Kara Kitchen is:
a) A cozy restaurant run by a tiny team that makes comfort food.
b) A brand of DIY dinners with packaging that reminds you of Mom.
c) A 10,000-square-meter, seven-floor project that includes a vast wine cellar, a handful of demo kitchens, dozens of event spaces and a massive rooftop.
Given this post’s title, you probably answered c), but even knowing that I suspect most people will still be overwhelmed by the scale of this project in the northwest corner of Workers Stadium, near Latte Club and the Gallery Hotel. (Speaking of the hotel, the lobby is worth a visit if only to check out the fun art installations. Yes, that does look like a giant koi flopping on the floor, but if you get closer… well, see for yourself.)
Anyway, the “kara” comes from “karaoke“, but instead of renting a room in which to sing with your friends, you get your very own kitchen. There are eighteen such rooms, that can fit anywhere from a dozen to several hundred people, and that come complete with a full kitchen, prep room, flat-panel TV and toilet. You can do your own cooking, bring in your own chef or hire one from the staff.
Meanwhile, the first floor includes three large demonstration kitchens, focused primarily on Cantonese food, on soups and on cold dishes respectively. TV screens above each kitchen allow patrons to view the action even as they relax at nearby tables. And there is a full TV studio, including kitchen, for making shows that feature the culinary arts. The photo below is shot from the entrance. The studio is at the back and was in action on Monday when I visited.
A few other major features of Kara Kitchen:
- The wine cellar, which is in the initial stages of construction, will measure some 2,000 square meters.
- One of the upper floors includes a “supermarket of wines”, with 150 different bottles from numerous countries at reasonable prices, I am told, while deeper in there will be a “library of wine”, with some 400 bottles.
- Also on the upper floors is a cavernous event space with natural lighting and tempered metal floors.
- And the rooftop is also immense, though the final decision of what will done with it has yet to be made.
I toured this place with the architect and The French Connection and, after checking all 18 of those DIY rooms as well as every other space in the project, we really did need a hearty meal from those first floor kitchens. Look for that to be feasible early next month and the rest of the place to open in stages, with an art show planned for this week and, as noted, TV shows already being produced on site.
By the way, this is the type of project that will have some people excited and others rolling their eyes in contempt, and it will be interesting to see things turn out. But I did like two touches: the herbs grown alongside the tables (see below) and the prep kitchens, on yet another upper floor, that look out on the stadium grounds and its trees. Not a lot of chefs can say they have a room with a view.