The Chinese Kitchen Tasting Session

February 03, 2018 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

The Chinese Kitchen Tasting Session
20 Cavan Road

Opening Hours:
Thu - Tue: 12pm - 3pm (Lunch), 6pm - 10:30pm (Dinner),
Closed Wed



https://www.facebook.com/thechinesekitchensg/


This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session, but I did pay the standard price during subsequent visits.
Attended with representatives from I Eat And Eat, and The Ranting Panda.



Meal Flat Lay
Meal Flat Lay



Traditional Chinese Classics With Innovative Touches From The God Of The Kitchen

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 8
Ambience & Setting: 7
Food & Beverage: 9
Service: 8
Value for Money: 7
Budget about SGD $35 per person.


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Opening in October 2017, The Chinese Kitchen has quickly gained a loyal following, due to its combination of welcoming ambience, personalised service, and delicious food. Helmed by the reowned Chef Austen Ong, former President of the Society Of Chinese Cuisine Chefs (Singapore), the 'God Of The Kitchen' serves up dishes inspired by cooking techniques and ingredients of the 1950s / 1960s, while adding his own modern touches. Each dish at The Chinese Kitchen is a homage to the traditions of old, yet still manages to tease the future. Specialities include their soups, seafood, and charcoal grill dishes.

The Chinese Kitchen Facade
The Chinese Kitchen Facade



Ambience at The Chinese Kitchen is modern casual... in fact, the place resembles a comfortable cafe. Earthy tones of wood, white, black, and brick adorn the brightly lit place, with decorative light bulbs hanging overhead. Furniture is large and spacious, but coupled with the small area, this means seating is fairly limited, up to 80 people at most. Lack of soundproofing or padding means ambient noise is very loud, echoing off the rough brick walls, a stark contrast to the quiet street outside. Advance reservations are highly recommended, because the place fills up quickly during meal times.

The Chinese Kitchen Exterior
The Chinese Kitchen Exterior


The Chinese Kitchen Interior
The Chinese Kitchen Interior



Service at The Chinese Kitchen is very good, befitting that of high-end, premium fine dining Chinese establishments. You're greeted at the door, and quickly ushered to your seats. When questioned, most staff display good product knowledge on the menu, able to describe how each dish is made, and they're just as informative when queried on the history of the kitchen team. Orders are quickly fulfilled with minimal waiting time, even during peak periods. I also note staff will proactively check on diners, offering to clear empty / finished plates throughout the meal. Particularly commendable is the restaurant manager, an elderly gentlemen who accords personalised attention to each table. All this, yet, there is no service charge!

Seating
Seating


Decorative Lights
Decorative Lights



Food at The Chinese Kitchen is naturally, Chinese cuisine, but it also defies convention. At once an amalgamation of past and future, each dish is thoughtfully crafted, incorporating soulful, comforting flavours of the 1950s / 1960s, yet given an edgy modern touch via the garnishes. Needless to say, each dish is exciting and well-executed, of good quality and delicious. The worst I can say about the food here, is that several dishes were decent at best, which in itself, is a remarkable standard. Portions are sized for communal dining, and should be shared. With all the effort and care, prices are generally mid-range, with several high priced items. Budget about SGD $35 per person for a meal here.

Table Setting
Table Setting


Appetizers Flat Lay
Appetizers Flat Lay



The Luo Han Guo / Monk Fruit Herbal Tea (SGD $10 per jug) is freshly made in-house, and is an off-menu beverage, due to its very limited quantity. A jug roughly fills around 4 fulls cups. This stand out, because the flavour is deeper and more robust than other versions elsewhere, having strong herbal sweet notes, yet isn't overwhelming. Available in both warm and chilled versions.

Luo Han Guo / Monk Fruit Herbal Tea
Luo Han Guo / Monk Fruit Herbal Tea (SGD $10 per jug)



The Crispy Baby Squid & Pomelo Salad (SGD $10) is a delicious salad. It features a bed of fresh crunchy lettuce, juicy bits of sweet pomelo, juicy sweet cherry tomatoes, chopped dried figs which lend an intense sweet note, crisp crunchy baby squid glazed in a savoury salty gravy, sprinkle of white sesame seeds, and a dollop of mild wasabi mayonnaise that lends a light zing. Very appetizing, the combination of flavours and textures keeps this unique dish interesting, making you crave more.

Crispy Baby Squid & Pomelo Salad (SGD $10)


Crispy Baby Squid & Pomelo Salad
Crispy Baby Squid & Pomelo Salad



The Organic Okra, Pickle Chili (SGD $8) seems straightforward, but is an example of Chef's culinary genius. Organic okra / lady's finger is used because it's less slimy in texture, making it more pleasant to eat. It's chopped and quickly blanched to retain a crunchy bite. The pickled chili is made in-house, and while it looks fiery, it's actually fairly mild, tickling the palate enough to keep the dish lively. An undertone of sour spicy that plays off nicely with the vegetal sweet flavour of the okra / lady's finger here. Fairly refreshing on the palate.

