Kok Sen Restaurant 国成餐室 – Rustic Cantonese Cuisine

Keef and I did not get off our cab knowing that we couldn’t secure a table a few nights ago and ended up eating at 136 Hong Kong Street Fish Head Steamboat, so this is like killing two birds with one stone when finally I was able to eat Yusheng and Cze Char at Kok Sen last night! My only fear is that Yap and I may end up waiting a long time for our food…

Kok Sen is located at Keong Saik, a notable red light district in the past.

Kok Sen is located at Keong Saik, a notable red light district in the past.

Kok Sen has been operating in one of these pre-war shophouses along Keong Saik Road for as long as I can remember and I am not young. It has a ranking of 182 out of 2,552 restaurants in tripadvisor! Keong Saik Road has a bad reputation (a.k.a. red light district in the old days) so respectable ladies do not like to go there. Times have changed and these streets have been cleaned up by the anti-vice.

Kok Sen Restaurant. Serving rustic Cantonese food for decades.

Kok Sen Restaurant.
Serving rustic Cantonese food for decades.

Kok Sen serves authentic Cantonese cuisine in unpretentious decor that is easy on our wallets and none of the dress code nonsense. Many diners’ tastebuds have become more sophisticated but overall rating in terms of food, pricing and service, I have no complaints dining here. It is still one of my favourite cze char places in Singapore.

Lou Hei is the term we use for Yusheng.

Lou Hei is the term we use for Yusheng.

Yap, let’s Lou Hei to our good luck this Year of the Water Snake! Lol… I like to tease and use my friend’s surname as pun for “yes” (yup). Yap yap yap…

Sang Har Meen Kok Sen©BondingTool

Sang Har Meen is Big Prawns Crispy Noodles.

The prawns in Big Prawns Crispy Noodles are bigger than big! The noodles are deep-fried first then laid onto a deep plate topped with a delicious starchy, spicy gravy hinting pounded dried shrimps (hae bee hiam). To each his own, I prefer hor fun noodles (featured below) to crispy noodles. Yap has never been to this restaurant before and he said he liked the gravy in this dish he’ll be back for more.

2 Egg Spinach Kok Sen©BondingTool

Chinese Spinach cooked with Salted Egg and Preserved/Century Egg.

Spinach cooked in rich stock and simmered with salted duck eggs and century eggs. Whole cloves of garlic had been deep-fried to bring out a slight nutty flavour sans the sulphuric taste when eaten. A lot of diners call this 3-egg spinach (sometimes they use kow kei leaves instead) but I could only detect 2 types of eggs here… no traces of hen egg.

Stir-fried Fish Head and Bitter Gourd in Black Bean Sauce.

Stir-fried Fish Head and Bitter Gourd in Black Bean Sauce.

Deep-fried pieces of chopped fish head stewed in fermented black beans sauce and thick bitter gourd slices. The combination of the salty and spicy flavour with very good wok hei (breath of wok) is to die for. This is a very authentic Cantonese item and so far, only chefs from this dialect group could grasp the technique of cooking this dish well.

Deep-fried pieces of chopped fish head stewed in fermented black beans sauce and thick bitter gourd slices.
The combination of the salty and spicy flavour with very good wok hei (breath of wok) is to die for.
This is a very authentic Cantonese item and so far, only chefs from this dialect group could grasp the technique of cooking this dish well.

Below are pictures of what Keef, Valerie, Seong and I ate on other occasions.

Goji Berry Leaves Soup Kok Sen©BondingToola

The Kow Kei (a.k.a. Goji Berry or Wolfberries) Leaves Soup.

The Kow Kei (a.k.a. Goji Berry or Wolfberries) Leaves Soup Keef and I had was not tasty. I wonder if it was the lack of MSG or salt. Nonetheless, Goji plants are troublesome to prepare at home as they have thorns, so I will still order this dish for the sake of good eyesight (TCM said so) rather than taste, whenever I feel there’s a need for my tired “computer-glued” eyes.

Plain Omelet Kok Sen©BondingTool

Minced Pork Omelet

Minced Pork Omelet is not the specialty here. However, it is a very common cze char item. I ordered this when Keef and I ate here. Since there was only the two of us, we couldn’t order a lot of dishes so I combined pork and eggs (both my favourite food) to satisfy my gluttony.

