Rokeby Cafe | Simple and Unassumingly Aussie

Located at Jalan Riang, the distinctive black and white facade exudes a laidback charm, something carried over in its food offerings as well. 

Written By Mu Yao

Rokeby. What a funky Australian name. When one talks about anything Aussie, a certain casual, unpretentious, down-to-earth naturality comes about, and Rokeby seems to be just that. Located in Serangoon Gardens' Jalan Riang, the distinctive black and white facade with its all-lowercase logo exude that laidback air that is so characteristically Aussie. I guess I'm pretty much expecting pretty much the same with their food — fresh, nothing fancy, just good, rich, wholesome flavours laid out pure and simple.

The warm woods and the cosy atmosphere make this a good place to chill out.

I had been hearing quite a bit from a few friends about this place — that the brunch wasn't too bad, that the prices here were reasonable (no service charge and GST!), and a nice place to hangout in this upscale suburban neighbourhood. This sort of primed my expectations up for the invited tasting, which Denyse kindly hosted. 

Vegemite Glazed Chicken ($11.90) — An acquired taste for some, Vegemite is one of those things that are unabashedly Australian.
Unabashedly Aussie, Vegemite is one of those things that you either love or hate — my dining companions weren't too keen on this one. I was one of those types that grew up eating Marmite (or Bovril) with plain porridge when I was sick, so I was familiar with the intensely salty taste of this concentrated yeast extract. The taste went well with the natural savoury taste of the crispy chicken (an interesting combination of textures in one's mouth). Would recommend this if you can take Vegemite/Marmite/Bovril.

The Mushroom Fritters ($9.90) were exceedingly juicy and flavourful, and made a great starter. 

These mushroom fritters ($9.90) were a potent starter indeed. Let's just say if you like mushroom juices bursting in your mouth with crispy bits to chew on, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one. I'm not sure what sauce is that, but it was good.

Braised Ox Cheek Stew ($20.90) — A favourite of mine for the night (amidst all the steaks)!

I loved the Braised Ox Cheek Stew ($20.90)— one of my favourites of the night. I love that fulfilling feeling you get in your tummy after you eat something as hearty as this. The meat was fall off the bone tender (soft, almost) and the stew was a rich medley of smooth, savoury flavours rounded together by the thick tomato base. The mashed potatoes were a little blase though, they weren't anything to write home about, just to fill one's tummy presumably. But god I tell you this is a must-try.

The Kangasaurus ($22.90) — Kangaroo Burger with Cranberry mix. Pretty nice. 
The allegedly spicy (it wasn't) cranberry mix with the most tender kangaroo meat I've tasted. 

We moved on to tackle the Kangasaurus ($22.90). I've had kangaroo meat before when I was in Australia — it was so, incredibly tough. I had doubts about this but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a pretty tender version of the meat — approximately the texture of a cut of beef of medium to medium-well doneness. I like the flavour of the meat itself (unfortunately, I can't find the words to describe this properly, forgive me), and it was juicier and has a noticeably gamey taste. It went quite well with the allegedly spicy cranberry mix (couldn't taste the spice, more sweet than anything). I liked the mix for the evenly smooth sweetness though, I simply thought any form of spiciness here wouldn't be redundant. A very aussie thing to have a sweet + savoury burger, and I like it.

Rokeby Chilli Mussels (@$19.90) — The mussels I found were on the small side, but they were sweet and fresh. The mussels are from New Zealand
Rokeby Chilli Mussels ($19.90) — good if you like your mussels spicy. 
Touted as their take on the Perth version of this dish (I had the same at Fremantle a whole 10 years back), the Chilli Mussels ($19.90) packed a punch. When I first saw the mussels I was kind of surprised at how small they were (was expecting the bigger Australian versions, which are generally much meatier and bigger as well). Turns out, as Denyse told me, they were using New Zealand blue mussels (which strangely, I seem to recall them being more famous for their green-lipped mussels instead). Despite the small portion of meat, it was sweet — but the dish was kind of overwhelmed by the spicy chilli sauce. The sauce goes well with the bread though — think of the whole taste as something like a spicy seafood bruschetta. 

