Singapore Idol, pop star-cum-actor, and now, proud co-owner of two-week-old Chix Hot Chicken at Jalan Pisang in Kampong Glam.
“It’s been a while since I wanna open my own makan place. A place where I can bring my family, friends and fans to enjoy some good food. Finally, it’s gonna happen!” chirps Taufik Batisah, 36, via a post on his Instagram account.
The casual Muslim-owned eatery serves Nashville-style fried chicken, which is known for being really hot as it's cooked with “the world’s spiciest peppers”, as claimed on the restaurant’s menu. The bird comes in three levels of heat: mild, extra and insane hotness (with an off-the-menu fourth level, gulp). There’s also a milder New Orleans-inspired buttermilk-brined bird for chilli wimps.
Taufik’s business partner is the affable Bober Ismail, 32, who used to co-own the now-defunct southern American restaurant Life Is Beautiful, which was popular for its buttermilk fried chicken.
He shares: “I met Taufik at the gym, when I was 20 years old, and he, 24. He was skinny back then and asked for my help to lift some weights. He had just won Singapore Idol. We’re best friends now. He’s a nice, humble guy and he’s been wanting to open a restaurant for a long time ever since he tried and loved the fried chicken at my former restaurant, Life Is Beautiful”.
Turns out that Taufik isn’t the kind of celeb who simply lends his face to an eatery. He’s quite the handyman and willing to get his hands dirty. Chuckles Bober says: “He helped to drill the shelves [in the restaurant] ’cos I’m not good at such things. He also designed the toilet!”. Indeed, Taufik’s Instagram account shows a photo of him doing drilling work in Chix Hot Chicken’s kitchen (see photo gallery above, pic #14). And check out the restroom that the hands-on boss designed (pic #18).
Incidentally, Bober went on a makan trip to Nashville, Tennessee, to sample several of its famed fried chicken joints. His fave was Hattie B’s. He then came home and shared his inputs with his restaurant chef, who used to work at Life Is Beautiful. “I fell in love with American food in the south after I first visited my stepdad’s hometown in Louisiana eight years ago,” muses Bober. I found the cooking spicy, similar to what Singaporeans like, and I enjoyed the warm southern hospitality of the people there”.
Chix Hot Chicken is currently in its soft-opening stage and its official launch will be after Hari Raya, on 19 June. You’ll definitely catch Taufik there — when he’s not busy making music or TV shows, that is.
Might he give mini concerts at his eatery? “Maybe!” says Bober. We could close off the street outside, perhaps. Pending approval from the authorities, of course”.
Check out the photo gallery above for our review of the chicken here and images of Taufik’s lovingly designed lavatory.
Chix Hot Chicken is at #01-01, 1 Jln Pisang, S199069. Open daily except Sun & Mon, 5pm to 10pm (hours will change after Hari Raya). Last orders 9.30pm. www.facebook.com/chixhotchicken/