Good food, a vibrant and spunky ambience and fun, communal dining experience, the Singaporean chain delivers in all the right places.
Cajun on Wheels certainly stands out from the residential properties down Bullers Lane with its signature fibreglass crab surrounded by vibrant green foliage. C.O.W. is housed in conjoined containers with an eclectic array of seating including barrel-tables which complement the restaurant's theme. The ground floor area is air-conditioned, but the first floor is open to the elements, with the plants offering respite from the sun and rain. It's probably too hot to sit there during lunch time, but come evening, it's a great space to eat in. They're still expanding to offer more seating to accommodate more people and they seem to have some great ideas in the pipeline, which we're excited to see come to fruition soon.
Currently, they only have mineral water and a few varieties of fresh juices. They hope to add more in the future. We ordered a Watermelon and a Passionfruit juice, which were both well made with just enough sugar. They also served sugar syrup on the side, in case you needed more.
The menu can seem pretty daunting at first glance, especially considering that the menu begins with the Bucket Bundles, of which the Olympian Bucket is priced at an eye-watering Rs. 12,700. But the prices get pretty easy on the eyes eventually as you peruse the menu.
C.O.W. has five signature sauces as well as an additional localised sauce, which without a doubt are the heroes of all the buckets and sharing platters on the menu. Cajun Cheese, Herb and Butter, Cheesy Cream, Singapore Chilli Crab, Salted Egg Yolk and the Sri Lanka Jaffna Curry make up the six varieties.
One of the major selling points here is undoubtedly the experience. Just before the food is served, a polythene sheet is spread out across the table and polythene bibs are laid on top of it. Especially since crabs are involved (and let's face it, using your fingers to eat is a lot more fun!), this gives you the license to get down and dirty without any inhibitions. Most importantly, the plastic eliminates any fears you may have about staining the often white tablecloths.
We had the Poseidon Bucket - Rs. 8900, which is said to serve about 2-3 people. It comprised 600g Sri Lankan crab, 300g prawns, 300g white clams, 300g mussels, sweet corn, potatoes and - wait for it - chicken meatballs. Totally random addition to an entirely seafood bucket, we're guessing the meatballs may make sense for those picky eaters who only eat one kind of seafood. Nevertheless, the meatballs were actually quite flavourful and tasted like it could have been homemade. So no complaints there. The seafood and chicken were tossed in the Singapore Chilli Crab sauce.
We were treated to a bit of a theatrical experience as the waitstaff gently tipped the bucket over and onto the table. The smells wafting through the air got us excited, and boy did the food not disappoint! The sauce was on point and truly was the hero of the dish! You have the choice of ordering sides and for Rs. 500 more, you get 2 pilaf rice and cajun fries. The pilaf rice especially was well-flavoured, and the sides ensure that three people can eat comfortably and be satisfied.
The Sailor’s Feast that we tried next was the more wallet-friendly counterpart of the Bucket Bundles and was priced at Rs. 2400. While it doesn't include any crab, for instance, it comes with fried snapper fillet, torpedo prawns, deep fried squid, chicken meatballs and fries. You also get sambal mayo and chilli tomato concasse dips. It was the deep fried squid that immediately impressed us because of how perfectly fried it was! Squid is typically overdone and chewy in most places, but this was just perfect. The fillet was also pretty good and fried in a light batter. We were a little unsure as to what the torpedo prawns were, but we did feel like it could have been seasoned better with at least a tad more spice. The dichotomy in the taste for the dips was ideal as it will appeal to those with taste buds at two ends of the spectrum. We loved both.
We also tried the Ocean Box which was ideal for one person and one of the more affordable items on the menu. Once you've picked your seafood item of choice - we got Prawns (Rs. 800) - you can pick the sides and the sauces. We opted for the cajun cheese sauce.
They also have a range of burgers and hotdog buns to offer a bit of variety to their menu. We tried the Sea Bass Fish Roll (Rs. 980) topped with herb butter sauce. While the flavours were good, the sea bass obviously didn't allow for much textural variance and the herb butter sauce mellowed the meal a bit. Maybe a sauce with a little more spunk and spice would have worked better.
C.O.W. certainly offers its customers an experience along with great food. We wager it will be a lot more fun to go there in groups and enjoy communal dining. They don't provide plates or utensils, but you can always ask if you need them.
Pics Pradeep Dilrukshana