Makansutra: Fook Kin – bold roasts and comforting soups
Gutsy chef Kai Koh offers crowd-pleasing roasts, soups and more at his Orchard-area eatery
The name is cheeky, a bold move coming from a chef who learns on the fly and wings it.
I believe chef Kai Koh is one of the gutsiest makan entrepreneurs around - though he asked to cover his face when I wanted to photograph him and partner Randall Gan some four years ago during his first attempt at running a hawker stall at Old Airport Road Food Centre.
Today, this confident chef - always dressed in authentic "hawker fashion" comprising a crumpled tee, bermudas and sandals - does not bother to explain or protect his image anymore.
In those four short years, he has opened half a dozen eateries (and closed two) with various concepts, all revolving around his signature dishes of Cantonese roasts.
He still offers hawker fare and the zi char and bar concept.
Fook Kin, a stone's throw from Orchard Road, is his first foray into the restaurant business.
Smartly, he partnered with some radio DJs, celebrities and another F&B player in the burger business. But it was no breeze, bearing in mind the overcrowded food scene here.
His menu has certainly improved at Fook Kin, a zi char and Cantonese roast eatery with comforting double boiled soups daily.
The stunning platter of Signature Fook Kin Double Roasts ($17, char siew and sio bak) is a sight to behold.
Set on a millennial-pleasing chopping board, the char siew is soft, well roasted and has a burnt caramel "bark" outside.
The sio bak or roast pork is moist with a crispy crackling, and when you run it through streaks of mustard, it sets the tone for the meal.
The teaser bites of Salted Egg Yolk Lotus Root Chips ($7.80) are easy to like. These have to be done fresh upon order as they go limp and rancid if left to sit for too long.
The Mala Fragrant Fried Chicken ($12.80) is refreshing, but I think the mala thing in general is overdone. However, it does give the whole meal some bite and wakes up the palate.
If you like some comforting zi char items to go with a decent lunch or dinner, just add the Braised Broccoli with Shimeji Mushrooms ($9.80) and black wood ear fungus.
Devour this slowly with rice, and you will feel charged up for the next hurdle in life by the end of your meal.
The F&B business may be tough in today's climate, but we need quiet icons like chef Kai who will stand up after a fall and march on. It is not easy, but not an impossible feat either.
111 Killiney Road
Opens 11.30am to 9.30pm daily
K.F. Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets and has his own TV shows on cable. He publishes food guides and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram