Review: It's A Family Meal Gone Wild At Kinship
Having worked through a number of the city’s most notable restaurants and private clubs, chefs Arron Rhodes and Chris Grare joined forces earlier this year to test their friendship in a new venture with Kinship, opened this summer. The family meal-oriented restaurant has taken space within a new building in Soho, and we visited the new establishment with the hopes of feeling the camaraderie through international-inspired dishes, and their perceived good value.
Kinship adopts a casual vibe for its interiors and ambience. An abundance of dark wooden tones can be seen throughout the square space, equipped with a well-stocked bar adjacent to a small semi-open kitchen, where guests can witness the action. The dining room takes on a homely setting, with comfortable long sofas set against wooden furnishings that can be a little bit tight with little elbow room from the neighbouring table. Kinship’s vibe stays casual, with pop and soft rock played throughout the course of meal times, flowing through table conversations.
The menu is adequately humble in selections, a few starters, mains and a small handful of desserts. The array, however, is mostly meat-oriented with bold flavours. We began with the restaurant’s steak tartare. Adding chopped lime pickles into the beef adds a salty-and-tart sensation to the cold starter. We are particularly fond of the Balinese bean salad served with the beef, with its sambal and peanut sauce that is the star.
Burnt risotto, even at a half-portion, was too heavy as a starter. The risotto was creamy but over-seasoned with too much cheese, that even the vinegar-tinted caramelised onions could not cut through the richness of the dish that could feed more than two hungry adults. The egg yolk beignet at the top though, was perfectly great with an Instagrammable runny yolk that oozed into the rice dish.
Sticky barbecued pork belly continued Kinship’s Asian influence. The fork-tender meat was lathered with a sweet American barbecued sauce, basted and glazed throughout the cooking process to get an even tan and sweet, smoky notes. The dashi, poured right before serving with a bed of shiitake mushrooms and sugar snaps, was losing its contrast from the boldly-seasoned pork belly, and the outcome turned into a rather greasy broth underneath the protein.
Roasted chicken with Parisian gnocchi, ratatouille and pesto sauce fared slightly better. The chicken was beautifully roasted on the outside, and a tad pink within. The breast meat was particularly tender. The ratatouille underneath, however, suffered the same over-seasoning issue in other dishes, as the pancetta-tomato ragu competed and clashed with the basil pesto with no clear winner. Brussels sprouts with ponzu made a great side dish, with the wilted greens taking on the citrus-laced Japanese soy sauce nicely.
We were slightly disappointed with lack of a fruit-based dessert, as guests would be looking forward to a light finish from Kinship’s flavoursome offerings. Instead, a chocolate tart with kaya jam and coconut was the closest to a fruit-based sweet. The kaya jam was beautifully made with pandan and caramel, but the Asian screw pine leaf did not work well with an intense, dark chocolate which in its thick, ganache form, was too rich. Mr Whippy, a soft-served ice cream with brownie bits and salted caramel, however, was a crowd favourite and winner in the dessert category, proving that no-fuss simplicity can truly be a classic.
Kinship serves a small handful of wines by-the-glass, with a larger selection of labels available by the bottle. While guests are not offered a taste when ordering by the glass, guests can expect the service team to offer wine recommendations. Cocktails are a little bit on the sweet side, but the upside is that on a scorching hot summer day, an ice-cold reinvented Old Fashioned with an herbaceous twist can be a good fix.
Service is warm and friendly throughout, although at the restaurant’s full capacity the service can be a little messy and short-staffed as delivery of dishes can be a bit slow. Mains take an average of 25 minutes after the starters have been finished. The price tag, however, is small and more affordable compared to restaurants of its calibre in the same neighbourhood.
Kinship is building a following for family-oriented meals that are good for sharing, gaining traction to fulfil the need for a watering hole for those who would take a break from fine dining but not quite looking for take-outs. The casual vibe and approach to its cuisine is well appreciated, but the establishment needs to work on seasoning issue and some of its execution in food and drink to keep a steady flow of returning guests.
A meal for two with one beverage and service: around HK$1,400
How we rate
Each of our reviewers score restaurants based on four main criteria: setting, food, service, and drinks, taking into account more than 35 different points of reference including manners of staff, usefulness of the wine list, and whether or not the restaurant makes an effort to be environmentally aware. 5/5 indicates an exceptional experience; 4-4.5/5 is excellent; 3-3.5/5 is good to very good; and 2.5/5 or lower is average to below average. Before visiting a restaurant, the reviewers will book using a pseudonym and do not make themselves known to restaurant staff, in order to experience the venue as a regular guest—if this is not possible, or if we are recognised, we will indicate this in the review.