Date of review: February 14, 2013 | Reviewed by: Lynn Fung
Kin’s Kitchen is the restaurant owned by local food writer Lau Kin Wai and his son, and the original branch in Tin Hau has long been a gourmand’s open secret. When the restaurant opened a second branch in Wan Chai, right around the corner from Hong Kong Tatler’s offices, we were ecstatic. Located on the fifth floor of W Square, the décor is simple and mainly decked in red and white. Large windows allow the bright lights of nearby office buildings to flood in, and the high ceilings give the restaurant an airiness not common to most Cantonese restaurants. Exposed ceilings and red banquettes complete the modern ambience.
Kin’s Kitchen is known for its simple, rustic, home-style Cantonese cooking, which allows its quality ingredients to shine. We started with one of the signatures: oven-baked chicken. When the chicken arrived, its appearance was not promising, as it looked dried and perhaps reheated with the edges of the meat curling up. The taste is a bit better, though it borders on the overly smoky side, and the white meat is dry. It is also one-note in flavour, not helped by the fact that the staff refused to give us any ginger or spring onion dip that might have alleviated the blandness of the chicken. Another special item we had pre-ordered, as it is off-menu, are the soup noodles with yellow croaker. Long slivers of al dente noodles are served with slivers of ginger, preserved vegetables and given a bit of extra umami with the sautéed chunks of fish, but overall, the noodles are a bit underseasoned. This is especially true if you had a bite of the Hiroshima oysters served in a casserole pot beforehand. While the deep-fried battered oysters are juicy and well-cooked, we found the dish overly greasy. Also deep-fried and battered were the pork in curry sauce, which had a slight plummy sauce tinged with spices reminiscent of a Malaysian curry. This was definitely a love-it or hate-it kind of dish. Finally, we also tried the braised pomelo peel with shrimp roe. The flavours of this classic dish are fine, but it is missing the natural sweetness of the pomelo and we would have preferred it to be even softer. For dessert, we waited a long while for the almond milk dessert, but it wasn’t really worth the wait as the almond flavour was extremely mild, and it tasted more like a bowl of hot milk with some chunks of egg white floating in it.
The wines by the bottle list at Kin’s Kitchen is decent, with a good selection of French red wines, as well as some choices from the new world. Whites are a bit more limited, with under 10 bottles mostly from Australia and New Zealand. They are reasonably priced, with quite a few choices available around HK$300. If only drinking by the glass though, the choices are limited to one red and one white by the glass, both from the Aresti vineyard in Chile. They were a 2009 chardonnay and 2009 carmenere reserve, neither of which were particularly good.
Although the restaurant has an open layout, it can be surprisingly difficult to get the attention of the staff. They are friendly, if not the most knowledgeable and the pacing of the dishes can be improved. All our main courses arrived all at once, but there was a long wait for dessert.
A filling meal for two with wine comes to under HK$1,000. While this is not expensive, we also find that the quality of the dishes lacking, therefore would not pay this price for it again in a hurry.