Good thing Singapore doesn't have the habit of doing a Sunday Roast every weekend, or we'd all be even sadder than we already are from the lack of weekly (and lonely) feasts. Not to mention broke, too, from all those failed attempts at DIY-ing the art of smoked meat if you even bothered to try.
It will probably be a while more before we get the holy trinity of meat-off-the-grill, good company, and ambience in a single sitting, but that's not to say we don't have some quality grill pits we can look forward to visiting when the restrictions loosen even more. One of them, Smokehse, doesn't even require you to leave the house. Food-tech platform Esseplore's latest offering brings the flavourful palette of good ol' American barbecue right to your doorstep, meticulously and wholeheartedly prepared by the talented pitmaster, Chef Jimmy Cheang.
What started off as simply wanting to improve the consistency of his barbecues over charcoal led Chef Jimmy to discover American barbecue, which uses a smoker that cooks meat over indirect heat, at lower temperatures, and for a longer period of time instead. After training under two multi-award winning American pitmasters (yep, it's a thing) in the States in 2009, Chef Jimmy is now a qualified Kansas City Barbecue Judge, and naturally the main authority of all things smoke-related at Smokehse. If this isn't proof that the real deal exists on our tropical island, then we'll just let the bark, juice and bite do the talking.
The goods arrive in two plain carton boxes, one dedicated to the prized mains and the other larger one housing the generous amount of sides. We had the nine-course All-American Smoked BBQ Feast (ordered three days in advance), a mouth-watering curation of treats for a group of six to eight that features two mains and many more of Chef Jimmy's specialties.
Slathered in a special dry rub overnight, the Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket is warm and moist upon unwrapping, lightly smelling of the American hickory wood used to tenderise the meat. What reveals the quality of the brisket goes beyond the slight ghost of a smoke ring on the meat; each bite is dense but tender, deep with a woody fragrance and well punctuated by a Smoque BBQ glaze crafted by the pitmaster himself. It's the thought that went into this balanced experience that shows off Chef Jimmy's skill. Still, this balanced experience is easily enough for more than six average-portion diners—best get bigger eaters to make the most out of it while the meat is still in its prime (it's been a full day and there's still leftovers of this monster in the fridge).
The second main, the Signature Smoked Iberico Pork Ribs, is quite frankly a star on its own. Saying that the first word that came to mind was "apple" is not an exaggeration—it was really love at first whiff. No surprise that it was smoked on American applewood here, but what really blew us away was the texture of the meat. At will, these imported pork spare ribs slide straight off the bone. Nothing more satisfying than seeing clean ribs, except maybe pulling the meat off with our bare teeth without getting sauce all over our faces. The meat is just soft and juicy enough. This is definitely going to be a reorder in our books.
Most of the sides were pretty tasty. The baby potatoes were nicely seasoned and the smoked pumpkin soup exceptionally creamy and sweet. Corn on the cob was pretty impressive too, a good complement to the sweetness of the ribs. The BBQ Octopus, that single tentacle of collagen-rich flesh, was a surprising win and a nice break from the heftier meat flavours, even though it was full-flavoured on its own from the infusion of Chef Jimmy's homemade sauce. From the way the soft (but not chewy) meat contrasts with crispy charred bits, its no wonder there's a set featuring the BBQ Octopus too. Emphasis on the word tentacle—perhaps like the garden's worth of salad vegetables the set has, adding an octopus's worth of tentacles could be good too?
Sincerely, newly-minted Smokehse fan.
All American Smoked BBQ Feast ($348) is available for order on smokehse.esseplore.com.