Botak Jones, Ang Mo Kio Ave 5
This place, if the story I heard is correct, is run by the (bald, or botak in Malay) guy who started Jerry's BBQ in Singapore way back in the day (until it changed owners). I was never a huge fan of Jerry's (it simply didn't come close to real BBQ), so I never really wanted to make a huge effort to come here either. But we were in the neighborhood today, so we stopped by (608 Ang Mo Kio Ave. 5, 6755-1225 with another location wayyyy out in Tuas).
In stark contrast to the restaurant setting of Jerry's, this was in an open food area with plastic chairs (known as a "coffeeshop" around here...and no, that doesn't mean Starbucks). It was surrounded by your typical selection of local food vendors, like noodles and rice and such. This stall though, was plastered with claims of "Authentic American Food" and slogans like "Damn Good Food at a Damn Good Price." A chalkboard hung on the wall with some of their selections (they also had stapled photocopied menus on yellow paper) where you placed your order then grabbed a random table for them to serve (and charge) you at.
We started today with the jalapeno poppers (officially called Stuffed Jalapenos here). I was a bit bummed upon my first bite to find that the cheese inside hadn't even melted all the way through yet, and that these in fact were still a bit cold in the center (there was also a little bit of water dripping out, presumably since these things were kept frozen until they needed to fry them). Despite that, the taste was one of the better ones that I've had in Singapore, and was fortunately inspirationally spicy in the process.
Next up was the Botak Burger. The first thing that struck me was the shape of the patty, which was very thick but also very small in diameter, thus easily conjuring up thoughts of homemade burgers back home that always run into that exact same problem (i.e., the meat always shrinks into a big thick glob on the grill rather than the wide flat patties one gets in specialized establishments outside...cue Eddie Murphy's Raw here).
And indeed, it tasted like a homemade burger...the bun became a little soggy as the juice from the too-thick (and slightly lukewarm) patty leaked out onto it. While no one was going to complain about homemade burgers at a BBQ back home, people would much rather go out to eat a tastier (and flatter) grease bomb from a dedicated burger stand down the street instead. Similarly, this burger here wasn't any huge attraction for me. It tasted like a homemade burger, that's all.
Last but not least, we got the Chili Dawg, which came in a gargantuan-sized portion. The menu said they used their own "Whoopass Chili Con Carne" on the dog, but the chili here was boring to me. The sausage itself at least had a snappy casing, but the taste was also a bit of a yawner. And strangely enough, they put lettuce into this thing (in a chili dog??), and paired it with a jalapeno on the side. In the end, this thing simply lacked a greasy edge and was a far cry from Pink's.
Still, this place did beat my expectations, and admittedly I did like the coleslaw as well as the seasoning that they used on the fries (it seemed like paprika mixed with Lawry's Seasoned Salt or something). Then again, I set my expectations pretty low to begin with, seeing that I don't really like Jerry's BBQ. If I come back here, I'm definitely going to bypass the burger and the chili dog. I wouldn't mind trying that bacon-wrapped hot dog they had on their menu, or maybe even just a simple steak (I also noticed them bringing out malt vinegar bottles for patrons who ordered fish & chips). Hopefully they will get the jalapeno poppers right next time too.