Since we had baby number two, our date nights have dwindled away to almost nothing. We’ve made reservations at fancy places weeks in advance, only to cancel them at the last minute because just.can’t.keep.eyes.open. When primping and preening has to be done at the same time as story-time and teeth cleaning, and you leave the house accompanied by the sound of wails and screams, going out for dinner just isn’t so appealing somehow. My solution? Weekday evening date nights where I meet my husband straight from work, exactly how I happen to be dressed at the time (hello, mummy shorts), and we go somewhere casual but funky, so we feel like we’ve still somewhat got our fingers on the pulse. And best of all? I’ll tell you about only our good experiences so time-crunched mamas don’t have to waste their precious date nights at less than stellar places.
So, Keong Saik Snacks is the (kind-of) new opening from chef of the moment, Jason Atherton. Yes, him of Esquina and Pollen fame. It has a no-reservations policy, and it’s teeny-tiny, like 30 covers, but on the Tuesday night when we visited, we sat straight down at 7.30pm with no wait. The décor is pretty simple and low-key, like an upscale cafeteria, with plastic bottles of ketchup and mustard on the tables and paper napkins.
The menu is presented in a slightly confusing grid format with starters and mains all jumbled together. Starters and salads are around $17-18 and main courses range from $22 to $38. Our waitress told us that the food is designed to be shared, and suggested a few absolute must-haves which we then pretty much ignored because we’re annoying like that. The concept of the menu is British comfort food with a modern twist, so there are dishes like Grilled Bone Marrow & Gentleman’s Relish, and in general vegetarians will struggle a bit!
We ordered a bottle of wine, because woo-hoo, date night, then got stuck into our Salad of Shaved Asparagus, Fennel, Burrata and Basil, which was for me one of the highlights of the meal. It was so fresh-tasting, crunchy and full of gorgeously complimenting flavours. My husband and I were actually fork-fighting to get more of it, which was a pleasant surprise as we’d really only ordered a salad to feel good about the rest of what we were going to eat! We also ordered some Garlic Chili Fries which were crunchy and yummy, but which I didn’t get much of a look-in at as my husband scarfed them so quickly.
Next up was the Iberico Ham and Manchego Cheese Toastie, which I was enormously excited by, but which didn’t quite live up to the hype as it was (dare I say it?) a little bland. It was gorgeously prepared though, and not even remotely greasy, which considering it was topped off with a fried egg, is not an easy feat. The Pan-fried Snapper with Lemon and Thyme Mash and Citrus and Basil Salad was a hit with us – comfort food at its absolute best.
I found the Jason’s Very Hot Dog a bit confusing, as I was expecting a bit more of a taste explosion, considering its name and the fact that it’s a chorizo sausage topped with jalopeno peppers, but this was quite a mild child. Still lip-smackingly good though, with the ideal hot dog bun – very lightly crunchy on the outside, doughy on the inside.
The service on the whole was good, though we did feel a tiny bit rushed, and had to ask the waitress for a little pause before our dessert of Banana Cake with Caramel Mousse (with just a perfect hint of salt to make it amazing). Speedy service isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’ve got little ones waiting for you at home though and intend to be toes up by ten pm.
One fun thing about Keong Saik Snacks is that with the bill you receive a secret password to check out a speakeasy bar nearby, and this feels SO fun for total non-hipsters like us who would otherwise never have discovered it. We didn’t stay for a drink as we were totally beat by then, but next time.
Sassy Mama’s Verdict: Two thumbs up for Keong Saik Snacks for a super-easy no-frills date night with yummy but simple food, and friendly, speedy service. We might even be back for brunch with the littlies!
Keong Saik Snacks, 49 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089153
Tel: (+65) 6221 8338
Opening Hours: Snacks 12pm – 11pm Daily, Punch Brunch 11am-4pm Weekends and Public Holidays