Ba Wang Fu Steamboat & BBQ

Nice to get a bit of air-condtioning at a Geylang joint was our first thought upon stepping in here. This lively all-night enclave of a suburb has a surfeit of happening—lo-fi to mid-range— culinary options, but this year-old establishment has to be one of the most unspectacular places in the area. The only eatery on a road that didn’t exist until a couple of years ago, it’s the type of place that has Mandopop karaoke tunes wafting from a wall-mounted TV, where laborers from China wind down after a long day of toil and where families come in large numbers. It’s all very convivial indeed. It’s no surprise to see that they stockpile drink cases on the floor by the tables; if you want a drink, you can just walk over to the fridge and help yourself. Sure, the set-up’s unpolished but we like its unassuming, homey feel. The food though is just so-so; there’s nothing to really set this place apart from the other steamboat outlets across the city. There are two buffet options: The steamboat ($15.80) and the steamboat + BBQ ($18.80), where they usher you outside with a hotplate for some sizzling action. We opted for the former and chose the “tom yum” and “spicy” broths for our items. The range is good—consisting of the usual suspects and more. Think beef slices, all kinds of balls from lobster to fish, crab sticks, leafy veg, prawns and tofu among others. It’s all tasty without being memorable. Warning: The spicy broth does pack a wallop. The BBQ affair meanwhile, has skewered numbers alongside marinated chicken wings and other meats. While the dining experience was pleasant (a good place for group/family outings), we wouldn’t advise you to go out of your way for a meal here—best to pop in only if you’re in the neighborhood. On the odd occasion, it might be good to give up the frogs’ legs, porridge and other celebrated Geylang outlets for this.

Great for sharing, steamboat is popular in Singapore no matter what the weather. Here are some steamboat variations you gotta try.