Kafe Utu Tasting Session - Part 2

February 20, 2019 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Kafe Utu Tasting Session - Part 2
12 Jiak Chuan Road

Opening Hours:
Tue - Sun: 8am - 5pm (All-Day Brunch), 6pm - 11pm (Lounge & Tapas),
Closed Mon



https://kafeutu.com/

https://www.facebook.com/kafeutu/

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, Purple Taste, Emily.EatingThyme, MsJaniceEats, Fonda Tjang, Geeky Elephant, Alter Alter Ego, msginginly, Her Pen And Fork, and NAHMJ Food, Travel & Lifestyle Blog.



Utu Bowl (SGD $20)



Delicious Kenyan & Liberian Dishes (Part 2 of 2)

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


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There's so much to say about our visit to Kafe Utu, and the fantastic dining experience we had. In case you missed it, catch up with Part 1 of our Kafe Utu review, here.

Loved the Pulled Pork Breakfast (SGD $24). A beautiful meaty plate featuring fresh, tender, pulled pork shoulder which has been marinated in house made hickory smoked barbecue sauce, topped with a lovely semi-runny poached barn egg. Cut into it, and watch the luscious yolk slowly coat the savoury salty sweet pulled pork with eggy goodness. The bright, juicy corn salsa bursts with vegetal sweet freshness, while the rough chunky mashed curried avocado has a delicate earthy vegetal spice flavour. Completed with a crisp potato hash brown. Excellent dish, most of us agreed this was our favourite here. Highly recommended!

Pulled Pork Breakfast (SGD $24)


Pulled Pork Breakfast
Pulled Pork Breakfast


Pulled Pork Breakfast



The Curried Avocado With Raw Garlic & Toast (SGD $16) was the weakest dish I had here, just about decent, which is testament to the consistent quality they are serving up. This features a base of hand made sourdough bread toast from partners Firebake, which produces excellent bread. Topped with fresh avocado roughly mashed with red curry paste, raw garlic, and spices, giving it a chunky texture and a delicate earthy vegetal spice flavour. Completed with a semi-runny poached barn egg, crunchy vegetal bitter wild rocket leaves / arugula, and crisp cassava chips. Overall, an alright dish.

Curried Avocado With Raw Garlic & Toast (SGD $16)


Curried Avocado With Raw Garlic & Toast
Curried Avocado With Raw Garlic & Toast



The Utu Bowl (SGD $20) is a bright, vibrant, healthy salad bowl. It contains a pretty plated mix of quinoa, orange zest pickled carrot strips, apple cider pickled red cabbage strips, fresh kale leaves, roasted pumpkin chunks, marinated goat cheese, a sous-vide egg, fresh avocado chunks, spiced pumpkin seeds, and a lemon wedge. Mix it all together before enjoying. You'll get a complex layering of textures, crunchy juicy crispy tender soft; along with a vibrant burst of vegetal earthy sweet sour zesty fruity eggy flavours. Rather appetizing, and also good for sharing.

Utu Bowl (SGD $20)


Utu Bowl
Utu Bowl



The Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding (SGD $18) is a healthy brunch / breakfast option, with grainy quinoa and crunchy chia seeds stirred in rich, creamy thick, chilled Greek yoghurt. Topped with crunchy roasted almonds and fresh, juicy seasonal fruits (grapefruit, dragonfruit, caramelised bananas), which lend nutty fruity sweet sour flavours. Drizzled with pure maple syrup for a delicate honeyed sweet touch, decorated with edible flowers for visual appeal. Highly recommended!

Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding (SGD $18)


Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding
Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding


Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding



The Ricotta Hotcakes (SGD $23) are a typical American breakfast / brunch dish, with a fluffy soft pancake (made with eggs, vanilla bean extract, Japanese Hokkaido milk, all-purpose flour, caster sugar, and unsalted butter) infused with ricotta cheese. The pancake is served with fresh juicy mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), icing sugar, house infused cardamom maple syrup, crisp ricotta cheese wafers, edible flowers, and a creamy smooth vanilla bean ice cream. Notes of floral earthy sweet sour cheesy flavours, very nice. Their house made ice cream tends to melt pretty fast though. Looks so pretty, and is so delicious.

