Restaurant Review

Chef Sun Kim's new eatery, Kimme, offers a la carte choices and big flavours

The Korean-centric dishes at Kimme excite the palate

Those who do not want to be restricted to the fixed menus at Meta can check out chef Sun Kim's latest eatery, Kimme, instead.

The restaurant, which opened in Amoy Street 1½ weeks ago, offers the same style of contemporary Asian cooking as Meta, the one-Michelin-starred restaurant in Keong Saik Road. But it has an a la carte menu.

The new restaurant is also bigger and occupies three floors of a shophouse unit.

The open kitchen is on the ground floor, with a long communal table that seats 18 people in front. The second floor is shared between a bar and small dining tables that seat a total of 22 people, while the third floor is reserved for private dining.

Kimme offers small and big plates for sharing and some of the dishes are similar to those at Meta. But for the same number of courses, prices work out to be slightly cheaper here, and you can control how many and what dishes you want to eat.

You would find a strong Korean stamp on many of the dishes, which is not surprising since the chef is South Korean. But there are also hints of Singapore influences - no doubt gleaned from his time spent here. Before starting Meta two years ago, he cooked in Waku Ghin at the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort.

The Korean-centric dishes are my favourite. Among them is the Korean Style Wagyu Tartare ($23), which is better than a similar dish I had at Meta two years ago.

Kimme's (clockwise from main picture, foreground) Spanish Prawn; Hokkaido Scallop, Asparagus, Parsnip, Mushroom; and Bossam.
Kimme's Spanish Prawn; Hokkaido Scallop, Asparagus, Parsnip, Mushroom. ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

The minced raw beef is dressed like yukhoe, a Korean-style tartare - with a mix of sauces, spices and sesame that provides an immediate punch on the palate. With a raw quail egg stirred in and eaten on a piece of crispy sago chip, it makes for an excellent appetiser.

There is also Kampachi Sashimi ($22) that comes with ginger and gochujang sauce - a red chilli paste used in many Korean dishes - and it is another wow on the palate.

The sauce is robust, but not fiery. So although the thickly sliced raw kampachi is enveloped in it, the flavour of the fish still comes through.

Of the big plates, the most unmistakably Korean dish is Bossam ($35). That is also the name of the traditional dish of boiled slices of pork belly eaten wrapped in cabbage or lettuce leaves with condiments such as raw garlic, green chilli and kimchi.

Here, the dish comes with just two items - ssamjang sauce and white kimchi - which you place with the pork belly on an endive leaf. I miss the more complex flavours of the traditional bossam, but the compensation comes in how crisp the endive is.

Kimme's (clockwise from main picture, foreground) Spanish Prawn; Hokkaido Scallop, Asparagus, Parsnip, Mushroom; and Bossam.
PHOTO: KIMME

For some local flavour, try the Spanish Prawn ($30), which comes with housemade XO sauce that is not very hot, but is tasty with the flavour of dried scallops. There are also mussels in the dish, fried till dry to get a chewy texture and a more intense flavour that I like, as well as pieces of artichoke.

It is when the flavours go light that the dishes land on shakier ground.

The Poached Prawn ($18) is an example of a dish that cries out for something with more character, to rescue it from its blandness. The coriander oil, pomelo, sprouts and strips of endive do not do the job and the result fails to tickle the tastebuds.

Then there are dishes with ingredient combinations that do not quite work for me.

The Spanner Crab, Seaweed, Linguine ($26) has the delicate-tasting crabmeat totally drowned out by the seaweed. Something with a more assertive flavour, such as scallops or prawns, would work better. Otherwise, it is a good dish because the pasta is awash with the flavour of the sea, which I enjoy.

  • KIMME

  • 47 Amoy Street, tel: 6514-1588; open: noon to 2.30pm, 5.30 to 11pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays

    Food: 3.5/5

    Service: 4/5

    Ambience: 3.5/5

    Price: Budget about $100 a person

Another dish, Hokkaido Scallop, Asparagus, Parsnip, Mushroom ($28), tastes like a normal Chinese stir-fry - but for the odd piece of century egg. That makes it different, but I'm not sure it improves the dish. Either way, it is just a decent dish and you can get better stir-fries at many Chinese restaurants. So give this a miss unless you need more fibre in your meal.

For dessert, I'd recommend the Banana Cream Puff ($10 for two). The puffs are soft and filled with a light cream. Pop one in the mouth and feel the pleasure.

•Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke and Instagram @wongahyoke

•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 14, 2018, with the headline 'Kimme more flavours '. Print Edition | Subscribe