Dinner @ J.B. Ah Meng 新山亚明小厨

July 8, 2017 in Chinese by thywhaleliciousfay

It being one of my girlfriends’ birthdays, we decided to meet up to celebrate. However, we decided on having zi char because my clique of secondary school friends preferred messy eating affair with big portions as compared to eating daintily off big plates with small portions. Keke. And between white beehoon and black beehoon, birthday girl chose the latter. Keke. And thus, reservation was made for J.B. Ah Meng.

However, making the reservation wasn’t easy. I tried calling on a Monday evening (7pm) but none of my seven calls went through; Line was either busy or wasn’t picked up. Called again on Tuesday evening (6.30pm) and managed to get through on my first attempt. Phew. And with that, reservation was made for Saturday for 8 people.

And from an interview article which chef-owner Wang Feng did with Michelin Guide Singapore, I learnt the meaning behind their shop name; Johor Bahru being a general term for Malaysian zi char while Ah Meng was his nickname. And yes, the article came about because J.B. Ah Meng was given the Bib Gourmand award in 2016. Not to be confused with Michelin Star award.

It was thankful we made reservation because there was a long queue. One of my girlfriends (who obviously isn’t a foodie cause she didn’t know J.B. Ah Meng was popular) said “The queue was so long (that) I thought something happened.” Haha. So yes, reservation is strongly recommended because the restaurant would assign tables to those who made reservation first. And being assigned to a table right at the entrance, we noticed the queue was always there. Even when we left at 9pm.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Sambal kangkong, $12 (medium) (above)

2) Fried egg with tomato, $12 (small) (above) – Think thick, fluffy and creamy egg omelette. Really good!

3) Fried garlic chili clams (lala), $16 (small) (above) – One of the signature dishes. We ordered this in small serving because not all of us ate clams. But these were fat and juicy. Very nice.


  

4) JB san lou bee hoon, $14 (large) (above) – Probably the iconic dish of J.B. Ah Meng. Available in $7, $11 and $14, this was so good that we ordered a second plate after finishing our first. Mixed with squid and soy sauce, the beehoon was fried flat like a pancake such that it was crisp and slightly charred on one side. And as the dish’s name go, this was served as 3 pancakes. A must order.

5) White pepper crab, market price (above) – The staff spoke in bullet speed when she told us of the different prices. Seeing that we were a big group, she recommended us to get 3 crabs. Prices started at $54 for crabs with little roe, $75 with medium roe, etc. We went with $75 although I don’t think we saw much roe in our crabs. But this dish, which is also 1 of th 3 signature dishes, was perfect! Meaty Sri Lankan crab stir-fried wok-friend with white pepper, ginger and spring onions. The gravy was on point.

My girlfriends and I loved the food. However! We left the restaurant determined not to return even if we craved for the beehoon because of the atrociously bad service. Knowing that J.B. Ah Meng is afterall a zi char place, we were still fine with having difficulty in getting the staff’s attention to place our orders or having to self service by bringing our cups to the counter to top up hot water to our Chinese tea or waiting close to 30 minutes before our first dish was served. But it was how they managed our missing order that was seriously bad.

We had our orders taken at 7.20pm. But when our last dish salted egg yolk prawn ball (咸蛋虾球) was still not served at 8.20pm, we enquired with Staff A. But Staff A brushed us with “那个需要多点时间 (That needs more time).” Since we were still in the midst of eating, we were fine with waiting. And that’s also when we placed our additional order for the beehoon.

But when our second plate of beehoon arrived and the salted egg yolk prawn ball was still missing, we enquired again. This time, with chef-owner Wang Feng who came over after noticing our raised hands. But he said “那个需要时间. 每个桌子也在等. 我们会一起出 (That needs time. Every table is also waiting. We will serve it together).” And so, we waited again with his assurance.

However when we noticed groups, seated at least 45 minutes after us, were served the salted egg yolk prawn ball with no sign of more salted egg yolk prawn ball coming out from the kitchen, we knew something was wrong. Unfortunately, Staff A told us to ask his boss. But when chef-owner Wang Feng saw us approaching, he went into the kitchen. That’s when Staff B came to settle us. And it’s Staff B that really agitated us. He tried to bullshit us with excuse that orders placed at the same time get mixed up at times. We understand that. But we ordered at 7.20pm and it was already 9pm. After which, Staff B talked more bull before asking if we want to cancel the order if it’s checked that our dish is not prepared yet. Like seriously? Shouldn’t that been checked when we enquired earlier?

So my girlfriends and I asked how long it would take if we chose to wait it out. And Staff B rudely replied “I don’t know. Just wait.” What? He should at least have the courtesy to say he would check with the kitchen.

And the kitchen indeed missed out our order. Not surprising. So we canceled the dish since it made no sense to continue waiting when we had already finished our dishes. And sitting right at the entrance, people in the queue must have mistaken that we were hogging the table.

But when my girlfriends and I were taking out cash to foot the bill, Staff B started blabbering about how it’s our fault, etc. Like what!?! Seriously? And he was saying everything in a loud rowdy voice. Honestly, that was uncalled for. It got us mad; We enquired thrice but all 3 times we were casually brushed aside. We were just looking for a honest answer of “We missed out the order. We will tell the kitchen to do it now.”

I doubt people will reconsider not visiting or stop visiting J.B. Ah Meng because of the bad service. And just to be clear, we were not asking for fine dining level of service at zi char place. But the restaurant should at least look at better managing such situations. Just be upfront honest. Our time is as precious as yours.

In any case, J.B. Ah Meng was dropped off the Bib Gourmand award list in Michelin Guide Singapore 2017. Which I am glad that happened too. Let’s hope J.B. Ah Meng improves their service standard cause I honestly felt the food was good.

J.B AH MENG 新山亚明小厨
534 Geylang Road, Singapore
6741 2418
Overall: 6
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 17:30 – 02:30
Ambience: 5
Value: 6
Service: 5