Burnt Ends, Singapore – best BBQ ever
Perth native Dave Pynt is a well-travelled fellow. His road to heading up the extraordinary Burnt Ends in Singapore has seen him head to the Michelin-starred Etxebarri grill restaurant near Bilbao in northern Spain, with stints also in the UK. There’s one element though that is constant – realising the potential for cooking great produce on a wood-fired grill. His Singapore restaurant is a long, narrow space in Chinatown, dominated by a custom-built dual cavity oven. According to the restaurant’s website, it weighs four tonnes. The coals that come out of the oven also fire a number of elevation grills and turn meats, seafood and vegetables into a range of delicious plates.
The restaurant only takes bookings for sittings at 6pm or 6.30pm. Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband headed in early and were rewarded with prime seats along the counter, in front of the bevy of chefs hard at work. Props to the air-conditioning system; we were so close to all these roaring fires but the temperature remained very comfortable – for the patrons; no doubt it was rather hotter on the chefs’ side of the divide.
There’s a daily menu, depending on what’s available although some dishes as the ‘Burnt Ends sanger’ (more on that later) are staples. Settling in with a couple of beers, we perused the menu. Gluttonous husband took a Japanese pale ale ‘Yona Yona’ which he said didn’t have as much body as other IPAs he’s enjoyed, while Greedy Girl chose a German lager. Not wanting to fall foul of content filters, she can only present a picture of the bottle here. Apparently the EU patents people didn’t want to approve the name of this particular beer, but there you go.
Rather than have a major dish, we opted to share a range of smaller plates. First up was kingfish and lemon. The kingfish was warmed on the grill and sat atop a slick of lemon puree, with a little chopped chives to finish. The temperature of the fish was the key here; several times we watched the chef check pieces to ensure they were at the right level before he’d allow them to be plated. Greedy Girl is becoming a firm fan of kingfish and suspects it may be at its best with the most minimal amount of intervention (i.e., sashimi or ceviche). The lemon puree wasn’t too tart and the combination was a triumph.
Next up, we had sobrasada, pictured at the top of this blog. This is a soft Catalan sausage made from pork and paprika. It had a perfect level of warmth to the spice and spread beautifully on the sourdough toast fingers. This was plate-licking good.
We moved on to lamb. These were cutlets liberally spread with harissa, essentially a Middle-Eastern paste made from a variety of chillis and peppers. Greedy Girl enjoyed her cutlet but gluttonous husband commented the fat hadn’t been rendered down sufficiently on his and was a bit chewy as a result. The meat, however, was very tender.
We then moved on to the ‘Burnt Ends sanger’. Now this is a hamburger! Pulled pork shoulder is mixed with a chipotle aioli and coleslaw on a brioche bun topped with black sesame seeds. On the lid of the bun there’s a tiny slice of pepper that packs a huge punch. Slightly messy to eat but incredibly delicious. Worth the price of admission alone.
We were still a bit peckish, but the sanger proved to be rather filling. Instead of a major dish, we ordered a salmon, egg and watercress dish. It comes with rather a large profusion of greens on the top, which reveal a rather luscious salmon, smoked to order. Gluttonous husband divided up the greens to our respective plates to reveal the beautiful mix of soft eggs (with still runny yolks) and slices of an incredibly good salmon. This is something any salmon lover would adore. Greedy Girl was very happy.
We decided a sweet dish would round out proceedings. This was a burnt lemon puree with a luscious blueberry coulis, topped with very crunchy, very light shards of shortbread and a selection of herbs. Delicious and a perfect end.
Burnt Ends is an unusual restaurant in many respects – not just because it is dominated by the huge wood ovens. It doesn’t prescribe a service charge; while the Singapore tax is added to your bill, a tip for service is discretionary. The service was very good in the respect that it was authentically warm and welcoming but it does suffer from something that seems to be very widespread here – their very eager desire to whip plates and glasses away when there’s a fraction still left, or in our case, where we take our time savouring the flavours. The moral of the story in Singapore is to guard your dishes well.
This is a great experience and while it’s dominated by meat products, there’s a range of vegetarian and pescetarian dishes to appeal to a wider cross section of diners.
20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore