A collaboration between Elliot Decker (owner of Smokehouse BBQ in Bali) and Singapore’s Club Street Social, Decker Barbecue is a no-frills Texas barbecue joint–no air con, a kiosk, along the pavement of The Quayside of Robertson Quay. It’s even situated at the “wrong” side of the quay: not facing the long kang, but more inland, with the macadam. Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending.
On their website, they wrote that they are “Singapore’s only authentic Texas barbecue” and on their menu, they wrote that they serve “the most authentic American barbecue” in Singapore. Well, if you are the only one, you are definitely the most authentic; but if you’re the most authentic, it implies that you’re not the only one in Singapore and that would make the website factually incorrect? The contradictions between the statements, the arrogance, and, above all, the absolutism irk me. “Only a Sith deals in absolutes,” like Trump and look what has happened to America.
Some background facts: They use a custom-built smoker from Dallas, Texas, to smoke the meats fresh overnight and daily, using oak and almond wood. There are different options for meat: brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs, chicken, pork belly burnt ends, brisket burnt ends. They used to sell meat by the weight but, I suppose, they find it confusing for customers, and now, they sell it by plates. If you get the 2 meat plate ($30), you have a choice of 2 meats, a coleslaw, and a choice of one side.
We were there as a couple so the Decker Feast ($60) feeds two, although the server told us that angmohs can eat the entire plate singly on their own. So it depends on your appetite. The Decker Feast consists of a choice of 3 meats, and a choice of 3 sides.
They use the same marinade for all the meats, and although the marinade is super tasty, it may lack variety after a while. The marinade has a very appetising, tangy, sourish and peppery dry rub flavour, which undercuts any fatty meats. This marinade works best, I think, with the spare ribs because instead of the usual sweet bbq sauce, their version brings out the flavour of the meat.
Mr Fitness likes the pulled pork best because some pulled pork can be dry, but here, the excellent grilling ensures that it remains tender and moist. It goes well with the coleslaw on bread. Speaking of bread, do you think it strange that they give supermarket-bread? Everything appears to be done in-house except for the bread. Why not go all the way? Or if it is too much trouble to bake bread onsite (most restaurants feel this way), why not outsource the baking to another shop?
The top three favourite meats here, in no particular order, are pulled pork, pork ribs, and beef brisket (additional $4). But the server recommended us to get the brisket burnt ends (additional $5), instead of the brisket, because burnt ends are limited and sell out first. Good sales pitch, who isn’t a sucker for limited editions.
The main difference is that burnt ends have those charred, crispy corners. If you eat char siew, some char siew has it, so caramelised that the tips become charred. Those charred bits are carcinogenic, by the way. In any case, the burnt ends here aren’t as charred as char siew. But they are super tasty, redolent with fat, pink with smoke rings. It still has a nice bite, which I like.
While all the meats here are excellent, the sides are a little different from what we are used to. The mac and cheese is good, suitably cheesy without being too heavy. But the cornbread is crumbly and dry although I like the wicked hint of jalapeno and the reduced sugar. The coleslaw is very bitter–not sure why, didn’t wash the purple cabbage properly?–but I like that it isn’t doused in mayo; just a very light coat.
Lastly, I want to praise the excellent servers when we were there. For a kiosk like this, I didn’t expect the service to be this good, better than most restaurants. The two female servers were chirpy, friendly, and helpful. They topped up our water, explained the menu, and even inquired us about the meal when we finished. Although they were busy, they were never dismissive or looked like they were impatient with us.
We paid $76 for two pax. Good food, better experience.
60 Robertson Quay, 01-17 The Quayside Singapore 238252
t: +65 6635 8565
Tue-F 6pm – 10pm, Weekends 11.30am – 10pm
Ambience / decor: 5.5/10
You may be interested in…
–Homeground Grill & Bar, Boon Keng: Women-led Team Serves Charcoal-grilled Paleo
–Nude Grill, Marina One: Contemporary Asian Grill House Serves Fantastic Food
–Butcher Boy, Keong Saik: Asian-Inspired Grill Restaurant by Cure Is Up to Par
–Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House, Tanjong Pagar Centre: Good Food but Confusing Menu
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.