That means hello in Basque language.
I was really intrigued when I was invited by the kind folks of a new restaurant in town, Kaixo at Tanjong Pagar Road to try out their food. At first I thought it was just a regular Spanish tapas place (quite a few have sprung up recently) but discovered to my pleasant surprise that it is actual a Basque restaurant instead.
Now what exactly is Basque? It is a very unique region and country that has parts in both France AND Spain! Isn't that interesting?
This also means that the cuisine from Basque is rather unique - combining the culinary techniques from France and flavors from Spain.
Kaixo is the only Basque restaurant in Singapore and for that I would say kudos! for daring to be different, and introducing something that not many Singaporeans know about. Why travel when travel can come to you?
The place is very cosy and petite - perfect for friends to hang out and just chit chat over bites.
The decor is very easy and relaxed. Plenty of booze behind the counter too.
We had a glass of red Sangria ($11) to start with. It was a very pleasant - not too dry and the fruits had infused thoroughly into the wine.
The cutlery at Kaixo was also very interesting. Featuring a spork, a spoon and a spnive.
Unfortunately it is not the most friendly for left-handed people.
Left: Comte cheese, quince paste with pine nuts
Middle: Piquillo peppers, marinated anchovies, chopped onions
Right: Valdeon blue cheese, dried apricots, figs, walnut
Onwards to the next - Squid in its own ink ($12). That's what it says on the menu! So when it appeared it looked really forbidding. Not a dish to order on a date for sure, but one to try if you are a fan of squid ink pastas!
Then the highlight of the meal that evening - roast french pigeon breast with saffron plums ($22). We were cautioned that it will be served pink, to make sure it is not too dry and the flavors are just right. Well it is actually my first time eating pigeon and I am fine with pink. What surprised me was that I had no idea it tasted not like 'white meat' (like chicken), but more of a cross between beef and chicken. The medium rare doneness made it extra juicy.
We were also surprised with a off-the-menu side of Padron (spanish) peppers and were lightly sautéed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. They are not spicy at all and in fact a bit like ladyfingers, but slightly bitter. The salt helps to complement the bitterness to bring out the green taste of the pepper.
Our last main dish for the night was the iberian pork with apple puree, potato and bacon millefeuilles ($20). It was a great dish that I highly recommend! We enjoyed it very much - the pork was done just right and it was juicy and flavorful, while sitting on top of soft bacon and potato layers. Bacon!
orujo! It was really enjoyable and rounded our meal with a blissful full stop.
We had a chat with Chef Issachar Lee (who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and had worked in Europe and in Marina Bay Sands’ Guy Savoy) and found out about his admirable vision for Kaixo. It was great to see so much passion in the people who made this place happen in the very competitive F&B scene.
If you are feeling adventurous and up to trying something new on a Saturday night during dinner for 2, Kaixo is the place for you! It is new yet not strange so you are not going to be blindsided with things you cannot eat. Expand your tastebuds' horizons and bring them to Basque by going to Kaixo!
96 Tanjong Pagar Road
Lunch: Wed to Fri, 12pm to 2.30pm
Dinner: Tues to Sat, 6pm to 11pm
Brunch: Sat & Sun, 11am to 3pm
Closed on Monday (full day) and Tuesday (for lunch only)
Thanks to Maggie for the invite!