Sunday, October 09, 2011

Kin's Kitchen - Hong Kong Cantonese

Smoked Chicken
This was from back in April (I know, I know), but it's worth writing about because they do a nice mix of Hong Kong-style Canto home cooking (in that there are a few "fusion" dishes) and traditional restaurant fare that's a bit hard to find nowadays. It's also worth noting that the owner of Kin's Kitchen is also the owner and founder of Hong Kong's first private kitchen, Yellow Door. While I found the food at Yellow Door (Sichuanese) decent but underwhelming, I feel much better about the food at Kin's. I feel like they have more intimate knowledge about what they're cooking. Plus, you can make bookings for smaller parties as it's just an upscale-ish neightbourhood restaurant.

Beef cubes with garlic
To start, a pretty standard appetiser of 1-inch cubes of beef in a thickist garlic and soy gravy.

Stuffed duck
Kind of like eight treasure duck, deboned and stuffed with glutinous rice and lotus seed. It was fall-apart tender, and the lotus seeds were chalky-soft. Very nicely done.

The other main meat dish was the smoked chicken pictured above. I'm glad they used fresh chicken; the meat tends to be better textured - you can pull it into strings and each string feels quite strong - not tough, just able to survive the teeniest bit of stretching before falling apart. The flesh also tends to have a glossier sheen. The smoking was subtle, and rose-scented wine was used in the dish, otherwise it was kind of like a good soy sauce chicken. I can't remember if I had to pre-book this dish. Usually at older-school Chinese restaurants I ask the reservationist if they have any dishes that require booking.

Steamed wai san with thousand year egg, black fungi, pork and dried shrimp
Wai san (Mandarin: huai shan), according to Wikipedia, is called Chinese yam, or Dioscorea opposita. To my knowledge, the dry version is most common in Cantonese cuisine, mostly in double-boiled or slow-boiled soup, although the fresh version is popping up a lot more now in normal savoury dishes, like  what we had here. I reckon it's largely to do with the medi-culinary trend that's been sweeping the Greater China region, possibly even Korea and Japan. In simple terms it's combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with cooking. Anyway, back to this dish - fresh wai san is like a crisper, less dense version of potato, but not as porous as nashi (Asian) pear. Like potato, it doesn't have much taste on its own, it relies on the pork and dried shrimp. Overall it's a light, fresh, subtly perfumed dish that was a good break from all those big chunks of meat.

Mustard greens steamed with preserved vegetables
Both this and the wai san above are the kinds of dishes I really like. Veg-based, with a smattering of intensely flavoured something-or-rather to perk it up. I think I also have a preference for slightly odd-tasting veg. Mustard greens have a very slight bitterness. Oh and the texture - kind of starchy, heavy, something that I can sink my teeth into. The "intense flavour" component in this dish was of course the preserved vegetables. If my memory serves, it was very finely diced 梅菜 (Cantonese: mui choi; Mandarin: mei cai), which is usually bok choi preserved in salt then left to air dry. In preparation of cooking, it's washed and marinated in a bit of sugar to balance out the saltiness, so you may well taste sugar in the dish.

Lotus leaf rice
Wet like a risotto, it's great on its own, and not actually a very good plain rice replacement!

Five 'fragrance' 'curry' pork chop
This was a bit weird, I thought - like a cha chaan teng curry but with something sour (vinegar?) and pineapple. I feel like they cooked to pineapple too long and water started to seep out into the sauce or something. The pork was fatty but not tender. I remember having trouble biting through these.

steamed egg with dried seafood and bitter melon juice
This steamed egg is a bit different that your average Canto-style steamed egg that ends up like a savoury creme caramel. It's much less delicate as less (if any) water was added to the egg mixture. The classic ceramic dish it arrived in basically sets the rustic scene. The dried shrimps in this are only half-dried, so they actually had some bite to them, as opposed to the flavoursome rocks of their more generic, drier cousins.

Kin's is becoming one of my fall-back places when I'm out of ideas and want something fairly reliable and comforting, and is worth a go if you've done your rounds of high-profile Chinese and need something more down-to-earth (but not too daipaidong).

Side note - Kin's also has their own private kitchen upstairs. They do classic Canto banquet dishes like abalone, which to be honest, I don't even like, so I can't say it's exactly on my "to eat" list.

Side note 2 - Kin's Kitchen has 1 Michelin star in the 2011 HK/Macau guide.

Kin's Kitchen
9 Tsing Fung Street
Tin Hau
Hong Kong
+852 2571 0913

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  1. Love waai san & i haven't tried their steamed waai san!

    Wai san has always been a common tuber and eaten in northern China & Japan, usually in raw form--diced into cubes or sliced into strips as a simple salad; grated in Japan as "torero" and served on rice for breakfast or eaten with soba or diced tuna.
    In the past, the Cantonese only got its dried form (to be used in medicinal soups) because the tuber was never grown around here. The best came from Anhui province where the Huai River is, hence we called it 淮山药 or 淮山 for short.
    It's super tonifying & i'm glad the fresh forms are found in southern markets nowadays!

  2. Oops.
    TORORO; not "torero."