Ricotta Hotcakes (SGD $23)


Ricotta Hotcakes
Ricotta Hotcakes


Ricotta Hotcakes



The Potato Wedges Kidogo (SGD $14) features thick, fluffy soft, double-fried potato wedges, sprinkled with cajun seasoning, giving them a light savoury spice flavour. But the star is the trio of home made sauces; the mango chili marmalade (made with fresh mango, black pepper, red onions, and habanero chili) which has a sharp tangy fruity sweet spicy flavour; the congo bongo (made with grilled bell peppers / capsicum, grilled white onions, a house spice blend, natural peanut butter, and habanero chili) which has a vegetal earthy sweet spice nutty flavour; and the house chili (made with garlic, bird's eye chili, lemon juice, butter, and habanero chili) which has a sharp spicy zesty tangy flavour with a lingering burn.

Potato Wedges Kidogo (SGD $14)


Potato Wedges Kidogo
Potato Wedges Kidogo



The Fresh Cassava Chips (SGD $12) feature thinly shaved cassava root chips, deep-fried till lightly crisp, spiced with a little paprika. Retains its crunchy texture and light savoury spice flavour even after 1 hour, really good. Great bar snack with drinks!

Fresh Cassava Chips (SGD $12)


Fresh Cassava Chips
Fresh Cassava Chips



While not fully described on the menu, the Marinated Roma Tomatoes Soup (SGD $16) is more like an appetizer than a light bite. Fresh roma tomatoes are mashed and served as a chilled soup / broth, dressed with micro greens and extra virgin olive oil. Style is similar to a gazpacho, with a thin grainy texture and bold vegetal sweet flavour. Served with crisp slices of toasted foccacia bread, which have a delicate grainy bready sweet flavour.

Marinated Roma Tomatoes Soup (SGD $16)


Marinated Roma Tomatoes Soup
Marinated Roma Tomatoes Soup



The Charred Asparagus (SGD $16) features crunchy stalks of charcoal grilled asparagus, with smoky vegetal sweet earthy bitter flavour. Served with a side of house chili (made with garlic, bird's eye chili, lemon juice, butter, and habanero chili) which has a sharp spicy zesty tangy flavour with a lingering burn.

Charred Asparagus (SGD $16)


Charred Asparagus
Charred Asparagus



The Buttermilk Fried Chicken (SGD $15) features fresh chunks of tender bouncy chicken thigh, coated in a buttermilk spice batter. The result is a crunchy bite, with a bold salty savoury flavour, perhaps overly so. Served with the house signature trio of home made sauces; the mango chili marmalade, the congo bongo, and the house chili.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken (SGD $15)


Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Buttermilk Fried Chicken



Loved the Padron Peppers (SGD $14), the whole grilled padron peppers have a crunchy moist texture, and a delicate smoky vegetal sweet spice flavour. Their peculiarity lies in the fact that, while their taste is usually mild, a minority (~25%) are particularly spicy hot. There is no way of determining whether a given padron pepper will be hot or mild, short of actually eating it. Delicious bar snack (and bar challenge too), I could finish this on my own!

Padron Peppers (SGD $14)


Padron Peppers
Padron Peppers



A recipe handed down from the owner's mother, the Mama's Fresh Garden Salad (SGD $25) features a fresh, crunchy juicy mix of baby spinach, red radish, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, curly endive / frisée, alfalfa sprouts, and creamy avocado chunks, all dressed in apple cider vinegar. Each bite gets you zesty tangy vegetal sweet sour bitter earthy flavours, very appetizing.

Mama's Fresh Garden Salad (SGD $25)


Mama's Fresh Garden Salad
Mama's Fresh Garden Salad



The Beetroot Burratini (SGD $18) has thin, tender slices of pickled beetroot, over a creamy burratini (small burrata cheese), dressed with fresh crisp basil leaves and white truffle oil. Notes of vegetal sour sweet earthy cheesy flavours. Nice, but as with all beetroot dishes, the vibrant colour just stains everything.

