You have been warned, your eyes will see a red haze after reading this blogpost about Kongsee, the latest gastrobar from Willin Low.
Tucked in between Club Street and Amoy Street, The Kongsee is the perfect hangout in Chinatown to celebrate your love for food, drinks and socialising with pals. With its dual meaning inspired by both the Hokkien word for “company” and the Malay word for “sharing”, it is a welcoming space that connects people with the delicious melting pot of different cultures and communities in modern Singapore through food, drinks and convivial hospitality.
The brainchild of the local restauranteur-chef Willin Low, the Father of Modern Singaporean cuisine who is also known for his penchant for casual Japanese concepts, this Singaporean Izakaya comes as a no-brainer.
The Kongsee rocks a comprehensive bar program underpinned by reverence for local heritage and terroir. The overall vibe is vibrant and upbeat but as the lights go dim, the space teases a much more sultry “helter-skelter” mood.
The cocktails are inspired by the different ethnic areas in Singapore like Chinatown, Little India, Golden Mile (Little Bangkok), and Lucky Plaza (Little Manila). Very bold in terms of concepts and flavours, they were concocted to shock your tastebuds.
Chef Partner Willin Low marshals the kitchen and leads the menu design. The Mod-Sin cuisine pioneer who fought to reinvigotate Singapore’s food culture, Willin is best known for delivering “a homespun but defiantly modern and imaginative cooking”.
Mini Roxy Crab Laksa
Don’t expect a punchy Laksa, this delicate & balanced broth with wild caught crab is a great cure for hangovers. Founded in 1952, this Singapore Laksa has won multiple awards & is currently served only in Roketto Niseko, Hokkaido.
This was a very delicious bowl of Janggut Nyonya laksa without cockles. Somehow the crab meat would not replace the unique taste of cockles. It would be perfect if there were some. Despite the Roxy laksa branding, it did not cut up the vermicelli to facilitate eating from a single spoon. But this is still a must-order when you come to Kongsee for its flavourful and light broth.
Vegetarian Gado Gado Rojak
A mix between Indonesian Salad and Singapore Rojak. The sweetness, tanginess and freshness of the dish will definitely open up your palate for a glass of cocktail or wine.
The lighting in this place did not do any justice to this dish. There’s the taste of gado gado with the sweet peanuts sauce. But nothing more that I can decipher given the lighting. Yes, you need proper lighting to taste the food properly.
Ika Geso Karaage
Crispy and crunchy squid tentacles served with a drizzle of fragrant lime mayo and calamansi. A perfect appetiser that goes well with any cocktail on our menu.
Not your deep fried calamari rings, Ika Geso Karaage takes after the style of the izakaya favourite chicken karaage. Also, they used the squid tentacles instead of the body. The lime mayonnaise complimented the crunchy squid tentacles well. But the squid was overcooked, so it was quite chewy like eating dried cuttlefish.
Stuffed Chicken Wing
Just the way we like our fried chicken sans bones. These babies are stuffed with minced prawns & served with a Thai green seafood chilli sauce.
Reminded me of the stuffed chicken wings in Thai cuisine. Wait a minute, Chef Willin said he got his inspiration from Thailand in the first place.
Xinjiang Lamb Skewers
Inspired by Xinjiang & Chinese street food: cumin seasoned, grilled & served with a Garlic Cumin Yogurt.
This reminded me of the lamb skewers I use to eat (a lot) in China san the fatty bits. The succulent lamb cubes were marinated with the same Xinjiang spices like cumin, white pepper, chilli powder, and Sichuan peppercorns. Now I know where I can get my lamb kebabs fixed since I cannot go to China as often.
Make Satay Great Again. One of Chef’s signature dishes, Iberico secreto charcoal grilled to a smokey char. Eat it with the rich Javanese peanut sauce & pineapple salsa.
Ibérico Pork Secreto (Iberian pork secret) is a tender and highly prized cut from the shoulder of the Ibérico pig. It sports a long grain that appears striped due to the dense marbling. Iberico Satay is a Hainanese-Indonesian fusion street food. Succulent smoke-kissed pork shoulder is slathered with an intensely rich Javanese peanut sauce and a refreshing Sarawak pineapple salsa with a surprising kick of spice to finish.
Ngoh Hiang Dumpling
Whether you call it Ngoh Hiang, Heh Gerng Lor Bak or Kikiam, is a unique Hokkien Teochew dish that is commonly found in the Singapore home. Our version is a mix of a deep fried wanton and beancurd skin. Kepo anyone?
Ngoh Hiang reinvented using beancurd skins and wrapped like a wanton. Delicious bites that go well with the drinks.
Kongsee Crab Cake
Our own handmade homemade chunks crab patties served with a Cantonese Kam Heong sauce, translated to “Golden Sunrise” sauce.
The crusty crab cakes were quite delicious on their own, but I was wondering why it was place on a plate of strange looking liquid. The main ingredients that give the “Kam Heong” sauce its unique taste are fiery bird’s eye chilies, aromatic curry leaves, crispy bits of dried shrimp, savoury curry powder and soy bean paste. But none of it was apparent. This was the only fail for this evening thankfully.
KFC (Kongsee Fried Chicken)
Our own KFC. not that KFC you’re thinking. Using GG French Poulet drumstick mixed with fermented shrimp paste made famous in Southeast Asia. The umami you get after tasting will linger on your palate.
This was a remake of Harjeong Gai (deep fried shrimp paste chicken) with whole drumsticks from by Toh They San Farm. GG French Poulet are free-range, hormone-free, chemical-free chickens raised in Singapore, they made great eats with tight and succulent dark meat. It was so delicious, I ordered another portion to bring home for Princess. Unfortunately they tasted better while they were crispy hot.
It was very nice to kick back relax after a long day. The staff were really friendly, the food was great especially after asking for recommendations for our first time.
Indeed uniquely Singapore inspired concept introducing Singapore through food and drinks, highly recommended if you are bringing an overseas friend for an enjoyable night out.
10 Gemmill Ln, Singapore 069251
Visited in Jun 2022