In the 1960s, born out of filial piety, Kian Seng Restaurant was set up. Previously located near Yio Chu Kang Stadium, the owner agreed to purchase another branch, now known as Kian Seng Seafood Restaurant Pte Ltd, at Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1. Unable to obtain the tender to proceed with his Yio Chu Kang Stadium restaurant establishment, the owner focused solely on the other branch, which has now flourished into the reputed restaurant it is today.
Since his teenage years, the owner has been venturing out into the working world to help ease the financial pressure of his family. Before working his way up the ranks to become a chef, he started out as a coffee boy and kitchen helper. It’s an inspiring story and we couldn’t miss the opportunity to head out and try for ourselves just what all the hype was about. We headed to Ang Mo Kio after various recommendations from so many people.
The restaurant is situated in a spacious and airy, open-air coffeeshop. It’s not air-conditioned, but it does get very windy and cooling particularly at night. Like many hawker centres in Singapore, Kian Seng Restaurant is a shared space among many other stalls but they do stand out and many flock to the location just to get a taste. It’s an outdoor coffee shop, so during the day there are many stalls, but at night, it’s all about Kian Seng.
The staff are attentive despite the packed place and always make sure that our requests are being met. Service is always good, you have standby attendants whilst they are not too busy.
They give good recommendations and are not pushy at all. Waiting time, however, can be a bit long on weekdays; possibly because there are less chefs working on weekdays.
The dishes served are a selection of Chinese dishes, all of which can be found here from the typical zi char stall. They offer a wide array of dishes and if you’re someone who loves variety in their food, this is the place to go. You can get many different dishes and try many things as the prices are reasonable. Some of the recommended dishes include the Nyonya Fish Head, Indonesian Prawn, Salted Kampong Chicken, Stewed Pork with Buns, and White Beehoon with Clams. They also serve old teochew dishes like Steamed Vegetable with Dried Scallops, Braised Whole Sea-Cucumber with Pork Fillings, Braised Duck with Chestnut Fillings and Yam Paste with Pumpkin.
One thing to note, the crab claw is huge! Even the fried mantou is bigger than the usual ones. The chilli gravy is sweet, spicy and very flavoursome. They could be more generous with the gravy as the crab portion is big but the gravy is very little, not enough to dip the crab after dipping with the bigger fried mantous.
Steamed Crab with Roe
The crab is very large (the carapace being about the size of 2 palms) and soft, steamed in egg whites. Prepare to throw all your diet plans out of the window as the roe is simply sinful.
Venison with Ginger and Spring Onion
Wonderful flavour, almost silky texture and savoury juices, stir fried with ginger and spring onion. This one’s a must-try when you’re visiting!
A very authentic sauce in the Nyonya style. They don’t use coconut milk, instead they replace it with a more healthy evaporated milk. They steamed the cod and you could taste the freshness of the fish head.
We ordered this one because my mum’s a fan of herbal soup. Surprisingly, this was pretty good despite their signature being the seafood. The moist chicken meat was extremely tender, in a light yet flavourful soup with a notable herbal kick.
Roast Suckling Pig
Prepared from scratch, as seen on TV, they cook the roast suckling pig using a charcoal fire. With crispy skin and a smokey taste that is better enjoyed without the dip, it was scrumptious. Served with a side of acar. Good to order if you have a minimum of 5-6 pax and is only available when you preorder at least one day in advance.
Steamed Shark’s Head
The guitarfish meat is very fluffy and jelly-like. It has its own little flavour – mainly from fried garlic and soy sauce. It’s a little bit of a daring dish to order even for more but when I saw it on the menu, I just knew I had to try it, and I wasn’t disappointed.
There are four options in the Regular Set Menu A for three to four people , giving you an option of Nyonya Steamed Fish Head (Spicy), Beancurd with Pork and Cai Poh, Superior Stock Spinach, Golden Seafood Roll and a dessert range to be decided on the day itself. An alternate combination of Steamed Cod Fish with Garlic, Sea Cucumber Duck, Broccoli with Scallops, Salted Egg Prawns and dessert can also be selected. You can also get sets for 5 to 7 people.
The set menu for ten people is also available, consisting of different dishes such as a Cold Dish, Fish Maw Soup with Crab Meat, Hong Kong Style Sea Bass, Herbal Chicken, Mushroom with Vegetable, Cereal Prawns, Deep Fried Prawn Roll, Hong Kong Style Noodles and Sea Coconut Longans as a dessert. If you’re feeling a little fancier and want more luxurious items, they also offer variations of this set which includes dishes such as the Roast Suckling Pig, Steamed Abalones with Garlic, Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall, and Black Chicken Broth with Ginseng and Baby Abalone.
If you’re hosting a party and want to cater for up to 30 people, they also offer a catering menu where dishes include Fried Kampong Mee Siam (Dry), Deep Fried Pandan Chicken, Black Pepper Beef, Steamed Dory Fish with Black Bean Sauce, and more.
With my cravings satisfied, it definitely won’t be the only time we come down. Bring your friends and family down as it’s worth coming down to try at least once. Remember to reserve tables and food in advance because it’s a lot more convenient that way!