Review: Rib Soul Food brings a taste of the American south to Kampong Glam

By Gary Lim June 28, 2024
Review: Rib Soul Food brings a taste of the American south to Kampong Glam
Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere
  • Rib Soul Food is a Muslim-owned restaurant in Kampong Glam, which is inspired by southern US food
  • Build your own lamb or beef ribs with plenty of sauce and side options to choose from
  • Must-tries there include Freddy’s lamb ribs, cajun jambalaya, and mamew’s milk pudding

The mere mention of a spicy jambalaya, flour-thickened gumbo, or a gloriously messy seafood boil is sure to bring about an appetite in me. Unfortunately, creole and cajun food, and other cuisines from the southern US states are quite the rarity on our local shores.

Sure, Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah’s Chix Hot Chicken brought in what was purportedly Singapore’s first Nashville hot chicken, and you might find solid buttermilk biscuits, crab cakes, and a pricey seafood jambalaya at Marina Bay Sands’ Yardbird

There was also the now-defunct The Beast that served up decent chicken and waffles and a southern big breakfast, complete with andouille sausage, southern slaw, and country-style gravy. 

Do they all encompass the essence of the so-called “soul food”? Probably not, which is why it was a pleasant surprise to discover the recently-opened Rib Soul Food in Kampong Glam.

The backstory

Rib Soul Food Kampong Glam
Dine inside, where the restaurant’s walls are dotted with American jazz prints, neon lights and vinyl records, or outdoors in a small al fresco terrace. Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere

Rib Soul Food was launched at the beginning of 2024 under the umbrella of the Seriously Fun Collective group, which also runs other popular Muslim-friendly concepts like Wanderlost Lounge and Nauti Nauti Oyster Bar. 

The group’s owner, Max Ahmad, also known as The Halal Mixologist, attributes hip-hop and R&B music —  and in turn African-American soul food from the American south — as his inspiration behind the concept.

True enough, the restaurant logo looks like it’s been plucked out of the graffiti walls of New Orleans, and Usher, Destiny’s Child, and Snoop Dog dominate the speakers here. 

The idea is to capture the essence of southern soul food: The menu is replete with lamb and beef BBQ ribs and dishes such as crunchy corn chips with a southern meat dip, cola meatballs, deep-fried catfish, gumbo, seafood boils, and many other classic dishes from the region.

At first glance, Rib Soul Food seems like an unlikely spot to catch a taste of the US south, but the food and drinks are generally well-executed and full of flavour — while you won’t find truly bona fide southern cooking here, what’s admirable is that these guys really try to be authentic with their dishes. 

Prices are not exactly on the budget side (from S$19 for mains and signature mocktails from S$15), but for the quality, it’s justified.

I’ve never described a place as both vibey and homey at the same time, but Rib is like that. The ambience is inviting and the service is impeccable (attentive and warm without being intrusive). Its location is also highly accessible — at the Rest Hotel Bugis —  making it well-positioned for hanging out with friends for a casual catchup, family get-togethers, and even a somewhat romantic date to the backdrop of early 2000s R&B.

Yet another plus point: The restaurant is located at the entrance of Rest Bugis Hotel, so you can enjoy free parking right outside the hotel when you dine here.


What it’s good for

Rib Soul Food Kampong Glam
Freddy’s lamb ribs have plenty of heart. Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere

At the heart of Rib Soul Food’s menu are its, well, ribs. You can build your own (S$22.90) from a selection of beef or lamb along with several sauces — sticky honey, rendang, Pommery mustard and more unconventional ones such as gochujang and bakar kicap — and sides.

But if you prefer to leave the choice to the professionals  you could go with the signature combos like the spectacular Freddy’s lamb ribs (S$24.90), which comes with several small rib chops that are very easy to eat. 

Rib Soul Food Kampong Glam
Lamb ribs. Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere

The lamb has not been over-marinated nor over-spiced — instead it’s roasted with a light slathering of housemade barbecue sauce until just-done, retaining the juiciness and natural sweetness of the lamb. The ribs are not quite fall-off-the-bone soft but still very tender.

The hickory smoked barbecue sauce, tangy and slightly sweet, is good, but it’s the accompanying ramekin of brown sauce that really hits the spot with a strong savoury umami and onion-y sweetness.  

And don’t even get me started on the sides: A completely satisfying creamy mac and cheese that’s thankfully heavy on the cheese, spiked with chilli pepper flakes for complexity. 