Organic Okra, Pickle Chili (SGD $8)


Organic Okra, Pickle Chili
Organic Okra, Pickle Chili



Loved the Pork Trotter Jelly, Passionfruit Infused Cucumber (SGD $10), with its deeply robust pork trotter jelly sticks, having a bouncy slippery crunchy bite to texture, with notes of savoury salty meaty in flavour. But the star for me was the passionfruit infused pickled cucumbers, these were juicy and crunchy, having a light sweet sour flavour that acts as a palate cleanser. So refreshing, I would gladly eat these as a snack on their own! Highly recommended!

Pork Trotter Jelly, Passionfruit Infused Cucumber (SGD $10)


Pork Trotter Jelly, Passionfruit Infused Cucumber
Pork Trotter Jelly, Passionfruit Infused Cucumber



The Deep-Fried Tofu Coated With Sakura Prawn Crust (SGD $8) was the weakest dish for me here. That said, it's actually decent, the wobbly soft silken tofu beancurd beneath a crisp, savoury crust infused with baby shrimp flavour. It's just that in a menu where every dish is so bold and delicious, this came across as... normal. Really though, it's a testament to the high standards and good quality of the other dishes here.

Deep-Fried Tofu Coated With Sakura Prawn Crust (SGD $8)


Deep-Fried Tofu Coated With Sakura Prawn Crust
Deep-Fried Tofu Coated With Sakura Prawn Crust



The Signature Old Fifty Collagen Broth (Ocean Catch), Original / Spicy (SGD $40 / $58) is the house signature dish, for good reason. This souful soup / broth is so comforting and hearty, the 'Original' flavour being robust from boiling fish bones for more than 10 hours, until the soup / broth is creamy and milky. Bold savoury sweet flavour. Garnished with fish skin, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, silken tofu beancurd, dried bean skin, and a choice of fish - the 'Ocean Catch' features tender pan-fried garoupa fish which is nicely savoury salty sweet. The 'Wild Catch' requires 1 day advance order, and features any fish that Chef picks up from the market. In addition, beside the 'Original' flavour for the soup base, there is also 'Miso' which uses quality miso paste, and 'Spicy' which features strained Thai green chili. The latter was my favourite as the light spicy notes are enticing.

Signature Old Fifty Collagen Broth (Ocean Catch), Spicy (SGD $40 / $58)


Signature Old Fifty Collagen Broth (Ocean Catch), Spicy
Signature Old Fifty Collagen Broth (Ocean Catch), Spicy


Signature Old Fifty Collagen Broth (Ocean Catch), Spicy


Signature Old Fifty Collagen Broth (Ocean Catch), Original
Signature Old Fifty Collagen Broth (Ocean Catch), Original



The Wok-Fried Jumbo Fresh Water Prawn, Assam Basil Sauce (SGD $13 per piece) is an off-menu dish that requires 1 day advance order. Completely luxurious, the giant fresh water prawns are incredibly meaty with good sweet savoury flavour. The texture is almost like lobster, with a tender chewy meaty bite, coming easily out of the shell. The house made assam basil sauce lends a herbal sour tangy taste, complementing the natural flavour of the prawns. A tad more expensive, but well worth the splurge for special occasions.

Wok-Fried Jumbo Fresh Water Prawn, Assam Basil Sauce (SGD $13 per piece)


Wok-Fried Jumbo Fresh Water Prawn, Assam Basil Sauce
Wok-Fried Jumbo Fresh Water Prawn, Assam Basil Sauce


Wok-Fried Jumbo Fresh Water Prawn, Assam Basil Sauce


Wok-Fried Jumbo Fresh Water Prawn, Assam Basil Sauce



The Charcoal Grilled Orange Sea Perch With Sea Salt & Spices (SGD $62) was created as the kitchen specialises in charcoal grill, and wanted to feature a whole fish. The orange sea perch fish was chosen because of its meaty, flaky, tender texture, nearly similar to cod fish, except less oily. Imported from New Zealand or Japan, the 1+kg fish is expertly charcoal grilled, then deboned by staff tableside. Nice smoky savoury sweet salty flavour, albeit very delicate. Better when paired with the Thai green chili sauce or regular chili sauce, both made in-house. Note this is a standard portion size as well, I wish they offered slightly more range in terms of size of fish.

