Hey everyone! *waves deliriously*
It has been close to a month since my last update so I thought I should swing by to break the silence of this blog, as well as to apologise for my sudden hiatus due to my school (mainly my final-year project) and work commitments. Owing to my hectic schedule, I had to turn down quite a number of collaboration opportunities over the past few months but somehow when the invite came from the friendly folks at Media Flair to experience the new food menu and bespoke cocktail pairings at KUVO, my heart screamed for me to accept the invitation. After days of not eating well, perhaps it was about time to feed my body with some decent food!
Discreetly nestled on the second floor of the outmoded Orchard Shopping Centre located next to the H&M building, KUVO is almost inconspicuous to the casual observer. Unless you are in the know about the latest food and beverage offerings in town, or are extremely attentive to your surroundings, it is highly unlikely that you would have heard of this multi-concept restaurant and bar. In my years of walking back and forth between Orchard Cineleisure and Somerset MRT station, I had never once noticed their signage along the walkway of Orchard Shopping Centre due to their (pardon my frankness) poor visibility and lack of attention-grabbing flair. Nevertheless, even if they did catch my eye, I honestly don’t think I would be inclined to dine at KUVO at all given the uninviting look of the building’s façade.
But boy, the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” couldn’t have been more apt here because the restaurant looks nothing like the frontage of the building. Marked by a vast floor area of 9,500 square feet, KUVO comprises a bar and a large dining area offering afternoon tea at one end and all-day international menu at the other, complete with velvet sofa, soothing lighting and live music towards the end of the week. Evidently, the whole restaurant was designed with comfort and sophistication in mind, making it the perfect place for office workers to unwind after a long day at work. Furthermore, it’s easily accessible as it’s smacked right at Orchard Road!
The bar is helmed by award-winning Japanese mixologist and culinarist, Yutaka Nakashima who serves up novel and quirky individual bespoke cocktails at S$21++. To further illustrate his unique creativity, he uses a coffee mixer to create his cocktail concoction!
Despite its prime location, KUVO serves great food at reasonable prices and are constantly looking at ways to enrich the dining experience through the expansion of food choices and recently the introduction of the concept of pairing food and custom-made cocktails.
This Spanish-inspired dish was among the first few starters delivered to our table. Sous-vide and served with slow-cooked potato and smoked paprika, the slices of octopus leg were chunky and chewy with a slight charred taste. The unsuspecting potato was soft, expertly prepared and strangely more appetising than the octopus. Even though this was recommended on the menu, I didn’t think it was tasty enough to leave a lasting impression.
In this yet another recommended dish with a Spanish influence, the calamari is sauteed in garlic and extra virgin olive oil and topped with pork chorizo. While the calamari rings were indeed tender and well-cooked, they were poorly seasoned and hence were disappointingly bland on the palate. It was a shame because I had thought this dish would be a pleasant change from the classic fried version everywhere else was offering. Rather than being a star on its own, I had to ingest it with something else to make up for the lack of flavour.
In spite of the rather unsatisfactory start, things were fortunately picking up from the third dish – a sweet pea-crusted fresh cod medallion garnished with pearl barley fricassee and citrus nutty-brown butter alongside some asparagus and carrot. The sides revealed a smooth and melt-in-your-mouth texture as delicate as snow and it had such unforgettable freshness and sweetness that kept me wanting more! The creamy and viscous sauce married well with the cod too – absolutely delightful!
Before we transitioned into the cocktail pairings segment, we had beef cubes flashed-seared to give it a vividly pink centre, flambéed with brandy and finally glazed with red wine sauce for an added acidic touch. The portion was relatively generous for a starter and it could easily pass off as a main course. Still, it would take a herculean effort to stop at one serving because those beef cubes were a mouthful of thick, hearty and luscious mellowness packed a punch of flavours. They were thoroughly easy on the teeth and the bite-size makes them all the more convenient to eat. I opted for another serving because I couldn’t get enough of the tenderness and the mouth-watering blend of succulence and piquancy of the beef cubes. Needless to say, this dish stole the show that evening and I wouldn’t mind going back just for this.
Since KUVO opens late into the night every day, you can expect to find people who are just there for the alcohol and supper-goers because they serve fantastic choice of finger food, or foods that help to satisfy any hunger pangs. An example would be the coffee-flavoured spicy mid-joint wings with baby carrot crudites and blue cheese dip.
Despite not being a coffee drinker at all, I found myself diggin’ this seemingly weird combination. It didn’t have the brutal taste of coffee and the added heat made it even more enjoyable. The blue cheese dip was surprisingly nice, had little to no hint of the rotten sour cream taste that is typically associated with blue cheese and it helped heaps to neutralise the spiciness (which, by the way, was quite a kick on its own). The wing, together with the condiments were by and large fantastic. I liked how the coffee flavour had a good blend of sweet and bitter which goes perfectly well with beer or the recommended Brewski Yen.
The Brewski Yen has the thirst-quenching properties of Kirin beer as well as an added tang of Suze, lemon and ginger ale. I personally found the ginger taste a little too overbearing for me (what’s more, I’m not even a ginger fan to begin with) but I took a leap of courage and managed to down everything to the last drop. Woohoo!
