Review: Ribs from The Boiler (Because The American Barbecue Showdown on Netflix)

I recently discovered The American Barbecue Showdown on Netflix, and it’s a cooking competition about… you guessed it, barbecuing. Each episode, the contestants are given challenges to cook the best barbecued dish and the one with the judge’s least favourite is sent home. While I have so many questions about the show (How do they do all that in such a short amount of time? Why do they never change clothes the entire season? Where are the Asians? Do we not barbecue? Why does Melissa Cookston look like Matthew McConaughey?), one episode really stood out for me — the one where they had to cook ribs. We’re talking fall-off-the-bone, tender, juicy, but still with some bite, ribs. And made both wet with a sauce, and dry with a rub. After that episode, I had to order me some ribs.

While Singapore is a food haven, good ribs aren’t that common; the decent ones I’ve had are from American diners like Hard Rock Cafe and Tony Roma’s, but these guys don’t deliver to my place. But I found one who does: The Boiler.

I ordered Baby Back Ribs (the large size) and a Southern Hot Chicken Sandwich (that was on the show too!) from The Boiler, who I found on Grab Food. Delivery took 40 minutes, and I’m guessing and hoping because the food was cooked fresh.

The description for the chicken sandwich is: Golden and juicy crispy chicken thigh marinated in Southern spices piled on a a toasted brioche bun with grilled caramelised pineapples and purple slaw. It comes with a side of Cajun Fries.

The chicken is nicely battered and fried to a golden crispy brown. It’s a very large chicken patty, which makes it worth its $16.90 price tag. I cut it up in two for the kids to share and they wolfed it down.

The description for the Baby Back Ribs on Grab Food: Hand-rubbed with The Boiler’s secret blend of special spices and slathered with mildly-spiced Hickory smoked BBQ sauce. Served with Cajun Fries and coleslaw.

The presentation could have been better. It looks like they dumped the ribs into a paper box, and I know essentially that’s what they did, but still… it could look better.

Let’s start with the sauce — it’s really good; the acidity is just nice, and it’s got a bit of heat (spiciness) that’s pretty addictive. But that’s where the good comments end. The meat looked tough and it was. Even if ribs don’t fall of the bone, they should cut through easily and be a tender bite. These were cooked, but not tender enough. There was no “char” on the ribs or even the corners where there usually is, which indicates that this didn’t stay on the grill long enough, or the temperature was wrong (I learned this on the show).

There wasn’t much meat either. It was a lot more bone than meat, which is never the case at Hard Rock Cafe or Tony Roma’s. I know that The Boiler is known for their seafood bags (I’ve had it on my kid’s birthday and it’s nice), and I would have usually ordered that instead of trying something unknown like their Baby Back Ribs, but damn that show and that episode on ribs where everything looked so good.

If you want ribs, I wouldn’t recommend these. But The Boiler’s chicken sandwich was delicious. Get that instead. And of course the seafood bag.

The Boiler Southern Hot Crispy Chicken Sandwich, $16.90 and Baby Back Ribs, $19 for small / $32 for large (shown here), from THE BOILER at Novelty Bizcentre. They offer islandwide delivery through GRAB FOOD.