Last Updated: February 20, 2021
Raw Kitchen Bar has some history to it, in which it started in Bukit Timah a handful of years ago. Today, it’s resurrected at Kampung Bugis and is situated in a home that features a beautifully illuminated alfresco patio that’ll be the envy of many homeowners.
Open only in the evening, the hard stone features make for casual night bites and a place to hold idle chatter. The food is Latin-Asian-inspired, so come prepared for no-frills dining, amidst a backdrop of starry lights and cheerful breeze.
Coincidentally matching the stone table was the Raw Salmon Laab (S$15). It boasts the use of shoyu, lime, and toasted chilli flakes, thus, mentally, I was readying my palate for a mildly sour, bright number that’d get me excited for my evening meal.
However, the depth and heaviness of shoyu anchored the flavours down too much for me to truly celebrate the sprightly lime. To add, the delicate nuances of the salmon slivers drowned completely, never to be acknowledged. I duly inform the chef that this dish calls for immediate recalibration, and I sincerely hope he does.
In order to salvage the dissatisfaction I was currently suffering, I looked to the Ba-Ka-Lao (S$12), which, when Googled, looks very different from the iteration served here. The anticipation of crunching into salted cod fritters had me building up expectation, but the fall from this pedestal was a rough one.
My dining partner wears his prominent furrowed brows and promptly shoots a series of questions, “What am I supposed to taste? The batter? The fish? Oil? I don’t know.”
I grimaced internally and kept chewing on my portion in hopes of responding with redemption. Alas, he’s right. My battle presented itself as a quest to find the bits of cod, to which I could only stumble across a handful. It certainly didn’t help that the ginger-lime dressing was its only (token) saviour. I enjoy fritters as much as the next person, but this one simply can’t get my stamp of approval.
I wore disdain on my face like a child who was refused extra playtime—why am I being punished? Hence, it’s only expected that my anxiety for the Gochigaru Potstickers (S$14) increased with each passing minute. Wrapped in house-made dumpling skin, the medley of bamboo shoots, and leeks, mushrooms reeked of commonplace gochujang.
It pains me to mete an abysmal rating for all three starters, but my tongue cannot lie, and it’s my duty to speak the truth. To add to my despair, the accompanying tofu aioli barely relieved my saddened spirit.
A miracle, however, graced our table in the form of Saucy Roasted Seabass (S$34). This fishy lifesaver arrived doused in café de Paris sauce (butter-based sauce), fermented leeks, curry leaves, and hazelnuts. Despite the sauce’s intention to be used with beef, it works fairly well here—the fresh sweetness of seabass still greets me with enthusiasm.
I celebrated the union of curry tang and buttery sauce; a mouthfeel that’s reminiscent of Indian cuisine. I made sure to clean all meat off its bones and was certainly grateful that this dish managed to preserve whatever positive impression I’d left of Raw Kitchen Bar.
One glance at the Black Mamba (S$26) and you’d think ‘paella‘. Alas, it is not, but instead, black fried rice with morsels of tiger prawns, served with a side of fermented chilli sambal. I’d much prefer to skip the niceties and dive straight into the best part of this dish—the fermented chilli sambal. It reigned over the entire dish, for without it, it’d be a kingdom without its lord.
I’d recommended having every spoonful of rice with this impressive sambal, or toss everything together for pure pleasure. The sambal packed heat and tang; gratification one would not have assumed given its pallid orange swatch. I would’ve rather enjoyed the tiger prawns whole, but I suppose shredding it into tiny pieces makes for easy eating.
During the entire meal, I was swaying between ratings, and I settled on an undecided ‘3’. While the starters failed to arouse any excitement, the two choice mains were not particularly terrible. However, Raw Kitchen Bar’s location would naturally draw the alfresco crowd, and that, in itself, trumps many a-diners’ checklist.
So, take heed of my gripes if you will; the mains are worth betting your dollar on.
Expected Damage: S$30 – S$50 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 3 / 5
Raw Kitchen Bar
66 Kampong Bugis, #01-01, Singapore 338987
66 Kampong Bugis, #01-01, Singapore 338987