Beetroot Burratini (SGD $18)


Beetroot Burratini
Beetroot Burratini


Beetroot Burratini



Loved the Pumpkin Kale Salad (SGD $18), easily the best salad on the menu here. This features tender roasted butternut pumpkin chunks, crisp fresh kale leaves, crunchy caramelised white onion rings, firm spiced pumpkin seeds, and soft marinated goat cheese. You get layered vegetal earthy sweet savoury flavours here. Would order again. Highly recommended!

Pumpkin Kale Salad (SGD $18)


Pumpkin Kale Salad
Pumpkin Kale Salad



The Coconut Rice (SGD $4) is a staple, served alongside many of their dishes. It consists of long-grain basmati rice, infused with coconut cream and butter, giving the rice a fragrant earthy buttery grainy flavour. Has a light, fluffy texture, and the rice grains separate easily as good basmati rice should.

Coconut Rice (SGD $4)


Coconut Rice
Coconut Rice



The Chapati (SGD $2) is made in-house, with a house flour mix and clarified butter. Unlike the typical Indian version, their version of chapati isn't soft or fluffy, instead having a slight firm crisp edge. Has a fragrant bready taste and aroma, with a hint of buttery flavour.

Chapati (SGD $2)


Chapati
Chapati



The West African Spicy Collard Greens (SGD $28), also known as the Liberian Collard Greens, features collard greens, kale, and cassava leaves, marinated with house spices (onion powder, salt, garlic, palm oil, chipotle pepper powder, black pepper), then stir-fried with boneless chicken thigh, smoked sole fish strips, peanut butter, chicken stock, and habanero peppers. Served with coconut rice, this has textures of crunchy, tender, chewy; with flavours of vegetal savoury salty earthy nutty spicy. Liberians cook this as a stew, and often prepare this dish for holidays and special occasions.

West African Spicy Collard Greens (SGD $28)


West African Spicy Collard Greens
West African Spicy Collard Greens



The Caribbean Goat Curry (SGD $28), also known as the Jamaican Curry Goat, features fresh goat meat / mutton, marinated with the house meat curry paste (onion powder, salt, garlic, palm oil, white pepper, black pepper, thyme), then stir-fried with chicken stock, tomato paste, and habanero peppers (instead of scotch bonnet peppers). Served with coconut rice, this has textures of chewy, creamy, tender; with flavours of salty savoury sweet spice meaty. Perhaps overly seasoned, as the salty flavour profile was intense. Needs to be a little more spicy, and a little less sweet. Jamaicans cook this as a party dish, and it's a popular choice of meat in the region.

Caribbean Goat Curry (SGD $28)


Caribbean Goat Curry
Caribbean Goat Curry


Caribbean Goat Curry



The Swahili Fish Curry With Kachumbari (SGD $29) is a signature Kenyan dish, and features boneless red snapper fish fillets, marinated in tamarind juice, coconut milk, the house fish curry paste (onion powder, garlic, ginger, powdered turmeric, powdered cumin, curry powder, salt, black pepper), tomato paste, chicken stock, yoghurt, and habanero peppers. Served with coconut rice and a Kenyan fresh tomato and red onion salad, similar to a Mexican salsa. Has textures of crunchy, juicy, creamy, tender; with flavours of vegetal sweet savoury salty spice zesty tangy. Kenyans cook this as an everyday dish, using whichever firm, white flesh fish is readily available, including tilapia, flounder, halibut, or red snapper fish. The dish is known in the local tongue as 'Mtuzi Wa Samaki'.

Swahili Fish Curry With Kachumbari
Swahili Fish Curry With Kachumbari (SGD $29)


Swahili Fish Curry
Swahili Fish Curry


Kachumbari
Kachumbari



The Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew (SGD $28) is a signature Liberian dish, and features boneless young chicken thigh, lightly browned in palm oil, with its juices used to stew a mix of ginger, salt, powdered coriander, powdered turmeric, powdered cumin, powdered cinnamon, fenugreek seeds, black pepper, and habanero peppers. The chicken is then finished with the mix of spices, along with cloves, white onions, tomato paste, smoked sole fish strips, peanut butter, chopped peanuts, and chicken stock. Typically, sweet potato or yam / taro is added, but the version here omits them. Served with coconut rice, this has textures of crunchy, creamy, tender; with flavours of earthy savoury salty nutty. Liberians cook this as an everyday dish. The dish is known in the local tongue as 'Tigadegena'.

Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew (SGD $28)


Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew
Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew


Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew



The Carrot Cake (SGD $8) here is beautiful, among the better versions I've had. A warm, soft, moist carrot cake, studded with crunchy walnuts and shreds of carrot, topped with a rich, luscious, creamy smooth spread of cream cheese frosting infused with orange, decorated with crushed peanuts, a blackberry, a raspberry, pickled carrots, and edible flowers. This dessert cake has a lovely fruity sweet spice cheesy flavour, very enticing. Wanted more of it!

Carrot Cake (SGD $8)


Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake



A classic Canelé (SGD $5), this French dessert pastry has a crisp, almost firm, caramelised exterior, with a soft, moist, spongy interior. It's flavoured with vanilla bean and custard. Served surrounded by a thick raspberry compote, fresh raspberries, and crisp meringue bits. This has a lovely floral sweet flavour, complemented by the sour sharpness of the compote, and the delicate powdery sweetness of the meringue.

Canelé (SGD $5)


Canelé
Canelé



The Tiramisu (SGD $8) version here is good, but that's largely due to the house espresso coffee beans already being excellent, with a nutty chocolatey sweet roasted flavour. In true Italian style, this dessert is layered with soft sponge fingers and mascarpone cream, though I felt the cream was a little too dense and not airy enough. Has a creamy sweet coffee flavour. Love the presentation, with their logo dusted in chocolate powder.

Tiramisu (SGD $8)


Tiramisu
Tiramisu



The Mandazi (SGD $8), also known as Dahir Adani, is a common Swahili snack eaten by locals along the East African coast. It's a triangle-shaped fried bread, firm on the outside and spongy on the inside, made with water, sugar, all-purpose flour, yeast, and milk. Coated liberally with dessicated coconut, powdered cardamom, and icing sugar or cinnamon sugar, then served warm. Akin to a doughnut, it's often served as a snack or a dessert, alongside hot tea. Due to its versatile nature, Mandazi / Dahir Adani can be customised in different ways just like a doughnut, be it through toppings, dips, or accompaniments.

Mandazi (SGD $8)


Mandazi
Mandazi


Mandazi



The Nakupenda (I Love You) (SGD $8), whose name translates from Swahili to mean 'I Love You' or 'With Love', features a warm, circle-shaped mandazi, topped with rich espresso coffee ice cream, crushed peanuts, edible flowers, and chocolate chips. This house ice cream sandwich dessert is tasty, but the ice cream melts all too quickly, turning the plate into a mess. Would be perfect if the ice cream was more hardy.

Nakupenda (I Love You) (SGD $8)


Nakupenda (I Love You)
Nakupenda (I Love You)


Nakupenda (I Love You)



Small little Energy Balls (SGD $4) for a snack. There are 2 flavours here, the 1st has lime zest, dessicated coconut, and macadamia nuts; while the 2nd has dried dates, sunflower seeds, and pistachio nuts. Both have firm, crunchy textures, with the 1st having a zesty fruity sweet nutty flavour, while the 2nd has a more earthy fruity sweet nutty flavour.

Energy Balls (SGD $4)


Energy Balls
Energy Balls


Energy Balls



The Utu Espresso Soft Serve Ice Cream (SGD $4) is a house made espresso coffee ice cream, which has good roasted coffee sweet earthy flavour. While I like the creamy smooth, rich texture, the soft serve ice cream melts all too quickly.

Utu Espresso Soft Serve Ice Cream (SGD $4)


Utu Espresso Soft Serve Ice Cream
Utu Espresso Soft Serve Ice Cream


Utu Espresso Soft Serve Ice Cream



Overall, I greatly enjoyed our dining experience at Kafe Utu. The ambience is homely, welcoming, and comfortable, while the service is efficient, friendly, and knowledgeable. The food is delicious, healthy, and value-for-money, with a good novelty factor of Kenyan cuisine and Liberian cuisine, which isn't easily available in Singapore. Very good. Will return to Kafe Utu for more!


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