The Original Botak Jones: Well-loved OG Western stall serves up hearty American comfort food at Depot Lane

·7-min read

Much has happened since Botak Jones first opened in 2003 by American-turned-Singaporean Bernard Utchenik. 

It grew to over 13 outlets islandwide, taking the local F&B scene by storm with its hearty American-style Western food, but things took a turn for the worse when investors bought over the business in 2011.

The Original Botak Jones - photo of Bernie

After much deliberation, Mr Utchenik, who’s known by loyal customers as Bernie, decided to revive Botak Jones in June 2021 and opened The Original Botak Jones at Depot Lane with a single intention, and I quote from their website: “To offer damn good and reasonably priced food.”

The Original Botak Jones - storefront
The Original Botak Jones - storefront

You’ll find The Original Botak Jones tucked away in an airy and large coffee shop at 118 Depot Road, with its stark blue-and-yellow signboard setting it apart from the other hawkers.

What I tried at The Original Botak Jones

The Original Botak Jones - burger
The Original Botak Jones - burger

The Original Botak Jones prides itself on hearty Western food that’s served in generous portions, and a perfect example of this would be its Double Beef Burger (S$17 for à la carte, S$20 for set)

Trust me when I say that this burger was huge. I could literally spot it from a mile away. Comprising two thicc beef patties that weighed 150g each, this burger was so hefty that it had to be supported by two long sticks just in case it toppled over.

As I was dining with a friend, I decided to order the set, and chose Salad and Mushroom Soup (additional S$1.50) for my two sides.

The Original Botak Jones - burger
The Original Botak Jones - burger

Granted, its prices aren’t the cheapest around, but all it took was one gigantic bite of the Double Beef Burger and I was won over.

The patty was so springy and juicy that I had juices dripping down my hands in a gloriously messy way. Each bite was filled with meaty savouriness that was backed with a nice smoky char, and the melted cheese gave it a well-needed creamy touch. When paired together with the toasted buns and crisp lettuce and tomatoes, it turned out to be a really decent burger— one that was restaurant-quality.

Frankly, my only gripe would be its size. My dining companion and I actually took turns trying to test if we could fit a single bite of the massive burger in our mouths. He did it successfully, while unfortunately I couldn’t and ended up nibbling on the sides of the burger instead. Perhaps next time, I’ll be less adventurous and order the single-patty Beef Burger (S$11 for à la carte, S$14 for set).

The Original Botak Jones - mushroom soup
The Original Botak Jones - mushroom soup

Now, onto the two sides that I got with the Double Beef Burger.

The Salad was pretty straightforward, and came with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, shredded carrots and a Thousand Island sauce. On the other hand, the Mushroom Soup was creamier than expected, with a nice touch of herby earthiness and actual bits of sliced mushrooms.

The Original Botak Jones - fish and chips
The Original Botak Jones - fish and chips

Next, I tried The Original Botak Jones’ Fish + Chips STD (S$11.50), which comes as a set by default. I picked Coleslaw and Cajun Fries for my two side dishes.

In case you’re wondering, STD stands for “standard”, not…uh…well, you know.

The Original Botak Jones - fish and chips
The Original Botak Jones - fish and chips

The Original Botak Jones uses pacific dory for their Fish + Chips STD, and the first thing I noticed was how the fish came in a gigantic breaded piece that sat on a bed of Cajun Fries. A+ for presentation!

This was a dish that I really enjoyed. I could taste the freshness of the fish, and I loved how there was sufficient fish meat within the crispy breading. Often, most fish and chips come with more breading than meat, but I’m happy to share that The Original Botak Jones did this classic Western dish justice.

The Original Botak Jones - cajun fries and coleslaw
The Original Botak Jones - cajun fries and coleslaw

As for the sides, the pairing of Cajun Fries and Coleslaw proved to be spot on. 

The Cajun Fries were crisp and nicely seasoned, and I appreciated how it wasn’t overly salty or spicy. As for the Coleslaw, I loved how it wasn’t overpowered by the mayonnaise, and I could still taste the actual sweetness and crunch of the cabbage.

