KOAL, Shaw Centre, Orchard Singapore

@candidcuisine By far KOAL is one of the best restaurants I've tried in SG and deserves a Michelin Bib Gourmand 💯🔥 Good value for money and well executed lunch sets by Les Amis group. Really enjoyed my experience here. #wheretoeat #sgfoodie #sgdateideas #lesamis ♬ Married Life (From "Up") – Gina Luciani

Address: 1 Scotts Rd, #03 – 09 / 10 / 11 Shaw Centre, Singapore 228208
Opening Hours: Daily 11:30am–2:30pm, 6–10pm, Closed on Mondays
Official Website: koalgrill.com
Instagram: koal.grill

Behold, KOAL is now my new favorite restaurant in Singapore.

I can’t stress enough the importance of a well-executed concept. People think that a good restaurant just needs to have the freshest ingredients or good quality cooking. That works if we are living fifty years ago. Not anymore.

But what does it mean to have a well-executed concept? At this day and age, it’s a delicate balance between price points and choices. And choice is not just giving your customers free will. It’s about steering them to making the right choices. I think that’s what most restaurants are missing nowadays and often, these concepts fall through the cracks. They miss out on becoming memorable to their customers. Again, I want to repeat a crucial measurement if your restaurant is doing well: repeat customers. If they don’t come back to your restaurant, chances are you’ll live for an average of 3 years in the business. That number drastically fell post pandemic, by the way. It used to be 5-7 years.

Enter KOAL, the brainchild of Les Amis Group, who seemed to have mastered the art of opening concepts flawlessly. Recall LINO Pizza and Pasta Bar. Tenjin. Tarte by Cheryl Koh. And don’t forget Les Amis and Bistro du Vin.

KOAL sits in the demand of those who like the classic grills plus the trends of rice bowls and furikake. My set lunch was only at $26, a price point that’s so attractive, one can have doubts to whether it is for real. For starters, customers can choose between Cauliflower Soup, Tomato with Burrata or Chilled Beef and Lao Gan Ma on Tofu. The crowd favorite Cauliflower soup is the default choice for many, because it’s the only apt choice for a grill setting.

And this choice doesn’t disappoint. There’s much depth and richness to the cream soup that even the lactose intolerant might risk a spoon. And in that richness, you’ll taste the crack of the almond, sprinkled generously with furikake. The cauliflower is charred, slightly sour and acidic, but it’s the right balance.

For the mains, there’s a wide variety of mains from grilled chicken to salmon to grass fed ribeye and USDA Prime Rib. But my personal favorite: Iberico Pork Collar. Like I said, this restaurant steers you to selecting that, because between chicken ($22) or salmon ($30), the pork is priced at a clever $26. (Also, try not to order chicken dishes in a restaurant if you want to find out their skills).

That medium well tender Iberico Pork puts many grill restaurants to shame. While the portion size is smaller than usual, I find it harder to finish the rice bowl after a heavy starter. Shimeji mushrooms, corn, nori and the perfect, perfect onsen egg mesh well with the star of the rice bowl: the humble Charred Broccoli. To those who aren’t ordering set lunches, you can grab this as a starter. I hear KOAL’s Bread Roll is legendary.

The set lunches, which are only available from 11:30am – 2:30pm, come with dessert. I opted for the Fizzy Umeshu Jelly with Macerated Berries, because my stomach can’t take another Hojicha and Whisky Tiramisu. The acidity cuts through a lot of the cream and salt and egg aftertaste of the meal, and I couldn’t have asked for a better dessert for balance.

The pacing between the mains and the dessert could be improved, and the customer service is nothing noteworthy. But KOAL deserves a return visit for dinner service, but until then, I’m going to be dreaming about the cauliflower soup and on the hunt for my next favorite restaurant.