A members-only club probably isn’t the first place you would expect to find a Singapore heritage restaurant. It works somehow for the case of Straits Clan given its local inclination – a modern version of the clan associations one finds next door. Restaurant Kin, located in the ground level of the club and accessible to the general public, is one of the club’s newest additions – having opened in 2019.
Restaurant Kin is helmed by Chef Damian D’Silva who has made a name for himself with his take on Singapore ethnic cuisine – a mishmash of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan and Eurasian flavors. I have previously encountered his culinary stylings at Folklore where many of the dishes were inspired by his family and the Singaporean food he remembered having as a young boy. In Restaurant Kin, these stories and window to the past continue but at a heightened level with sleeker interiors and dimmer lighting.
I have been to Restaurant Kin a couple of times myself and love the food there – even more than Folklore. I always have a sweet spot for their Chee Pow Kai, Buah Keluak Fried Rice and Kueh Koh Swee. For this particular visit to Restaurant Kin, I was set to try some of their new dishes.
My favorite dish from their new offering is the King Prawn with Dry Sambal (S$48). This Malay dish which has an Indonesian heritage consists of fresh prawns fried with a rich and piquant sambal made entirely from stone-ground dried chili finished with assam. It is that sambal which makes this dish stand out in my humble opinion – the type that goes well with the bottomless rice that comes with meals at Kin.
I also enjoyed the Cuttlefish Kang Kong (S$20) which aside from what’s already stated, also came with pineapples and deep-fried dough fritters. I loved the dressing used here – a flavorful sauce made from fermented shrimp paste, sugar and calamansi. The latter gave it a delightful sourness which served to tease the palate for what’s to come and went nicely with the chewy (to the point of almost crispy) texture of the cuttlefish. Owing to the ingredients use, this is a hawker dish one typically encounters in satay bee hoon stalls but has become increasingly rare to find these days.
If you love the dried sort of deep-fried chicken that’s typical in Indonesia, Chef Damian presents a rather flavorful version with the Ayam Kalasan (S$38). The chicken here is simmered with coconut water, garlic, shallots, candlenut, lemongrass, blue ginger and bay leaves. The dish is served with a chili sauce with shallots and garlic, providing a nice kick to the bird.
The Daging Sambal Hijau (S$42) can be best described as an explosion of flavors. I was expecting it to be on the spicy side due to the chili. The green chili here was not particularly spicy even though it carried that burning/hot sensation to the tongue. The medley of coriander, cumin and fennel on the striploin beef gave the meat an unmistakable fragrance – another dish you’d want to have with rice. Although Kin has excellent buah keluak fried rice, I would suggest having plain rice instead when ordering flavorful dishes such as these.
I love jackfruit so I was curious as to how the Nangka Rendang (S$28) would taste like. Young unripened jackfruit is used here and Chef Damian explained that when eaten on its own, the immature fruit would not taste much but its soft and meaty qualities makes it worthwhile as a vegetarian rendang dish. The type of rendang that Chef Damian used here has an Indonesian inclination with the use of garam masala.
Specially for the season of Lent from 26th March to 4th April 2021, Kin is offering the Beef Murtabak (seasonal price) – an egg crepe roll with eggs and salt and wrapped around ground beef. The meat in itself reminds me a bit of Indian sensibilities partly due to the combination of cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg and curry powder that gives flavor to the meat. Chef Damian decided to make this a seasonal dish as a reminder of his past when after a whole month of abstaining from meat, his grandad would serve this version of Murtabak on Good Friday after his family returns from mass.
The homecooked quality of the Locally Harvested Greens (S$12) was comforting. Chef Damian aims to use seasonal vegetables here and during our dinner, we had work-fried dragon tooth cabbage. On the surface, it looked like a typical napa cabbage but greener and sweeter to the taste.
We ended the meal with Kin’s Kueh Platter (S$25 for 3 kinds). The platter will not have the same assortment every time and will depend on what they have available. During our dinner, we tried the Kueh Lapis Sagu, Kueh Jagong, Kueh Dadar. Among the three, the Kueh Lapis Sagu was the most exquisitely made with the individual layers perceptible to the eye. It was also not too sweet which was just to my liking. The Kueh Jagong was another highlight – the coconut cream was not yet fully solidified and had just the right consistency.
Despite multiple visits to Restaurant Kin, I have never really explored the menu that comprehensively and have always stuck to my favorites. The new dishes gives one another reason to return – better yet with a bigger dining party in order to appreciate the menu in greater breadth.
31 Bukit Pasoh Road
+65 6320 1980