Kilo at Pact, Singapore

at the junction of orchard road and killiney road, take the outdoor escalator into orchard central and you will find yourself right outside pact – an interesting store that houses 3 things under one roof – a hairdresser, a boutique and a restaurant (kilo at pact). having heard rave reviews about this place, my friends and i headed there for dinner last week to check out whether it was really as good as people say it is!

we went at 730pm on a thursday night and the restaurant was nearly full save for a few seats at the bar, so i think reservations are probably a good idea if you are planning on dining there. i think having 3 different things within one common space is quite an interesting concept, and the shop has a very nice, clean and modern/minimalist feel to it with its huge glass windows, concrete tables and floor, and simple wooden seats and walls:ImageOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the food is fusion-ish; the dishes are pretty much modern takes on traditional vietnamese/japanese cuisine (eg summer rolls, makis etc). don’t think very much can be seen here (sorry!!!), but if you squint hard enough, you might be able to get an idea of whats on the menu heh:Image

we ordered 5 items to share among the 4 of us.

first up, the baby eggplant:Imagebaby eggplant in donburi sauce, with marscapone cheese & tempura flakes – $12

we really enjoyed this delicious starter! the eggplant used was very fresh and the tempura flakes added a nice bite to the eggplant (that in regular tempura would normally only come from the entire piece being coated in batter), keeping the dish light. the donburi sauce and marscapone cheese combination was surprisingly good – the cheese added a twist to what would otherwise have been quite an ordinary japanese dish, albeit a very yummy one. it was a really promising start to the meal!

for our second starter we had the tuna tartare, which our waiter said was the most popular raw dish on the menu:ImageAvocado-wasabi tuna tartare & flour chips – $20

it was a good recommendation! even my friends who don’t normally eat tuna sashimi enjoyed it as the strong taste that sometimes accompanies raw tuna wasn’t there at all, probably because the tuna was nicely seasoned. the tuna was very fresh and despite it being a tartare, the pieces were distinct and not too finely minced; they retained a chunkiness to them which i really liked. it would have been nice if there was a little more avocado though. we also couldn’t taste any wasabi at all! a very yummy tartare that went well with the flour chips.

we also opted for the mentaiko pasta:Image
spaghetti tossed with cod roe, spring onions and shoyu – $18

i know it doesn’t look great in the picture, but i really enjoyed this dish! it was simple, but super tasty. they were generous with the mentaiko and the spaghetti was done just right with a nice bite to it. it wasn’t a sauce-y spaghetti, but wasn’t dry either. despite this being quite a common fusion of italian and japanese food, i was still impressed with this dish because i thought it was well-executed.

beef short ribs rice bowl:Imagebeef short ribs rice bowl (all rice bowls come with nigata rice, sweet corn, radish, sugar peas & wasabi sprouts) – $17

i can definitely imagine myself returning to pact for lunch one day and ordering a rice bowl for myself. besides the beef being tender, juicy and well-cooked, the rice was really yummy! no idea what nigata rice is and what makes it different from other types of japanese rice, but the rice was delicious! we all figured they must have seasoned it with something. it was sticky and moist, the texture somewhat resembling what you will get with mango sticky rice. eaten together with the beef and the vegetables that accompanied it, it was a satisfying dish that was not too heavy despite the carbo, and seemed very “clean”.

our fifth and final dish was the salmon avocado sushiro:Imagesalmon avocado sushiro with prawns, japanese cucumber, tamago, spring onions – $15

the sushiro was like a giant maki, which they very kindly cut into 4 so that we could share it easily. this was the last dish to arrive at our table, and the one that i felt was the most disappointing. it was rather average and i thought there was nothing that set it apart from regular sushi rolls! although i liked the fact that it was packed with ingredients, i would have preferred the rice to be less compact; it was almost like a huge mass of rice. the sushiro was accompanied by a side of soy flaxseed chips, which were nice, but i didn’t (and still don’t) really see how they complemented the sushiro. doubt i’ll order this again – it is filling and i feel that there are other more interesting things on the menu to be tried.Image

all in all, we had a great dining experience at kilo! the food was a refreshing change from run-of-the-mill cafes and restaurants, and ingredients used were fresh and of a high quality. however for the price we were paying, we all agreed that the servings were on the small side and could definitely have been bigger. dessert choices are also not very extensive and we ended up heading to cold stone creamery downstairs for a yummy dessert fix! besides that though, no other complaints at all! i will probably be back 🙂 i would love to try their weekend brunch menu!Image

Kilo at Pact

181 Orchard Road, Orchard Central
#02-16/17/18/19
Singapore 238896

(given the nightmare that navigating orchard central is, the easiest way to find kilo is to take the outside escalator from the intersection of orchard road & killiney road as mentioned above!)ImageImage

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Jin Kichi, Hampstead

today we made our maiden foodie club trek to Hampstead, solely based on a recommendation by nic’s (dubious) japanese hairdresser (i mean, just look at the state of his hair…). this restaurant is just a minute away from the hampstead tube station, and is known for its yakitori.

first impressions:

1. japanese newsletters/magazines for customers to take home with them –> LEGIT…

2. sushi bar was manned by japanese chef grilling yakitoris on the spot –> OOOH….

