Text by Gregory Leow @ Makansutra
Wheels N Wieners
Wheels and Wieners looks like another American diner concept in a funky location but that’s just on the surface.
Located in the Little India area, there are old rundown shop houses and Indian foreign workers mulling about and inside the American-styled diner, the appropriate decor celebrating American culture from the 1950s and 60s – pictures of Harley Davidson bikes, red polka dot tablecloths, 50s rock & roll and rockabilly music and American food like hot dogs, milkshakes and Southern fried chicken.
But that’s where the familiarity ends. The waitresses are dressed in 1950s uniforms, complete with poodle skirts (and some even have elaborate tattoos that run the whole of their back). The retro whiskey ads pasted on the walls seem out of sync and the music will occasionally break into harder stuff like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest.
Come down on a Friday night and tattoo-sporting customers dressed in leather will hang out here and Harley Davidson bikes will line the streets.
Suddenly, it changes to a scene out of the American television series, Sons of Anarchy, which tells stories about the lives of an outlaw motorcycle club in America.
Co-owner Jappie Loh explains that Wheels and Wieners is also the clubhouse for the Warpigs Motorcycle Club, one of the oldest and most established Harley Davidson clubs in Singapore.
Mr Loh is the vice-president of the club and Friday nights are the gathering nights for members, which is why you will see a larger presence of bikers and their families.
Mr Loh’s life is all about the club, in work and play and he brings in the help of members and their extended family at the diner. The other co-owner, Gabriel Cher who is also responsible for the food, is also a member of Warpigs MC. Even the partners of the two full-time waitresses are also members.
Mr Loh also explained that the unusual mix of this1950s and 60s American culture, whiskey harks back to how motorcycle clubs started in the 1950s America. It also embraces all the other cultural nuances of that era. It celebrates the American spirit – freedom, counter-culture and passionate rebellion.
Even the menu is rebellious, unlike the typical burger joint offerings. They tout chilli con carn, beef bacon stew aside a large hot dog and milkshake menu.
One thing worth trying here is the Classic ‘Homie’ ($16). A grilled jumbo beef hot dog with chilli con carne, chopped onions and mustard, reminiscent of the old A&W coney dog, albeit more decadent. Served with a large basket of fries, the provided hotdog is big and substantial (up to seven inches) and the thick chilli con carne is slightly spicy and not overly tomato-y. A note here is that the chilli is made such that the other flavours of the hot dog compliments – the mustard provides the appropriate sourness and grit and the hot dog adds richness.
Classic Homie (Image Courtesy of Wheels N Weiners)
Another dish, the Southern Fried Chicken at $20, which sounds like a big chunk of change but isn’t so considering that it comes with two huge pieces of chicken that total almost 800g of meat. Staying true to Southern fried chicken recipes, the fried chicken – marinated with buttermilk, 11 herbs and spices – has a crunchy, savoury exterior and is moist, even when it comes to breast meat. It is served with a russet potato mash and comes with slightly creamy and sweetened crunchy coleslaw and thick smoky gravy.
Southern fried chicken
The similarities between their club and the television series(of same name) is only in terms of the celebration of freedom, riding and rebel culture and none of the drugs, guns and violence. “At heart, we’re just friendly bike enthusiasts with families” says Mr Loh.
Wheels and Wieners 25A Perak Road. 5pm to 12am (Mon-Thu) 5pm to 1am (Fri-Sat) Closed on Sundays.