Last Updated: December 16, 2020
When I first caught wind of Kevin Khoo Bistro, I was heartened to see our local cabin crew weather the storm that is the COVID-19 pandemic by banding together and establishing a business. It also struck a chord with me given that I was once part of the coveted aviation family many, many moons ago.
But news of ex-SIA stewards/stewardesses pooling together to open a restaurant aside, I was ultimately curious about whether the food could pull its own weight. It’s a harsh reality we live in—especially in 2020—and only the toughest survive.
It was quiet, with only two other tables occupied when I arrived. Given its Shenton Way locale, it made sense that their busiest hours were during lunch and dinner. If you have trouble figuring out where it’s exactly situated, it’s right next to the Singapore Conference Hall; spot the white tent and you’re ready to tuck in.
There are only so many ways to dress a mushroom soup, and here at Kevin Khoo, with their Forest Truffle Mushroom Soup (S$6), it delivers. The chunky morsels of mushroom breathe life into what is typically a languid appetiser, but nothing injects more life into this than the onslaught of truffle oil used here.
The pungent aroma strikes my throat repeatedly—making an intrusive exit via my nasal passageway. It refuses to ease even as I move on to the next dish, which I can’t say I appreciate. Truffle, yes it is, but there’s no need to offend.
The Chicken Bites Damn Pale (S$10) proclaims to be a crowd-favourite—paired with a frosty pint, I reckon. I’m sad to report that its flavour only worsened its poor choice of name; the chicken was as bland on the inside as its outside.
My dining partner and I agreed unanimously that we’d enjoyed better finger lickin’ popcorn chicken elsewhere, but this certainly wasn’t the place. Perhaps after a few pints, you won’t notice, but unfortunately (or fortunately) for us, sobriety alerted us to this let-down. Perhaps proper and loving brining would make this so much more palatable.
However, it was a huge relief when I had the first taste of King Tiger Prawn Pink Pasta (S$22). Inspired by the ex-crew’s layover in Amsterdam, it’s an attempt to replicate the recipe—a recipe that’s created especially for them, BTW.
My wish for next year is to have all pasta dishes as well-seasoned as this is; I barely needed the pink sauce to create a cohesive dish, as the aglio olio-esque pasta is agreeably peppered and spicy. The palm-sized prawns were plump and sweet, with the pink sauce adhering beautifully.
Our sneak peek into Kevin Khoo’s meat expertise was first observed with their BBQ Pork Ribs (S$18). I was admittedly startled by how massive the ribs were; the slab was almost as long as my forearm. You need not worry about having to fight the meat off its bones as the sticky, smoky marinade luxuriously blanketed succulent meat that peeled off painlessly.
As a perfect size for sharing, I’m starting to realise how economical the portions here are.
I’m met, once again, with a memorable lesson on how to present meat right. A hunky wedge of Veal (price undisclosed; to be on the menu after official launch) arrived, surrounded by a rather lacking serving of mashed potato. While the carbs here didn’t interest me much (no thanks to its meagre portion), the veal itself was something to write home about.
‘Tender’ would be a straightforward manner of ascribing its description, but words escape me right now. I barely had to exert force when slicing and with so little effort, I was duly rewarded with a beautifully mellow pink centre. Très chic, I say. Très chic.
While initial impressions of Kevin Khoo’s food were questionable, their meaty mains quickly re-instated my faith, like an effective PR handling damage control. Its overarching story still requires some refining, in my opinion, and one that I’d strongly recommend them to take on is to create a menu that’s heavily inspired by the crew’s layovers.
Just like the story behind their King Tiger Prawn Pink Pasta, it would work in their favour to guide diners on a gastronomic journey rather than present dishes with little intention. I was pleasantly taken by how adept the kitchen is when preparing the meats, and I reckon a slight shift of focus would undoubtedly tighten the rest of the menu.
Once that occurs, its fun poke at a bad pronunciation will be but a distant joke.
Expected Damage: S$15 – $35 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Kevin Khoo Bistro
7 Shenton Way, #01-04, Singapore 068810
7 Shenton Way, #01-04, Singapore 068810