In case you were looking for it at the old location, the popular Michelin Bib Gourmand zi char eatery Kok Sen Restaurant 國成球記菜社 has moved further down the road to 4 Keong Saik Road.
The restaurant continues to enjoy fanfare and long queues, being one of the well-loved zi char places in Singapore.
Bring on the Big Prawn Bee Hoon, Big Prawns Hor Fun, Claypot Yong Tau Foo, Black Bean Beef Hor Fun, Bittergourd Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce, and Prawn Paste Chicken.
With a history of more than 40 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.
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.
With the move, the dining environment has certainly become more comfortable, though I could imagine old-time regulars would miss that rustic-feeling in the last ‘kopitiam’.
The queue and waiting time to get in looked even longer than before (you got to wait anything from 30 minutes to an hour during peak hours).
They have limited tables allowed for reservations (and those are always full anyway), so the best bet is to actually walk-in at off-peak hours. However, they would not allow seating unless the entire party is here (yes, entire).
Prices have been adjusted further upwards (of course), but thankfully not too much. Was comparing to the old menu, and it seems like most went up $1 to $3 thereabout.
Signature dishes include Big Prawns Horfun ($19, $38, $57), Big Prawns Bee Hoon Soup ($19, $38, $57), Yong Tau Foo ($15, $23, $30), Eggs Crispy Noodles ($14, $28, $42), Kung Pao Frogs Stir Fried with Dried Chilli ($22, $33, $44), Cereal Butter Prawns ($15, $23, $30), to Spring Onion Beef ($15, $23, $30).
Still not your ordinary zi char prices.
This Cantonese-style restaurant most famous dish is its Big Prawns Bee Hoon Soup, costing a pricey $19 for the smallest portion.
My tip is to share the bowl with a friend, as it may get quite heavy and rich after a few spoonfuls.
The Big Prawn Bee Hoon arrived steaming hot with huge fresh prawns, partly de-shelled so it is easier to eat.
The soup was thick, red, spicy, grainy with hints of belacan.
However, while it used to taste thicker and more flavourful, the broth was more ‘diluted’ this time round, but still a decent rendition to have. Loved the silky-tasting thick vermicelli.
My favourite dish continued to be the Big Prawns Horfun ($19) with rice noodles with a light char fried in delicious starchy savoury gravy with a nice wok hei flavour.
A must-order here if you love your saucy hor fun.
The signature Yong Tau Foo ($15) arrived sizzling-hot with thick gooey sauce in a claypot.
The house-made pieces are said to be filled with fish, prawn, and squid which would give them a better bite.
However, this turned out to be disappointing unfortunately (okay lah, only if you compare to past renditions) because the pieces were starchy, and brown sauce lacked the usual gao gao thickness and ‘oomph’.
While “standard drop” or “last time nicer” is inevitable for certain dishes, it was most clear in the Prawn Roll ($13) which tasted more generic with floury and starchy fillings.
Common feedback about Kok Sen is while the dishes are generally appetising, they tend to be on the saltier side.
While Kok Sen didn’t taste as magical as it used to be, some of the star dishes still remained reliable and could be still good for a shared zi char meal in air-conditioned comfort (oh, outside seats no air-con ah).
Kok Sen Restaurant
4 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089110
Tel: +65 6223 2005
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:15pm, 5pm – 9pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
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