It’s bittersweet, this one is.
I loved RS Deli’s Beef Rendang burger. I absolutely loved it. Whoever came up with the idea of having a beef rendang infused patty sandwiched by warm gourmet buns is pure genius, really. Often stored for a few weeks, sometimes up to six months, the interaction of the dry rendang and the meats within is said to enhance the already richness and succulent texture of the dish. In between, it’s used as a spread atop white bread as a comforting and hearty snack. So, the burger seemed to be a natural progression. Indeed, American fast food chain, Burger King, immortalized the combination for its Singapore outlets with the Beef Rendang burger which is quite the cult favorite. RS Deli’s iteration built up on this proven foundation, and took it places, with handmade patties and juices which teased the richness of the beef, and the flavors of the rendang.
I just thought I’d put this out there, because I don’t think the restaurant will last, at least in its current location along the bustling Upper Thomson Road stretch dominated by roti prata outlets, ice cream parlors, and the odds and ends in between, which make this eclectic spot popular among the young despite its relative hard-to-access location. In many ways, it’s like Holland Village before the trains came: a local’s only secret, a placemaking hub centred around the medium which unites and defines all Singaporeans as being Singaporean, old, young and new – food. And it’s true. The other day, I was having roti prata at Prata Raya, a shack just off AMK Hub, and there were these group of Mainland Chinese… I had recognized them – they weren’t tourists, but students taking advantage of the bridge between East and West that is Singapore. And they were enjoying prata, as it were, caught up in it as any Singaporean would be. There’s a line between eating for the sake of eating (it’s a Singapore thing, might as well have Singapore food), and actually savoring the moment of it all, with curries, and the Milo Dinosaur and Teh Tarik to wash it all down… Their tongues might identify them as foreign, but I saw that undeniable spark – right at that moment, they were Singaporean.
Back to the food. I was alone having lunch, and so I only ordered a single burger. While the burger itself was great – a little small, and lacking in vegetables – everything else was just downhill. I didn’t care for the half-hearted attempt of an achar, and the fries were honestly, painful. If you’re not going to bother criss-cutting or investing in a machine to get it to bite-sized thin strips, then you should at least make the effort to cook the french fries properly. It’s an absolute killjoy when you bite down on your large “wedge” and you stumble onto something that’s incoherent with the consistency of a fry, and closer to that of a steamed potato. No generosity of chili or tomato sauce was going to make those crinkles taste good. As I marveled at the catastrophe that was the french fries, not to mention the lack of seasoning, I wondered if the actually good burger was just a one trick pony. I might be back, but frankly speaking, I’ve got a lot of options, including places I haven’t stepped in yet.