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Restaurant review: Chez Kai elevates the streets of Geylang with Franco-Chinese private dining

Restaurant review: Chez Kai elevates the streets of Geylang with Franco-Chinese private dining
PHOTO: Chez Kai.

A new dining experience perched at the edge of Geylang, Chez Kai is more than meets the eye. Hidden behind opaque brown doors and no signboard, this exclusive private dining space sits in a humble heritage shophouse and is a respite only for those in-the-know and its loyal list of regulars.

If you’re still lost, try to knocking on the door next to the Coliwoo Residences, where the former Gay World Hotel used to be, and you’ll find yourself greeted with smiles and a warm welcome.

At the helm, you’ll find Chef Yeo Kai Siang, a Singaporean go-getter who has completed his training in Le Cordon Bleu Paris and has cut his teeth in Michelin star-studded establishments.

Fuelled by passion, the chef and his determined team brings a sprinkling of young spirit to one of the oldest precincts of Singapore. The job description here also requires one to be equally well-worse in their f&b and wine knowledge, as the team promises a customised, approachable style of service, catered to each customer.

The space feels modern and personalised as well, from the hand-painted lime-washed walls down to gold accents across the interiors. And like his paintings and murals, Chef Kai’s menu and cuisine are also an expression of his art.

Channelling his cultural background and his French training, at Chez Kai the chef brings Franco-Chinese cuisine to the forefront with a the 9-course degustation menu ($178++) themed according to the 24 solstice seasons.

Since our visit the menu has completely changed, but this gives you a general idea of what to expect when you head down. If you call in a week prior to your dinner date though, you might be able to still request these dishes.

Our night started off with the Chinese end with a hot Aged Ham, Duck, Chicken Consomme. Made with a combination Prosciutto ham, ham hock, duck, chicken and pork bones, the light soup was the perfect way to warm up our bellies for what’s coming next.

Apart from the melody of six meats, Chef Yeo uses a cold filter method to clarify the consommé. This boasted incredible results as it made the soup extra potent and you could almost taste the texture of the protein with each sip.

Next, in true French canapé fashion, we delved into a savoury version of Mille Feuille, served in a rustic traditional Chinese rosewood stand sporting two small bites. The first featured Foie Gras with Fermented Red Cabbage, which bent towards a more umami taste profile and a smooth meaty texture whilst the Angkah Prawns, Vinaigrette, Herb Aioli boasted Cantonese-style flavours with a crunch.

One of our personal favourites of the night, was Chez Kai’s take on the signature Hakka dish, Abacus Seed. Soft-cooked and wonderfully jiggly, the gluten free yam gnocchi, topped with 63° egg, gives the dish a chewy and almost a slippery texture.

The apple-wood smoked hamachi cubes and swordfish broth lends an intense smoky flavour whereas the garnish of cured yolk balances everything out with a touch of savoury.

One dish that disappeared from the table quickly was the raved-about Sweet Potato Bread. Freshly baked, the light and airy bread was elegantly paired with umami kombu butter and herbaceous spring onion oil – perfect for munching on as you wait for the mains. If you want to up the experience, try it with a luxurious top-up of caviar, which has become a favourite amongst the locals.

For mains, we were offered the tender, sweet and not-at-all gamey Milk Lamb in a smoked snapper & lamb jus. The dish was elevated with zesty picked vegetables including fennel and onion, while the spiced pumpkin puree gave the dish a bit of heat.

This was followed by the Hokkaido Scallop with house-made egg pasta noodles bathed in a creamy fish stock reduction. The spicy Chez Kai X.O sauce made from trimmings of Hokkaido scallop, Ang Kah Prawns, and dried shrimps gives the whole dish a very familiar taste of home and the dishes served in our hawker stalls.

R.ICE 3 rounds up the experience in the dessert course of the meal. It gets its name from three different types of rice used in its creation: a toasted rice mousse, a rice gelato, and puffed rice used in the garnishing for a chewy texture. The cold dessert sits atop a layer of sweetened seasonal fruits and crumbs of not so apparent lavender short bread.

As we enter the Cold Dew solstice, we are looking forward to what Chef Yeo will create for his upcoming menu and what we get to sink our teeth into next!

Chez Kai is located at 115 Geylang Road, #01-02, Singapore 389218, p. 87677502 (whatsapp only). Open Tue-Sat, 6.30pm-11pm. Reservations are required.

This article was first published in City Nomads.

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