Kok Sen Restaurant is a Singapore zi char outfit that was named a Singapore Bib Gourmand restaurant in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Singapore Michelin Guide. Located in the Keong Saik dining enclave, the humble Kok Sen restaurant ticks all the boxes of what makes a good local restaurant in Singapore – traditional coffee shop atmosphere, good food, friendly service and fairly priced. Being air-conditioned is a bonus.
From afar, Kok Sen Restaurant looks like any other coffee shop restaurant. On closer examination, it has some characteristics that we wish to see more often. The place may look dated, but it is neat and clean. There was no grime on the floor or an oily feel on the table. The place is air-conditioned. Blowers at the top or the entrance keeps the cool air inside. Once the doors open for business, they stay open, maintaining the look of a traditional coffee shop. Service was friendly. Famous restaurants tend to breed grumpy people. This was certainly not the case at Kok Sen.
Kok Sen Restaurant Menu
The top dishes of Kok Sen Restaurant are written in Chinese and fixed on the wall. For those of us who do not read Chinese, the bilingual menu with illustrations make ordering quite easy. Here are pictures of the Kok Sen Restaurant Menu.
We had two of their famous dishes that day – claypot yong tau fu, prawn paste chicken (har cheong kai). We also a beef hor fun and a daily special that day – crisp fillet of grouper. We normally are hesitant to order seafood dishes that are off the menu and “market priced”. But we had no concern at Kok Sen. The dish turned our to be reasonably priced. The fish was very fresh and lightly fried till a crisp surface formed but the insides were perfectly moist.
The best of Kok Sen’s famous dishes was the claypot yong tau foo. Pieces of eggplant, capsicum and tofu are stuffed with a seafood paste (probably made with fish and prawn) and cooked in a claypot. The combined taste was very good and unique. The secret lies in the seafood paste and the gravy. It is the kind dish one can get a craving for.
The har cheong kai is also one of the top hits at Kok Sen. It is certainly good but not as wow-inducing as the yong tau foo. We think it also probably goes very well as a snack with a cold beer.
The fried beef hor fun has a noticeable smoky smell and taste of wok hei. It reminded us of char kway teow as a fair dose of dark soy sauce was used. If only it was not so salty, it would have been better.
Overall, a memorable lunch at Kok Sen Restaurant. The total cost of our lunch for three including rice and drinks was about $54. I do not remember the breakdown, But the price of approximately $18 person sounded reasonable to me. It is certainly a good place to bring foreigners to have a taste of “local” Singapore food in an authentic setting. At lunch time on weekdays, the restaurant was busy but not crowded. It probably gets more crowded in the evenings and on weekends.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
Nearest MRT Station: Outram
Michelin Guide Website