Monday, February 5, 2018

The Chinese Kitchen 厨神私方菜 @ 20 Cavan Road

Hidden in an obscure location (at least for Westies like me), lies a popular place for Chinese cuisine. The venue is cafe-like but boasts a boisterous, lively vibe synonymous with celebratory dinners. Our group ventured out to this place to seek out the good eats. And to find out, what makes this place popular. +Ivan Teh @jellymagically @msginginly and myself gathered on a quiet Saturday evening to this part of the world that's somewhere near Lavender.

The Chinese Kitchen
Reservation is a must if you're heading there for dinner on a weekend. We barely managed to secure the 8pm dinner slot. Thanks Ivan for taking care of that aspect.

This place has its dishes curated by the former president of the Society of Chinese Cuisine Chefs (Singapore), Chef Austen Ong. Wow, surely it is a privilege to be able to try dishes that the top guy curates!

If one takes a look at the menu, The Chinese Kitchen menu is said to be of modern Chinese classics. The way I see it, it is flavours of yesteryear's created in our times, using currently available ingredients.

Four Beauties of China (四大美女) - Wang Zhaojun, Yang Guifei, Xi Shi and Diaochan

From the outside, it was seemingly quiet. Open the entrance door and be greeted with lively banter, and boisterous diners making merry. There was a large group of diners in their fifties celebrating birthday, a few tables of family dining together, one with young children and a table of adults in their thirties enjoying wine. The place seemed rather popular with the silver age group.

drinks counter

Our modus operandi is simple. Each choose one dish to order. The motto is not to over-order. Kris chose the signature dish of Garoupa in Old Fifties Collagen Broth (standard size). Jen chose the Charcoal Grilled Iberico Pork Neck, and my choice was the Old Sixties Style "Hor Fun". Ivan chose small plates of Pork Trotter Jelly and Deep Fried Tofu Coated with Sakura Prawns.

signature dish
For drinks, we went with the staff recommendation of housemade herbal drink of luohan fruit. One jug of those serves 4 glasses. Just nice for our table. Can choose to have it warm or cold. The drink was thick and nicely sweetened. Good to have something cooling once in a while.

Luohan drink @$10 per jug
It was just a short wait before the food is out. As expected, the signature dishes arrived first. The Pork Trotter Jelly was very appetising and refreshing at the same time. The jelly was firm and flavours were balanced. I think I'd like this with wine too!

Pork Trotter Jelly, Passion fruit infused Cucumber (百香脆瓜猪脚冻) @$8

However, the cucumber wrestled the limelight from the trotter jelly. Well pickled and its taste was memorable. One of our favourite.

surprise star - passion fruit infused cucumber
Charcoal Grilled Iberico Pork Neck Fillet with Honey Pineapple Sauce (炭烤黑豚梅头肉) @$14
We love meats and the grilled iberico pork neck addressed this need nicely. It was a rather thin fillet, tender with light flavours on its own. A dip into the honey pineapple sauce jazzed the meat up to a savoury sweet, appetizing flavour. Yums.

Garoupa in Old Fifties Collagen Broth (五十年代老火炖汤红石板鱼) @$38

The signature dish of the Garoupa in Old Fifties Collagen Broth was served in a claypot. In it, there are chunks of fried fish, cabbage and some tomato. The broth was comforting and just rightly seasoned. Tasty but not too rich. In terms of similarity, it tasted somewhat like those charcoal fish head steamboat soup minus the yam.

Deep Fried Tofu coated with Sakura Prawns Crusts (樱花虾炸白玉) @$8 
The tofu was the last appetizer to arrive. It surprised me a little as I was expecting sakura prawns scattered onto the tofu. Instead, the sakura prawns are actually mixed into the thin batter coating the tofu. If you taste the tofu on its own, there's a hint of the sakura prawns flavour. Liked the flavour better after dipping it into the tartar/mayo sauce as it was a tad bland on its own.

Asked the young staff who was taking our drinks order on what is this "Old Sixties Style Hor Fun" and from his reply, it seemed that we should be expecting soft gooey flat noodles in braised sauce that's popular in the sixties. This plate of hor fun was also the dish that took the longest time to arrive at our table.

Old Sixties Style "Hor Fun" (六十年代炒河粉) @$14

Its appearance seemed simple. Light coloured braise sauce, well covering the noodles underneath. There are a few huge prawns, some lala (clams), greens and slices of meat. Dig in, and we found some thin hor fun (like those Ipoh hor fun kind) underneath. Yay!

old skool hor fun

Liked the hor fun and it was a pleasant comfort food experience. The crunchy kai lan was a bonus and there were chicken gizzard in there as well. Hints of wok-hei too.

Overall, it was a good experience, wholesome flavour and tasty food with reasonable pricing. The washroom is equipped with hand-railing. Useful for the older folks. Very thoughtful.

Friendly staff and good vibes all round. Expect to spend about $25 to $35 per pax.

厨神私房菜: The Chinese Kitchen

Location: 20 Cavan Rd, Singapore 209851
Contact: 6612 6024
Reservation: via Chope


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