Bedok would never expect a hawker joint to give off such a slightly rustic yet modern charm as per Burning Oak did. Newly settled into the just-renovated Simpang Bedok food centre, Burning Oak definitely does not exude the same vibe as you would expect from a hawker stall, but instead, more of a takeaway bistro joint. Or that hipster Japanese-American outlet you always wanted to try.
Serving meat on sticks grill over real charcoal, Burning Oak seems to reinvent the whole teriyaki scene here in Singapore, a stark contrast to the ubiquitous Tori-Q in shopping malls everywhere.
Japanese Curry Risotto Balls ($6.50). An intricate dish by itself, it contained many unique elements brought together so seamlessly and uniquely. A play on Japanese curry with rice, although presented through a different medium like Risotto rice instead.
I would have preferred it to be more on the wetter, more gravy-like side, but still kudos to the team at Burning oak to come out with such an interesting dish.
Negima (right; chicken thigh, $2), Tsukune (chicken meatball, $2). The chicken meat was not too bad, and was chargrilled well on their special charcoal stove. The crew painstakingly stood over the fireplace to barbecue by hand these yakitori sticks, and the flavour they could achieve was definitely different from your usual.
I felt that the meatballs could be grilled a bit more thoroughly though, as the center seems to be more uncooked and mushy, albeit quite flavourful upon each bite.
Seth: The exterior had a great char finish but the inside was a little ‘raw’- I understand it could be how the chef wants to present it but I don’t think this would sit well with the local palate.
The grilled selection. The slow-cooked Beef Short Ribs (right; $6) was one of the best I’ve tried thus far, with tender yet succulent flesh oozing with juice upon each bite. The Beef cubes were very well marinated sous vide for 72 hours, and we could taste the sealed-in flavour permeated evenly through each bite. Definitely worth a try.
Another favourite of ours was the Iberico Pork Cheeks (left; $5). Accompanied with apple puree dressing and cucumber bits on top, it was a refreshing twist. While the pork cheek had a firm, lean bite to it, it still contained hints of fatty meat on the side, with a subtly sweet notes characterised by the apple puree.
Grilled Salmon (right; $3) was very well executed. Salmon can have the tendency of being overcooked, especially during barbecues. However, Burning Oak still managed to maintain that soft tender flesh one so loves in salmon meat, together with a slightly charred outer layer.
The salmon was fresh and pretty tasty, and I loved it very much. The skin was slightly too burnt for my liking though, but I know many who would certainly prefer eating crispy, burnt salmon skin, rich in fatty omega 3. yum.
Seth: I loved the crispy burnt skin which added that extra dimension to this fish.
Pork Belly (left; $2). It didn’t leave that much of a strong impression on me, but was still pretty pleasant nonetheless. layered with juicy fats and chewy meat, it made quite a good combination altogether. But it just didn’t stand out that much as the rest. Maybe the rest of the yakitori was too good in comparison.
I was quite a fan of the Grilled Cherry Tomatoes (right; $1.50) as well, sweet but not soggy, and they even retained a certain grilled taste about it. Nice. The Grilled Quail Eggs (left; $1.70) were just your normal average quail eggs, and if you’re a quail egg fan, you’re sure to love them..
Also offering cocktails like this Sake Oishii, Burning Oak adds some gourmet twist to their drinks like with black olive powder rimming. An average cocktail, it reminded me more of soft drinks than actual cocktails seriously lacking in alcoholic punch. But who knows, some prefer them without much alcohol. You can order them as per part of your dinner set but I think it needs some refinement.
Seth: It’s a challenge for Burning Oak to balance the pricing and amount of alcohol added, but I’d rather pay more for a better product than a diluted one.
Overall, I would recommend The Burning oak as a casual dining concept for supper and drinks amongst friends. After all, it is set in a hawker centre and has that relaxed vibe. One caveat is that the waiting time might be a bit long as the skewers are grilled upon order, so expect to wait about 15 minutes at least.
Burning Oak is definitely gaining popularity due to quality yakitori at a pretty affordable price point, so try to come early, for they might sell out even before you get there in time for supper. The Beef Short Ribs especially, has a very limited number each day as it takes so long to prepare.
Expected Damage: $6 – $15 per pax