After trying one of the pricier options previously, I decided to go for something that’s more wallet-friendly, and was hoping to find one of those unpolished gems that promised good beef at great prices. Little Hiro caught my attention because it had this quaint, cosy and yet whimsical feel to it…and like any curious piece of treasure, it wasn’t close to the beaten path.
What I liked about their site was how they focused on projecting a fresh, upbeat look without screaming about their low prices. Fellow meat-lovers will notice that there is a lack of steaks in their menu and only a few carnivore-friendly options were available. Why I visited this place despite the lack of meat options was because we were also curious about their burgers and promising sides. The selection was limited yet it wasn’t. I mean Habanero chicken wings, ramen burgers and beef briskets aren’t usually found on the same menu…at least not in my experience. And when you have words like ‘exotic flavours’ and ‘premium ingredients’ placed under slices of medium-rare beef, my already excitable curiosity just had to turn into action.
Oh and apparently island creamery is their ‘sister’ store so I’m guessing that it’s by the same owners. And since I like their ice-cream, I assumed that quality wouldn’t be a stranger in this other establishment. Well as it turns out, it was a bit of a mix-and-match between quality and not.
For the meat section, I decided to go with an option rarely found in most places. The Tender-melt BBQ Beef Brisket ($12.50) was almost a sure choice for me because I love this cut of beef and when prepared well, it can taste very wholesome without a large price tag. It’s a texture that many people aren’t used to but I personally love it. Little Hiro’s brisket was pretty decent. Even though it was barbecue-finished, the texture was impressively still soft and tender to the bite. Why is this impressive?
This cut of the beef usually requires hours of cooking to reach a ‘tender’ stage. If this isn’t done right, diners will find themselves chewing on a piece of rubber and trying to scrape what little meat is left from the tough tendons. And hours of cooking is something you can’t just do on a hot grill. This will result in quickly burnt yet underdone brisket. But while the texture was done right and the seasoning was decent, it wasn’t a triumph in flavour. They were as I mentioned, decent. The generous portion of salty, smoky barbecue sauce (not my top choice) didn’t really contribute to the taste either.
The accompanying fries (we added $3.50 to make it a meal) were well seasoned and very crispy. They had that appealing golden-brown colour, which always make shoestring fries look sexier. The corn was rather dry and didn’t seem to have much water in it. It’s almost as if it, too, spent hours in the BBQ with the brisket. 6.5/10.
Swiss foodie, Roli, tried the BBQ Bacon Bleu Deluxe ($8.70) burger. After a brief conversation on how to pronounce ‘bleu’, he bit into the burger and was unfortunately, less than blown away. The bun was soft enough, the cheese sauce added enough moistness and the lettuce looked fresh enough. And that’s what the flavours were like…enough.
One impressive part was how the beef patty was cooked just right. You can see the even cooking within after biting into the patty. The seasoning and meat quality wasn’t enough to make up for its “companions” in the burger though. 6/10.
For starters, we went with Fried Calamari ($7.50) and insanely enough, we voluntarily ordered the Habanero Wings ($4.80). Both Roli and I know that Habanero chilis are one of the spiciest in the world and even though we liked out tongues, we still went for this option. I guess we sub-consciously wanted to add some spice to our already safe choices? Anyway, the calamari didn’t please our palates and they had a slimy texture with each bite. I think they were cooked just right but I’m not sure where the “slime” came from because I don’t remember experiencing it with other establishments. The batter did have some flavour but it was too dense for my liking and it didn’t fully envelope the squid rings, leaving a more blotchy appearance instead of that fluffy, golden-brown look that’s more appetising. 5/10.
The Habanero Wings however, were delicious stuff. I wasn’t a fan of the burning sensation in my mouth, but it was tolerable…after a couple of minutes. I knew that drinking water would only intensify the spiciness so I mustered what discipline I had at that point and looked away from my ice-cold root beer…drinking it only after the pain stabilised. The chicken was fried to perfection and the batter was light and well-seasoned (or at least that’s what I think…the chili masked it a lot). So if I ever come here again, I’ll probably go for their regular wings and leave the chili for other diners. 8/10.
Service was okay, with the cashier cracking a smile every minute or so. She knew the menu well enough to answer our questions though, and that’s always an appreciated quality. It’s self-service so there’s no GST and service charge (more wallet-friendliness). The food arrived within 5 minutes of our orders but that may be due to the place having only 3 to 4 tables taken. The place was clean and well kept, so sitting around and chatting was pleasant enough.
As for the prices, I have to say that even with the low prices, it wasn’t as much value as I hoped for. The experience just wasn’t there.
Should You Try It?
If you’re looking for cheap BBQ food that comes with comforting French fries then maybe yes. Aside from that, I would recommend their wings but that’s about it. Oh, Roli loved the Japanese craft beer though, so maybe a quiet spot to drink?
559 Bukit Timah Road,
#01-01 King’s Arcade,
Sun – Thu: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm
Fri – Sat: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Tel: +65 6466 3477
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