Charcoal Grilled Orange Sea Perch With Sea Salt & Spices (SGD $62)


Charcoal Grilled Orange Sea Perch With Sea Salt & Spices
Charcoal Grilled Orange Sea Perch With Sea Salt & Spices



Loved the Charcoal Grilled Garlic Spring Chicken (SGD $15), I think this is among the better renditions I've had. The deboned chicken has a lovely smoky aroma from being charcoal grilled, with a tender juicy texture and a savoury sweet flavour. I understand it's marinated with garlic before being grilled, then seasoned with garlic sauce before being served. As a result, the herbal spicy notes of the garlic really infuses the meat, lending its soft fragrance and tangy flavour. Really addictive. Highly recommended!

Charcoal Grilled Garlic Spring Chicken (SGD $15)


Charcoal Grilled Garlic Spring Chicken
Charcoal Grilled Garlic Spring Chicken



Loved the Charcoal Grilled Iberico Pork Neck Fillet, Honey Pineapple Sauce (SGD $14), with its bold, meaty, robust taste. Each piece of tender, juicy pork neck fillet holds good smoky savoury flavour, with a tinge of salty on the end. Good on its own. Great when paired with the fruity sweet honey pineapple sauce, which complements it so well. I only wish the portion size was bigger. Highly recommended!

Charcoal Grilled Iberico Pork Neck Fillet, Honey Pineapple Sauce (SGD $14)


Charcoal Grilled Iberico Pork Neck Fillet, Honey Pineapple Sauce
Charcoal Grilled Iberico Pork Neck Fillet, Honey Pineapple Sauce



The Steamed Organic Eggplant Black Garlic Sauce (SGD $3.50) is an off-menu dish that requires 1 day advance order, because a lot of work is required to hand make the special mashed black garlic sauce. Steamed mountain yam forms a bed for the organic brinjal / eggplant / aubergine, which is then topped with the mashed black garlic sauce and spring onions. The overall dish requires little chewing, everything is so tender that it nearly melts away in the mouth, with a bold herbal earthy sweet savoury flavour. Good!

Steamed Organic Eggplant Black Garlic Sauce (SGD $3.50)


Steamed Organic Eggplant Black Garlic Sauce
Steamed Organic Eggplant Black Garlic Sauce



Unlike elsewhere, the Braised La La Ying Yang Noodles (SGD $16) here is served with little gravy, instead, the flavour of the seafood stock (clams, fish, and strained Thai green chili) has infused into the duo of noodles used - both bee hoon / rice vermicelli noodles and the Korean sweet potato noodles. Very slurp-worthy and slippery in texture. Garnished with eggs, clams, bean sprouts, and shrimp, all lending a sweet savoury note to the dish, with textures of bouncy, chewy, crunchy, tender. Overall though, the flavour is much more delicate than elsewhere, and this is something I think could be improved.

Braised La La Ying Yang Noodles (SGD $16)


Braised La La Ying Yang Noodles
Braised La La Ying Yang Noodles



What defines the Old Sixties Style Hor Fun (SGD $14) is really the mish-mash of ingredients - wide flat kway teow rice noodles, eggs, clams, pork loin, chicken gizzards, prawns / shrimp, kai-lan / Chinese kale / Chinese broccoli, carrots, and spring onions, all wok-fried together. Can taste a slight aroma of the wok hei / breath of the wok, a smoky undertone that permeates the dish. Also, the sauce has no monosodium glutamate (MSG), it's light and delicate with a sweet savoury flavour. The amount of toppings is generous too. Highly recommended!

Old Sixties Style Hor Fun (SGD $14)


Old Sixties Style Hor Fun
Old Sixties Style Hor Fun



The Charcoal Grilled Banana, Sea Salt, Caramel, Ice Cream (SGD $4.50) is their signature charcoal grilled dessert. Only the banana is charcoal grilled, giving it a smoky flavour, with the fruit sugars having slightly caramelised, resulting in a tender, sticky texture with bold sweet flavour. Paired with house made caramel sauce, sea salt, strawberries, and a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. A sprinkle of rice crispies lend a contrasting crunch for texture. Nice finish to a good meal here, we craved more of this because it's so well executed. Good!

Charcoal Grilled Banana, Sea Salt, Caramel, Ice Cream (SGD $4.50)


Charcoal Grilled Banana, Sea Salt, Caramel, Ice Cream
Charcoal Grilled Banana, Sea Salt, Caramel, Ice Cream



Was very pleased with the dining experience at The Chinese Kitchen, no wonder they're highly rated. The combination of welcoming comfortable ambience, personalised attentive service, and high quality delicious food, result in a memorable meal. The only minor drawback is their mid-range to high prices, knocking them out of everyday dining. But The Chinese Kitchen remains a solid choice for special occasions, or even for weekly meals.


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