The Place Located in Shaw Centre, I checked out a new casual charcoal grill restaurant Koal by the Les Amis Group, Koal, which took over the space of Indigo Blue Kitchen. Helmed by Head Chef Jun Xiang, most recently of Indigo Blue Kitchen, the concept of Koal is vastly different from its predecessor Peranakan concept as the dishes focus on grilling techniques on the open flame with a mix of Asian and Western flavours.
The interior of Koal is accentuated with red LED lights from day to night, along with natural light during the day. Go for the window tables if you can as it offers the most dining privacy. There are also Instagram-worthy feature walls pinned with neon signages such as “Meat Up & Chill Out” and “Make the Cut”.
The Food For lunch, there is a 3-course lunch set where the price varies according to which mains you choose. For dinner, the menu is mainly split into starters, seafood and meats. I started with the Koal’s Bread Roll (S$8) served in a hot iron cast. The lovely roll is stuffed with bacon and grilled spring onions, served along with sour cream & chive butter. The bread spots a savoury taste from bits of the bacon, and a soft fluffy texture. I also like the sour cream butter!
For something light and refreshing, there is the Scallion Salad (S$6) with shredded scallion, carrots, wakame in spicy sesame soy dressing.
I am usually apprehensive of too much potatoes in a meal but the Red Skin Potato Salad (S$10) is surprisingly good for me. You get chunky potatoes served with a six-minute egg, shallots, mentaiko mayo and tobikko. The Mentaiko Mayo adds much flavour to the soft and crunchy potato and I couldn’t help with more servings of it.
You also can’t go wrong with a safe option like the Chunky Salmon Sashimi (S$12), where you get salmon cubes, shallots in spicy & tangy coriander & green chilli dressing. The sauce is not that spicy actually, and it taste more like a regular salmon sashimi dish with a little bit of tanginess.
For a heavier starter, Mala fans will rejoice in the Crispy Pork Riblets (S$16). This dish actually feels like a main dish more than a starter for its generous portion. The pork ribs are quite tender, beautifully glazed with Mala honey sauce, hence the flavour is quite sweet and savoury. There are also bits of peanuts, dried chilli and coriander, and I like that the Mala taste is not too overpowering and it is suitable even if you have a low threshold for spiciness.
From the seafood mains section, I had the Salmon with Kimchi (S$18). The salmon fillet here is grilled with butter sauce, hence you can expect a heavier and more buttery flavour as opposed to other grilled salmon versions. The accompanying grilled kale is quite crispy and delicious too!
For meats, I am impressed with the Iberico Collar (180g/S$19) which is sliced nicely and easy for sharing. It is a well-balanced proportion of lean and fat meat, so you can expect a very tender meat. The grill fire also impacts a flavourful profile to the meat, and you can have it with a complimentary sauce of your choice. Option for sauces include Yakiniku no Tare with confit garlic; Whole Grain Mustard Cream Sauce Sesame; and Chimichurri (Additional sauces at S$4 each). The pork collar goes best with the Chimichurri sauce for me.
Alternatively, there is the Hanging Tender (180gm/S$24) where you get succulent slices of beef. I enjoyed the beef with a tinge of the salt by the side, and it goes best with the Yakiniku no Tare with confit garlic sauce for me. For its price, I find that the quality is good.
Dessert options include the likes of Hojicha and Whiskey Tiramisu (S$12) which is a twist on classic tiramisu with earthy hojicha, japanese whiskey and pistachios. There is also the Freshly Fried Donut (S$5 per piece/S$8 for 2 pieces) with flavours such as the cheesecake mousse & raspberry and the coulis / nutella & banana mousse. Desserts are passable for me as I am not a big fan of either options here.
For drinks, there are options like the Champagne Makgeoli Ehwabaekju (S$85/bottle), Cocktails, Yak-jus, White and Red Wines, Beers, Coffee and Tea.
Rants If anything, I wish that the desserts would have included some grilled options to be more in line with the restaurant’s theme.
Will I Return Again? I enjoyed the dishes I had at Koal from the starters to the mains, and given the price point, I do think Koal offers quality food at affordable prices in Orchard Road.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Make your reservations instantly at Koal here.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road
Tel: +65 8129 4500
Lunch: 11.30am – 2.30pm (Last order 2pm)
Dinner: 6pm – 9.30pm (Last order 9pm)
Ranted by The Ranter