Jack’s Place @ Bras Basah Complex
Lunch @ Jack’s Place is something which we had been wanting to do for such a long time but never get the opportunity to materialise. Hectic work schedules is usually the
excuse reason. But as the year closes to an end with us clearing leave and not travelling out, it seemed like the best place to enjoy a slow and simple weekday lunch. We chose the branch at Bras Basah complex for several reasons. Firstly, its just a stone’s throw away from the gym where we workout, hence allowing us to sweat out a bit to lighten our conscience on the culinary indulgence we might land ourselves in. And secondly the ambience and decor here is so well-preserved at the 80s and early 90s! Just the way we like it, uh huh uh huh!
We order two set meals of the day which came with Cream of Vegetable Soup served with garlic bread.
Nothing much to comment on. Basically creamy corn starch base with chunks of carrot, potato and onions. Herb spread on the garlic bread was a simple but elegant touch of aroma and colour.
My order of New Zealand Sirloin with Braised Shallots in Brown Sauce and assortment of sauteed vegetables. I ordered it to be “medium well done” and it came so. 🙂 I don’t like my steak too bloody and usually when I order “medium well done” in other places, it usually comes out fully cooked, all dry and rubbery. In other occasions, it appears medium rare with liquids oozing out when the steak is carved. Not a pretty sight! Meats continue to cook when taken off the heat and grasping the precise moment is really quite an art on its own. The chefs at Jack’s Place seemed to have mastered the technique quite well. The exterior was nicely browned with the insides remained a delicate pink.
And I absolutely adored the braised shallots. My initial fear is that these little blobs would become bitter to the core but quite the contrary, they were very nicely cooked till soft but not too mushy, still retaining the form. Most importantly, one could taste an interesting balance of bitterness and sweetness from the wonderfully caramelised bits.
J’s Deep Fried Half Spring Chicken with Thai Chilli created quite a bit of an episode when we ordered it. We arrived rather late, definitely way into the lunch hour and the restaurant was quite packed. It seemed that this popular dish had somewhat sold out when we ordered. The lady restaurant manager offered to replace the dish with boneless grilled chicken thigh instead and we were totally agreeable to the suggestion. But minutes later (after we took out the camera to shoot the soup), the manager approached us gleefully to inform us that they were able to provide us with the original order of half spring chicken after all! We hesitated slightly and decided that the spring chicken would probably be more photo-dramatic and went with her offer to revert back to the original order, which she gladly complied. We specifically requested for the sauce to be separated from the chicken as the liquid would probably dampen the otherwise crispy skin. Less than a minute later, one of the waiting staff suddenly appears to present us a dish of boneless grilled chicken thigh with the sauce was drizzled all over it! We were totally bewildered! Naturally we asked for the waiter to clarify the order with the manager, who came over and apologised profusely for the confusion. But in the end, the matter was resolved amicably.
The chicken was deep fried without batter to a exuberant golden brown. The bare skin was very crisp indeed! Just the way we liked it. Most of the meat retained a certain degree of moisture but the breast portion was a tad too dry unfortunately. But I guess that cannot be helped. For lunches at such affordable rates, the preparation has necessarily got to be kept simple. One way to circumvent this is to marinate the chicken prior with a dry spice rub and leaving it to ventilate and dry for sometime, for the skin to dehydrate slightly thus allowing the frying time to be shorten and yet achieve the same much desired crisp texture, while allowing more moisture within the meat to be locked in.
Set lunches came with tea and a dessert, such a steal isn’t it? Dessert was a simple mango pudding, probably pre-fabbed , carpeted with red squarish chunks of agar agar. Honestly we couldn’t appreciate the jelly bits on top and left most of it as it is. We did finish the mango pudding beneath however. Not that it was particularly fantastic but we don’t want to be called food snobs do we? : )
Dining at Jack’s Place always brings back very old and rustic childhood memories. My family wasn’t well-to-do at all when we were young and eating out in a restaurant was virtually unthinkable. I remembered my first visit to Jack’s Place was many years back at the branch next to Ang Mo Kio Community Library and I distinctively remembered it was my Uncle who brought us there. My extended family with my mother’s relatives were there and there was so much fun with all my cousins around. All of us were still kids then. Now that everyone’s all grown up and started their own families, dining together seemed much like a hazy recollection of my yesteryears. Despite having undergone some revamps over the years, Jack’s Place still remains simple and unpretentious. Most important of all, it allowed me to relive some of those much reminisced good times.