Thursday, 6 December 2012

Food Review: Kaixo Spanish Basque Restaurant at 96 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088517

Kaixo!
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.

A row of Basque tapas, called pintxos, line the front of the bar counter area.


The decor is very easy and relaxed. Plenty of booze behind the counter too.

The dinner menu is split into Tapas, Appetizers, Seafood, Cold Cuts, Meats, Staples and Desserts. Prices are rather reasonable ($8-$16 for a dish, except the cold cuts platter) because the portions are not full-sized, so you can try more items. I like that! They also offer a variety of drinks from coffees, draft beers to sangrias. If you are around the area, they also have a set lunch menu for $25/30++

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.

Well on to the food! We had a set of 3 pintxos ($12) to start with. Here are the rather exotic ingredients.

Left: Comte cheese, quince paste with pine nuts
Middle: Piquillo peppers, marinated anchovies, chopped onions
Right: Valdeon blue cheese, dried apricots, figs, walnut

It was quite fun to taste all the different flavors, all so strong, blend together on your tastebuds. The bread was slightly hard to bite off, but that is normal because they are served at room temperature.

Next we had Braised Yellowfin Tuna in Tomatoes ($14). It was served in a tuna can, which was really charming. Actually the first reaction when I tasted it was like it tasted like airplane food - which I like. Not a bad thing ok! On further tasting, you will get more addicted because of the sauce.

The huge chunks of potatoes are quite firm and not as mushy as you would expect in a braised dish, which allows the potatoes' flavors to be tasted.

The next dish we had was the most interesting of the night -- Cappuccino of pumpkin, lentils and foie gras ($14). It had a layer of milk froth on top. A salty cappuccino where first you taste the milk, then the pumpkin, and a chunk of delicious foie gras (so sinful!) followed by a thicker base of lentil puree. It was a very substantial soup. Try it if you are feeling adventurous because I don't think you can get this anywhere else!


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!

Here's what inside when you cut open the squid, which was not rubbery. There are sautéed onions and squid tentacles stuffed inside, which tasted rather like short-grain rice! The flavours that Chef Issachar were aiming to achieve in this dish was sweetness from the squid and the savoury/saltiness from the squid ink, which reminds you of the sea. Well, it did, and it was a delicious trip!

And then something to perk us up a little bit. The cherry-flavoured gazpacho ($8) came as a surprise, but not an unpleasant one as it was just the right thing to wake up our tastebuds with the light and slightly sourish cold soup. Usually made with tomatoes, the cherry flavor was an interesting twist. I like how you can down it like a shot. Note that the pictured gazpacho is a sampler size just for us to taste - for $6 you get a bigger glass of soup.


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!

Lastly, a special twist to a classic Italian dessert - the white tiramisu ($10) with Spanish liqueur called 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!

Kaixo
96 Tanjong Pagar Road
+65 62250545

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!

2 comments

  1. the look of the dishes managed to tempt me, shall plan a visit there soon :)

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  2. comte is not a basque cheese :) you should have tried idiazabal, ossau iraty and roncal... i really like sangria but it's typically spanish. if you can try some AOC Irouléguy it would be better. and some ham from bayonne too.

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