SINGAPORE: Like fashion, food is subject to the vagaries of changing tastes. In today, out tomorrow. Especially in Singapore, where culinary choices abound and where rentals are, frankly, unconscionable.
When fast food joints bite the dust here, they leave a cheerless trail of deadened, albeit perpetually yearning, taste buds and broken hearts – leaving devotees to make expensive forays into the region for their fix.
But then, something amazing happens.
This week, we found out that, fifteen years after its local exit, A&W is set for a comeback in 2018.
The news was greeted with the kind of delirium you’d expect from lost desert travellers who hear rumours that an oasis may be close by. Not pretty, man.
Never mind that you could get A&W root beer and vanilla ice your cream from your local supermarket since the 1950s – there is something about drinking a root beer float out of that frosted mug alongside a boxy boat of curly fries on bolted down furniture under strip lights.
The hoo-ha of the last few days has got us pining for other long-departed fast food offerings. So here are five comebacks we’d like to see.
SAUSAGE MCGRIDDLES WITH EGG
Could there be anything more faultless than this bad boy as a handy breakfast option? We reckon not.
Last seen in 2014 in Singapore, this burger consisted of a satisfyingly thick patty sandwiched between pancake buns – with a melty cheese encrusted egg wedged alongside it.
Meat, eggs, cheese, pancakes – all the elements one needs for a perfect breakfast; plus this comes jacked with sweet, syrupy and salty flavours. Oh, the joy.
Its detractors claim that the Sausage McGriddles with Egg was an abhorrent calorie-cum-cholesterol carbo bomb that widened waistlines at best, and shortened lifespans at worst. To each his own; we think this is a sorely missed, undissable work of art.
BK SHOTS – TOMATO BENNY
An unassuming item that briefly existed for a few weeks in 2011, Burger King’s breakfast BK SHOTS consisted of a “tomato” and “egg” version. The latter came with a serving of turkey ham, so enough about that.
The Tomato Benny was a bite-friendly, non-messy unit that was bigger than a slider yet smaller than a Whopper Jr. Of course, the tomato was there for just garnish: the real heroes were the fluffy buns, buttery omelet and the licentious Hollandaise sauce.
Removing it from Burger King’s breakfast menu was unfortunate to the say the least, especially when you consider that the eye-rollingly named CROISSAN’WICH range is an inferior cousin of sorts.
TABLE SERVICE AT KFC
KFC, in its previous iteration as Kentucky Fried Chicken, used to provide table service at its outlets in Singapore. Food served by waiters to your table – on proper plates. With proper cutlery.
Stopping this seemed to be the last word in lunacy, as The Colonel served up the sort fare that lends itself to such aspirational finesse.
After all, the only way to do justice to a helping of coleslaw, fries, whipped potato and crispy skinned succulent thighs is to line them all on a plate, knife ‘em up, push ’em onto a fork and then heap it into one’s eager gob. We’re not quite buying this folksy, ‘finger-lickin’ good’ baloney.
Undoubtedly, bringing the sit-down service back would be costly. But KFC, like it did before, could opt to have it at selected outlets.
Ah Meng, who opened the KFC restaurant at the Singapore Zoo, was rumoured to have worked as a bartender on a barge in the Malacca Strait for many years.
In Don’t Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, author Paul Carter claimed Ah Meng spent 15 years serving cocktails on the Ismaya, a vessel that plied the waters of Southeast Asia.
Ah Meng died in 2008, but her descendants – five children and six grandchildren – still live at the zoo and they could – possibly – be trained to work as waiters at that ever-popular KFC outlet. It would be a fitting tribute to the late dame.
POPEYES PRAWN POPPERS
Another travesty, this.
Ok, we get that Popeyes exists to spread the gospel of Southern fried chicken. But it also serves up yum seafood numbers. Among the items that vanished from its menu boards over the years is the delectable prawn poppers.
Asking crew members behind the counter will only get you indifferent shrugs. Writing in to head office may work, but we’ve haven’t tried that.
So now, a heartfelt plea: Please bring these fluffy, umamified pillows of deep-fried goodness back. Popeyes prawn poppers is more than just alliteratively satisfying, it truly is a versatile snack for the ages.
HIP TO BE SQUARE: WENDY’S
Not a specific menu request, but instead a clarion call for Wendy’s to return once more.
It has already beaten two hasty retreats from these shores, leaving in the late 80s and then in 2015, after having returned in 2009.
We are not sure why Wendy’s feels it can’t quite make a fist of things here: there was always a steady stream of punters gobbling up its dainty square burgers.
You can never have too many fast food options and surely there is a place for Wendy’s to once again be part of our food scene.