Contemporary, Cantonese fine-dining over at Marina Square.
If you haven’t been over to the Marina Square Shopping Center lately, you should give it a go because new restaurants seem to be popping up inside there every week. At our latest venture to the new food wing, we checked out Kai Garden for some fine Cantonese dining.
Kai Garden is run by owner and Executive Chef Fung Chi Keung, who was previously with the well-known Paradise Group. Chef Fung puts his own twists and features his interpretation on many traditional Cantonese dishes – his specialty cuisine.
He quotes, “I want to maintain [the] purity that makes Cantonese cuisine so unique, but at the same time, create new and memorable experiences for the diners.” I can confirm he succeeds at just that.
Inside the restaurant you will find a sprawling dining room that has the capacity to seat up to 200 guests, along with 4 private dining areas and a large function room. The interior has a very clean and modern feel with its silver, black and gray color palette and glittering overhead light features. The main dining room also showcases a wall of windows helping to make the space feel bright and open and not too stuffy.
On to the food…
We kicked off our 9-course tasting menu with a sampling of the Chilled Cherry Foie Gras ($24). As tasty as they are pretty, the interior is filled with foie gras and covered in a sweet, cherry coating. A divine way to begin the meal.
Next was a simple dish of Chilled Mini Tomatoes ($10.80). The tomatoes are marinated in a sweet plum sauce, perfect to wetting your appetite.
We were impressed with the size of the fins in the Braised Whole Shark’s Fin Soup ($34.80). Cooked in a collagen stock, this dish was sweet and not too starchy as you may find elsewhere. The broth is slow cooked for 6 hours until the desired level of richness is reached.
The Double-boiled Japanese Matsutake Hot Pot ($38) features large chunks of chicken and the coveted Matsutake mushroom. With the traditional Cantonese method of double boiling the herbs, the broth had a very flavorful, yet light taste that I very much enjoyed to the last drop.
Now onto the always loved and much anticipated Singapore Peking Duck ($88/whole).
One of Chef Fung’s signature dishes, this fan favorite is served with rice crackers and 5 unique sauces and wraps. The wraps include original, pumpkin, beetroot, bamboo charcoal and spinach for an added twist.
The sauce options include traditional, mixed, crab & prawn, black pepper and sesame. For me personally, I enjoy my Peking duck in a more traditional way with hoisin sauce, but I enjoyed seeing the variety of options and tastes given to this longtime classic.
Moving onto the Poached Garoupa in Lobster Broth (seasonal pirce). This dish is beautifully presented in its raw form before the fish is poached fresh.
The lobster broth (it’s too thin to call a bisque in my opinion), had a flavorful, balanced, sweet and savory taste that wonderfully complimented the generous chunks of garoupa, fish maw, enoki mushrooms and bee hoon. Many layers are abound in this soup. This was likely my favorite dish of the items we tasted.
Kai Garden’s Sweet & Sour Pork ($22) is uniquely served ‘on the rocks’, or on a large mound of shaved ice. The concept here is that the cold helps lock in the flavor and crunch of the pork. However, I was surprised to find that the pork balls were in fact served warm. Although very pretty to look at, I was a little perplexed on how the ice truly comes into play here. All things aside, I enjoyed the flavor of the meat and sweet sauce.
The Deep Fried Vegetarian Spring Roll ($22) is served in a sweet pool of carrot puree. I would have liked the outside to be a little less soggy and the interior to be filled with a variety of vegetables rather than just mushrooms, but the tastiness of the puree saved this dish for me.
Nearing the finish, we sampled the Pan Fried Charcoal Pork Bun ($6.80/3 pieces). Contrary to the name, the buns actually get their color from squid ink rather than charcoal. They are then pan fried on a bed of spring onions to give them an added kick of flavor. Soft and juicy on the inside, this is another dish I recommend ordering.
And finally for dessert we were treated to a Chilled Fresh Coconut Puree ($6.80). This dish uses young coconuts and is made entirely of the whole coconut and does not include any jelly. Cool and refreshing, this was the perfect ending to our meal.
It’s also worth noting that Kai Garden features wine pairings with their menu options. Their wine (and Champagne) are well curated and a nice, not often seen, addition to your Cantonese meal.
Overall, it’s clear that Chef Fung is extremely passionate and knowledgeable when it comes to Cantonese cuisine. Each dish was made with care and the overall taste and experience reflected that. Check out Kai Garden next time you are in the mood to treat yourself to some traditional – yet ever so slightly contemporary – Chinese fine dining.
Expected Damage: $60 – $85 / per pax