Zi Char - T.K. Kitchen Tasting Session

October 26, 2018 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Zi Char - T.K. Kitchen Tasting Session
37 Teban Gardens Road #01-302

710 Clementi West Street 2 #01-247


Opening Hours:
Daily: 12pm - 10pm,
Closed every 2nd and 4th week's Thursday



https://www.facebook.com/TKeatinghouse/

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 Chubby Botak Koala, and Purple Taste.



White Pepper Crab (SGD $40 per crab, fixed price)



Affordable Heartland Zi Char

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 7
Ambience & Setting: 4
Food & Beverage: 8
Service: 6
Value for Money: 8
Budget about SGD $18 per person.


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Founded in May 2014, T.K. Kitchen is a casual heartland Chinese Zi Char eatery with 2 outlets in coffeeshops across the West of Singapore, namely, the Teban Gardens area and the West Coast area. Named after the coffeeshop it originated from, T.K. Kitchen is short for Tong Kian Kitchen, and was formerly known as Tong Kian Seafood.

Knowing your target audience is a key part of running a successful business, and T.K. Kitchen is a fine example. They serve delicious, hearty meals at wallet-friendly prices, catering to the elderly residents who live nearby, as well as the many labourers of the surrounding shipping / maritime, manufacturing, light industrial, and construction sectors.

Rong Fa Coffee Shop
Rong Fa Coffee Shop



Ambience at T.K. Kitchen relies on the coffeeshop it's located in. Both are brightly lit, open air, and spacious, with modern functional furniture around. Expect crowds on weekend evenings, and on weekday afternoons. The atmosphere is bustling and true heartland Singapore; expect to see workers eating quickly, while the elderly residents linger over beer.

T.K. Kitchen Facade
T.K. Kitchen Facade



Service at T.K. Kitchen is brusque and casual. Staff are quick to suggest recommendations, displaying good, proactive product knowledge. They're down-to-earth and friendly, and if you joke with them, they'll do likewise. They're quick and efficient at fulfilling orders, and also prompt in clearing up when diners leave, resetting tables fast.

T.K. Kitchen Address & Contact
T.K. Kitchen Address & Contact



Food at T.K. Kitchen is Chinese Zi Char cuisine, with the wok masters quickly stir-frying ingredients over high heat. Dishes are crowd-pleasing with familiar flavours, being well executed with wok hei / breath of the wok. Portions are large and sized for communal group dining, yet prices are more affordable and cheaper than elsewhere. Budget about SGD $18 per person for a meal here.

Menu


Menu


Menu


Menu



The signature dish that's only available at the West Coast outlet, the White Pepper Kampung Half-Chicken Hot Pot (SGD $12 / $22 / $40) is a warm and comforting soup / broth, filled with Chinese herbs (tang kwei / dang gui / angelica root, Chinese wolfberries / goji berries, yu zhu / solomon's seal root, bei qi / astragalus membranaceus root, dang shen / codonopsis lanceolata root), red dates, white pepper, and a half kampung / village chicken that has savoury sweet flavour with a firm texture. The soup / broth has a light herbal peppery spice kick, with the comforting notes of savoury sweet chicken flavour.

We had the Add-On Mixed Vegetables (SGD $1.80), a medley of white shimeji mushrooms, abalone mushrooms, corn, broccoli, black fungus / cloud ear fungus, you mai / Indian long lettuce / Chinese leaf lettuce / leafy greens, and tofu beancurd. The vegetables lend good body to the soup / broth, and are worth adding on. Also had the Add-On Pig's Stomach (SGD $3.80), with tender slices of pig's stomach that lent good body to the warm soup / broth. Highly recommended! However, on a particular visit, we found the Add-On Prawns (SGD $5.80) wasn't as fresh as we'd like.

White Pepper Kampung Half-Chicken Hot Pot (SGD $12 / $22 / $40)


White Pepper Kampung Half-Chicken Hot Pot
White Pepper Kampung Half-Chicken Hot Pot


Add-Ons


Add-On Mixed Vegetables (SGD $1.80)


Add-On Mixed Vegetables
Add-On Mixed Vegetables


Add-On Pig's Stomach
Add-On Pig's Stomach (SGD $3.80)


Add-On Prawns
Add-On Prawns (SGD $5.80)


With Add-On Pig's Stomach


With Add-On Pig's Stomach
With Add-On Pig's Stomach


With Add-On Pig's Stomach, Mixed Vegetables
With Add-On Pig's Stomach, Mixed Vegetables



The lovely Cai Poh Tofu Beancurd (SGD $8 / $12 / $16) features a silky smooth, wobbly soft egg tofu beancurd, topped with crunchy bits of flash-fried cai poh / preserved radish. Chef has used a dash of sugar here, so you get a hit of sweet savoury flavour, with only a hint of salty notes... Little unusual, as this is usually salty savoury instead. Still, a pretty good rendition.

Cai Poh Tofu Beancurd (SGD $8 / $12 / $16)


Cai Poh Tofu Beancurd
Cai Poh Tofu Beancurd



The Claypot Tofu Beancurd (SGD $8 / $12 / $16) is a hearty claypot dish, with a generous amount of rich savoury salty gravy. Filled with wobbly soft egg tofu beancurd, snow peas, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese mountain yam / taro, shiitake mushrooms, and shallots. The vegetables are nicely tender, and complement the tofu beancurd. Best paired with white rice. Good!

