Most Kopitiams in Singapore are pretty standard. You have a Western Stall, a Cai Png (Economic rice) stall, some Roast meat stall, and then fill in the rest of the slots with your drink stall, or some noodle stall whether it be Bak Chor Mee or Ban Mian.
Jurong West Blk 526, about a 13 min walk away from Lakeside MRT, doesn’t quite work the same. The place is, in every sense of the word, a hidden gem. Quite inconveniently located, rather unassuming in appearance, yet serving great food with good patronage. The place operates very much like a restaurant, with seats being reserved for the customers of its’ few stalls; a Western, a Tze Char/BBQ place, a drink stall, a Cai Png. On a quiet afternoon, you would see that this place feels somewhat typical, but at night this place transforms into one of the buzziest Kopitiam. Chitters of people can be heard like it is the celebration of some major event, as do the loud clanking of beer bottles passing around. If it weren’t the walking distance it took from Lakeside MRT to come here, I would have thought I was dining in some busy commercial district.
Unfortunately, the both occasion I came here I was only able to eat at Bowen’s, the Western stall that was previously Economic Bee Hoon by day, Italian by night. Right now it seems to be entirely Western.
While some of the items are standard, you can also find Ribs, Ribeye steak, a larger variety of Pasta and a feature special. On the particular afternoon I was here, I was shown a small crate of live lobsters, which were the day’s special. Lobster pasta in a Kopitiam? Yeah, gimme some of that.
Lobster Pasta (Day’s special) – S$16.50
Meat wise, there isn’t much going on here. It is half a lobster, succulent with its freshness and enriched by the sweet, lightly tang tomato sauce. The serving of the lobster in this manner of course looks impressive on the plate, but my concern as for most lobsters served this way is that you are unable to extract the small morsels of meat in the legs and the knuckles. Which when accumulated, is quite an amount.
Fish and Chips – S$7.50
The Fish and Chips here are delightful, with a breadcrumb crust with 2 thin fillets of fish, served with a sprinkle of salt and a slice of lemon.
Tartare is quite tangy, full of the pickle flavor imbued, complementing the fish. Salad is dressed with a sweet balsamic vinaigrette, a rather refreshing change from the common creamy coleslaw or Kewpie sesame dressing you might find in a lot of places.
Chips are fantastics, with a paper thin crisp and a fluffy interior.
However, I do feel that in general, the food at Bowen’s is a little under-seasoned. This is in contrast to a lot of older comments/reviews saying that their food is quite heavy on the seasoning. Perhaps they took in feedback and are still in the process of adjusting their flavors.
1/2 Spring Chicken – S$5.90
The second visit, I was given more standardish stuff. While the chicken skin is crisp, the meat isn’t as juicy as other fried chicken specialists. Without an accompanying sauce, the spring chicken felt pretty mediocre, and is about what I would expect when I walk into any HDB Kopitiam for Spring chicken.
Pork Chop and Chicken Chop – S$10
Even more than the spring chicken, the pork chops and chicken chop felt a lot more in need of a sauce. The pork more so than the chicken, as the cut of pork tends to be leaner than chicken thighs. Chops were beautiful golden brown, but were on the dry side in terms of texture. I would very much like if the chicken had brown gravy, and the pork had some apple sauce to accompany them.
Soup Set – S$3.50
Bread was very crusty, with a good hint of garlic butter, but much more suitable to be eaten with the soup than standalone.
Mushroom soup is a large portion, and is probably shareable among two. There is good earthy flavor from the mushrooms, and unlike the common outsourced mushroom soup doesn’t taste like cream. A good add-on, though I would say a bit expensive.
Rating for Bowen’s
I rate food based on how far I am willing to travel, as well as whether I think the price I paid for it justifies it. You can read more about why here.
Whether a choice or not, travelling to Bowen’s is a pre-requisite with it’s location. If you are in the Lakeside area, this is worth the hunt for its day’s specials and cafe quality food. To most people, I would say the 13 min walk from Lakeside is not worth it. But if your destination is in a general direction towards 526, perhaps consider taking a longer route to try.
At their Kopitiam prices, I can’t fault them much in terms of pricing. The specials are indeed more expensive, but it is very worth the price.
But I’m just a fat boi… What do other people think?
From reading other reviews, it seems like the place is very open to feedback and is constantly updating menu items to suit customer tastes. Also it seemed like the Chicken was usually served with a sauce ><
SgFoodFeed’s 2017 post shows another special item, wild boar cream sauce pasta, and will definitely be back for more.
FreshApple rates it 7/10. It seemed like it used to be located at Blk 517.
Facebook reviews are fantastics, 4.9/5 with 51 reviews.
Google reviews are 4.3/5, with 28 reviews. Great! People really like this place.
Burpple users like the place.
Tripadvisor had two reviews. Both liked it.