Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Alumni Event: Kin's Kitchen

I realize that my blog has become a food blog as of late.  It's just that food has been taking up a lot of my time!  Work was kind of crazy in February and really crazy in March and still pretty crazy in the first half of April.  I guess I am making up for lost time by eating a lot of food now that I have some free time to chill before work builds up to a crazy frenzy again.

The Princeton Hong Kong Alumni club outdid themselves again with a fantastic event at Kin's Kitchen  in Wan Chai.  The same owners of Kin's Kitchen own the private kitchen, Yellow Door, a traditional Sichuan restaurant in Central.  Kin's Kitchen was a very small restaurant / private kitchen in Tin Hau (and actually when we first moved here I looked at booking a table there for my parents).  Due to their success (in my opinion rightfully deserved) they have expanded into fancy new digs in Wan Chai.
This was our special menu for the night:
I loved the pattern on this teapot.  There were two types of tea, chrysanthemum tea and Iron Buddha Tie Guan Yin.  I loved the chrysanthemum tea and probably drank two pots of it by myself throughout dinner.  It was a slightly yellow color and had a light, sweet, flowery scent and taste.   I am pretty sure the sweetness was natural and not due to any added sugar.
This is the fried, half fermented Puning tofu on a bed of dried kale.  Apparently this tofu is really special and delivered from the province of Puning, the only place that this tofu is made.  I really enjoyed the flavor and consistency and texture of this dish - it was compared to haloumi because it has a firm, creamy consistency that is unusual in tofu.  The accompanying sauce, a slightly fermented yellow soy bean sauce, really caused the tofu to sparkle and shine.  The dried kale chips had a light sprinkling of chili flakes on them.
 This is the traditional three treasures with a twist: the beef is layered on top of fish paste and all placed on top of a green string bean split lengthwise (instead of a large bell pepper).  This is a much more delicate preparation because the string bean is much narrower.

This is their version of the classic char siu, barbecued pork, marinated with a particular kind of soy.  Rather than using the pork belly, the traditional cut of meat, they used the pork collar.  This was very nicely flavored and not too fatty.  I find it nearly impossible to complain about char siu, so I'm afraid I don't have much more to add to this one...
 This is the soup, made from amaranth flash frozen in a cube of ice, shredded into tiny particles of dust and then cooked into this incredibly dark, rich green puree. (I know, what?!  The chef came out and personally explained this process and you could tell everyone was just too polite to ask why this incredibly complicated process was necessary.)

Befuddlement and curiousity turned into deep, slurping delight when we tasted this soup.  Who cares about the process, when you are sampling the nectar of the gods!  I may be prone to hyperbole but really, this soup was aromatic, delicate yet rich and flavorful at the same time.   Clearly whatever crazy process they are implementing behind the scenes works.

The lids were revealed with a flourish:
This is the smoked chicken, which was very tender and had a very lovely, subtle but definitely smokey flavor.  I know, chicken is so bland and boring.  But this one was really well done and I went back for seconds.  The skin was sweet and salty and the meat perfectly cooked.  The chef was careful to explain how they handled the chickens and sourced them over 100 days old (apparently most chickens bought nowadays are 80 days old or less).  
This is the deep fried prawns with accompanying sweet and sour sauce.  The prawns were huge - approximately the size of my fist.  They were fresh and firm but the flesh was not as sweet as I would have preferred.  They were just lightly fried though, so that the grease and crisp of the batter did not overwhelm the flavor of the seafood.
I love these mustard greens.  This vegetable falls into the category of vegetables that I hated and loved to hate but now love.  Funny how that happens.  I really do not know when my love affair with this vegetable began.  I could not really care about the Yunnan ham.  That was kind of tough and stringy and slightly salty.  The point of the dish was to eat the vegetable, cooked to a meltingly tender point, stewed in the fat and salt and broth of the Yunnan ham.  I could have eaten this entire plate by myself.  
This is the lotus leaf rice, which contained scallops, shrimp, beef, mushrooms, chicken and various other ingredients.  These things were really large!  Two of them fed thirteen people.  I wonder how long it takes them to cook this stuff… I personally prefer the sticky rice variety of this dish so often found in dim sum restaurants, however, they used a fragrant rice that was still quite nice.  Unusually for me, I finished my bowl of rice at the end of the meal.
Finally, dessert, my least favorite part of the meal, consisted of a deep fried water chestnut "stick" and a sushi-roll like of (not very sticky) sticky rice cake.  I was not impressed with this one.  It is such a shame when dessert is a complete disappointment because that's your last memory of the meal.  

At HK$450 a head without alcohol, this was not a very cheap meal.  However, the quality of ingredients and the tastiness of every dish convinced me that it was worthwhile.  This would be a really nice place to bring out of town guests who wanted to sample some very nice Guangdong cooking without breaking the bank.

Kin's Kitchen
5/F, W Square
314-324 Hennessy Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong

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