Kai Garden Restaurant (嘉苑) is a new Cantonese restaurant that recently opened in December 2015 in Marina Square, adding to our choice of Chinese dining options in Singapore. The restaurant is helmed by chef Fung Chi Keung who had left the Paradise Group to start this new venture. Located on the third level of Marina Square mall, it is tucked in a corner just below the food court on the 4th floor. It is not the most visible of places but when we finally got there, it was worth the search.
Kai Garden Restaurant is furnished in a contemporary Chinese restaurant style and we think the interior designer had done a great job in putting the place together, except for one thing. The exposed bar cum work area stood out like a sore thumb. The trash bin and detergent bottles were visible from the tables facing that direction. We must however say that the private rooms of various sizes looked inviting and were tastefully furnished.
Kai Garden serves the usual Cantonese staple dishes, but chef Fung appears to want to differentiate himself by presenting them with a personal touch and to introduce new ideas altogether. Here are pictures of the dim sum menu and parts of the main menu.
We started the meal with an unusual appetiser – chilled mini tomatoes ($9.80) and a familiar dish – xiao long bao ($5.50). We were attracted to the tomatoes because of the beautiful photo in the menu. The real thing was still attractive but not quite as nice as that shown in the menu. The tomatoes were sweet but were soaked in a sour plum sauce. We had mixed feelings about this dish – some of us found it too sour. The xiao long bao was a different matter. They were plump and tasty. The soup content was high, which was what we liked. Some of us thought that they were better than those served in famous xiao long bao restaurants.
Our main event that day was the Peking duck ($88 regular price, $68 with Citibank card promotion). This was a dish where chef Fung injected quite a bit of his creativity. The duck itself looked beautiful. The first thing that is different from other restaurants is the availability of five different sauces – the traditional sauce and four others – black pepper, special mix, crab & prawn and sesame. We thought that all of them, save for the crab and prawn sauce, were quite similar to the traditional sauce. The crab & prawn sauce was good by itself but did not blend well with the taste of duck. We used it to eat with the corn biscuits instead.
The next difference was the five types of wraps for the duck. I can’t remember all the flavours but pumpkin and charcoal were two of them. The multi-coloured wraps were aesthetically pleasing but we could not taste the different flavours of the wraps. The wraps were very good. Thin and soft yet springy and strong.
The third thing that was special about the Peking duck at Kai garden was the introduction of crispy corn biscuits to be inserted in the wrap. This was said to enhance the crispness of the duck skin. But we found it too distracting and preferred to eat the duck without the biscuit. The biscuits were nice on their own or with the crab sauce.
Our server expertly demonstrated the Kai version of making the Peking duck wrap. The ones we made by ourselves were less attractive.
We asked for the duck meat to be prepared with noodles ($12 extra charge) but with the drumsticks served separately. The duck overall was well prepared. The skin was crisp and the meat was flavourful without being gamey. We thought that the extra sauces and wraps were interesting innovations but did not really enhance the taste of the duck, which ultimately was the thing that would make or break the dish.
Our experience at Kai Garden was positive overall. Other than the sour tomatoes, the other items were good. The level of service by the attentive and polite staff was high. Plates were promptly changed without request and introduction to the dishes were made. Parking at Marina Square is easy and there is a possibility to get some free parking time, if certain conditions are met (see below).
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
Kai Garden 嘉苑
6 Raffles Boulevard, #03-128A/B, Marina Square
Tel: +65 6250 4826
Mon-Fri: 11:30 am – 3:30 pm; 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat-Sun: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm; 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Nearby Stations: Esplanade, City Hall, Promenade