Last Updated: November 26, 2020
Nobody asked, but I take it upon myself to be SethLui.com’s resident cafe reviewer. Pretentious ol’ me could always do with a piping hot cuppa while on a fancy rattan chair flanked by lush monsteras. That’s just my scene; don’t @ me. It’s therefore a splendid delight to find that Kream & Kensho along Kampong Bahru embodies this very vibe—the luscious greenery, terrazzo coffee tables, and a large Mona Lisa replica suspended on the wall are really a whole mood.
Today, I’m not just here for this article’s sake, I’m also hosting our latest Eating Out vlog—so strap in, because it’s going to be a ride, and also a testament to my multitasking abilities. If you’re coming by for lunch on a weekday, you’ll be able to pick from an extra menu of lunch specials that include Yuzu Miso Seafood Soup (S$18), Truffle Gyudon (S$17), and their very own interpretation of a Singaporean favourite, the K&K “BCM” (S$15).
If you didn’t already know that the acronyms stood for bak chor mee, or minced meat noodles, please see yourself to the jail of shame. Kream & Kensho’s rendition is a medley of pulled pork, broccolini, onsen egg, and tokyo ramen, which comes across as really a Japanese iteration of the local dish.
To my sweet relief, it tastes nothing like bak chor mee, in the best way possible. Without the lingering hint of vinaigrette, the K&K “BCM” presents quite the kick, and its spiciness keeps me coming back for more bites. The onsen egg and pulled pork also add a flavoursome touch to the dish overall.
From the main menu, the Sakura Ebi Capellini (S$18) instantly catches my attention. Instead of the typical meagre portion of capellini tossed in truffle oil, Kream & Kensho’s boasts rich flavours of shio kombu, la you (hot chilli oil), and is lovingly topped with ikura.
The la you is doing the capellini dish many favours, I tell Shermaine, one of the two co-owners of Kream & Kensho. Her brother, Sherman, runs the cafe alongside her. As an adorer of all things spicy, each bite keeps me on my toes, and of course the generous portion of ikura easily makes one fall even deeper in love. It’s a big yaas from me.
I’m expecting a smoked salmon-centric dish, but the Salmon & Avocado (S$20) is really a salmon fillet, juniper, homemade curry leaf mayo, sourdough, and guacamole. I don’t typically eat thoroughly-cooked salmon, so it’s going to take a lot for me to like it.
My dining partner, Corliss, however, polishes it right off the plate, basking in all its tasty umami. The curry leaf mayo and guacamole really give the dish an interesting elevation; I just wish there were more of it.
The Kombu Fries (S$15) makes for fantastic tapas if you’re here to grab a couple of drinks with friends. In addition to the already flavourful seaweed toppings, the side of truffle paste and pickled mayo lets you have the fries in a few ways, so you can switch things up in between gulps of ice cold beer.
There’s only one dessert on Kream & Kensho’s menu—the Hokkaido Milk Cheesecake (S$10)—but the Ricotta & Lavender Matcha Toast (S$12) closes in as a good option for a sweet finish too. First off, there’s a lot going on. White grapes, red gum honey, pistachio, matcha powder, ricotta spread, and lavender petals strewn across a toast slice is a party in a bite, to say the least.
Perhaps my disdain for lavender in my food turns out to be the downfall this time ‘round, but the toast dish could really do without the overwhelmingly floral perfume in my opinion. Letting the ricotta, matcha, and pistachio shine in their delicious simplicity would’ve done just the trick.
Considering how hard I try to keep tomato flavours and strong cheeses at bay, I tread carefully when the time to try the Grilled Cheese Sandwich W/ Tomato Soup (S$15) comes a-knocking. Paired with a tangy tomato soup, the sandwich flanks smoked ham and Murcia Al Vino, or wine-soaked goat cheese.
I can completely understand the decision to pair the two, however, because the sharpness of the goat cheese is immediately pleasantly balanced by the piquant tomato broth. It’s definitely a rich, hearty meal if you’re ever looking for one, but it’s probably not my first choice.
Kream & Kensho boasts a wide range of drinks—for those in need of caffeination, intoxication, and everyone in between. The Royal Milk Tea (S$6) is a fragrant rose-infused earl grey concoction, while the K&K Milk Tea (S$6) isn’t what it seems. With no actual trace of milk, the “milk tea” is a simple blend of cream and black sugar, but with a drink so velvety, you could’ve had me fooled.
Shermaine explains that the Yuzu Matcha (S$6.50) birthed out of customers overestimating how serious of matcha-drinkers they were, and the meld of yuzu and matcha powder proves to be much more palatable for the average Singaporean.
Designed with their younger patrons in mind, the Kyoho Soda (S$6) presents no surprise to the palate—it’s a fizzy grape drink, and nothing more. Though, it does throw me back to the days of roaming the streets of Ginza, Tokyo sipping on whatever snacks I could find off the famed 7-11 stores in Japan, so there’s that going for the soda.
It has probably already been foreshadowed in the beginning of the article, but today’s ‘Chef’s Kiss Award’ is affectionately handed to the Sakura Ebi Capellini. Nothing else on Kream & Kensho’s menu quite does it for me the way the dish’s ikura, la you, al dente capellini pasta, and kombu work in tandem to keep everything addictive on a whole. If I’m coming back with family and friends, the capellini’s definitely on my to-order list.
Nowadays, the F&B scene seems to be a cut-throat battle of who can find their voice and flavour accents the quickest. Too mediocre, you’re forgotten; too experimental, you’re dubious. It seems to me that Kream & Kensho has managed to strike a healthy balance of appealing to their customers’ palates while staying true to their expression of flavour, and that’s definitely something that I can respect.
Expected Damage: S$21 – S$27
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Kream & Kensho
35 Kampong Bahru Rd , Singapore 169355
35 Kampong Bahru Rd , Singapore 169355