It is such a Zi Char institution (Chinese restaurant) that it will be impossible to get a table without reservation even as early as 6.30pm on the weekend. The food is fantastic and there are many great signature dishes that stands out as Singapore’s best.
Kok Sen on Keong Siak Road came highly recommended by many. Having said that, the place is unpleasantly dirty, poorly organised and you can forget about getting a smile from the front of house. It is such a shame that many food-lovers are forced to enjoy the outstanding dishes in such a 3rd grade environment.
This makes going to Kok Sen akin to going to visit the in-laws. You know that it is good for the kids to spend time with the in-laws but you know that you will be nagged and tortured while you are there!
One of Kok Sen’s most popular dish is definitely the Claypot Yong Tau Foo (Stuffed Beancurd/Tofu). You will find lightly deep-fried stuffed beancurd, aubergine and pepper in a wholesome thick gravy-like sauce. This is an amazingly delicious dish. I don’t know if it is the finely chopped ginger and garlic that is in the sauce, or the soft, springy and fresh fish/prawn/squid stuffing or the coriander garnishing, but this is a powerful package of a dish.
Another favourite in Kok Sen is Kai Lan stir fried with garlic and roast pork. This is a simple dish but yet gives satisfaction at many levels. There is a good crunch on bitting into the Kai Lan and there is plenty of juice left in it. The roast pork was just nicely soften and rounds up this dish.
Classic Yang Zhou Fried Rice was made beautifully. Love the combination of shrimps, char siu (barbecue pork) and egg.
Will need to report again on the other signature dishes like prawn paste chicken, prawn hor fun, black bean pork ribs with bitter gourd.
I really wish Kok Sen could improve the eating experience beyond the quality of its food. The owners need to put a smile in their heart and make it a joy for their staff to work there. They need a proper table reservation and allocation procedure. The place need a proper spring clean. Please don’t expect customers to sit next to a filthy smelly drain on the back lane. Let’s expand the kitchen capacity so that dishes can be churned out quicker. Like many patrons, I totally love their food, but please let us have it in a clean and enjoyable environment.
This place is kids friendly but will be very tight for a pram.