Singapore may be small, but we are inundated with choice when it comes to eating out. Sometimes, this can lead to the first-world problem of CHOICE(!) ANXIETY(!!) If, like us, this leads you to becoming a sad creature of habit who keeps eating at the same old places, check out our bite-sized JUNK food reviews for what you should be eating next (or not!).
Here at JUNK, we’re suckers for food gimmicks. We’re also partial to a bit of mass-market Western food just because it’s a mindless fix when you don’t want to think too hard about what to put in your belly; and most of us grew up with it – hawker centre Western food, Astons, et al.
Molten Diners’ pitch is their wide range of sauces on everything, hence “molten” we guess; but their equally intriguing sideshow was crumbling Twisties™ over food and fries. It sounded nasty but likeable; had they cracked something to be confident enough to offer it to paying customers? A ghetto version of nasty shaker fries? (Yes, shaker fries are nasty – they have an anti-caking agent in them.)
Molten Diners seemed to purvey gimmicks by the bucketful, so we had to check it out.
Given that most things on the menu were under the magic $15 price point, we did go in with low gastronomic expectations, but what we didn’t expect was to be unceremoniously ripped off by a kitchen who probably thought their customers too dumb to tell the difference between expensive steak and a Pentel soft eraser.
The offending offering was sold as Gorgonzola Blue Cheese Sauce Wagyu USDA Gold MS6 21-day aged New York Striploin, clocking in at the princely sum of $49.90.
The steak arrived obscured under a blue cheese sauce that was thickened to the consistency of salad cream. An easy slice and a bite later, the nasty tang of baking soda zapped our tongues and bounced around the walls of our mouths, catching us by surprise. You know this nasty tang – it’s that cheap chemical flavour that you get with the beef in tze char beef hor fun.
FYI, baking soda – that most amazing of chemicals, which can do everything from de-clog your drain to removing dank odours off your dri-fit tops – is mostly deployed by chefs to save proteins past their best or tenderise meat too tough to chew. Whatever the case, it was clear that this was probably not a premium cut of meat (why would you do this to good meat?), but a far cheaper cut of beef tenderised to simulate the tenderness of Wagyu. Are we 100% sure? Too bad – the overwhelming taste of baking soda had raised our suspicions, and at a shade under $50, this wasn’t just bad food. This, ladies and gentlemen, was a crime scene.
The other dishes covered the ground between okay to nasty, but we didn’t take that much issue with them seeing they had more reasonable price points. The Harissa Chili Salsa Chicken Steak at $13.90 was the most edible thing, with a not-quite-harissa-but-not-horrid chili paste slathered over a pleasantly griddled chicken chop.
The $14.90 “The Twist” Lava Golden Crispy Fish Fillet on the other hand was, again, a baking soda-soaked cheap dory fish in a thick crumb coat, covered in nacho cheese sauce and finished with more Twisties™ dust. One of us thoughtfully described the taste as “paper”, the other reckoned it tasted like a science experiment.
And so “The Twist” fries? Actually that worked. The MSG of crushed curry(?) Twisties™ sweetening up the flavourless shoestring fries.
You would think we would be hopping mad for the experience, but not really. We went in with our eyes open, and actually we were laughing throughout most of the meal. Why? Taking the biggest picture possible, we feel we have to have to look at the food as an anthropological study – a cultural snapshot of how restaurants think they need to pitch themselves to us in order to succeed in 2019.
Molten Diner is a product of our times. Open a mass-appeal restaurant with a familiar-yet-gimmicky and elaborate-sounding menu, promote it with a barrage of moronic influencer videos on social media babbling inane, vocabulary-limited basic-bro/bitch hyperbole featuring loads of porny food clips. (You can watch these on a loop on a TV in the restaurant – slo-mo dribbling of sauce over everything is pretty failsafe, trying seductively to tear chicken flesh off a wing drumlet less so; it actually plays like a terrorist torture video.) But above all, forget about delivering anything edible to real paying customers because of profit margins.
We sit here calmly waiting for this storm to pass.
We were open to giving it 2 wings seeing that it’s priced like a neighbourhood joint and we think it does have a utilitarian relevance to a local demographic. Then we remembered the cheeky deceit with the steak and the score falls to 1 wing.
Go if curious and in the neighbourhood, otherwise don’t.