Kinship: Cosmopolitan Anglo-style comfort food (7.5)

At its heart, the intention of chefs Arron Rhodes (previously at Gough’s on Gough, now closed, and at Statement) and Chris Grare (previously at Lily & Bloom, now closed) was to synthesise experience and experiment, regional and global, posh and homey. That, plus one more gimmick: farm-to-table produce (at least occasionally). From a conceptual point of view, it all sounds wonderful, and for those who were either brought up with American or British style cooking or quite simply fond of either, I can imagine that a meal at Kinship would deliver.

But if you have an appetite that leans towards cooking styles and flavours that are based on western continental European cuisines, then Kinship might not be your cup of tea. While descriptions on the menu look very appealing and nouvelle-cuisine-like, dishes served at Kinship seem–so far to me–to be more down-to-earth, less refined and very heavy indeed. They’d err on the side of too much grease, sauce and salt to maximise your satiety. And roasts (we tried beef, duck, and lamb) were all made to a standard similar to your neighbourhood pub (a decent one, that is).

I grew up in England, so I am quite familiar with traditional roasts and excessively buttered or oiled veggies/potatoes and a tendency to use sugary-based sauces as a means to internationalise. They taste good enough on occasion, but as I have developed a preference for lighter food and more delicate and aromatic flavours over the years, Kinship wasn’t the best find for me. I don’t particularly look to fine dine, but there are still plenty of casual places around offering simple and elegant cooking.

That being said, servers are warm and friendly and you should be able to feel at home. I would recommend the place for gatherings with a small group of friends, especially if your party intends to drink or come after an intense sporty session.

Food Rundown

Steak tartare, $168
The tartare was mixed with sichuan peppercorn and crispy eggplant. It was quite heavily salted with sharp flavours and a rich mouthfeel. If you have it with the crackers the saltiness is just right. I thought it was an interesting take.

Charred octopus, $148
This was intended to be a Spanish interpretation with a dollop of Mexican, I believe. The small piece of octopus tentacle came out over-grilled for us, giving it an overload of char on one side and a dry texture—almost like a dried-out deep-fry (the sticky skin was so burned that it was wasted!). Again, a bit too much salt there for me (as well as garlic aioli and salsa verde)–half of every condiment would have been good. There’s no need to overdo the seasoning with such fresh produce (in my view). The accompanying chorizo was well cured (very dry) and intense in flavour. Too bad it seemed to exist on its own without lending much of its flavour to the rest of the dish.

Duck “char siu”, $328
We were told that this was meant to be the star of the menu and had high expectations for it. The cut was a breast of duck and we were expecting a salty-sweet, hoisin-sauce kind of flavour profile given the name “char siu“. I love the gaminess of duck in general and thought the roast turned out perfect with timing (tender and not dry), but the char siu flavours were quite subtle. The seasoning didn’t really get into the thick flesh. If we weren’t expecting char siu, though, the duck was fine.

New Zealand Te Mana Lamb Loin, $298
I am spotting the brand Te Mana (lamb) in quite a few places in Hong Kong. It does seem to be consistently good quality. I liked the lamb loin—texture and flavor were all great. The mustard and coriander crust, the spiced yogurt, the mint, the caramelized flavors of onion—they were perfect together with the lamb. I just wish the veggies were less drained in grease so that I can actually eat some.

Mr Whippy Ice Cream, $78
Milk tea flavoured ice cream was topped with brown sugar syrup, tapioca pearls and vanilla custard. This might look simple with a soft serve look to it, but it’s much more addictive than it seems and definitely a crowd pleaser.

We also had lunch at Kinship on a weekend when à la carte options are unavailable and you have to order their brunch menu with fixed sharing starters and your choice of main course and dessert. I would personally not recommend brunch at Kinship, at least not for your first visit to the restaurant. Their à la carte seems to reflect greater expertise and thoughtfulness in cooking based on our (limited) experience.

BBQ Hash (Brunch, starter) slow cooked meats, crispy potatoes, chilies, lime sour cream
Felt like reheated overnight leftovers.

Egg Salad (Brunch, starter) whole grain mustard, sourdough toast, smoked caviar
Terribly mediocre.

Duck and grains (Brunch, starter) duck confit, barley, crispy quinoa, dried apricot, kale
Excellent. There was a great balance of flavours and we loved the chewy grains and shredded duck confit.

Roasted beets (Brunch, starter) house made ricotta, toasted pistachio, orange
OK. Refreshing.

Roast of the day (Brunch, main course) duck fat potato, roasted vegetables, gravy, Yorkshire pudding
This was a big disappointment. The kitchen didn’t quite get the roast right—it turned out pretty tough and flavourless. The rest was standard.

Shrimp & grits (Brunch, main course) seared prawns, yellow corn polenta, pickled tomato, shellfish sauce
The prawns were big and aromatic but one was a bit mushy, so not the freshest in its class, but still OK. The polenta was soft and creamy and heavily buttered. If you’re hungry it makes a filling side that soaks up the briny sauce.

Mr Whippy (Brunch, dessert) apple cranberry compote, brown butter granola, vanilla custard

3/F, 2-4 Shelley Street, Central
$$, Western