Claypot Tofu Beancurd (SGD $8 / $12 / $16)


Claypot Tofu Beancurd
Claypot Tofu Beancurd



The Yam Ring (SGD $16) here is unique, due to the garnish of whole prawns / shrimp on top. The crisp, deep-fried yam / taro ring holds a medley of tender vegetables (green bell pepper / capsicum, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, straw mushrooms, brown beech mushrooms, cauliflower, shallots), along with juicy moist chicken chunks. Lovely vegetal sweet salty flavours here.

Yam Ring (SGD $16)


Yam Ring
Yam Ring



At first glance, it's easy to mistake the Duo Sambal Water Spinach & Sweet Potato Leaves (SGD $6 / $8 / $10) for just another common single vegetable dish. While the savoury spicy flavours remain the same, the textural difference between the crunchy kang kong / water spinach leaves and the tender sweet potato leaves do lend a distinct touch, setting it apart. In comparision, it's also less watery than a straightforward kang kong / water spinach leaves dish, and less oily than a straightforward sweet potato leaves dish.

Duo Sambal Water Spinach & Sweet Potato Leaves (SGD $6 / $8 / $10)


Duo Sambal Water Spinach & Sweet Potato Leaves
Duo Sambal Water Spinach & Sweet Potato Leaves



The Bitter Gourd Egg Omelette (SGD $6 / $8 / $10) has tender slices of bitter gourd, set within a fluffy egg omelette. The nice contrast of vegetal bitter against eggy sweet savoury is lovely, not too overwhelming. I like this with a bit of sambal chili for a spicy kick.

Bitter Gourd Egg Omelette (SGD $6 / $8 / $10)


Bitter Gourd Egg Omelette
Bitter Gourd Egg Omelette



The unique Thousand Island Sliced Fish (SGD $10 / $15 / $20) is a novel dish. Slices of firm snakehead murrel fish, with a nice bite, are coated in a thin all-purpose flour batter and flash-fried till crisp. Then it's wok-tossed with creamy thousand island sauce. Sounds unusual, but the tangy sweet sour savoury flavours work well. Good!

Thousand Island Sliced Fish (SGD $10 / $15 / $20)


Thousand Island Sliced Fish
Thousand Island Sliced Fish



The Oatmeal Squid (SGD $10 / $14 / $18) has fresh, bouncy meaty squid rings with a light bite and sweet savoury flavour, tossed in crisp, crunchy oatmeal and curry leaves. Each bite gets you the hit of spice, followed by the grainy sweet savoury flavour of the oatmeal coated squid rings. Very nice.

Oatmeal Squid (SGD $10 / $14 / $18)


Oatmeal Squid
Oatmeal Squid



The Assam Prawns (SGD $15 / $20 / $30) is another signature dish here. The tasty tamarind juice and chili gravy piques the palate with its tangy sweet sour spicy flavour, while the generous garnish of fresh meaty shell-on prawns, crunchy shallots, tender string beans, soft lady's finger / okra, crisp lettuce, creamy brinjal / eggplant / aubergine, and juicy pineapple make this really hearty. Pairs well with white rice, though a little too oily.

Assam Prawns (SGD $15 / $20 / $30)


Assam Prawns
Assam Prawns



Chef tried experimenting with the Salted Egg Crab (SGD $40 per crab, fixed price) during our visit. The regular version usually features the whole crab, stir-fried with a creamy salted egg gravy. However, on this occasion, Chef decided to deep-fry it instead, and have the salted egg gravy as a batter coating. The result is a texture similar to a soft-shell crab, with the sweet flavours of the fresh crab meat being distinct from the salty savoury flavours of the salted egg batter. While it's tasty, I personally prefer the regular version, instead of this experimental version.

Salted Egg Crab (SGD $40 per crab, fixed price)


Salted Egg Crab
Salted Egg Crab



The White Pepper Crab (SGD $40 per crab, fixed price) features a fresh, whole crab, stir-fried in white pepper, tender caramelised white onions, and crunchy spring onions. The gravy is rich and spicy peppery, complementing the sweet flavour of the crab meat. Very addictive with a good kick. Highly recommended!

White Pepper Crab (SGD $40 per crab, fixed price)


White Pepper Crab
White Pepper Crab



The Pork Rib King With Rice & Egg (SGD $5) is a filling meal. The Pork Rib King is nicely coated in sweet and sour sauce, with the pork meat being tender and savoury sweet. Plated over lettuce, with a heaping helping of white rice, along with a fried egg. Great for an individual meal.

Pork Rib King With Rice & Egg (SGD $5)


Pork Rib King With Rice & Egg
Pork Rib King With Rice & Egg


Pork Rib King
Pork Rib King



I enjoyed our dining experience at T.K. Kitchen, and have since returned several times to try their other offerings. If you're in the West of Singapore, I recommend visiting T.K. Kitchen for some delicious Chinese Zi Char, in large communal portions, at affordable prices.


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