As in any good movie plot, a twist or unexpected turn of events never fails to impress the viewers. In the case of finding the best value meat and steaks, the truly uplifting twist is when tasty meat is found in some of the more inconspicuous locations in Singapore. Those ‘hidden gems’ that bring a contented smile to our faces…they’re the ones that turn a meal into a fond memory.
Dong Bei Cai Guan (North-East BBQ Restaurant) was introduced to me by Ted, a talented interior designer who also happens to be a sincere and genuine friend. Like the restaurant, Ted firmly believes in delivering value and not just a service, which I guess is why he is so supportive of this blog. When he recommended this place, he also managed my expectations by cautioning me that it wasn’t a classy establishment and that I should expect to sweat a little. When we arrived at the place, I have to admit that he managed my expectations very well.
Located in the industrial Midview Building at Bukit Batok, the restaurant wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. Sure, there was no air-conditioning nor plush, cushioned seats but it was at least a grade higher than the usual ‘kopitiam’ decor. The seating was simple, with two long rows of plastic chairs paired with aluminium foldable tables. The shelter was mainly a large blue tarp over a metal frame (commonly seen at a pasar malam aka flea markets). There were plenty of fans fitted to ensure smooth ventilation but the cool weather definitely helped create that chill out atmosphere. Very decent.
Now, on to the meat.
Though the menu presenteda staggering number of options, Roli, Ted, and I were here focused on one particular dish. The Roast Leg of Lamb ($76).
It featured 2 kilograms of lamb leg meat cooked to an impressive, crispy brown while the meat within stayed juicy and tender. I also noticed that it lacked the prominent ‘lamb smell’ that tends to put off many people I know. In my limited experience with this meat, I’ve found that lamb from Australia tend to lack this ‘aroma’ and the server confirmed that it’s either from Australia or New Zealand.
It’s was served on a spit roast with hot charcoal in an attached grill below. Diners are given forks and knives that have extended handles, allowing us a fun situation where we can carve the meat while keeping a comfortable distance from the hot charcoal. Thanks to the setup, the meat was kept constantly warm without drying out. Every bit of the lamb remained succulent and the skin was easily my favourite. It was well seasoned with salt, pepper and a couple of other spices. After consuming about 70% of the meat, it started becoming difficult to carve the meat using the cutlery provided. So the staff offered some assistance and after 5 minutes, the lamb was brought back with meat and bone neatly separated.
Not wanting to waste the meat, I urged everyone to grab at least a couple more bites before I finished the small pile of lamb left behind. And even to the last bit, the meat remained succulent. Definitely a job well done. 8.7/10.
After the lamb, we went ahead with a few skewered meat. They cost around a dollar each and this was a prominent red flag on the quality of meat. After trying a couple of them, my suspicions were confirmed. There were interesting cuts of meat used, including artery and intestines. The artery had a pungent taste and tough, leathery texture. Probably for a taste that I hadn’t quite acquired.
The service was prompt and pretty proactive. Some of us might find the staff a little rough around the edges but that’s approaching the personal level. Point is we received what we ordered promptly and the atmosphere made for a good hang-out-with-the-gang setting.
Should You Try It?
If you’re a fan of roast lamb then yes. If not, then try and see how it goes for you.
Bei Cai Guan (North-East BBQ Restaurant)
50 Bukit Batok Street 23,
#03-20/23, Midview Building,
Mon – Sun: 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
Tel: +65 6515 5509 / 9027 7912
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