[Moved] Kok Sen has moved to 4 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089110.

Kok Sen Restaurant 國成球記菜社 on Keong Saik Road has consistently been one of my favourite zi char places in Singapore.

Bring on the Big Prawn Bee Hoon and Claypot Yong Tau Foo.

With a history of more than 37 years, it is known to serve different-from-usual wok-fried zi char, with some dishes unique to this restaurant.

It has also been constantly listed in the Singapore Michelin Guide with a Bib Gourmand.

The regulars know the restaurant as “Kau Kee” – the name of the founder, while “Kok Sen” is his son. It is currently helmed by the third generation in the family.

Before being listed in the Singapore Michelin Bib Gourmand Guide, it was already very popular with locals.

Ever since it was recognised by Michelin, queues and waiting times have gotten longer, and prices seemed to have been adjusted even further upwards.

For tourists going to Kok Sen for the first time, do not expect a fancy restaurant, but a Singapore coffee-shop style eatery sans air-con.

Chinese words which are names of the signature dishes are written on orange paper, pasted in straight rolls across the wall, reminiscent of what the Hong Kong old-school eateries would have done.

Reservations are highly encouraged. If not, you got to wait anything from 30 minutes to an hour during peak hours. Bring more friends to share the food and calories, as dishes come in relatively sizable portions.

The signature dishes include Big Prawns Horfun ($18, $36, $54), Big Prawns Bee Hoon Soup ($18, $36, $54), Crispy Noodles with Shrimp Omelette ($13, $19, $26), Kung Pao Frogs Stir Fried with Dried Chilli ($22), Cereal Butter Squid ($15, $23, $30), Sambal Kangkong ($10, $15, $20), Black Pepper Beef ($15, $13, $30), and Thai Style Fried Rice ($7, $14, $21).

Wah, these are not your ordinary coffeeshop prices.

Know not what to order? Ask the friendly auntie.

This Cantonese-style restaurant most famous dish is its Big Prawns Bee Hoon Soup, costing a pricey $17 for the smallest portion in a seemingly humble zi char place.

Yes, 18 bucks for hae mee! (And price risen a few times across the years.)

But quoting a beauty brand, it is worth it.

I have been ordering it almost every single time I come. My tip is to share the bowl with a friend, though as it is quite heavy and rich in taste.

The Big Prawn Bee Hoon arrived steaming hot with two huge fresh prawns, partly de-shelled so it is easier to eat.

The soup was thick, red, spicy, grainy with hints of belacan. So tasty that I would always finish it till the last drop. Some may find the stock a tad too thick and flavoursome though and may need to down some water.

HOWEVER, I must say that during the most recent meal, I thought that the broth somehow tasted more diluted than usual, as though something was missing.

Kok Sen’s Big Prawn Crispy Noodles ($13) which looked like the typical ‘shen mian’ also had a unique style unseen in other zi char restaurants.

The noodles looked wrapped with the fluffy egg like a pillow-case.

Other than the fact the prawns were larger than large, the noodles remained crisp, fried in delicious starchy – spicy gravy with a nice wok hei flavour.

Also get the signature Claypot Yong Tau Foo if you are early enough. (Another *secret* dish is the Boneless Chicken stuffed with Seafood Paste, available only during the weekends.)

Anyway, it is most often sold out. 7 out of 10 times I was there, it was already not available.

Arriving sizzling-hot with thick gooey sauce in a claypot, Kok Sen’s version is quite unlike others.

The pieces tasted more ‘luxe’ than normal, due to the inclusion of fish, prawn, and squid which would give them a better bite.

Also the brown sauce was so addictive, simple pleasures when poured over plain rice.

Common feedback about Kok Sen is while the dishes are generally appetising, they tend to be on the saltier side.

Perhaps due to the popularity and crowd, Kok Sen didn’t taste as magical as it used to be, but still remained reliable.

Kok Sen Restaurant
No 4 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089110
Tel: +65 6223 2005
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:15pm, 5pm – 9pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon

Read: DFD Singapore Michelin Bib Gourmand Reviews

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  1. The standard of the big prawn hor fun has dropped tremendously. The gravy was not as tasty as before and it was not enough for the hor fun thus it was very dry. 3 medium prawns were used instead of the 2 big prawns that were normally served. The usual big prawns were cut into halves thus were well coated with the gravy, but the medium prawns were cooked whole so they tasted bland and hard after the shells were being peeled off. I ordered 2 plates X $18, I wasted my $36 on 2 plates of sub standard hor fun that were not nice at all. I was very upset because my overseas friends were surprised by my recommendation. Will not go back again.

  2. Thanks for your timely comments
    Mrs. Leo . Sorry for your Flawed Experience and to think that I was
    about to make some advance take away orders for tomorrow ? ? I suppose what you ? is not what you have to pay . This is a common occurance in Singapore where they must religiously cut corners and scrounge on ingredients when people line up for their food , just to be fleeced ?

  3. The restaurant is no longer the way it cooks and served. It is a perception that they were good even to this day.

    There are a lot of zhi cha able to produce better quality than theirs at much cheaper price. Most zhi char stall is only good at one or two dishes only. And that one or dishes became well-known to them.

    Most times, it is their paid media made to promote for them. The media or they themselves get people to post good and bad comments in order to look real.

    The negative comment is often general or neutral, and generally arisen from individual taste, which is subject to individual.

    Whereas good comments made were to promote specific dishes so that the profit of that dish is much higher than the rest.

    Also, when a the dish becomes popular asn widespread to diners, they can buy more at cheaper price from supplier.

    For example, if a chicken wing is promoted well, they will buy more frozen ones and kept in the freezer. This means the cost of chicken is much cheaper.

    But because the dish’s popularity is promoted by media and faked reviewers, they will sell the dish at a much higher price to diners.

    Hence, every big or small zh char stall in Singapore has its own tactics of sales.

    In short, one has to focus on one or two dishes in order to make the customers happy and for their own reviewers to fake more of it.

    And with paid media to write further, viola everything will be alright. Therefore, kok sen or not makes not big deal, it is in the mouth of the eater.

    Sometimes, food is about “one man meat is another man poison”. If one likes that dish, it is of him or her only.

    That is to say, some eaters may not like too much gravy on their Hoh fun. But some others prefer more gravy, or more driers on other dishes, too.

    Another example, some patronise their particular zhi char stall because the price is cheap and honest price. This is specially so to customers who live in HDB.

    They prefer to patronise them their neatby their homes. This is so that they can facilitate their frail and elderly to walk over here.

    Finally, let face it, kok sen gets it popularity because they were also tourists or foreigners who were accompanied by their local friends or colleagues,

    However, let’s frank, non-Chinese people and non-Chinese foreigners and expatriates do not know how to distinguish what is nice and what is not nice or even what should be the taste like.

    A good example is chilly crab. Every chilly crab is more or less sweet so that it can suit all kind of customers.

    However, to some locals, the taste may not meet their own taste bud, but to the other customers, it is good and even very good, tooo.

    Hence, for a discerning local customer, kok sen is not for them when price is high and taste is mediocre, and quality is not sure or even half measured. Kok Sen is risen to popularity because of the tourists. But is not for the local.

  4. Can’t really complain, because their profit margin is really damn low. I was thinking based on their generous amount of big prawns, with the price matching that of some hawker prawn mee w big prawns, if they’re even earning money w this dish at jiak chuan road.

    Superb stuff, obvious wok hei w a bomb sauce that’s all kinds of savoury, seafoody and other nuances. My friend tot it should be stronger in the seafood taste but I disagree. Nonetheless, definitely a must-try here!


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