Pan-seared Scallops ($14)
Many gay friends checked-in and liked Kaixo’s facebook page. When we were there, 4 out of 5 customers were gay. It is an adage that gay men are the purveyors of good taste: they don’t waste calories to maintain their svelte figures. But unfortunately this is not true of Kaixo, a Basque tapas bar. (The Basque people occupy a piece of land between France and the Spain and they want independence from the two countries.)
Right from the start, we didn’t have a good impression of Kaixo. The common decor is run-of-the-mill, cement floor, industrial look, reminded us of so many other tapas places that are first and original. The service, though well-meaning, was untrained and slack: our drinks didn’t arrive and when we checked, the server didn’t put in an order. Dishes were delivered to wrong tables.
Boomba Rice ($18)
The food was equally dismal. None of the three of us liked the food, especially Mr NGFL who was extremely grumpy that day. He commented, paraphrased: The pan-seared scallops ($14), with braised leeks, were limp and stale. The cherry-flavored gazpacho ($8) was grainy and we couldn’t taste any cherry. Tastewise, the boomba rice with pan-seared squid ($18) was rather outstanding, like an intense seafood-y version of our mui-fan, but the rice was undercooked, and each grain was hard at the core. When we asked the server to ask the chef if this was the norm for Basque cuisine to undercook rice, the polite server returned to us with the reply, “If you want, the chef can cook it more” without answering our question. (The answer is yes, paella, done in Spanish style, is slightly crunchy but still, the one we had at Binomio was slightly crunchy but didn’t come across as raw as Kaixo’s.) The confit of salmon ($12), which came in 6 small cubes, had a horrible texture: the salmon was jelly-like, slimy and we wondered if it wasn’t fresh.
Valrhona Gypsy Arm ($10)
We were so dismayed by the food that we wanted to quit the tapas bar and move on somewhere. But Wise Guy needed his desserts: Valrhona gypsy arm ($10), a chocolate sponge-and-mousse cake, and white tiramisu with orujo ($12). In truth, they tasted great especially the latter with enough orujo, a brandy made from the pulpy remains of the fruit, to waken the tastebuds. But the sponge of both desserts was tough and dry.
We left Kaixo, disappointed and unsatisfied. A Basque tapas, in abyss. The best thing we could say of Kaixo is that the price is reasonable: we paid $101 for three, or about $33 each.
96 Tanjong Pagar Rd
Rating: 2.624/5 stars