Towards the tail-end of 2011, we’ve been blessed with a few more dinner invitations, including another from VANEATS.ca. This time we checked out KIN Resto Bar on Robson Street, and its KINDLE WITH KIN! package, a 6-course dinner for two.
KIN took over Chau Kitchen’s location and continues to serve up modern Vietnamese dishes. I never dined at Chau so I can’t compare. KIN’s menu looks quite straightforward, with only several choices each of appies, share plates, entrees and desserts. You don’t need to offer too many dishes as long as all of the offerings are good. Let’s find out here.
Before we start, please keep in mind that this is a special package so the following dishes are not necessarily available on its regular menu, and even so, the portion size may be different from what you see here. This should serve as an indication of the food quality at this restaurant.
While we were waiting for the first course to arrive, I ordered myself a Lychee Mojito as it’s Mojito Monday for $6. It’s a pretty big glass of mojito, very minty with subtle note of lychee in the background.
First course arrived, and it’s the Prawn & Thai Basil Rice Paper Roll. It looked just like the regular salad roll you would order at a Vietnamese restaurant. The twist is that they put some crispy spring roll wrap inside, which added another layer of flavour and texture to the ordinary roll. Overall the roll is light and refreshing and quite fragrant thanks to the thai basil. On the regular menu, they serve 5 types of rice paper rolls and you can choose from 4 different types of dipping sauce. We got the standard prawn one with peanut sauce. The mango & cod was intriguing but our tummies ran out of room to give it a try.
Next up, we got two dishes at the same time. The two beef dishes. Beef La Lot is, as described by restaurant owner Toby, the Vietnamese version of the Greek Dolmades. La Lot is actually the type of leaves they use to make the roll, some may refer to them as pepper or wild betel leaves, and they are used quite commonly in Vietnamese dishes. Once again the chef was big on texture, because they added a piece of jicama in the middle of minced beef. The jicama didn’t really add much flavour to the roll – the flavour was in the minced beef – but you would get the crunch when taking a bite of the roll.
Beef Short Ribs was a pretty standard affair. We played a guessing game to identify the 17 spices used in the marinate, but only managed to pick up a few. It’s probably a bit too salty for our liking, but the meat was very well seasoned and it was tender. We got 4 pieces in our meal, but looking around I think a regular order gives you approximately 8-10 pieces. I liked that the server brought us a little bowl of hot, finger water, so we didn’t have to worry about using our hands to eat the ribs.
Then, a salad dish. The Seafood Salad is not on the regular menu, but Toby mentioned that it was featured during the summer and was popular. It’s a decent size salad, with generous amount of scallops and prawns and sprinkles of chopped mango. The rau ram salad dressing reminds me of the dipping sauce for Vietnamese spring rolls, with a bit of fish sauce, and citrus zest and juices. The salad was served warm and I quite liked it. It kind of cleansed our palates before progressing into the main course
The main course was the Chicken Chay Curry. It’s a vegetable curry with sliced lemongrass chicken. At first the bowl of curry didn’t look like a lot of food, but as we dug deeper we found lots of different types of vegetables along with tofu slices. The chicken was seasoned well, the lemongrass definitely popped, and went quite well with the curry. You can taste hints of coconut milk in the curry sauce. The sauce was a bit runny but perfect to mix it with rice.
Lastly, an exotic dessert. Well, creme brulee is not exotic, how about Lemongrass Ginger Creme Brulee? We were worried that the lemongrass may be over-powering. It wasn’t the case. You can only taste the subtle flavour of lemongrass and ginger, while enjoying the creamy texture of the creme brulee. The pineapple chutney on top added a bit of sweetness to the dessert. We could probably have a bigger dessert, though (I don’t think Mr. got an equal share of this!).
While having our dessert, I ordered the Vietnamese Coffee. The dark French roast was dripping through this little coffee press in front of us, right into the sweet condensed milk. There’s not a lot of coffee, but it’s some strong coffee. And it’s so good with condensed milk! I prefer my drinks and food piping hot, so I wish it’s hotter. By the time the coffee was done dripping and stirred into the condensed milk, it became just lukewarm. I guess this is unavoidable if the coffee were to be freshly dripped at the table.
It’s difficult to comment on their service, because we could’ve received special treatment and we wouldn’t know. Looking around, I think Toby and his server were friendly and quite attentive to other customers. One thing worth mention is that they have a HUGE TV screen in one part of the restaurant (the restaurant has two dining areas separated by the bar/kitchen in the middle), so I think KIN would make a great hang-out place on games night, while enjoying some Vietnamese food. Drinks are rather on the pricey side, but food-wise, it’s quite reasonable.
Overall KIN’s dishes are quite light and not very rich. We planned this meal in between holiday dinners, so it was a breath of fresh air and we probably appreciated it even more. Despite a few minor flaws in terms of food execution, for $25 we believe the KINDLE with KIN! package is a very good value for your money. It may not look like a lot but there was enough food for two people. And KIN’s regular menu isn’t too expensive either, so if you’re looking for good quality Vietnamese food, and got tired of the standard Pho, give KIN a try.
Kin Resto Bar
1500 Robson Street, Vancouver