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3. spoonless tables –> truly japanese

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4. just ONE blond-haired waiter –> #asianpride

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5. japanese fishmonger delivering fresh produce for the day

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the menu was extensive but nic had preconceived notions of what foods represent the hallmark of true japanese cuisine: miso ramen, tempura, sashimi.

sadly there wasn’t ramen on the menu (but udon and soba were available) so we ended up ordering tempura, sashimi, unagi sushi and a yakitori set.

the yakitori set was first to arrive. while nic was dying to dig in, rach and jo were excited over the prospect of breaking down food for the FIRST time instead of the usual “soooooooo good”. the set included fresh green asparagus with pork, pork with shiso leaf, chicken with onion, minced chicken meatballs, shiitake mushrooms and king prawn.

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Asparagus with pork

rach: asparagus was very fresh and there was a good balance between the amount of pork and greens. you can consider ordering just the asparagus- (THEY WERE SO HUGE AND JUICY LOOKING, NIC WAS ALMOST FOAMING WHEN THE WAITRESS CARRYING IT WALKED PAST – at the food, not the waitress)

nic: pork wasn’t crispy enough, but the asparagus was sweet and cooked to perfection

jo: would have liked the pork to be more flavourful, but the blend between the two flavours was divine

Pork with shiso leaf

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rach: a bit dry, but the shiso leaf was grilled nicely

jo&nic: there are layers of meat and fat in the pork, so you should eat each piece ALTOGETHER so the juicy fatty goodness can seep into the meat.

Chicken with onion 

this is rach’s FAVOURITE skewer of the day.

rach: the chicken was SOOO juicy and the onions were really crunchy and packed with flavour. it was SOOO GOOD.

Shiitake Mushrooms

nic&jo: so juicy, pity we didn’t have it when it was hot

King prawns 

nic: could have even the whole thing, shell and all, if not for the over zealous waitress. (100 marks for efficiency in clearing the table.)

rach: very naturally sweet prawns

Chicken meatballs 

nic&jo: the fineness of the mince is the selling point

rach, dissenting: chicken was too finely minced, could do with more bite

(OOOH- first instance of clashing tastes and preferences????)

the sashimi lunch set came with 3 slices of salmon, 2 slices of tuna, 2 slices of seabass and 2 slices of turbot. the star of the platter was the salmon, which converted nic from a maguro lover to a fan of salmon. the initial bite was crisp and clean, yet it melted in our mouths upon chewing. it was so smooth without the stringiness of lower grade sashimi. nic also announced to the whole restaurant (his voice tends to be loud and booming) about just how good the maguro was. it was a public display of affection ^^ Image

the ingredients for the tempura were amazing. the tempura here was all about the sauce (and source, since it was sooo fresh). the sauce had an unidentifiable mystery ingredient that gave it some sort of kick/oomph. nic describes it as ‘an alcoholic surge’. the initial kick of the sauce soon blends into the flavour of the meat/veggie and merges into an organic whole. heaven is a place on earth. like the yakitori king prawn, the meat was firm, juicy and sweet and the batter light, fresh; it was a distinct……(for the lack of a better word) DISTINCTION. the ingredients were also coated with just the right amount of this amazing batter; never tasted anything batter.

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the miso soup was pleasant though it seemed that the savoury flavour came from a stock as opposed to the miso itself. not sure if thats a positive or negative thing but it was nice.

there were let downs – the rice and hence the unagi sushi. the rice was too moist and clumpy. possibly reheated from previous days? for the sushi we wanted more unagi and less rice. we would have preferred a crispier seaweed wrap.

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Wrapping up, before asking for the bill, we three have a tradition of playing ‘the price is right’ this allows us to share with you what we felt the meal was worth and enables you to compare it to what we actually paid.

Our guess was: £55

Total bill: £54 nett

Ambience: casual, for the family

Service: efficient, though sometimes overly so; felt rushed as we didn’t make reservation;

Who we would recommend it to: small groups of discerning consumers of japanese cuisine; not people looking for a leisurely lunch

Will we return?: Rach: Possibly; Jo: there are comparable alternatives in central london but will go back for the hampstead experience; nic: probably.

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Jin Kichi 

73 Heath St  London, Greater London NW3 6UG
020 7794 6158