The Place Do we need another restaurant at Keong Saik Road? We checked out the newest restaurant to open in this foodie enclave, DON HO – Social Kitchen & Bar. There was some adventure in finding the entrance of DON HO as its address says 1 Keong Saik Road, which led us to skirt around The Working Capitol. The actual entrance is in fact at a back alley of the building, which reminded us of Little Bastard. Don Ho is run by the same team behind the adjoining poke-bowl shop, Loloku.
Beyond the nondescript entrance is the beautiful Hawaiian inspired and modern decor of DON HO. The space is inspired by the characteristics of a personal friend (yes, his name is indeed Don Ho) of the group of Austrian owners, whom exudes a chill, relaxed and balanced traits. This notion extends to the concept of the restaurant and bar where it is about open concept kitchen, communal dining table and intimate seating arrangements where it is easy to strike conversations with other diners.
I must confess that I really love the nature inspired interior, which made me feel like I was dining in a garden city literally.
The Food We tried to figure out the type of cuisine after perusing the menu, which mainly makes up of small plates and big sharing plates split into Land, Earth, Sea, Big Sharing and Happy End sections. The cuisine is diverse and worldly from our perception – think Fried Eggplant, Beef Short Ribs, Flower clams, Roasted Pumpkin and Pork cheeks Char Siew sliders.
Some cocktails from the bar to start the night rolling for us, we were recommended to try the Gin Garden (S$18) and Yuzu Mule (S$20). The Gin Garden is made up fresh lime and coriander, egg white and green apple, which was pretty refreshing and easy to drink for a start.
For small bites, we highly recommend the Crispy Eggplant (S$10) with spicy fragrant sauce and Flower Clams (S$16). The long strips of eggplant were crispy and addictive at the same time, while the Flower Clams were cooked in a nice sweet chicken broth and wine wine with hints of mint and iberico slices.
The Red Snapper (S$18) was another dish I enjoyed. Served with cauliflower puree, I like the mix of hazelnuts in the dish which provided a stark contrast in terms of flavour to the freshness of the snapper.
I thought that the Wood Roasted Pumpkin & Sweet Potato (S$12) would be an ordinary version of the dish, but I was surprised by the choice of garlic yoghurt as a sauce here. The yoghurt sauce did lighten the usual heaviness of pumpkin and sweet potato for me.
Other dishes we tried include the Pair of Pork Cheeks Shar Siu Sliders (S$20), Roasted Iberico Pork Jowl (S$16) and Beef Short Rib 600g (S$44). We like the kim chi element in the char siu sliders, which added that bit of punchiness needed. The char siew, on the other had, was too tough and dry for our liking.
Similarly, the spice crusted Beef Short Rib was a tad too dry on the whole, which was a pity. This dish would have been perfect for sharing for 2-3 persons.
Fortunately, we found more joy in the Roasted Iberico Pork Jowl served with egg, miso, radish and burnt onion. The pork jowl went well with the egg yolk to our surprise. The texture of the pork jowl was not the most tender ones we had before, but it was still quite appetising on the whole.
There are three desserts on the menu, and we went for the Baklava (S$10), a pistachio dessert made up of pistachio crumbs, candied almonds, pistachio ice-cream and pashmak, which is a type of Iranian candy floss. The combination itself sounds divine but as we conveyed our feedback to the staff, we felt that it was overall way too dry for a dessert. The proportion of the pistachio ice-cream and the dry elements here (the candy floss, nuts) need to be more well-balanced for a true happy ending.
Rants The back alley entrance is going to be a reason for your date or friends to reprimand you for choosing such a difficult place to locate. You’ve been warned!
Will I Return Again? While the food was generally enjoyable with some notable dishes, we enjoyed the space and ambience of DON HO more than the food. Our tip is to come with an open mind and immerse in the atmosphere, the food is secondary. We are keen to back here to give Loloku a try too.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
DON HO – Social Kitchen & Bar
Keong Saik Road 1
#01-05, The Working Capitol Building
Tel: +65 6223 5001
Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm to 12am
Ranted by The Ranter