Let’s just say calling Taman Jurong Food Centre a food hub truly is an understatement. I was hit with a sensory overload as I stepped into the hawker centre. It has three floors with stalls scattered across every nook and cranny. There are stalls you can’t spot directly because they’re facing the opposite direction, behind the ones that face towards the centre. Confusing, I know. Tom’s Kitchen was one such stall that was hidden in the back, shying away from the hustle and bustle of Jurong West.
Once you enter the narrow path that’s behind the stalls, it’s easy to spot Tom’s Kitchen amongst others. The bright blue of its signboard complements the tables, creating what I think was an unintentional aesthetic feel.
I was greeted warmly by Trina Quek, 58, who was the co-owner and one of the chefs alongside her husband, Tom Low, 59. She and her husband migrated from Hongkong, where Tom was a chef at Hong Kong’s The Regent hotel for 10 years. With a collective cooking experience of 20 years alongside Trina who’s a chef too, the couple now serves quality western fare in the good old lion city.
The stall was also bestowed with the title of Most Nominated Favourite Hawker In Singapore 2020 by The Singapore Mint. So naturally, I was hyped to try the food here.
What I tried at Tom’s Kitchen
The most talked-about item on their menu is the Grilled Sirloin Steak (S$9.50), so that was a natural choice for me. The other item I chose was the Grilled Chicken Chop (S$7.50). I usually try out three items when I’m reviewing a joint, but I’d heard about their gigantic portions, and decided to play it safe. When the food arrived, my judgement call was validated.
I really had to step back and zoom out to fit the plate into this picture. I immediately knew that more than half of this was going to be packed as a takeaway. However, it also looked so appetising, and I couldn’t wait to eat as much of it as I could at that moment.
I first went for the Grilled Chicken Chop which came drenched in brown mushroom sauce, with a side of fries and coleslaw. The skin was crispy, and the meat was perfectly cooked. The chicken bonded beautifully with the sauce, which was slightly on the saltier side, but I was very content with it. Along with some of the creamy coleslaw, the crispy chicken was a burst of flavours. There was also some lettuce, tomato, and cucumber to munch on if the chicken and the fries felt too heavy. The fries were like any other, not soggy and satisfactory.
Moving on to the star of the stall’s menu, I was quite excited to pounce on the Grilled Sirloin Steak. Somehow the brown mushroom sauce, although the same one in both the dishes (I checked), transformed in a way to complement each when you have it with the meat. I fell in love with this quality of the sauce. The steak was generously peppered but not in an overpowering way. Cooked quite well, the meat wasn’t too tough and I had zero complaints about it.
I didn’t think the Cheese Fries (S$1 to upgrade from regular fries, S$3.50 for à la carte) I had on the side with the steak would be any special, but in between bites of the meat, it proved to be the perfect thing to munch on. The thickly cut fries were fully coated; you can see they don’t skimp on the mayo or cheese.
Although I would generally choose chicken over beef (yes, I’m aware it’s a rarity), I must give credit where it’s due. The Grilled Striploin Steak does live up to the online hype it receives. The Grilled Chicken Chop is a very close contender though, and I enjoyed both thoroughly. The huge portions are a definite plus and it can test the limits of even those with a considerable appetite.
Although packed and busy, you can still find ample spots to sit and enjoy your meal in peace. The hawker centre’s capacity is quite large, and you won’t be stuck with a stuffy ambience.
A few of their other options include Grilled Salmon (S$8.50), Grilled Pork Chop (S$7.50), Grilled Lamb Chop (S$10), and Pork Cutlet (S$7.50). Sometimes it’s also the people who prepare the food who have a significant impact on the experience. The ex-hotel chef’s attention to detail and generosity with the portions are just a few of the reasons I will recommend this place to any western food lover. I have no doubt that I’ll be coming back for more.
Expected damage: S$1.50 – S$10 per pax
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