Stir Fried Fish Head with Black Beans Kok Sen©BondingTool (2)

I only get to eat chopped fish head pieces with adults.
My children, although already in their 20s (still small kids in my eyes) do not appreciate the bony meatless bits.
Featured here is the same dish I had with Yap, Deep-fried Fish Head stewed in Fermented Black Bean Sauce with Bitter Gourd.
Warning – Do not talk when eating fish head!

Chinese Brocoli with Roast Pork Kok Sen©BondingTool

Stir-fried Kailan with Roast Pork.

Ah… This Stir-fried Kailan with Roast Pork came after 45 minutes of waiting on a week day evening. We were so hungry and devoured it as soon as it was laid on the table! Seong said the wait was worth it.

Sweet and Sour Pork Kok Sen©BondingTool-001

Sweet and Sour Pork.

Another Cantonese classic is the Sweet and Sour Pork. Kok Sen does it quite well as the pork was still crispy nestled in the delectable starchy gravy tossed with crunchy capsicums and onions.

Shrimp Paste Chicken Kok Sen©BondingTool-001

虾酱鸡 (HCG – Har Cheong Gai).

虾酱鸡 is Chicken pieces (bone in) marinated with Fermented Chinese Fine Shrimp Sauce (Har Cheong 虾酱) and Ginger Juice, coated in corn or tapioca flour before deep-frying to golden crisp. One has to be careful with balancing and applying the right amount of Har Cheong used – too much and the dish becomes overly salty and too little will find the chicken lacking in shrimpy fragrance.

Sambal Squid Kok Sen©BondingTool-001

Sambal Sotong

Squid or as we locals call it Sotong is my all-time favourite seafood. Sambal Sotong whenever available on any restaurant’s menu will definitely make it to my order list. What defines a good sambal sotong dish? Firstly, the sotong must not be overcooked or they will end up rubbery in texture. Secondly, the sambal must not be overpowering in terms of heat and spices so one can still savour the “sea” in the squid. Kok Sen passed my test.

River Prawn Hor Fun1 Kok Sen©BondingTool-001

Big Prawns Hor Fun.

Big Prawns Hor Fun (same as Big Prawns Crispy Noodles featured above). The spicy starchy gravy is laced with egg ribbons and hints of dried shrimp. The slippery smooth textured hor fun (flat rice noodles) has very good wok hei on every occasion that I ordered.

River Prawn Hor Fun Kok Sen©BondingTool-001

I think River Prawns were used in this Big Prawns Hor Fun dish.

Kok Sen3©BondingTool-001

Squeezing lime over the Har Cheong Gai will cut down the dish’s saltiness and further whet your appetite!
Both of them loved the dishes here.

Kok Sen2©BondingTool-001

If a hungry man is an angry man… Seong has defied that.
We had to wait 45 minutes as mentioned earlier for our first course.
No peanuts or pickles were served. We thrived on beer and coke while waiting.

Dinner Kok Sen1©BondingTool

I know we will visit Kok Sen again and again and again, unless of course the chefs go on strike.

Kok Sen Restaurant 国成餐室
(Inside Kok Seng Coffee Shop)
Address: 30 Keong Saik Road.
Singapore 089137.

Tel: 6223 2005

Operating Hours: (Closed on Mondays)
Lunch: 11.30am – 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.00pm – 10.30pm

Happy dining 🙂

Click and scroll to the bottom of the page for Har Cheong Gai Recipe.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Kok Sen Restaurant 国成餐室 – Rustic Cantonese Cuisine”
  1. So tempting to try every dish.Excellent post.jalal

    • bondingtool says:

      Thank you Jalal and yes, it is very tempting to try all the dishes which can range into 100s. This kind of cuisine is also known as Cze Char (home-cooking style) and serious diners go hunting for the best stalls all over our Island and review the restaurants very frequently. I will be doing another post on Cze Char with a recipe in it. I’m glad you like this post 🙂 Happy Sunday, btw, today is also the last day of CNY.

  2. Sam says:

    Yum yum yum..!

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