Starker Fresh Beer @ Zhongshan Park:

With regards to locally brewed beer, there a couple of establishments that come to mind; but I have strongly mixed feelings about gentrification. Starker Fresh Beer has proved its case with it's Lager beer achieving gold award in Asia Beer Fest 2011 - also the same beer used to marinade those wicked classic wings that I devoured with monstrous ferocity later.

The largest branch of Starker Fresh Beer located in Zhongshan Park has some rather queer design details to its facade. Gently curved arches and shuttered facade reminiscent of traditional pagodian designs on the building that reflect the oriental spirit of the Park it is laid in; framing the views of Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall at one end. 

As much as it is queer to find a western style brewery in such settings, the family oriented crowd will fancy its child-friendly surroundings, the courtyards and open gardens serving as a perfect playground for the children to roam around, still under the watchful eyes of parents pouring themselves a pint from the mini barrels of Starker Fresh Beer (a choice of lager, charcoal, dunkel, lychee or aromatic ranging from $43-$48 during Happy Hour to $57.90-$61.90 during regular hours)

It's official. I'm nuts about Sweet Potato Fries ($9.80) but not just any sweet potato fries; but the ones at Starker, served alongside a sweet trove of salted egg sauce ($3 for an extra serving, which you're bound to get later) are irresistible despite the sticks in a limp state as you reach the bottom of the basket - the salted egg sauce is all kinds of amazing and you'll be a fool to resist cramming every smidgen out of that vessel.

The Pork Belly ($14.80) pleasantly needs little persuasion to order; especially with the golden elixir situation in tow. The classic pairing of roasted pork belly, crackling in tact with pints of fresh beer is timeless. Though I would strongly suggest The New Harbour Cafe and Bar if you're a pork belly snob.

Another majorly successful bar snack at Starker are their Classic Wings ($10.80) as mentioned before. Marinated in their very own Starker lager and a myriad of other seasonings; the resulting golden brown encrusted joints qualifies as their greatest hits selection of pub grub. Along with the Chilli Crab Sliders ($16.80 for 3) - each sturdy bun holding lashings of rich chili crab sauce on one side and a creamy tangy mayonnaise on the other, also containing a thick hunk of deep fried crab still sporting succulent juicy innards. As far as beer-pairing finger food goes, this one blow it out of the water for me.

Meandering on mediocre borders is the Seafood Aglio Olio Linguine ($22.80) featuring a hodgepodge of sea-creatures slant over a bed of pasta. Sure, the selection is excellent, but the carbs itself could have used a better hand in seasoning and perhaps a little chilli thrown in there would be a welcome addition. 

My first experience with Starker was at its Holland Village branch; I recall, it was a long, dragged out session over mildly warm beers after a hard day's work in the pastry kitchen. Desperately trying to take advantage of happy hour pricing, we over committed. My third pint of beer (slowly seeping its drugged effects into my blood stream) enjoyed at snails pace. Thank goodness for the nifty change of glassware to a frosty ice-cold half pint glass by the amicable staff at half time.

Fast forward 5 years later and here I've been tasked to head down to Starker (Zhongshan Park) to cover a story. Sure enough, I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality of food here and not to mention the family friendly locale, tucking my feet in every time a kid swerves precariously close to the high seats on the peripheral of the restaurant. Whilst the food creates a spiffy first impression, the service standards remains unrivaled. The change of pint glassware, still, a truly heartwarming gesture.

And for that reason alone, I would strongly recommend Starker for a good beer session with friends.

Starker (Zhongshan Park)
1 Jalan Rajah
Zhongshan Park
t: 6734 1810

Operating Hours:
Daily: 3pm - 2am

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