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Home / Western Cuisine / Astons Specialties – Now I know why the queue is long!
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Astons Specialties – Now I know why the queue is long!
By Alfred September 17, 2009
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Astons Specialties – Now I know why the queue is long!
Fast Facts
Western Cuisine
Price Range:
S$11 - S$20
Rating Range:
7 to 7.9
Food Centre:
Recommended For:
Dinner Lunch
Reviewed by:

After dining at Astons Prime once and Astons Express many times, it’s time for me to find out what’s going on inside Astons Specialties.

I’m sure you guys have heard of the famous super long persistent queues outside of Astons Specialties at Katong every night.

Reaching the entrance by about 8pm, we were glad to be greeted by a queue that’s not so long, though we were unimpressed by the waiting time.

There were only about 10 customers in front of us which consist of couples and families but it took over 45 mins to get our butts on the seats inside. If you’re thinking that it was crowded inside then let me tell you that it was only 3/4 full when we got in.

Apparently the queue at Astons Specialties on that night was long because they have a very time consuming modus operandi.

There’s a waiter at the entrance who would show you the menu and take your order before you are shown your seats. Your order is the prerequisite to be allocated a seat inside the Cafe. You need to wait in line for every person infront of you to make their order and be allocated a seat before you get entertained. I’m not sure if the same thing is happening for every night but at least for that night, it’s clear that’s how the queue was formed.

Such a method of taking in customers seems draggy and the waiting time is lengthened unnecessarily, especially when it was only 3/4 full at most times when we were there. The time we spent standing outside was infact for nothing and pretty needless.

We ordered a Prime Ribeye X’tra Cut and Black Pepper Steak. I was informed recently that over at Astons Prime, they’re serving Angus beef while at Specialties and Prime, they serve Prime beef, hence the price difference.

For those who don’t know, the word Angus actually is referring to the Certified Angus Beef(CAB) which is a specification-based, branded-beef program founded by Augus cattle producers in 1978. They’re famous for consistent, high quality beef with supposingly superior taste. However this term is often loosely and commonly misused with other terms like “Angus Beef” or “Black Angus”.

Certified Angus Beef is theoritically a brand and is a cut above grades like Prime, Choice and Select which are grading systems by United States Department of Agriculture(USDA). For any beef to be certified CAB and earn it’s name, it must pass 10 additional specifications. And the fact is, a lot of beef that come from Augus fails to meet the Certified Angus Beef brand’s high standards. Which is to say that while the beef being sold may well have come from the Augus breed, it does not necessarily mean it is ‘Certified Angus Beef’.

Ok anyway it’s Angus beef at Astons Prime and Prime beef at Astons ‘anywhere else’ though I’m not sure whether the Angus here mean ‘came all the way from Angus’ or ‘Certified Angus Beef’ for there was no mentioning of it in the menu.

Ribeye X’tra Cut $16.50
 7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

That looks good but quite tough…

Black Pepper Steak $11.50
 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 

The Black Pepper Steak arrives and it looked ok. I mean for $11.50(without ++), you can’t really ask for a lot. The peppery flavour was nice though the beef did came a little ‘too well done’. I’ve always asked for well done for my beef at Astons but it’s the first time I’m seeing it really really well done. We had the corn and potato salad with it. The corn was also ok though would be better if it can be that little juicier. The potato salad was as usual, nothing short of fantastic.

Corn 6.5/10 ★★★★★★½☆☆☆ 

Crispy Chicken Wing
 6.5/10 ★★★★★★½☆☆☆ 

Salad Potato 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

My Ribeye X’tra Cut arrives with my fries and mashed potatoes. Surpringly, it was equally VERY well done. It was quite a chore, eating and chewing it all night long. I remember I first dined at Astons at Serangoon Gardens and had it well done. It was well done but tender and juicy. But subsequent meals to other Astons had produced standards that seem to fluctuate a little.

After eating at Express, Prime and Specialties, I know now that Astons seems to come up short on consistency.

My ribeye had good flavour but the texture was not very far off from that of a cardboard. Perhaps the noteworthy is the sauce, which I found to taste nicer, surprisingly much more than at Astons Prime. The fries and mashed potatoes was, well as usual delicious.

We also ordered the crispy chicken wing too which was, well anything but great.

