The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Tanjong Pagar ceviche/tartare concept is light on flavour.
The must-orders (if any): Chompchae Deopbap, Nadya’s ‘Some Sort of Chocolate Dessert’.
Summary: A ceviche and tartare restaurant/bar concept with Japanese/Asian influences launching along Tras Street in Tanjong Pagar, Kinou Restaurant’s menu comprises a selection of ceviches, tartares and meats alongside an extensive cocktail selection ranging from juleps and mojitos to old fashioneds and tiki drinks.
Whilst the bread and starters proved promising – the miso shiso butter‘s umami savouriness was a happy spread companion to the warm ginger bread – the ceviches never truly deliver, with the rather un-moisturised Salmon, Hiding in Puerto Rico (salmon, coconut leche de tigre, zesty passionfruit and lime zest) having the bland winsomeness of a Stabilo 2B pencil shaving despite its appealing description, and the Kinou, Lost in Peru (fish of the day with tomato and lime marination served with corn guacamole) faring slightly better with its playful wet tartness. Only the Chompchae Deopbap (Korean spicy tuna on rice) left an impression, an assertively marinated and boldly fiery outlier in what appears to be a menu that is currently very light on flavour.
The one main we tried – Wile E. Coyote’s Favourite Dish (pan-seared Magret duck breast seasoned with Szechuan peppersalt) – suffered from a similar issue, being well-cooked and suitably tender but under-seasoned, with the Szechuan peppersalt never delivering its promised mouth-ly Chun-Li rapid kicks. That being said, if you happen to come across a slice where a concentration of the Szechuan peppersalt is trapped in the crevice between skin and flesh, you’re in luck – that is a sweet spot.
There were several little sources of dissatisfaction throughout the evening. For instance, the discounts offered for ordering more ceviches/tartares as a mix and share platter – 5% for 3, 10% for 5 and 15% for 7 – were too meagre to be of any persuasive value. Also, the cocktail menu was fantastically excessive, with there being too little difference between the various drinks to warrant the sheer volume of the menu. I spent five minutes flipping through the cocktail menu and whilst many drinks had intriguingly playful names – what do Asian Granny Panties taste like? – I gave up halfway and went for the boringly-monikered Smoke Have Fun (single malt Laphroiag, blend whiskey Monkey Shoulder, absinthe, Cinzano Rosso 1757, coffee bitters). I do sense that they mean business with the bar side of things – check out the swag of the ice cube (see below) – so I would not write off the joint as a potential night-time chill-out destination just yet.
The dessert – Nadya’s ‘Some Sort of Chocolate Dessert’ (miso caramel parfait, chocolate mousse, shoyu glaze) – was a suitably satisfying chocolate sweet treat with flashes of savoury saltiness. Unfortunately, it may have been too little too late.
81 Tras Street