Those with a more refined taste can opt for sauteed slipper lobster adorned with habanero (a kind of chilli pepper), bell peppers and cilantro. Ease of eating is assured in this dish as the lobster meat is carefully deshelled and cooked before inserting it back to the shell again. While it failed to impress me because I didn’t feel that the portion and the taste make up for the price, my boyfriend liked the flavours and how the juices were still exuding with each bite. The heat from the peppers was a delightful addition as well.
Complementing the slipper lobster is the Hello Cel’lo cocktail made with Bankes London dry Gin, limoncello liqueur, celery bitters and balsamico. Liquor connoisseurs who are familiar with the ingredients should already a rough idea how it’d taste like. If you don’t, recall the bitterest beverage you have ever drunk in your life and multiply the acridity tenfold. You seriously haven’t tasted the extreme end of the bitterness spectrum until you have tried Hello Cel’lo because, I swear, this takes the cake. So unless you have marvelous tolerance for bitter foods (or are already used to the pungent taste of alcohol), steer clear of Hello Cel’lo!
In an attempt at fusing Western and Eastern delicacies, KUVO had put together a pair of sliders featuring thick and succulent housemade wagyu beef patty topped with fresh lettuce and irresistible Camembert cheese and portobello sauce, accompanied by cheese rolls and shrimp wantons on a platter. Much as we would like to commend on the texture of the patty (not overdone and was incredibly moist), we thought it was totally unnecessary to mince such high-graded beef to make the patty because it had clearly lost its distinctive fat marbling and sweetness in the process. As beef lovers (especially of those obtained from Wagyu cattle), we had high expectations for the patty but were sorely disappointed by the execution. Having said that, if you’re not as fussy as us, you would most likely enjoy the sliders as much as many of the fellow food bloggers present at the event.
Moving on to the other elements on the platter, we had shrimp wantons deep fried to golden brown with wasabi mayonnaise drizzled over them. Delicious! I wished there were more of the wantons! Next to them were cheese rolls sitting atop a dash of truffle cream. Disguised as Chinese spring rolls, they crumbled crisply when I stuck my fork into the centre. Perhaps because remnants of the patty were still lingering in my mouth, I couldn’t quite make out the taste of cheese. In fact, I wasn’t aware that they were made of cheese until I read the description on the menu.
Paired with the sliders was the Green Iceland cocktail which combines KUVO’s Italian Antica Fratta sparkling wine, Japanese umeshu, lime, brown sugar and mint leaves for extra freshness. The tongue-tingling sensation it lent was refreshing and soothing on palate. The crushed ice melted rather quickly so it kinda diluted the bitterness after a while.
Coated with breaded minced wagyu beef (oh dear..) and veal meat (choice of tuna available as well), then crowned with a layer of melted edam cheese and served with red wine onion au jus at the base, KUVO takes this classic British picnic snack to the next level. When cut through in the middle, the warm and sultry yolk from the inside oozes all over the dish, further amplifying the luscious richness of the sauce while providing a nice contrast to the crisp crust of the scotch egg.
Don’t underestimate the size of the portion (a little smaller than my palm) – the fillings were so monstrously loaded, I felt slightly glutted in the end. Nevertheless, this dish is definitely deserving of a share of the spotlight. Not only is it affordable (only S$14++!), it fills your tummy as well, so I highly recommend you try this when you’re at KUVO!
Adding to the British flair is the cocktail accompaniment to this dish called Captain B.R. – short for Captain British Rum – which is created with Earl Grey Infused Rum, fresh lemon and soda water. Laced with touches of floral notes and hints of citrus, this cocktail is an absolute delight to drink even for a non-alcoholic drinker like myself!
Finally, bearing in mind that there would be people who had to have some carbs in their diet, we rounded off the evening with a Japanese rice bowl dish humbly topped with a small serving of perfectly seasoned and grilled kurobuta pork loin as well as molten egg that serves as the sauce, and finished off with a sprinkle of chopped spring onion. The portion is certainly appetizer-sized, so don’t expect to feel satiated with this dish that can be devoured in 3 spoonfuls.
Brewed in the glass vacuum coffee maker as mentioned earlier, this cocktail is freshly prepared with ingredients that are beneficial to the health like genmai tea, saké, Lillet Blanc, and fresh orange peel. The concoction is subsequently poured into an ochoko (saké cup) to complement the Kurobuta Yakiniku Donburi. Tales of Shu has an immensely sharp taste comparable to that of Hello Cel’lo. Therefore, one sip was all it took to make me cringe :-S But should you be able to handle strong bitterness, do consider giving this healthy cocktail a shot!
If alcoholic drinks are out of bounds for you, there is also an array of mocktails for you to choose from but you have to approach the waiting staff for assistance because mocktails are not listed on the menu. Midsummer Breeze, the only mocktail I was served, contains melon mangosteen tea, orange juice and passion fruit. Sweet and refreshing with the taste of passion fruit sticking out, it’s the kind of tropical mocktail that takes you to the beach side on a hot and sunny afternoon.
On the whole, KUVO is a hidden gem, that’s for sure! Although there are a few misses on the revamped menu, there are definitely more hits and hence worthy of a second visit. Now that KUVO is on my radar, I will certainly be returning to try out other dishes on the menu 😉
What are your thoughts? Do share them with me!
Thanks for reading!
Orchard Shopping Centre
321 Orchard Road #02-01
Nearest MRT station: Somerset
Sunday – Thursday & Public Holidays: 12pm to 1am
Friday, Saturday and Eve of Public Holidays: 12pm to 2am
Tel: +65 6733 8272
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