Western food is nothing foreign to us, however, have you tried old-school western food? Offering large portions slathered with sauce, is Chef Hainanese Western Food located at Margaret Drive Hawker Centre truly worth your while?
Only operating for 2 hours per day, the exclusivity of the store is definitely the most fascinating part of Chef Hainanese Western Food. It wasn’t just me either, considering how the stall was famous for having quite a queue.
Having just opened 6 months ago, I noticed its fresh looks instantaneously thanks to the airiness and the cleanliness of the hawker centre. With lots of open space along with the huge fans, the space was breezy, giving me a wonderful windy atmosphere to enjoy dinner. Looks like you can’t chope your table with just a tissue packet here!
Margaret Drive Hawker Centre was probably one of the quietest hawker centres I have ever been to, that there was barely any chatter heard. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when the voice of the stall uncle manning Chef Hainanese Western Food could be heard echoing through the entire floor. For an elder, his voice sure was loud!
Taking notes on the ordered items in a mini notepad, he yells out it to the chef, who then briskly handles each order with fast practised speed. “It is remarkable how they are able to match the food to the customer’s face”, I commented to my sister.
However, something to note would be that there seems to be no obvious queue or collecting system. The only telltale sign is the loud voice shouting across the whole hawker centre, which could be easily missed if the customer were to be somewhere else— so be sure to sit somewhere relatively nearby if you’re waiting for your food!
What I tried at Chef Hainanese Western Food
Steak is a western food classic, and my main indicator of whether the western food at a stall is legit. So, you can imagine my astonished face when the Grilled Sirloin Steak (S$12) was borderline raw. I had wanted to believe that the steak was just on the rarer side, but cutting into it caused any shred of hope I had to completely disintegrate.
I wanted to give them the benefit of doubt— maybe the meat just looks a little red, that’s all! Biting into it, I found the taste unbelievable. It was chewy like it was raw, yet the burnt flavour was all you could taste.
The stall uncle had not asked for a preference for doneness so we assumed it was standardised for all the steaks. We were wrong, I suppose.
Appalled, we had sent it back for it to be recooked to an edible doneness, to which the stall uncle sighed that we should have mentioned how we would have liked it done. With reluctance, he handed it back to the chef, who replaced it with a fresh set for us.
The chef apologised, asking for our understanding that the steak is on the thicker side, thus being challenging to gauge if the steak was cooked. Having that thought in my mind, I tasted the second steak.
The first emotion was relief, as the second steak was significantly better. The peppery sauce had large specks of crushed pepper, giving a rather sharp, biting flavour that accentuated the meatiness of the steak. This dish would be appreciated by those who like a tad of peppery heat to their food.
The Grilled Chicken Chop (S$8) was not too bad. I enjoyed the sweet sauce enveloping each chicken morsel, which gave a pleasant taste to the protein. The grilling of the chicken was decent for a majority part, with some tiny bits being charred.
The combination of the other items went well with the Grilled Chicken Chop. Both sets came with a boiled potato, baked beans, mixed salad and fries. I liked that they did not give an overwhelming portion of the sides so as to make the protein the star of the show.
The fries were on the softer side, with the ends having a nice crunch. Though the salad did not have any visible dressing, I could taste a tang from a light coating of acidity. The salad made for a tasty refresher for the heavy sauces from the chicken and steak. On the other end, the potato flesh was tender, going especially great with the sauce from the baked beans and the steak.
Chef Hainanese Western Food has the idea down, with the exclusivity and the unique business idea sure to garner interest. Despite my less than stellar experience, I feel that Chef Hainanese Western Food has the possibility of being a favourite with a couple changes.
Perhaps, a way to standardise the doneness of their food and a proper system would do some good. On the other hand, it’s also very possible that I had ordered the wrong items that day, considering how many seemed to be enjoying Chef Hainanese Western Food’s Fish and Chips instead.
Expected damage: S$8 – S$16 per pax
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