Casual cafe/snack bar serving re-interpreted comfort foods created by Michelin star UK chef Jason Atherton
April 23rd, 2013
Blending traditional and contemporary elements of both Asian and British casual cafe cultures, KEONG SAIK SNACKS is the most recent dining concept emanating from the successful collaboration between creative local Singaporean restaurateur and hotelier Loh Lik Peng, and UK celebrity chef Jason Atherton. After the opening of ESQUINA ( in the same neighbourhood) in late 2011, and POLLEN at the Gardens by the Bay complex in June 2012, the pair turned their attention to creating an unassuming, casual all-day eatery, cheerfully serving well-executed cosmopolitan comfort foods at very approachable prices. Locating the cafe within a row of gorgeously restored shop house terraces on Keong Saik Road, in an increasingly fashionable corner of Singapore’s Chinatown district, Keong Saik Snacks was launched in September 2012.
Standing unobtrusively within the colorful street front facade of the terrace, only a pair of small round tables standing on the pavement of the covered walkway (and very minimalist lettering on the facade) provide a clue to what lies inside the doorway. Entering the interior reveals an open-plan cafe furnished with simple, utilitarian style blond wood cafe tables and chairs standing on polished warm timber flooring. The white walls and ceiling provide the compact space with a bright and breezy daytime mood, with sections of distressed brickwork, aged steel mesh shelving and an eclectic assortment of antique metal lamps contributing to an industrial-chic style. The design highlight of the interior is the striking, copper sheathed bar counter that separates the cafe tables from the open kitchen at the rear. Seating capacity at Keong Siak Snacks tops out at 30 patrons.
Crafting the compact menu of only 15 dishes, Culinary Director Jason Atherton referenced the familiar comfort foods that can be found in the quintessential British snack bars and cafes, and blended these with some Asian-inflected ingredients and flavours to create an appealing selection of uncomplicated, modern cafe cuisine that perfectly suits the social dining zeitgeist of modern Singapore. The kitchen is under the direction of Executive Chef Andrew Walsh, who also heads up the culinary team at sibling establishment- Esquina- just 100 metres up the road. Prices have been kept in the accessible range for an unpretentious every-day style of casual eating- further enhanced by the no reservations policy. Beverages served include coffees and teas, plus a concise selection of well-chosen wines and international beers.
Some stand-out dishes include Beer-battered Fish & Oysters, Mushy Peas- a twist on the classic British fish ‘n chips; Grilled Bone Marrow & Ox Cheek, London Gentleman’s Relish & Toasted Sourdough; and Grilled Whole Canadian Lobster, Lemon Garlic Parsley & Butter, Fries & Salad. A handful of Desserts round out the menu- including Banana Cake with Caramel Mousse and Selection of Classic & Modern Home-made Ice Cream Flavours.
Keong Saik Snacks is open daily from 12:00 pm, offering a welcoming, friendly service to casual diners all day. The Weekend Punch Brunch promotion recently launched features a special menu of global comfort foods and desserts, served alongside the regular a la carte menu. Classic breakfast dishes such as Scrambled Eggs with Sourdough Toast, crispy bacon and grilled tomato topped with the unique twist of mushroom ketchup, are complimented with three specially crafted cocktails- served as punches for sharing- including the house version of the classic Bloody Mary- aptly named Red Light Mary- the concoction is a mixture of four-pepper vodka, fresh tomato juice and a home-made dijon-pickled Bloody Mary mix.
And an intriguing neighbour to Keong Saik Snacks is the ultra-hip, authentic speakeasy style bar- The Library. Under the same management, The Library specialises in authentic Prohibition-era style cocktails in a dimly lighted, reclusive bar and lounge. For those in the know- or sleuths that successfully locate the entrance- a regularly updated password is then required to gain entry. Staff at Keong Saik Snacks have been rumored to provide select patrons with some clues…
Interior of Keong Saik Snacks
The cafe interior- with open kitchen behind the retro-styled copper sheaved bar counter. Simple utilitarian blond timber tables and chairs, and low timber stools stand on the polished warm timber flooring. Distressed wall finishes contribute to the industrial-chic styling.
The kitchen team work in close proximity to the cafe patrons- offering an interactive engagement with guests.
The dramatic copper sheaved and riveted bar counter, with individual antique lamps for each diner, separates the open kitchen from the cafe tables. Overhead shelves of rusted steel mesh hold crockery and kitchen supplies.
Shelving on one wall of the compact cafe interior displays old photographs of the streetscape and other antique paraphernalia. A comfortable red banquette extends across the side wall. The total seating capacity of KSS is 30 patrons.
Selections from the Keong Saik Snacks menu
D-I-Y Tuna Tartare- diced raw tuna , various condiments including roasted sesame seeds, soya sauce, chopped chives, lime, cilantro and Japanese sauce. (S$17)
Jason’s Very Hot Dog- with Chorizo & Avocado, Green Chilli & Cheese. (S$15)
Toasted Serrano Ham & Manchego Cheese Toasties, Saffron Aioli. (S$17)
Doughnuts with Cinnamon- with vanilla / caramel chantilly. (S$10)
Keong Saik Snacks – contemporary British bistro, Singapore
Address: 49 Keong Saik, Chinatown. Singapore 089153
MRT station: EW16/NE3 Outram Park
Reservations: +65. 6221 8338
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/KeongSaikSnacks
Daily 12:00 pm ~ 11:00 pm
Weekend Punch Brunch- Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays 11:00 am ~ 4:00 pm
Update: March 2014 Keong Saik has been re-branded as The Study- with new social diner concept