Kinki Restaurant + Bar has evolved from its grungy and casual mod-Japanese izakaya roots into a more feminine concept that is likely to appeal to a cosmopolitan and grown-up audience.
Modern Japanese izakaya Kinki Restaurant + Bar, one of our favourite places for a boozy Japanese weekend brunch, has recently revamped. Gone is its grungy cartoon sumo theme of ten years. In its place, a more feminine geisha concept that’s a lot more up-to-date.
Kinki’s evolution is more than merely aesthetic. The food and drinks programme at Kinki has also been updated, featuring various new dishes and cocktails while retaining some of its more popular favourites. We love the AC/DC Dynamite, a fusion sushi roll featuring both raw and tempura-ed seafood, as well as the Cowabunga, essentially a sushi roll wrapped with slices of A4 wagyu beef that’s perfect if you’re more of a carnivore. Kinki fans may remember the Unagi Claypot – think hitsumabushi but served in a claypot complete with crispy socarrat – that was a Chef’s Special available only on occasion. It’s now been added as a permanent entry in the revamped menu.
Totally new are the Corn Duo and the Grilled Squid Chimichurri. The former combines grilled baby corn tossed in corn puree and furikake served alongside with a spicy dip to further elevate its flavours, while the charcoal-grilled squid is technically ikayaki but topped with the fresh and piquant herbal flavours of the green South American condiment.
Its drinks programme has also been overhauled accordingly. The new cocktails are more whimsical than most, and offer a strong Japanese and Asian influence. There’s Geisha-Rita, its take on the classic Margarita that’s spiked with some umeshu and rimmed with cracked black pepper instead of the usual salt. The Gin Assam Boi is a sweet and tangy number made with gin, rum, umeshu and pineapple juice, and garnished with plum powder.
If you’re a fan of Espresso Martinis, the indulgent Naughty Kopi is a rum-based take that’s as sweet as it is spirit-forward. The Earlgroni will appeal to Negroni fans; the hints of bergamot from the Earl Grey tea infused into the gin giving the classic cocktail lovely floral and citrusy aromas. Our cocktail of choice though has to be She’s So Unusual; this twist on the Gimlet – despite its garish green hues from shiso bitters – has got to be one of the tastiest versions we’ve tried in recent time. And for those not into cocktails, Kinki offers a decent range of sakes as well.
Don’t forget Kinki has a scenic rooftop view of the Marina bayfront in case you prefer an alfresco experience.
It’s mind-boggling to think that Kinki has been around for ten years – and at the same spot in Customs House along the Marina Bay waterfront – dishing out its fun takes on Japanese classic eats. The new geisha concept is less a daring transformation than a needful change; and possibly one that’s poised to help propel it into the next decade. The horde of young women packing out the place when we visited is perhaps testament to that.
Address 70 Collyer Quay, #02-02 Customs House (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 3pm and 6 to 10.30pm Mondays to Saturdays (restaurant), 5pm to 10.30pm Mondays to Saturdays (rooftop bar); closed on Sundays