All in all, a classic combination of sides that I’ll definitely revisit.

The Original Botak Jones - chili dog
The Original Botak Jones - chili dog

In a bid to experience authentic American food, I got The Botak Jones’ Whoopass Chili Dawg (S$14), which came as a set.

The Original Botak Jones - chilli dog
The Original Botak Jones - chilli dog

If it seems like I’m using words like “huge”, “massive” and “gigantic” a lot, it’s because The Original Botak Jones seriously serves up large portions. Take the Whoopass Chili Dawg for example— it spanned the length of my entire plate and needed two hands to be held!

Size aside, this dish surprised me with its combination of flavours and textures. You’ve got that juicy chicken sausage, beefy chilli sauce with a touch of spice, crunchy onions, all of which were seated on a soft and fluffy hotdog bun. Every mouthful was filled with meaty and savoury flavours that made this a fantastically hearty chilli dog. 

With the amount of gravy that was poured on top of the hotdog, the bun did get soggy after some time, so be sure to eat it while it’s still hot!

The Original Botak Jones - chicken
The Original Botak Jones - chicken

The Original Botak Jones also offers chicken in various flavours, such as the quintessential Barbecue Chicken and Black Pepper Chicken

I decided to spice things up and got its Cajun Chicken (S$8 for regular, S$13.50 for large), and topped up an extra S$2 for its Chicken Gumbo side dish.

The Original Botak Jones - chicken and chicken gumbo
The Original Botak Jones - chicken and chicken gumbo

The Cajun Chicken was tender and soft, and was seasoned heavily with a thick blanket of melted cheese and cajun sauce. The latter surprised me with its smoky and peppery flavours, which elevated each bite of chicken. 

This was my first time trying Chicken Gumbo. I’d liken it to a rich chicken soup, but with fragrant herb-like notes coupled with meaty elements such as sausage and chicken.

The Original Botak Jones - caesar fish
The Original Botak Jones - caesar fish

If you’re intimidated by The Original Botak Jones’ generous portions, go for its Caesar Fish (S$12) instead, which comes with caesar salad and a deep-fried breaded pacific dory.

The Original Botak Jones - caesar salad
The Original Botak Jones - caesar salad

As someone who’s been trying to eat healthier lately, this was a dish I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed. I loved the addition of crunchy croutons and crispy squares of turkey bacon, and the pairing of crunchy romaine lettuce with juicy fish is a must-try, especially for carb conscious folks. 

The Original Botak Jones - stuffed jalapenos
The Original Botak Jones - stuffed jalapenos

My dining companion and I were undeniably full at this point, but the last dish that we had to try was The Original Botak Jones’ famed Stuffed Jalapenos (S$10.50).

It came with five pieces of deep-fried stuffed jalapenos and a handmade tartar sauce, and if you’re wondering why it’s relatively pricey, it’s because of the manual labour involved— each jalapeno has to be deseeded, stuffed with cheese, breaded, and then deep-fried.

Each jalapeno was addictively salty and full of flavour. The combination of crusty and crispy breading, freshly fried jalapeno and piping hot melted cheese made these absolute savoury bombs, and would be great for sharing.

Final thoughts

The Original Botak Jones - photo of food
The Original Botak Jones - photo of food

I can see why The Original Botak Jones has been so well-loved throughout the years. Its portions are genuinely hefty and each dish was tasty and executed well. In my opinion, that justifies the slightly higher price tags as compared to other Western kopitiam stalls. 

When asked what his favourite dish was, my dining companion eagerly shared that he’d order the Double Beef Burger again and pair it with Cajun Fries and Coleslaw. As for me, I’d go for the Caesar Fish if I’m feeling peckish, or the Whoopass Chili Dawg if I’m hungrier. 

I look forward to returning to The Original Botak Jones to indulge in authentic American comfort food at its best.

Expected damage: S$8 – S$25 per pax

* This post was brought to you in partnership with The Original Botak Jones.

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