Kite Restaurant, Craig Road: A Difficult Review, Modern Asian Small Plates

kite-restaurant-singaporeKite Restaurant at Craig Road is a hard review to write. If I am not driving, I usually write my review on my phone on the train and when I reach home, the review is done. But I took days, ruminating over my experience at Kite.

kite-at-craig-roadChicken skin $6

First of all, the food isn’t bad. Kite serves modern Asian small plates at a chic setting. But as I was eating, Kite reminded me of my abysmal experience at Sugarhall.

kite-restaurant-singapore-reviewSomen with lap cheong oil $12

At Sugarhall, they combine simple food in smart ways. Because the food is simple, if the head chef is not around, any line cook could fill in the role. This is also what I thought of Kite. Such a strategy is pragmatic to restaurants; if the head chef ups and leaves without notice, at least the cooks can handle the situation.

kite-singapore-reviewUbin seabass, butter emulsion, lotus roots, sunflower seeds $14 

But to a consumer like myself, such a strategy means we are paying a high price for easy food. Besides, although there is thought that goes into ingredient pairing, there is hardly any interaction among the ingredients.

kite-at-craig-reviewBlack Spanish pig, chestnuts, walnuts, apple sauce, plum sauce $18

For instance, the somen with lap cheong oil ($12) is delicious, but what is the flotsam of prawns doing there? Or the lotus roots on Ubin seabass ($14). Or chestnut with Spanish pig ($18). They are bugbears that pull down the elegance of the dishes. Less is more.

kite-restaurant-singapore-menuUncle William’s quail, barley, mushrooms, spiced jus $16

Besides having no interaction, the danger of cooking ingredients separately and mixing them together is you don’t get the overall taste of the dish. Nobody at our table liked Uncle William’s quail ($16) because its dominant taste is salt, and nothing else.

kite-restaurant-tanjong-pagarWagyu beef cheek, compressed pear, onion soubise ($18)

That said, Kite is infinitely better than Sugarhall because the latter cooks food in really simplistic way; Kite at least takes interesting, risky ventures. The chicken skin ($6) is thin as crisp, and glazed with Bourbon and juniper, so it’s salty, then sweet, then salty. Wagyu beef cheek ($18) is tender with stimulating coffee powder. And Iberico pork collar ($16) luxuriates in a familar bak kut teh broth, and an interesting veloute made from you tiao. I enjoyed these 3 dishes.

kite-restaurant-singaporeIberico pork collar, you tiao veolute, bak kut teh broth ($18)

But in general, I didn’t like the food because it comes across as neat, uptight, careful, and polite, like a law-abiding Singaporean waiting for the Red man to turn Green even when there are no vehicles for miles, or a conscientious student doing her PSLE Maths exam. Nothing wrong with those things, but I prefer back-scratching, toe-curling passion, devastating chaos, beautiful mess. Towards the end of the meal, I was impatient.

On the other hand, it is apparent that they put in immense effort, hard work, and thought in each and every dish. Hard work ought to be encouraged and rewarded, right? And they are good people, from the outstanding service we received.

How do you write a review when your brain tells you one thing, but your heart tells you another? That’s why I took days.

We paid $100 for three persons.

Kite at Craig Road
53 Craig Road, Singapore 089691
+65 9729 7988
T-F 12pm-2.30pm, T-Sun 6pm-12am

Food: 6/10
Service: 9/10
Decor: 7/10
Price: 6/10
Overall Rating: 3.5/5

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Full disclosure: We were recognized at the restaurant and were given 10% off the bill. The bill was initially $110. 

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