Casual bistro Keong Saik Snacks may seem unassuming on the surface, but its menu packs a gourmet punch.
Text: Melanie Lee
Images: Unlisted Collection
We all have our junk food days, where nothing seems more therapeutic than a juicy burger, plenty of crispy fries and a creamy milkshake. However, if you’re like me, and have had the privilege of eating at some pretty fancy restaurants over the years, then a Happy Meal just won’t cut it. and although it may have made you euphoric as a ten-year-old, two decades later your palate will somehow refuse to be satiated.
This is where places like Keong Saik Snacks come in; a place where comfort food is spruced up, but not to the point where it becomes unrecognisable. Since opening last October, this retro-themed bistro has become the in place for hipsters and yuppies to go for ‘cash’ meals with a touch of trendy classiness.
The people behind Keong Saik Snacks just exude hipness. There’s Singapore hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, known for setting up cool joints New Majestic Hotel and Esquina tapas bar, and British chef Jason Atheron, famous for his Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social in London and part brainchild of this deceptively nondescript 400 square foot bistro.
But if you take a closer look at the details, you will realise how thoughtfully this industrial chic look has been put together. Its open-air kitchen is bordered with layers of copper that have been clad and riveted together and tastefully softened with wooden flooring and furnishings. Likewise, its menu seems straightforward, but when their handmade asymmetrical clay platters come out, you realise that every dish has a remarkable quality that differentiates it from, well, normal junk food.
The cosy open-kitchen concept involves the use of warm textured materials such as copper, wood and rusted mesh.
the staff at Keong Saik Snacks are quick to clarify that this is not really stupendous junk food.
So yes, they serve hotdogs, but it is not just any hotdog. It is a Jason’s Very Hot Dog that comes with tangy ketchup lime, crispy shallots, English cheddar, buttery avocado and spicy jalapenos. And their burgers are pretty out of the ordinary too; a juicy wagyu beef patty topped with kimchi – a harmonious merger of flavours. And even their fries have to stand out just a little with a sprinkling of chili and garlic seasoning. Keong Saik Snacks may only offer two desserts, ice-cream or doughnuts, but their ice-cream is homemade and their doughnuts come freshly-fried with an indulgent dollop of Chantilly cream.
Of course, the polite, meticulous staff at Keong Saik Snacks are quick to clarify that this is not really stupendous junk food, but “classic comfort foods from around the world”. Sure, I could work with that, especially if a ham and cheese sandwich could evolve to something as mouthwatering as an Iberico ham and Manchego cheesie toastie.
But beyond a menu that caters to a self-proclaimed discerning foodie with regular (ahem) comfort food cravings, Keong Saik Snacks is a lovely place to soak in a bit of historic Singapore. From its display of kitsch relics to its wider surroundings of restored shophouses that line the former red-light district of Saik Road, there’s nothing quite so charming as the combination of nostalgia and scrumptious food.
Keong Saik Snacks
49 Keong Saik Road,
Tel: +65 6221 8338