Kerry’s Kitchen, located in the Kerry Hotel
, is a cavernous dining room clustered around a central kitchen with sushi bar and carving station – a sort of one-stop East-meets-West eatery. Our advice is to stick to one hemisphere.
Southeast Asian fare is its strength. Laksa (78RMB) is a delicious noodle soup boasting bits of fried tofu floating in a full, heady coconut curry with egg and seafood; share it or order a half portion when you’ve over-ordered (you probably will). But the Hainan chicken rice (88RMB), a dish whose fame in Singapore – amongst other places – makes it somewhat of a litmus test, fails miserably. The oily, gingered grains should be cooked with lots of schmaltz (chicken fat) and magically flavoured pandan leaf, but here the grains are beige and reluctant in their flavour. The chicken itself is cold, disastrously tough and flavourless. The problem is the bird itself, the tenderness of which presents a challenge to any chef.
Service is impressive, with the staff empowered to make you happy, even allowing half-orders to free up your belly for more experiences. But orders can get confused, with mains frequently arriving ahead of, say, a soup or salad – although a poorly laid-out menu is partly to blame.
Among the featured dishes are Korean grilled kalbi (128RMB), a sizzling platter of marinated short ribs whose sheet of tender onions, deglazed with the marinade, sweetly underscore each beefy bite. However, their version of spicy green beans (28RMB), which sound like the Sichuan favourite, complete with pork crumbles and salted vegetables, is bland and wrong. Among the crimes committed, the beans have been ruinously boiled, instead of a blistering scald in hot oil.
At the sweeter end, a flaming baked Alaska (38RMB) sputters out, even after a glug of booze. But the tiramisu (58RMB), spiked with Wuliangye, one of the revered liquors, is a variation that goes down easily. In the end, Kerry’s new kitchen might be a place to go to for myriad experiences, good and bad, on a culinary trot around the world.
By Lillian Chou