Kurobuta Pork Belly ($25.90) — 200g of ang moh sio bak. With a pretty good apple sauce. Not bad.  
Wah, ang moh sio bak. Yes, despite the Japanese sounding name, Kurobuta is actually another variant of Berkshire pork from England (known for its high fat content). The pork belly ($25.90) was grilled to crackling perfection, although I have to say that the crackling layer of skin was quite thin (not like your german pork knuckle kind), and hence the shiokness of eating the salty, sinful fatty bits was diminished. But in some sense, it wasn't too cloyingly rich as well — and went perfectly with the apple sauce (I was told it had some garlic in it too?). Sweet and savoury again, this was a pretty decent take on the pork belly, although not outstanding. 

Milk-fed veal steak ($44.90) — 200g of amazing, melt-in-your-mouth, savoury grilled veal.

Torched to perfection, the veal steak comes highly recommended by me for the succulent and sinful fats melting in one's mouth. 

The cardiac arrest will be worth it for this one. 
There are few things better on the face of this earth to have a creamy, savoury saltiness of a piece of meat so succulent it literally swirls, happily, in the crevices of your mouth. The Milk-Fed Veal Steak ($44.90) was the cause, and my goodness, there was so much fatty goodness in there I swear it made the 450 crunches over the past 3 days worth it. Served with more oily goodness with the garlic butter melting all over the place (hence you see juice all over the platter), it was even better when one cut into it — the meat was so tender and juicy it was a meat lovers' paradise. It was so good, I felt sorry for the mashed potatoes.

The Big Fat Bloke ($53.90) — 500g of "premium Aussie ribeye". Finish this on your own and you get a beer on the house. No time limit, as far as I've heard (so far!). 

Torched to perfection, this ribeye was served with curry butter here. 
What's Aussie food without a good ribeye steak, right? Torched in front of you and served with a choice of garlic or curry butter (we got curry butter in this one), the Big Fat Bloke ($53.90) was a forced to be reckoned with. 500g of pure-bred, prime Aussie ribeye, the steak looked really tender and promising. Denyse also mentioned that if you could finish it on your own (without help), a beer would be on the house.

The steak was in itself pretty okay — was a medium rare/medium, because of the huge size of the steak the doneness was somewhat uneven. The grain of the beef itself a little rougher to cut through than say, similar graded US beef, but the robust (slightly gamey) flavour made up for it. The curry butter sort of melted the whole thing together in your mouth, but I couldn't really make out much of the curry (I could, however, smell it though).

The Molten Lava Cake ($6.00) — wasn't fantastic, but wasn't bad either. 

The not-so-molten core. 
We still gamely upped our ante for desserts (there's always a special compartment in my tummy for them). We had the Molten Lava Cake ($6.00) which wasn't really molten in the centre. Denyse did admit it wasn't their best dessert, but this, by no means, wasn't a bad one to say the least. While the texture of the cake was a little clumpy to say the least, the chocolate was pretty decent.

Chocolate Banana Cake With Salted Caramel Sauce ($6.50) — the owner's personal favourite and comes highly recommended by me too. 

Oh. I love you, salted caramel. 
The chocolate banana cake with salted caramel ($6.50) was a much better alternative instead. Imagine rich, sweet chocolate melting in your mouth, with hints of (walnut?) breaking in that smoothness with a nutty fragrance. Then add salted caramel. Amazingly decadent way to end off a meal. Wholeheartedly recommend this one.

We didn't get to try their tiramisu (presumably as it was all sold out), but we heard good things about it from Denyse. Perhaps I'll come back for it one day.

If there's one notable thing I could say about Rokeby is the laidback charm that is exuded from this establishment. The good thing about Australian food is that it's simple and unassuming, where fresh ingredients taste like what they are, not some strange concoction of exotic flavours. Good food should be that way. In an intensely competitive culinary landscape in Singapore, far too many have tried to outdo one another by being overtly gimmicky with ambitious pairings of ingredients that only sound good on paper. Rokeby reminds us that good food should be simple, hearty and wholesome, in that unassumingly consistent way that finds a way to satisfy diners' hearts and tummies. 

We thank Denyse for hosting us at this invited tasting

15-9 Jalan Riang
Singapore 358987

Tel: +65 9106 0437

Open Tues to Sun: 9AM to 10PM. 


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