We were devastated when Siang Hee moved up North to Serangoon Gardens. Where were we going to get our cze char fix without having to take a (long) road trip? Then we discovered Kok Sen, a venerable cze char fixture located on the fringes of town. The food's exceptional, and the extensive menu comprises a few unique standouts, and while service can get choppy, the kitchen churns out food Speedy Gonzales-fast.
A must-try, the Big Prawn Crispy Noodle ($16) was awesomesauce, and methinks even better than the famed Soo Kee in KL. The prawns were sweet, plump and fresh, and the eggy gravy, redolent of shrimp essence, was thick, spicy and robust, enlivened by lashings of fried golden onions.
Another hit was the Claypot Yong Tau Foo ($14), a melange of blistered green peppers, big red chillis, eggplant, and beancurd, all stuffed with fresh seafood paste, and dunked into a rich Ampang-style oyster sauce gravy. The gravy was the glue that elevated this dish to a must-order, with aromatic garlicky flavours spiked with a subtle heat.
Skip the much-touted Prawn Paste Chicken ($12 for small) if you're jostling for space. This was decent, with the marinade steeped well, but it was quite pedestrian and forgettable.
Ditto for the weekend-special Golden Dragon Chicken ($32 whole serving) a flayed chicken with meat blended with seafood paste. The paper-crisp skin was amazing, with nary a sliver of fat, but the springy blend-mix was a little overhyped, even if the accompanying chicken-rice-styled chilli sauce was delicious. The wings, left au natural, were practically tasteless.
The Chinese Lettuce ($9 for small) parboiled and doused in a delicate soy, was simplicity at its finest. A beautiful crunch, and wonderfully light flavours.
Same goes for the Stir-Fried Romaine Lettuce ($9), imbued with a delicious wok hei and slicked with buttery tones of roasted garlic.
I also loved the Minced Pork Steamed Egg ($8), smooth and custard-like and studded with chewy nubbins of minced pork, for its homespun wholesomeness.
Kok Sen Restaurant
30B Keong Saik Road
Tel: 6223 2005
Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch; 5pm to 10.30pm for dinner