Singapore’s Best Kept Secret – I
Yesterday evening, I discovered one of those gems that one comes across only after inhabiting a foreign land for a while. Tired after a long Saturday, we found ourselves in Bukit Batok at 7 pm. Bukit Batok being a populated residential area has no dearth of eateries – Pastamania, Mos Burger, Burger King, KFC, Subway and of course, the local food court. But it being a Saturday, we wanted to try something different without having to make our way to the city. And then I remembered reading about this local stall that serves American food. That’s how we ended up at Botak Jones. It was luck, by chance.
Botak Jones is a local stall with eleven branches across the island. It claims to serve – Damn Good Food at a Damn Good Price. Not cheap price, you will notice but a damn good one, nonetheless. It also promises (complete with a certificate in every menu card) that it serves authentic American food. The logo of the store is an outline of the bust of a bald man, and botak means bald in Malay. We found this very ordinary looking stall in the food court of an HDB block but we could spot it from a distance thanks to both the bald man logo and a long snaking queue of hungry Singaporeans.
The first part of my delightful experience was the menu. It was a bunch of yellow-colored printed papers stapled together, however it was a joy to read. The author of the menu began with a disclaimer to read the menu carefully as it has been recently changed. It then explained in four paragraphs about the headache caused by the recent raise in prices of everything and how that had required them to choose between decreasing the portions and increasing the prices and how, either of the options had some takes but some unhappy patrons. Therefore, now they offer both. Different portion sizes at different prices. Suit your need, buddy. It then listed its wide range of offerings, punctuated with American jokes. Each section began with a loving and detailed description and each item and its ingredients are then explained in an intriguing style. Two of my favorites are from the Desserts section:
1. Cheesecake: These cheesecakes are made with all the passion and care that we put into everything else we make. Only, we don’t make these, a very nice lady named Cannice does. When she talks about cheesecake, her eyes water, she perspires and gets faint. Just like we do when we talk about the things we make. So we knew that Cannice was the girl for us and so was her cheesecake. Oreo, Blueberry (These are the flavors, y’all)
2. A Little Ice Cream With Your Dessert?: Our CEO, Han-tzen Low had us taste every ice cream made in the Eastern hemisphere before we finally decided on these. Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry.
The stake section of the menu describes the entire life history of stake – bulls vs steers, the cut, grading, frozen vs chilled, feed, aging, cattle breeds, marbling, doneness (meat temperature). It is a pity I do not eat beef because their Botak Burgers sound like something one should die for. The signature burger comes in three sizes: The Botak Burger, The Double Botak, and U-Crazy-What? The last one balances three beef patties on a single bun.
Well, although I took immense delight in reading the menu while the husband waited in the queue to place the order, the appearance of our order – giant chicken hot dog and cajun chicken burger – made my saliva glands hyper. I had to use all my will power to stop myself from digging in so that I could take a couple of pictures. Here goes.
If you are in Singapore, I urge you to try Botak Jones at any of the following locations – Boon Lay Place, Depot Road, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Woodlands Avenue 1, Clementi Avenue 5, Bedok North Avenue 2, Toa Payoh North, Bukit Batok Avenue 5, Yishun Avenue 5, Serangoon Avenue 4, and Orchard Youth Park.