A&W is back in Singapore. And they have their first branch after a long absence at the spanking new Changi Jewel mall. Let’s check out the A&W branch at Changi Jewel with a dine-in.

The fast food restaurant ordering counters. With a deco reminiscent of the classic American dinner style, but with a tad of a modern touch
The fast food restaurant ordering counters. With a deco reminiscent of the classic American dinner style, but with a tad of a modern touch.

A walk back down memory lane

A&W is an American fast food outlet chain. Notably, the franchise used to operate in Singapore in the nineties. Commendably, they were as big as incumbents MacDonald’s and KFC in Singapore. Also, they have outlets in almost every heartland Central area where they are predominantly located.

Examples includes Bukit Merah, Bukit Timah, Kallang. Their Dunearn Road branch, A&W very first outlet in Singapore which opened in 1966 even has a drive-thru. Sadly, the last A&W outlet in Singapore at the Lau Pat Sat closed in the early 2000s. Rumors says that the company which brought the chain pulled out abruptly. Shuttering stores one by one. This is despite business being rather brisky.

The first and original A&W at Dunearn Road. It is a standalone restaurant with a drive-thru section, it closed due to road expansion plans. The franchise stayed on in Singapore till the early 2000s
The first and original A&W at Dunearn Road. It is a standalone restaurant with a drive-thru section, it closed due to road expansion plans. The franchise stayed on in Singapore till the early 2000s, only to return almost 15 years later.

Recalling from my days in primary school when I used to dine there weekly (oh gosh). Any kid on the block would tout that A&W “happy meal” toys are somewhat better than MacDonald’s in the era. Also, the food offered back than were actually not bad. Arguably, are the originators of the curly fries, which I found far superior and tastier to MacD’s straight cut fries. It is undeniably an A&W trademarked staple. It is good to have the franchise back.

The curly fires are a delight and good throwback to the legendary classic side which many tried to emulate but never got quite close
The curly fires are a delight and good throwback to the legendary classic side which many tried to emulate but never got quite close.

Physically, the new outlet at the Jewel itself is located at the 2nd level basement (basement 2) of the Jewel Shopping mall operated by Capital malls in the Singapore Changi Airport. The Jewel building sits between airport Terminals 2 and 3 and right in front of Terminal 1.

Their Dunearn Road branch, A&W very first outlet in Singapore which opened in 1966 even has a drive-thru. Sadly, the last A&W outlet in Singapore at the Lau Pat Sat closed in the early 2000s

What’s on the menu?

Besides all day breakfast, you get the usual staple as what most would remember A&W by before they left. You get a selection of Burgers. Their signature Mozza Burger reasonably is priced $7.50 for it a double patty. Top it up to $10.90 for a set with curly fries and a mug of root beer. Similarly, their Cream cheese chicken burger also cost $10.90 for a set.

The works, from mains sides to dessert and drink
The works, from mains sides to dessert and drink!

Additional choices includes the Chicken cheeseburger, Marina Fish Sandwich and Chubby Chicken Sandwich. Notably, you do not get chicken or fish burger offerings in A&W restaurants in America, just Cheeseburgers. If I recall, burgers were something on introduced into the later part of A&W offerings in the nineties. This is the same for their fried chicken as well. Presumably, an answer to the menu competition offered by other fast food outlets then.

The amazing Coney dog

Furthermore, no A&W meal is complete without their renowned hotdog. The Coney dogs are often offered as part of a classic American “diner” dish. It is based off the Coney Island hotdog which is modeled. It comes topped with a savory meat sauce of beef ground or chicken and topped with chopped yellow onions. Both chicken and beef-based Coney dogs costs $8.90 for a combo set with fries and a drink. Interestingly, the Coney cheesedog as seen in A&Ws in America are not offered here.

Classic coney dog, you can go wrong with that
Classic coney dog, you can go wrong with that!

Their Coney dog sausages are thick and juicy. The hotdogs have a thin outer skin which is not tough to bite into and does a good job in sealing in the moisture within. Also, the hotdog sits in a conventional hot dog bun, topped with minced beef with shredded onions.

Trademark Root Beer Float

A&W was not all lost when they left Singapore. Interestingly, most people on the streets may only remember A&W as the brand of root beer sold in 1.5L bottle variants in supermarkets. Little do they know it used to be a buzzing full-fledged fast food outlet chain right here in our sunny shores of Singapore. Well till now of course!

A&W classic frothy root beer float right off the tap in a chilled mug
A&W classic frothy root beer float right off the tap in a chilled mug.

Moreover, when you order a classic root beer float, you get a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped on the spot into your root beer. The root beer is also available without ice-cream at a cheaper price.

The root beer served in a chilled frosty mug
The root beer served in a chilled frosty mug.

Additionally, wrapping up the menu are dessert offerings. This include waffles with a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped on top a bed of Crispy waffles. It’s a nice way to finish up your meal, if you have the space for it.

Strawberry waffles dessert, with berry bits and sauce sprinkled over a vanilla ice cream scoop
Strawberry waffles dessert, with berry bits and sauce sprinkled over a vanilla ice cream scoop.

Asian-sized servings

Moreover, the food portions are not what you expect of American sized portions. The servings are actually tad tiny. But coupled that with a mug of root beer and you are actually pretty good. That is provided you get it as a meal that is.

Furthermore, interestingly, during my visit. I was pleased to see tourists from Malaysia and Indonesia enjoying the A&W here. This was surprising as you do get A&W restaurants in Malaysia, Indonesia and even Thailand. However, having dined there, I can relate to why these tourists are here- A&W in SEA out of Singapore isn’t as good and tasty as the Jewel outlet here. Hence, the presence of tourists from these countries dining here does reaffirms the barometer of quality of the A&W food served right here on our shores.

Interestingly, I find this somewhat relatable and synonymous to Singaporeans heading up to Malaysia for KFC. Malaysia’s KFC is touted to be far better tasting than Singapore’s too.

The restaurant is packed by still quite fast moving, even past midnight when I visited
The restaurant is packed by still quite fast moving, even past midnight when I visited.

Moreover, with that aside, this A&W branch at Changi opened with much funfair, with queues waits going as long as 2-3 hours. The outlet used to operate 24 hours a day, with the establishment today having revised closing hours at 3am daily. Visibly, almost 3 months in and queues shows no signs of letting down.

Notably, the queues are on average about a half an hour wait now, unlike 2 hours when they first newly opened. The only time where I noticed the lack of a queue are on weekday mornings and the wee hours past 1am. Also, I can guess this partly due to the opening of their second A&W Singapore branch in Ang Mo Kio just recently.

All in all, it is definitely nice having an American classic back in Singapore. Of course, recommended dishes includes the Coney dog, Waffles and the classic Curly fries, you can’t go wrong with either. It is a throwback, especially for millennials like myself who spent our childhood growing up with the establishment.

It makes you feel like a kid all over again.

Verdict:

Must Go! | Worth Trying | Shortlist Optionally | Should Avoid
A&W Changi Airport Jewel
78 Airport Blvd, #B2-209
Jewel Changi, Singapore
Opens daily: 7am–3am

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