Mashed Potatoes 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 

Fries 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 

Astons serves western food that is restaurant’s standard but at coffeeshop/cafe price. There’s a tradeoff though. The consistency of the shiokadodoness has a yo-yo effect and you really got to tikam-tikam. At the end of the day, they’re not charging you a lot, so I guess you really have to compromise a little there. Like what they say, nothing is perfect, right?

Price: $11.50 for Black Pepper and $16.50 for Ribeye X Cut.

Recommendation: Steaks and Chops. Potato salad is my favourite for the side.

Conclusion: For just a little bit more, you get to eat Astons food in a cafe as compared to Express at kopitiams. Shockingly, my best Astons experiences were in Express at kopitiams. Prime and Specialties come close but somehow not quite. It’s clear they’re struggling with consistency in quality of their food and perhaps the training academy that’s going to be erected at Joo Chiat(former Prime) is a good thing.

Likes: Most of the side dishes are good.

Dislikes: Steaks used to be juicy and tender though on this occasion, some exercises are needed!

Address Overall Rating

Astons Specialties
119 East Coast Road
Tel: 6247 7857

8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

6/10 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 

7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

7.25/10 ★★★★★★★¼☆☆ 


Readers' Comment(s) : 21
bart says:

i went by the aston near katong mall a few times… always long long queue.
I was thinking WOW man, are their food really that gd meh?!
but i notice a lot of youngsters there.

Posted September 17, 2009
mike says:

their foods are not strongly recommended, though it’s a proper restaurant but the foods are hawker centre standard.

Posted September 17, 2009
wang says:

their inconsistency is the biggest problem – apart from the Q n time waiting outside. Last time they were at the kopitiam better.

Posted September 17, 2009
dickson says:

i dun understand what is good about aston,
their quality of food is inconsistant, their service is terrible, the staff are mostly standing around trying to act busy when they are actually not doing anything. i always suspect that there is only 1 or 2 cooks in the kitchen, which shows y the food usually takes ages to be served.

Posted September 17, 2009
Sam says:

Aston reminds me of swensen. Average food, cheap for a restaurent.

Posted September 17, 2009
Alfred says:

I think you’re agreeing with what I say?

Posted September 17, 2009
Alfred says:

A proper restaurant would be Prime.

Posted September 17, 2009
Alfred says:

Which kopitiam?

Posted September 17, 2009
Alfred says:

Well to be fair the quality is better than normal western food you find in kopitiam.

Posted September 17, 2009
Alfred says:

Sweden isn’t very cheap either. But I agree the food there is average.

Posted September 17, 2009
Jay says:

if it din mention on the menu that mean should be lousier grade..if not they sure boast about it.

Posted September 19, 2009
Derrick says:

They take order one by one at the entrance so that the chef in the kitchen can handle the cooking one by one. So you can get your steak nicely. If they have 10 orders coming into the kitchen, sure get messy right?

Posted September 27, 2009
Alfred says:

You telling me the chef can only handle 1 order at a single time?

Posted September 28, 2009
Yvonne says:

i’ve went to aston specialties once only at suntec at off-peak time, so there wasnt a queue and i was given a sofa seat though i was alone. overall the staff were polite and i think the food was okay, compatible with the price you pay, but i find my steak tooooo well done too =/

from a student’s point of view, i think it’s a fairly good deal for good food.

alfred, woodlands area no nice food? aww, i was scrolling down the location list and sad that there aint food from the north part of singapore. haha, would be really looking forward to that if you could make your time to north area. xD


Posted October 16, 2009
Alfred says:

Not heard about anything in Woodlands, but I’m sure Sembawang area has many good food.

Posted October 16, 2009
Chen says:

When they first started, they were at a coffeeshop at the corner nearby. Astons really started in a humble way.

Posted October 18, 2009
Kim says:

Cheap but horrible food. The fries are forever cold and hard.

Posted October 24, 2009
adel says:

I was surprised to see Astons popping up every now and then and found one in a ordinary, low key Bedok food court.
Seems like I could make a trip there to make use of their mashed potato with gravy.
Meat wise, I would prefer to eat something that I know of its origin or rather background.

Posted December 26, 2009
Alfred says:

Aston is very factory made nowadays. You got to tikam and hope for a good day for the chef.

Posted January 10, 2010
susan says:

The Sembawang Shopping Centre Astons’s queue is too long and I find the space is too small.

Posted May 12, 2010
Hannah says:

The food is cheap because they don’t charge GST. So you can’t complain if the service is bad because the staff don’t get paid for the service. They’re nice if you’re nice to them.

Posted September 29, 2011
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