Food made with heart at TAGS
Photographs by Julian Sim
There is almost nothing that Kuchingites enjoy more than chilling in a comfortable place while eating good food. Apart from your classic coffee shops and fast food joints, it is often a head scratcher to find somewhere to chill and eat when you’re in the mood for supper and the occasional beer on tap.
With their warm lighting and retro interior design, TAGS Retro Bistro is an establishment that caters for that purpose and more. Justin, who owns this hip new bistro, opened TAGS with the purpose of fulfilling his desire for a place where he and his friends could have a good time by being in a warm inviting environment with good food and drinks.
What started as an idea for his circle grew into something he wanted to share with the rest of Kuching.
The warm and inviting decor put together with items from his private collection isn’t the only thing that contributes to the feel-good environment. It is also comes from the faces in TAGS that make a point to provide service as warm and inviting as the décor itself.
Although TAGS’ menu is admittedly still a work in progress until their soon to be announced grand opening, what are currently available are definitely worth checking out. It also helps that unlike most restaurants or bistros, their kitchen closes at 12:30am instead of the usual 10pm.
The ‘TAGS Signature Patty’ that comes with fries and a Coke is not your usual monster burger. What it is, is a burger that does its best to make sure that you get the most out of your meaty experience. They offer different choices of meat patties for their burgers (beef/pork/lamb) and are as juicy and as flavourful as you would expect from your meat of choice.
Almost everything is made-in house, barring the cheese, although even that has their own special touch to it. The buns are soft yet maintain a good density to hold the weight of the condiments.
Speaking of the condiments, the addition of fried onion rings instead of the usual caramelised onions to the burger add a certain crispiness to the overall texture without losing the sweetness you’d expect. While we’re on the topic of crispiness, their pork bacon is also a welcome addition as they aren’t a chewy rubbery mess that plagues most burger joints.
Among other things, the ‘Sausages’ are also a must-try as we’re not talking about your everyday frozen frankfurters. They come with fries and are delightfully herby and well-spiced with hints of garlic. The flavours are consistent throughout and although they come on the side with ketchup, do not fear to ask for mustard instead. The sharp yet warm flavour of mustard definitely complements the sausages’ juicy subtle flavours.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try their aptly named ‘Dynamite’ – finger chilli peppers coated in a light, crisp batter filled with cheese and minced pork. They are, of course, spicy from the chilli, but only slightly as the seeds are removed.
Upon biting into them, what you will experience is the crunch from the batter that is as light as tempura and peppery fruitiness from the chilli. Inside the chilli is a gooey cheese and flavourful minced pork that will have your palate singing with joy. It comes with some mayonnaise on the side that you may dip for added creaminess.
Although TAGS Retro Bistro may still be working on adding new items to their menu and improving current dishes, what are currently available are definitely worth the trip to try!
They are open daily from 4pm to 1am but closed at 2pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
You may find them on the way down from ST3 or at their official address on their Facebook page: Ground Floor, Sublot 6, Lot 1459, S3 Curve, Jalan Simpang Tiga, 93200 Kuching, Malaysia.
For more information, you may also head over to their Facebook page for updates on latest promotions here.
Hilary Ho is a teacher, aspiring writer and food traveller who writes about food and lifestyle for his blog urban-palate.blogspot.com. When he is not teaching or writing for others, he enjoys wandering the streets in search of food and the stories of the people behind them. He currently resides in Kuching.