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Decker BBQ - 1st Mar 2017

“It is a shame that I didn’t get a chance to smoke some meats last school holiday!” my primary school teacher husband, Colin, lamented a couple of months ago. Though smoking a pork shoulder or a rack of ribs is possible over long weekends, it always is a rushed affair and means sacrificing sleep. School holidays offer a much more relaxed and lazy experience which is essential for the “real” barbecue experience, much like fishing.

smoking meats involves hanging around a smoker
for hours, monitoring the temperature


My husband and his "R2D2" smoker


In Singapore, we often use the term “barbecue” when we actually mean “ grill”. You see, the cooking we do at “barbecue pits” next to the swimming pool, or at East Coast Park is actually grilling, not barbecuing. Grilling refers to cooking foods directly over charcoal, and usually for a shorter period of time compared to barbecuing. Barbecuing involves food cooked for long hours and slow using low indirect heat generated by smoldering logs or wood chips that give the cooked meat a smoky flavour. The term “smoking” may be used interchangeably with barbecuing. So you see, smoking meats involves hanging around a smoker for hours, monitoring the temperature and dealing with the smoke generated.

When I told him about Decker BBQ, a Texas-style barbecue restaurant, he was elated yet slightly skeptical. We looked up the menu online and he noted that the prices (per 100g) were on the high side. Bear in mind that at Decker, you order your food by weight just like in Texas. You choose your desired weight and desired meat and you are charged accordingly.

The meat platter

We arrived slightly after 6 and placed our orders at the cashier’s for a platter consisting of 200g each of brisket, spare ribs, pulled pork, a serving each of coleslaw and brisket beans. We returned to our table and before the seats got warm, the platter of meats and sides arrived with 2 slices of plain white bread.

Close up of the brisket

My favourite among the three meats was the pulled pork for it was juicy, easy to eat and works well with the white bread when made into a sandwich. The brisket had a distinct smoke ring so this is a sign that it was cooked long and slow with wood. It was tender and moist, with lots of marbling. Obviously, grain-fed beef was used here. Disappointingly, the “bark”, the black crust formed on the outside when salt, pepper, fat and smoke come together to make magic, was lacking in character.

The pork spare ribs were, in my husband’s opinion, the best thing that night. The sauce tasted good, and most importantly, it was at the right doneness. How do you tell? When you bite into it, you should be able to bite away cleanly, leaving the exact imprint of your bite.

The burnt ends were a disappointment. Burnt ends are pieces cut from a very specific part of the fatty end of the brisket, thrown back into the smoker until they are burnt and crusty on the outside, but tender and fatty on the inside. What we got were pieces of lean, soggy brisket.

All the meats we had were milder in the smoke flavour compared to the ones my husband made. My husband likes more smoke flavour in his meat so he tends to use more wood chunks in his smoking efforts. Besides, he uses hickory, which is harsher than the oak they used at Decker BBQ. This results in sharper, cutting flavours that he fancies and I don’t. Though the coleslaw wasn’t on my hit list, the brisket beans was.

As smoking requires long hours of cooking at low temperatures, Decker does the cooking through the night so that food is ready by lunch time. Unlike a slow cooker, a bread maker or a thermal pot, it cannot be left alone- human intervention is required when the temperature rises or dips outside the desired temperature. Therefore, Decker needs someone through the night in the kitchen to monitor the cooking process. It makes sense that its prices are higher than other smoked meats done with liquid smoke (not real wood/ wood chips).

If you are wondering, yes, there is a small selection of desserts at Decker to finish up your meal. And no, the restaurant isn’t filled with smoke/ smoke odour though my husband could smell the aroma of smoked wood in the air as we approached Decker. Rest assured that the ladies will not walk away from the restaurant with smoke odour in their hair.


Decker BBQ
60 Robertson Quay
Singapore 238252

~ Ariella
Marketing Executive


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