these can and will easily drum up lots of cash for Beer Basket. Yes, some of that cash in the register is undoubtedly mine.⠀⠀

Mucho gracias for the hospitality, @beerbasketkatong & @burpple!

I like how @meatsmith_sg Little India outpost does a different, distinctly Indian menu as opposed to the Western menu at Telok Ayer, because it means that we get zingers like the stellar Crispy Madras Pork Cheeks ($8++). Four colossal chunks of pork cheeks are deep fried (citation needed) till a crunchy crust fully envelops the exterior, dusted with Indian spices, and mounted on skewers with pickles.⠀

Needless to say, these are perfection as pub grub. These cheeks are considerably less fatty & a lot more meaty than pork belly, but they are no less juicy. Sure, the meat on the perimeter is dry due to it getting deep fried, but that’s a small price to pay for crispiness. The rest of the meat is moist & succulent, and well marinated with the indulgent Indian spices.⠀

The dusting of extra spices over these pork cheeks truly heightens the thrill of these tasty cuts of pork. The sour, zesty pickles are the hard counter to the heavy, spicy flavours that abound with these cheeks, and both spice & sour combine to deliver a massive wallop of wonderful flavours. The house made Madras Mustard Sauce is a dead ringer for butter chicken, from the comely creaminess down to the tasteful tanginess in the sauce. The creaminess smoothed out the rough textures of the crackling pork, and layered an extra dimension of lusciousness over the flavourful cuts of cheek.⠀

I love how absolutely cheeky Meatsmith got with the menu at Little India, and I would definitely clap these succulent cheeks again.

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The onion rings are insanely irresistible, thanks to the excellent batter, but the side that stole the show is most definitely the chicken nuggets. It’s only been on Ordinary Burgers’ menu for about a month, but it might just be the best nuggies in Singapore. These freshly fried mother cluckers are full of flavour, and the batter is absolutely stunning. All that’s missing is a tub of curry sauce, but these are so good you probably don’t need ‘em.

But yes, I do need more of Ordinary Burger’s extraordinary sides. And burgers.

Kushiboy’s nibbles are stunningly scrumptious. Their chicken nuggets, which may or may not be made in house, are absolutely transcendent. They are first sous vide to cook the chicken inside, then they are deep fried to palate pleasing perfection. The chicken meat inside is layered, almost like a meaty mille feuille, giving a unique texture & bite to the Kush’s nugs.⠀

Another improvement they could’ve done to the chicky nuggies was to serve it with generous globs of flavoured mayonnaise, such as curry mayo or yuzu mayo to really make these nugs lit af. Still, @kushiboysg is a very young restaurant with some time to make improvements to reach peak potential. For that reason, and for the $10 pints of beer, I’ll be back.

Fortunately, @izakayaniningashi salvages their reputation as a decent izakaya via their stellar skewers & gloriously grilled dishes. There ain’t nothing better than smoky, grilled meats & seafood to pair with free flow booze, and I know this fact well from years of firsthand experience.⠀

The colossal chicken tsukune ($3.50++ with an egg yolk for dipping) was delightfully delish, with a tantalising teriyaki glaze seasoning the freshly grilled poultry exceptionally. The slightly more diminutive yet no less delicious yakitori ($3++ a stick) was generously glazed with more of the same sapid sauce as the chicken was grilled to perfection. Juicy, tender chicken coated in a scintillating sweet & salty sauce? Yes please, more please.⠀

At $3.50++ a stick, the Kurobuta pork belly was simple yet sumptuous. The competence of the chef on the grill station was the only thing (other than a sufficient seasoning of salt) carrying this fabulously fatty pork belly, and boy was that chef a pro. The meat was tremendously tender with just a hint of char all over, and the fat simply melted in my mouth. The pork belly was gone in sixty nanoseconds, straight down into the churning cauldron of alcohol that was my stomach.⠀

Last but not least, the whole grilled Japanese squid was as every bit as irresistible as its landlubber-y colleagues. Fresh, bouncy, snappy & charmingly chewy, all this smoky cephalopod required was a liberal sprinkle of salt, or perhaps a judicious brushing of soy sauce.⠀

Come for the drinks, stay for the grills kids.

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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