What is the closest to a Michelin-starred meal you can have while on a budget?

The answer can be found at Alkove Bistro, a neighbourhood café in the heart of Kovan serving up French cuisine with a Japanese influence.

This is because the head chef at the bistro is Chef Haikal Johari, who heads one Michelin-starred Alma by Juan Amador in Scotts Road.

(Disclosure: Chef Haikal and I were fellow judges in MediaCorp’s King of Culinary – The Final Showdown. But I visited the café on my own accord.)

His oversight of the food delivered ensures that your lunch and dinner is as close to the best possible standard possible.

It is worth noting that Chef Johari has gone through quite a number of obstacles to get to this point, including a serious motorbike racing accident.

Even so, his mind has worked in overdrive to conceive the current menu, which includes baked goods, desserts, brunches and classic French dishes.

Located at Kovan Road (which replaced the previous Ice Edge), the premises of Alkove is bright and welcoming.

Inside, the pastel shades of yellow and orange dust furniture and walls, reminding you that this is a vibrant place.

It was actually quite packed when I visited. So a serene, beautiful place; though quite noisy when it got crowded.

The menu is made up of entrees, tartines, mains, salads, brunch items, soups, dessert and bakery item on display.

I think it is fit to start with the French Onion Gratinee ($12.90), probably the first French dish one would think of.

Although Singapore does not have a cold winter that the French onion soup can be so good for, find a rainy day to get this and it would be about the same.

This version of the soup is made with beef stock and miso, in addition to the usual onion and cheese. The miso shakes up the otherwise-predictable onion flavour quite well.

The Croque Monsieur ($17.90) is no doubt another French classic, made with proper French ingredients, with Bayonne ham and Comte cheese in between slices of brioche.

Look out for specials for their brunch menu as well, such as the Otah with Scrambled Eggs on muffin buns I had. It was both a picturesque and tasty brunch – loved that the otah piece was chunky and succulent.

Coming to the mains, the Chicken Vin Blanc ($27.90) would be one of the defining dishes – with free range chicken legs laid over egg pasta, with carrots, tarragon, and mushrooms as flavour enhancers.

A cream sauce brings all of the elements together.

I also had a seasonal special of Chicken Cordon Bleu, topped with fresh truffles for that extra luxe and indulgence element.

Was a little surprised when the server took the truffle shaver out – won’t have expected in from a brunch café. Then again, it is Alkove.

The chicken coated in golden-yellow breadcrumbs and looking like a mini-pillow, would reveal creamy, cheesy goodness when cut across.

One of the standout features of this Chicken Cordon Bleu is that the chicken remains tender, complemented with savoury cheese and ham in the middle.

The breading adds a crispy texture that complements the other components very well.

Desserts are even also interesting. The seldom-seen Ile Flottante, or Floating Island ($12.50), can be found here. It is a meringue laid on cream anglaise, with mango and passionfruit.

The Valrhona Terrine ($14.50) with house-made pistachio ice cream, sea salt, cardamom, was both a decadent and sophisticated choice.

The high-quality chocolate terrine rich with dense texture, was a heavenly contrast to the smooth ice cream.

Further enhanced with sea salt and cardamon, those added a delicate unique twist to the flavour profile.

Before you leave, grab some freshly baked bread from the bakery section.

There is a huge selection, including Plain Croissant ($4.20), Baklava Croissant ($5.90), Onion Leek Focaccia ($6.50), Choux Puff ($5.9), Ciabatta ($3.80) and more.

When it comes to getting a taste of fine French dining, I think Alkove Bistro brings it a little closer to everyone in the heartlands.

Alkove Bistro
2 Kovan Road, #01-10 Simon Plaza, Singapore 548008
Opening Hours: 8am – 6pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues

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* Written by Daniel Ang and Dean Ang. Follow @DanielFoodDiary on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube for more food news, food videos and travel highlights. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.


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