The Place Two months. This is the average waiting time for a table at Chef Kang’s Kitchen along Mackenzie Road, which recently obtained One-Michelin Star in the latest Michelin Guide Singapore 2017. Chef Kang has more than 40 years of culinary experience, and he opened his private kitchen concept near Little India about two and a half years ago. As a private kitchen concept, the space of the restaurant is very small, with only four tables of various sizes. Walk-ins are virtually impossible, so do call and plan ahead for a visit.
The Food My initial misconception of Chef Kang Kitchen as another Zi Char eatery was an ignorant one. The prices of the dishes range from S$25 for a Claypot Chicken to S$128 for a Stewed Chicken Soup with Wild White Truffle, these are some indicative prices for the smallest portions. As we found out throughout our meal, what we are paying for is really the quality ingredients used as well as the personal attention of Chef Kang who is more than happy to share about his food and advice your table accordingly. The small size of the restaurant also means that Chef Kang cooks personally for every table, with only one seating for lunch and dinner, so there is good quality control of the food.
We started with one of Chef Kang’s recommendation, his Signature Shrimp Paste Deep-fried Pork Belly (S$28/small). If you are deciding between the Shrimp Paste Chicken or this dish, we would recommend going for this deep-fried Pork Belly which is not as commonly seen as Shrimp Paste Chicken. This was so addictive. The crispy Pork Belly had an air-light texture and though deep-fried, there was barely traces of oil on the meat. Once we started, we couldn’t stop popping them.
Another highly recommended dish is the Soon Hock Fish Soup with Green Vegetable and Pickled Tree Seeds (S$98/small). Our first reaction was, S$98 for fish soup? It must be made of gold. When we took the first sip, our table of four were convinced. The rich and thick broth of the soup was prepared for a very long time as we endeavoured to suss it more details from Chef Kang. The soon hock fish itself was very fresh as well. The small portion we ordered is good to share amongst four people.
Another meat dish we tried was the Hotpot Pork Chop with Portuguese Sauce (S$28/small). The hotpot was bubbling when served, generously filled with yellow curry sauce which wasn’t spicy at all. The pork chop was flavourful but it wasn’t as memorable for me as the sauce here, which goes very well with some white rice. It is also served with fried buns, where the buns were steamed first before being deep fried to give its soft and fluffy texture, going very well with the Portuguese sauce as well.
The most pedestrian dish of our meal was the Braised homemade Beancurd with scallop sauce (S$28/small). The soft tofu was topped with crispy mushrooms which added a nice crunchy texture. It was a good dish but not outstanding.
Our final savoury dish was the ‘Wok-Hei’ Assorted Wide Rice Noodles (S$28/small), Chef Kang’s rendition of the ubiquitous white Bee Hoon commonly found in Zi Char eateries in Singapore. This version had a slightly moist texture instead of the usual dry ones, where the bee hoon is accompanied by fried pork lard. It was simply, yet so delicious and hearty. We asked Chef Kang about this dish, where he shared that he was the first to come up with this white Bee Hoon dish. This dish is a must order.
For desserts, there are only two options – the Ice Cream in Coconut (S$10.80) or Lemon Glass Jelly with Strawberry (S$7.80). We tried both desserts, and enjoyed the coconut more for its smooth coconut pudding texture and refreshing notes. The coconut was so good!
Rants The small space and long reservation list means an average wait of at least one and a half to two months. Prices are not cheap, though it is unfair to compare it to usual ‘Zi Char’ prices.
Will I Return Again? Our table agreed in unison that it was a good meal. The dishes we had were consistently good, though we will order some others on hindsight. That said, it was a pleasant and intimate dining experience, despite the steep prices as compared to other Chinese restaurants. We will be back again to try more of Chef Kang’s dishes. As for the Michelin Star, it was a well-deserving win, totally.
Taste bud: 4.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4.5/5
Overall Experience: 4.5/5
Chef Kang Kitchen
25 Mackenzie Road
Tel: +65 6238 6263
Tuesday to Sunday: 11.30 to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10.30pm
Closed on Monday
Ranted by The Ranter