For this edition of Eye Candy, our spotlight shines on Joshua, a partner at Series of Intentions, the group behind Kilo, Kilo Lounge, Kilo Bali, and Grain Traders. With the Kilo brand’s unfaltering presence in the F&B scene as well as its most recent expansion in Bali, we talk to Joshua about the brand’s roots, ethos, and future plans.
Hi Joshua! Most people know you as the man behind the multitude of Series of Intentions’ concepts, ranging from food, drinks, events, and brand development. How exactly did you come to be in Singapore and Kilo, working along aside Javier, the brand’s founder?
I wouldn’t say most people. They usually perceive me as the party guy that’s constantly sending out Facebook invites to our weekend parties at Kilo Lounge.
Anyway, I ended up in Singapore when I followed a girl who took a 3-month contract job here and during my stay here, I fell in love with Singapore and Asia. Everyone I met then seemed to be killing it at whatever they were doing, had an entrepreneurial spirit and I sensed opportunities here.
At that point in time, I started creating concepts and putting together business plans. I made two friends from Puerto Rico who introduced me to Javier (Founder of Kilo and also a Puerto Rican), became friends and we noticed there was a synergy working together which evolved into Kilo’s menu planning and business developments. So we took up an office space, became partners and started creating and growing business for Series of Intentions.
The food menus across all Series of Intentions’ outlets (Kilo at Pact, Kilo Kitchen, and Grain Traders) are influenced by a variety of cultures and gastronomy techniques – what are the inspirations behind the dishes at all three outlets?
‘It’s fusion but we like to call it Confusion’, joked Javier when asked to describe Kilo’s food, and that became part of our spiel. But if you asked me, our style is influenced by both Latin and Asian roots; mainly because we live in Asia and Latin is our roots. But in all honesty, we love playing with food, flavors and techniques and having a broad label allows us to experiment.
All three Kilo restaurants have stayed pretty consistent with this format and we like to have a level of familiarity when it comes to the aesthetic and vibe of the space throughout all outlets. For Bali, we use Bali fresh produce, so you will see some dishes on the menu that are exclusive to Bali. We just wanted to offer good, honest food for people without compromising on flavor – and making it accessible – with Grain Traders.
You grew up in the Caribbean and worked in Hollywood previously. How do you think people’s palates differ, and is it any different/was it difficult trying to cater to the Singaporean palate?
We are fortunate that Singapore is a melting pot of culture. That being said, Singaporeans’ palates are way more developed and open minded as compared to places that I grew up or have worked in. Ask my family who have never left the Caribbean to eat something like raw fish or meat and you’ll never hear the end of it.
But at Series of Intentions, we don’t try to cater to a certain palate. Kilo has never set out to be the best restaurant searching Michelin-Star status instead, we are motivated by creating spaces with curated music that people will love, enjoy, share and experience.
For anyone who has yet to sample food at any Kilo restaurant – what do you think are the ‘must-try’ dishes and or drinks for each of the outlets?
That’s a tough one because everyone has their personal favorites. But here are the dishes that best encompass the type of cuisine we do – Beef Tongue Tacos seared in Jalapeño butter and topped with apple miso slaw or our Squid Ink Rice with crispy baby squid, salmon roe and garlic aioli.
As for drinks, I’ll definitely recommend the Orale Huey (slang in Mexico for What’s Up). This drink has 100% agave tequila, tamarind, blood oranges, lime and chipotle peppers for a kick of heat at the end.
Kilo Lounge has taken a different approach in operating as compared to most clubs who focus on VIP and bottle service. Tell us why?
When I first moved to Singapore, the nightlife was completely different with limited options that are predominantly about the VIP and the experience of fun was measured by how much money spent and how many sparklers at the table. Music was pretty much the same everywhere. But I’m more of a beer and dance floor kind of dude, always searching for good music.
At this very time, I met a couple of like-minded friends who were searching for something different and we started our After Dark pop-up series at Kilo. We ran a 4-month series at the restaurant, turned the space around and had friends dished out deep and tech house tunes. Turnout was overwhelming and so Kilo Lounge was created, a place that focused on music and the dance floor vibes, rather than a place that encouraged you to spend as much money as possible.
We adopted the first-come-first-serve concept, eliminated cover charge, guestlist and any special VIP treatment; invited the Singapore-based DJs to play. So it doesn’t matter how much you are willing to spend, you can’t skip the queue before the guy who’s probably just drinking red bull dancing the night away to good music.
However, we’ve implemented a cover charge with no free drinks when we’re bringing an international DJ in to cover the cost, which probably rubbed people off the wrong way because it’s standard that cover charge comes with a free drink. Personally, I always found it offensive because it’s like saying ‘Hey, just to be sure, you’re not a free loader so buy two drinks from us before you’re allowed in’.
To us, it’s simple, whenever we have local DJs or DJs based in SEA, the party will always be free but when we bring in international acts, they cost us a lot more money so that is what the charge is for. If you buy 3 bottles of champagne once you are inside, great; but if you don’t and just have some soft drinks, that’s fine by us too.
Kilo Lounge has a great track record for throwing a good party. Any other big plans lined up?
We are always looking at bringing in bigger acts, not only for the party people but it’s also a great exposure for Singapore and all the local talents who have helped us get here from the beginning.
Our upcoming acts include Uner, Danny Daze, and Prok and Fitch for our New Year’s Eve Party. You can expect some surprises in 2016.
Kilo has just opened in Bali – what was that like, and how is it different from Kilo Singapore? And now that the brand has a sort of cult following in Singapore, are there any future plans for the brand locally and regionally?
We just turned a year old in Bali. Overall, it was a fun process and we have an amazing team there. The concept is essentially the same as Singapore but the market is completely different. For instance, making table reservations plays a huge part in Singapore’s dining culture but we see a full house of purely walk-in guests in Bali. Also, Bali is a tourist market with high and low seasons and Kilo’s success grew on word of mouth in Bali such as TripAdvisor and Instagram users.
Our goal is to open up a few more Grain Traders in Singapore as well as taking it into the international markets. As for Kilo and Kilo Lounge, Jakarta looks quite interesting at the moment, but for now we will keep focusing our energy in evolving the concepts that we currently have. Well, there will be a new concept coming from us pretty soon which encompasses some of the best elements of our After Dawn Block Party, and that’s as much as I can say!
All images by Prashant Ashoka.