Tucked away in a quiet corner of Punggol, Singapore, right beside the maze-like Waterway Point shopping mall, is Starker Q, the latest addition to the Starker Group’s chain of popular restaurants. Vast and airy, but without the bells and whistles of its previously-established counterparts (including Starker Bistro in Katong and Starker Signature in Holland Village), the concept for this new spot is simple: a modest joint, where friends and family alike can come to chill out over quality beers, accessible munchies, and from Monday to Saturday, live music.
Despite its apparent minimalism, a more elegant simplicity is observed throughout the restaurant – in the soft maple accents of its interiors, the sunlit corner space, and the idyllic views of the adjacent waterway. The first floor of this double-storey joint currently houses five concepts and a drink stall in a food court-like setting.
Within the clever mix of cuisines is the aptly-named Legend Seafood, offering a plethora of fabulously fresh ocean catches, from smoky shrimp and scallop skewers to various pots of boiled shellfish. Most notable of all is the Clams in a Pot with Garlic Butter Cream ($14.80), which has been boiled just long enough for the flesh to remain delicate, and the velvety sauce to infuse every morsel with creamy essence.
More substantial are the generous sharing platters and hearty meals offered by Allegra, which, as its Italian namesake suggests, bring you joy on a plate. The signature Fiery Wings ($5.80) sounds common enough a bar staple, yet it’s been so thoroughly marinated in fresh beer and coated with the most fiery (or mellow, if you desire) homemade hot sauce, that each bite leaves you with an incomparably tangy aroma lingering on your palate. Likewise, the Cuttlefish Strips ($2.80) are equally fragrant and appetizing, with a natural sweetness that – surprisingly – has not been diminished by several rounds of deep-frying.
If you’re craving for delicacies of the more eccentric sort, check out the East-West fusion dishes at My Bao. The former brings together the best of American burgers and Chinese cuisine, combining the fluffiest of slider buns with fillings that invoke the familiar tastes of home. The result is a curious, but no less delightful, blend of sweet and savory. The popular Char Siew Bao ($1.50), for one, is as heart-warming as classic dim sum gets, but it is the piquant Bacon and Mushroom Cream Bao ($1.40), as well as its tender Pulled Pork Bao ($1.70) that truly gets us. Soft and relishing, these petite snacks promise bursts of oriental flavours in yummy bites.
On the other hand, Pizalo is your go-to for sinful carbs to line your stomach with. Skip the typical Hawaiian or Seafood pizzas, and go straight for the strangest sounding item on its menu – the Wanton Pizza ($6.80) – for an utterly fascinating gastronomic delight. With its thin and crispy homemade crust topped with pulled pork, hoisin sauce, and a wanton sprinkling of crispy dumpling skin – pun intended. We, admittedly, couldn’t stop stuffing our faces with these slices of umami heaven.
What is a trip to a Stärker-branded restaurant without a round of the renowned, eponymous beer? Order a cold one straight to your table, or proceed to the upper-floor where a cosy and casual watering hole awaits you for the perfect post-dinner fix. All of Stärker’s award-winning beers, from the light Lager and very fruity Lychee to the distinctly smokier Charcoal, are brewed in-house for maximum freshness, so regardless of what your poison is, you’ll be sure to find something that suits your taste. In fact, you can also order a flight of five different 120ml brews for the best of everything.
With such good food and even better beer – and all at such wallet-friendly prices too – it comes as no surprise that this place fills up so quickly on weekends. Given this burgeoning popularity of Starker’s first foray into the north-eastern heartlands of Singapore, we trust that only time will tell before this restaurant becomes the hip new place to be in the neighbourhood.