K.K. Kitchen has affordable Japanese food in Toa Payoh
With an extensive menu of around 100 items, it’s understandable that passers-by may be skeptical of the food quality at K.K. Kitchen. However, a quick glance at the rave reviews on Google suggests otherwise. Touted as a “hidden gem” by one reviewer, along with numerous mentions of snaking lunchtime queues, we knew we had to head down and see what the fuss was all about.
Established in 2019, K.K. Kitchen is owned and operated by a couple who previously worked at Nirai-Kanai, another Okinawan diner at Great World. Drawing from their prior culinary experience, the couple offers two Okinawan dishes at the hawker stall, alongside common favourites such as bento sets, curry rice, and donburi.
Food at K.K. Kitchen
One of these Okinawan dishes is Bitter Gourd Stir Fry with Pork, Egg & Tofu, AKA goya chanpuru. For the uninitiated, Okinawan cuisine is known for its Chinese influences, which is encapsulated in the chanpuru’s stir-fried nature.
For just $5.50, you get a generous serving of every ingredient. While I’m not the biggest fan of bitter gourd, I liked K.K. Kitchen’s rendition. Depending on how it’s cooked, I find that bitter gourd can either be overwhelmingly bitter, or not at all.
This is one of those instances where the bitter gourd leaned sweet, complementing the egg and tofu nicely. The pork added some savouriness to the dish, but was a little tough for me.
I wanted to try their salmon, but they were out of stock that afternoon. Following the stall owner’s recommendation, I ordered the Saba Shioyaki ($6.50) instead.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the saba ended up being my favourite dish. For one, it was completely deboned, which took away much of the annoyance that usually comes with eating saba. It also tasted fresh and was surprisingly meaty.
Paired with a squeeze of lemon and the soya sauce-based dip provided, the salt-grilled saba was packed full of flavour and thoroughly enjoyable.
As I opted for the saba set, my meal also came with a bowl of rice. I topped up $2 to get their Seasoned Mixed Rice ($3 a la carte), another Okinawan dish comprising short-grained rice cooked with pork, seaweed, shiitake mushroom and carrot.
Also known as kufa jushi in Japanese, the Seasoned Mixed Rice reminded me of Yonehachi’s okowa, which is a similar steamed glutinous rice dish with seasonal ingredients. With sets starting from $12.90++ at Yonehachi, K.K. Kitchen’s rendition is definitely a more budget-friendly alternative.
Despite being much cheaper, K.K. Kitchen does not compromise on taste. The rice was well-cooked, allowing the umami-laden flavours of pork, seaweed and shiitake mushroom to permeate each grain.
The set also came with a small appetiser, which includes half an Ajitama egg, shredded pork, and pickles. The egg and pork were a little too sweet for my taste, but it’s worth noting that my palate does lean towards savoury flavours.
Although not unique to Okinawan cuisine, K.K. Kitchen’s curry rice seems popular among regulars. We tried their Tonkatsu Curry ($7), and it certainly did not disappoint.
They were generous with their portions, which ensured that I enjoyed a good ratio of curry, rice, and meat with each spoonful. The curry was flavourful, peppery, and slightly sweet, while the tonkatsu was well-seasoned, but slightly dry. It was nothing a little more curry couldn’t fix, though.
Ambience at K.K. Kitchen
Located in a small coffee shop beneath an HDB block, K.K. Kitchen isn’t the most accessible eatery. It is a 13-minute walk from Toa Payoh MRT Station, or a 10-minute bus ride from Toa Payoh Bus Interchange.
Like most coffee shops, sitting nearer to the stalls can get stuffy at times. Thankfully, there are plenty of outdoor seats to go around.
In spite of its rather ulu location, there was a sizable number of people at the coffee shop when we visited on a Thursday afternoon. We were lucky enough to get our food pretty quickly too!
K.K. Kitchen serves up affordable, value-for-money Japanese fare. For the price, you’re getting good-sized portions, relatively high-quality ingredients, and pretty legit flavours. While its location might not be the most convenient, it’s certainly worth a visit if you’re nearby, or are craving Okinawan dishes.
If you’re looking for more food to try in the area, walk over to the neighbouring stall Wu Da Ma Xiao Chi Dian for hand-torn mee hoon kueh and razor clams at just $6.50! Alternatively, check out our guide to the best chirashi don in Singapore.
Address: Block 92 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, #01-264, Singapore 310092
Opening hours: Wed-Mon 10:30am to 3pm, 4:30pm to 8pm
Tel: 9679 2503
K.K. Kitchen is not a halal-certified eatery.
Photos taken by Ke-ian J Leong
This was an independent review by Eatbook.