Sunday, September 02, 2007

Kum Den

This must be one of my first original restaurant reviews on this food blog without any photos. I went to dinner on Friday with Justin, Justin, David, David, Harinder and Susannah for Justin (Spikey's birthday). We went to Kum Den, which is a Chinese restaurant on Waratah Place off Chinatown.

The restaurant is just a modest looking place hidden in the laneway. The small side sliding door gives way to the usual bland tables. There is quite a few fish tanks with an assortment of live seafood such as lobsters, fish etc. The walls are also littered with colourful paper all with dishes on them. I don't know why so many Chinese restaurants like to do this. Those dishes aren't exactly specials as they are on the menu and never change.

We snack on prawn crackers while waiting for everyone to arrive. When we have more people than our current table can hold, we get upgraded to a larger table. Since it was Justin's birthday, we left it to him to do all the ordering. We also give him our ultra cheap present of a card and a book.

The dishes that Justin orders are Stewed Pork with Plum Sauce, Sizzling Sweet Chilli Pork, Claypot Honey Chicken, Taro Duck, Fried Milk and Snow Pea Leaves with Garlic. I was expecting the food to be bad, but to my surprise, it was all good.

The Stewed Pork is the middle section of the pig where you get the layer of fat with the meat. It's then done in a way called Hong Siu, which is sort of like a plum sauce. Anyway, the meat was tender and the flavours were good.

Slightly similar in taste was the Sizzling Sweet Chilli Pork. The pork strips were battered and then put onto a hotplate with vegetables and a sweet chilli sauce. The Claypot Chicken came in a metal claypot, so that was a bit disappointing. However, the chicken was cooked through (unilke at Dragon Boat) and tender. The sauce was also a nice sweet honey type sauce. It was also still warm. Take note Dragon Boat. The fried milk was good too. It was done with a pepper chilli mixture rather than the usual slightly sweet flavour. The Taro Duck was done well, with lots of soft taro covering a roast duck. Even the snow pea leaves with garlic was good and not bitter, which can happen with slightly older snow pea leaves.

Overall, the service was good too. Requests were taken care of such as more prawn crackers. They also refilled the tea throughout the night and greeted us off when we left. The atmosphere was ok, with our table contributing a lot of the noise.

I must admit that I thought this place was going to be bad as it looked rather ordinary from the outside. But I guess I shouldn't underestimate the quality of the food in Chinatown. If it wasn't of a decent level, it wouldn't have survived so long considering the expensive rent. I would go back to this place for another meal. It worked out pretty cheap too.

Overall Rating: 14/20, Food, service and price all pretty good. Interior is a bit ordinary as well as atmosphere, but if you have a lot of people, you will generate most of the atmosphere.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.


  1. They do a pretty good fried beancurd and salt and pepper squid too. We used to order platefuls of it in my early student days. I'm not sure I've tried much else there so your review was very interesting

  2. Yay Thanh! Love your simpsons avatar! How addictive is this thing eh?

    Hey slightly off topic, but just letting you know that M's nemesis is currently travelling O/S so she mightn't be able to address your queries any time soon. Regarding your troubles with the galaktobureko i gave it a whirl too and didn't have troubles with the custard filling but more so with sogginess. With respect to the custard filling i think it helps tremendously to have a balloon whisk on hand to gradually whisk in the semolina for incorporating it into the milk & sugar mixture. As for the filo sogginess, what i resolve to do next time is to drizzle the syrup before i cut into pieces. The syrup should have a slight hint of viscosity to it but nothing too thick. Hope you have better luck with your next kitchen endeavour :)

  3. Truffle, I tend to dismiss a lot of Chinese restaurants because they really are awful. I'm Chinese myself so have eaten a lot of Chinese food and have gotten to know what is good (according to me) and what is bad. It's just that a lot of Chinese restaurants have a lot of bad habits such as using a lot of MSG, using bicarb soda to soften meat, pre-frying everything and it makes the food taste horrible. Hence I was surprised that this place had pretty fresh and good food. I'll try the fried beancurd and salt and pepper squid should I next go there.

    Serenity Later, I love the avatar, its so cool as I love the Simpsons.

    Thanks for letting me know regarding M being overseas. With the galaktoboureko, I used a wooden spoon and poured it way too fast hence it clumped. I will use a balloon whisk next time. With the sogginess, I think it was too soggy and I would have preferred the top crispy. Hence I might cut them up and just drizzle a tiny bit of syrup in the cracks so that the syrup only hits the bottom and not the top pastry.

    I hope I do a better version next time.

  4. This is probably one of my favorite restaurant in terms of price and quality too! They do really good lobster noodles with ginger and spring onions!

    You have great reviews, really enjoy reading them!

  5. Hungry Hamster, this place did surprise me by how good the food was. I will try the lobster noodles when I go back.

    Hope you keep enjoying the blog.

  6. The name of this place sounds like a title of American-Oriental porno.

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