It also comes with perfectly roasted potatoes that are not fluffy, but very crisp and tender anyhow, and carrots and broccoli that’re charred and smoky on the edges.

Rib Soul Food Kampong Glam
Don’t order the cajun jambalaya if you can’t handle the spice. Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere

Rib Soul Food also does a mean and spicy cajun jambalaya (S$28.90) that’s good for two, or one really hungry person. This somewhat traditional “brown” jambalaya (as opposed to a “red” jambalaya which typically includes tomatoes) is swathed in a blisteringly spicy cajun sauce and plenty of seafood. 

The medium-sized prawns taste relatively fresh, as does the single slab of flaky fish, and the beef meatballs (which replace the more traditional andouille sausage) are surprisingly delicate and tasty. The mussels and clams are reasonably tender but could be more briny.

Everything sits on a hefty bed of light, very fluffy long-grain rice that soaks up the unapologetically spicy, garlicky, slightly smoky, and heavily peppered sauce. This is comfort food with a fiery kick.

Rib Soul Food Kampong Glam
The bloody injection is a tad gimmicky, but tasty. Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere

I’m not the biggest fan of the quirky, theatrical mocktails (think bloody syringes, IV bags, and laboratory beakers filled with things such as grenadine or strawberry juice), but the horror folklore theme probably draws customers. That and also did you know that the location’s namesake, Jalan Kubor, translates to Cemetery Road. 

That said, my bloody injection (S$14) is an excellent thirst quencher — fizzy ginger ale is brightened up with a touch of lemon juice and topped with sweet coconut water. You can inject the bright-red grenadine syrup in for a tart burst of pomegranate.

Rib Soul Food Kampong Glam
The Southern-style milk pudding is served cold, but tastes full of warmth. Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere

The dessert that first caught my eye is the Memaw’s milk pudding (S$10.90), with “memaw” being an affectionate Southern term for one’s grandma. 

Like many classic Southern desserts, this dish is made from plenty of cream and milk. Served chilled, the pudding’s taste can be described as cinnamon-sweetened milk essence. A generous layer of salted caramel and sprinkling of dried rose petals makes this extra special — like a spoonable hug. 

I’ll never know if this recipe actually came from someone’s grandmother, but thank you anyway, memaw.

Rib Soul Food Kampong Glam
All the best parts of cotton candy without the sugar overload. Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere

If you choose to share your dining experience at Rib on your socials, you’ll get a complimentary scoop of its creamy and dreamy cotton candy ice cream (usually priced at S$2.50). 

I expected a cloying sugar bomb, but this deceptively simple cotton candy ice cream is really a masterclass in balance: more fruity than sweet, yet rich with the unmistakable aroma and flavour of cotton candy. There’s also a hidden red gummy within that adds a playful texture and burst of fruitiness.

What it could improve on

Rib Soul Food Kampong Glam
Pretty to look at but could be fresher and sweeter. Photo: Gary Lim/HungryGoWhere

We have a side of its creole corn ribs (S$8.90), comprising a whole corn that’s split down into four ribs that’s easy enough to just grab with your hands (plastic gloves are provided). 

The tangy barbecue sauce is good, but the corn? It’s not sweet or plump enough, and is even a tad hard. The saving grace is the char on the edges that lend a gentle smokiness to the corn.

Our quick takes

Is it conducive to conversation? Yes, particularly at the al fresco terrace.

Is a reservation necessary? Good to have a reservation ready during its busier dinnertimes.

How to get there? Rib Soul Food is an 8- and 10-minute walk respectively from Bugis MRT Station Exit B and Jalan Besar MRT Station Exit A.

HungryGoWhere paid for its meal at this cafe for this review.

Looking for more dining options in Bugis? Check out our compilation of Haji Lane cafes, or visit New Station Rice Bar, helmed by a feisty young female chef. 

Do explore the new GrabFood Dine Out  service for awesome deals.

You can also book a ride to Rib Soul Food in Kampong Glam.

Rib Soul Food

8 Jalan Kubor, 01-01
Nearest MRT station: Lavender
Open: Open Monday to Thursday (12pm to 10pm), Friday to Sunday (12pm to 10.30pm)

8 Jalan Kubor, 01-01
Nearest MRT station: Lavender
Open: Open Monday to Thursday (12pm to 10pm), Friday to Sunday (12pm to 10.30pm)

Gary Lim-HungryGoWhere

Gary Lim


Gary eats and knows things, which he attributes to over 30 years of eating and drinking — surely that must count for something, he surmises. He was previously the deputy editor at City Nomads and content lead at Burpple.

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