Martin’s Kitchen: New restaurant serves unique Hakka-inspired dishes with Mexican and European influences

By Phyllis Leong November 3, 2023
Martin’s Kitchen: New restaurant serves unique Hakka-inspired dishes with Mexican and European influences
Hakka-inspired dishes at Martin’s Kitchen. Photos: Phyllis Leong/HungryGoWhere

Food enthusiasts who revel in fusion fare should check out Martin’s Kitchen, the latest outfit by Armenor Collective. The group is behind other contemporary European concepts such as Armenor and Chapter 3. 

Nestled along Zion Road, Martin’s Kitchen is a newer entrant on the scene, having opened its doors four months ago.

At its helm is chef Cheng Wei Liang, who boasts more than a decade of culinary experience. He has graced the kitchens of various prestigious establishments, such as Super Loco, Ce La Vi and the now-defunct Brasserie Wolf.

The swanky joint caught our attention because it professes to offer a gastronomic experience that blends three very different cuisines — namely the rich and vivid flavours of Hakka, European and Mexican food. Each dish is crafted to highlight the vibrant tapestry of ingredients from these cultures. 

When we asked chef Cheng what prompted him to focus on Hakka-inspired cuisine at Martin’s Kitchen, he shared that he wanted to pay homage to his late aunt, who was Hakka. 

While drawing inspiration from the heritage cuisine, chef Cheng’s creations are modern reinterpretations of traditional Hakka classics.

The menu at Martin’s Kitchen

Martin's Kitchen
Hakka “lei cha” chopped salad. Photo: Phyllis Leong/HungryGoWhere

The first round of appetisers arrived at our table, and we immediately tucked into the Hakka “lei cha” chopped salad (S$19). It’s a refreshing rendition of the ubiquitous lei cha (thunder tea) rice dish, which is accompanied by greens, tofu and pickled radish. The dish is usually doused with an aromatic soup comprising tea leaves and herbs.

At Martin’s Kitchen, a fragrant matcha vinaigrette is favoured over the tea soup. The creamy dressing carries mellow herbaceous notes and a welcome sweetness that lifts the savouriness of the salad. Spiced peanuts are also tossed into the mix of freshly chopped greens and tofu for added crunch.

Martin's Kitchen
Hakka ravioli. Photo: Phyllis Leong/HungryGoWhere

The Hakka ravioli (S$19) is one of our favourite items on Martin Kitchen’s menu. These six ingot-shaped dumplings are an innovative take on the traditional ravioli. Sitting in a bath of spicy Szechuan sauce and Habanero oil, chewy dumplings hug an umami-laden pork and fish filling. For the final touch, a smattering of crispy yam fritters nest on the dish.

Martin's Kitchen
“Abacus seed” gnocchi. Photo: Phyllis Leong/HungryGoWhere

The hallmark dish of Hakka cuisine is suan pan zi, also known as abacus seeds. Made with simple ingredients such as taro and flour, this dimpled, disc-shaped delicacy symbolises wealth and prosperity. 

Martin’s Kitchen has spun its creative twist to the nostalgic treat. Aptly named “abacus seed” gnocchi (S$26), yam is the star ingredient in the dish — and it perfectly replicates the chewy texture of Italian gnocchi. 

An amalgamation of leek, shimeiji mushroom, sakura ebi and dried cep adorn the platter, adding a variety of textures and flavours. A creamy in-house sauce also complements the gnocchi, though we think it’s a tad surfeiting.

Martin's Kitchen
”Thunder tea” barramundi. Photo: Phyllis Leong/HungryGoWhere

The “thunder tea” barramundi (S$29) is a drool-worthy dish that we’d return for. Tender and succulent Kuhlbarra barramundi take centre stage with its crispy, golden-brown skin. It sits on a robust thunder tea broth and is decorated with crispy silver fish, shimeiji mushroom and wakame. 

Chef Cheng recommends that we dip the fish into the sauce to best savour the tea’s earthy flavours. The portion is generous enough for two, so we’d order this as a sharing plate.

Martin's Kitchen
Hakka noodles. Photo: Phyllis Leong/HungryGoWhere

Spice lovers will be enthralled by the Hakka noodles (S$27). It features housemade noodles made from premium flour for a buoyant, QQ texture. This is paired with red fermented pork that’s marinated in a nan ru (fermented tofu) paste, which imbues a salty, umami-rich depth into the meat. 

But the punchline is an accompanying fiery dip that’s a concoction of red habanero, jalapenos habanero and chipotle hot sauce. While it lends a red-hot kick of spice, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart — so use it sparingly.

Martin's Kitchen
Hakka mochi “qiba”. Photos: Phyllis Leong/HungryGoWhere

Dessert is an indulgent affair with the Hakka mochi “qiba” (S$15). Fried coconut shavings, chewy traditional Hakka mochi and red bean jelly are nestled in a velvety orange chocolate gravy. The luscious morsels are then generously sprinkled with peanut brittle.

Some might not be a fan of the chocolate sauce, but we find that the orange pairs impeccably well with the fudgy cocoa base. This is one of the best desserts that we’ve tried thus far, and we gobbled up the dish in no time.

Must-try alcoholic beverage

Martin's Kitchen
Thunder tea cocktail. Photo: Phyllis Leong/HungryGoWhere

You may have seen recreations of the classic thunder tea salad, but we bet you haven’t tried a Hakka-inspired thunder tea cocktail (S$18). 

It’s a decadent beverage comprising a harmonious blend of whiskey, artisanal rice milk, vibrant matcha and rich black tea. 

The final garnishes are silverfish and crunchy peanuts. The former is quite an acquired taste, and we did find the drink more palatable without it. 

Other bestselling alcoholic beverages on the menu include the full-bodied Martin’s negroni (S$20) and Flor de Sauco (S$18). The latter is a refreshing pick-me-up that’s donned with a gorgeous edible floral paper. For those who enjoy lighter drinks, it’s the perfect one to go for.

This was a hosted tasting.

For more eats in the area, check out Soll Cafe or food spots along the Thomson-East Coast line

For the latest in the food scene, check out our guides on new openings in October and must-try Japanese buffets for all budgets

Book a ride to Zion Road to try Hakka-inspired cuisine at Martin’s Kitchen.

Martin’s Kitchen

56 Zion Road
Nearest MRT station: Great World
Open: Monday to Sunday (11am to 3pm, 6pm to 10.30pm)

56 Zion Road
Nearest MRT station: Great World
Open: Monday to Sunday (11am to 3pm, 6pm to 10.30pm)

Picture for WP

Phyllis Leong


The resident sweet tooth with a severe addiction to desserts.

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