Sustainability is hardly anything new – I’ve been scouring thesauruses (thesauri?) for any other word that doesn’t immediately repute to corn-based cutlery and straw bans. But it is inevitable, and we give major props to those who do it right. Close behind the opening of the adjacent Indigo Blue Kitchen is Kausmo, the latest concept backed by Les Amis Group in Shaw Centre. In the spirit of mindfulness and sparking conversations about conscientious ways of living, it is the physical embodiment of challenging food norms in fine dining.
At only 24, Culinary Institute alum Lisa Tang has already been nominated for Rising Female Chef award at the World Gourmet Summit 2019. She’s also been through her share of the culinary wringer in the kitchens of Pollen and Jaan. Together with co-founder Kuah Chew Shian and marketing lead Robin Thang, they run Kausmo with equal parts experience, passion, and bushy-tailed gusto.
Sitting on the third floor of Shaw Centre, it’s an easy-to-miss enclave in between the hubbub of new openings that abound around it. They’ve just enough space for an open-concept kitchen and one 16-seater table. And while this makes for an intimate setting ideal for larger, private parties, they’ll happily accommodate smaller groups round for dinner.
The vibe is definitely one that’s both rustic yet tasteful – surrounded by shelves stocked with cookbooks, jars of preserves, kombuchas, and the like. The adorable pair even hand-carved hashi-oki from scraps of Singaporean mahogany, and plate up on charmingly imperfect pieces from Legle Gaia, a creative offshoot by Legle France.
Long-time friends Lisa and Chew Shian move like a well-oiled machine. We watch on as the former works her magic on the kitchen floor and the latter sprightly walks us through the meal, with plenty of humorous discourse and anecdotes thrown in for good measure.
Be it irregularly-shaped produce from wholesalers or seafood from small farming communities in the region, the pair get their food straight from the source and work their way through the menu accordingly. Garnishes and flavourings also come from native greens locals often disregard.
While it makes for a more challenging day-to-day, this ever-changing tide of ingredients highlight Chef Lisa’s culinary prowess. She comments,
“We’ve learnt to embrace the volatility of our ingredients, because Mother Nature is just as beautifully unpredictable!”
The carte blanche nature of things makes reviewing food a little more tricky, but we’ll give you a good gist of our experience. Expect unfamiliar flavours from all too familiar faces, a perfect example being their Batoko Butter, made from the plums of the ubiquitous Batoko trees found in every neighbourhood (they get theirs free from layers of pesticides from a local farmer). It adds a tartness that’s almost jamlike, and makes for an apt introduction with a slice of house-made sourdough and smoked roe.
Weaving hints of her Teochew heritage into the mix, Chef Lisa makes sure to throw in a curveball or two – her Wild Fish Congee a heartwarming contrast to the Chipotle-Berry Glazed Wagyu Beef D-Rump – the latter of which comes served in a vegetable jus that’s so compellingy rich and complex, you wouldn’t have guessed it was made from the “reject” pile. Chew Sian is quick to clarify that most vegetables don’t make the cut simply for looking different (and at times, being too large), and not because they flounder in quality.
Kausmo currently seats two seatings for dinner, priced at S$75++ for a Six-Course Dinner by reservation only. There’s usually a flight of colourful, house-made kombuchas as well – we had the Jasmine and Hojicha-based teas for ours, and you can get a full flight for tasting at an additional S$20++ on top of your meal. If and when available, don’t forget to stock up on bottled Kombuchas.
Kausmo is located at 1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre, #03-07, Singapore 228208, p. +65 8126 8538, e. firstname.lastname@example.org. First seating is at 6.30pm, with the second at 8.30pm. Closed Mondays and alternate Sundays.