Kin showcases Singapore’s heritage cuisine with its range of diverse and complex dishes
It has been said that the best way to sample Singapore’s diversity is to take a trip through the food. At Kin, located at the lobby of Straits Clan in Bukit Pasoh, be prepared for a wild gastronomic ride.
Kin’s head chef Damian D’Silva has managed to capture the essence of Singapore’s ethnic cuisines — Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian and Peranakan — and their combined legacy. Known to many as “the grandfather of heritage cuisine”, at Kin D’Silva presents heirloom recipes cooked with time-honoured methods and authentic local ingredients.
The Masterchef Singapore judge, who is in his 60s, hails from mixed parentage as his father is Eurasian and his mother Peranakan. Growing up in a household of multi-cultural flavours and endless family get-togethers, food inevitably became a pivotal influence on his life, and he spent his childhood cooking with his Eurasian paternal grandfather and Peranakan maternal grandmother, who he cites as his food heroes.
Partnering with The Lo & Behold Group for his latest venture Kin, D’Silva’s signature dishes are enriched by his experiences passed down from his grandparents and the skills learned in his career.
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Kicking off the selection is a Chinese hawker dish D’Silva’s grandfather often recreated at home. Cuttlefish Kang Kong ($20) is blanched preserved cuttlefish and kang kong served with a sweet and sour sauce of fermented shrimp paste, plum sauce and calamansi. The chef also adds honey pineapples for pleasant acidity.
D’Silva also introduces a Malay recipe of Indonesian heritage that his grandfather used to make — King Prawn with Dry Sambal ($48). Be warned, this dish is a spicy one but if you can handle your spices, it is a must-try. What makes this dish stand out is the way D’Silva makes the sambal, using only dried chilli to make the fiery paste.
Over the years, the chef has presented many recipes from Aunty Zainab, whose husband was best friends with his father. Ayam Kalasan ($38) is the latest: A family recipe Aunty Zainab would regularly cook for her kids, and for D’Silva whenever he visited.
Here, chicken Maryland — which refers to a butcher’s cut for a whole leg consisting of the thigh and drumstick — is simmered in coconut water with aromatics until the liquid is absorbed, then deepfried to a light crisp before serving. Some of the concentrated simmering liquid is then added to a sambal of chilli, onions and candlenut and served with the chicken.
Another Aunty Zainab special is also a rare one — Nangka Rendang ($28). D’Silva recalls first tasting this some 50 years ago Nangka, or jackfruit, is sweet commonly used in desserts. For the dish, the chef uses an unripe jackfruit, which is chosen for its firm texture and mild flavours, to be slow-braised for seven hours. The result is a tender meat with a burst of lovely Asian spices.
Another classic and now a mainstay of the Kin menu is the Pork Knuckle Debal ($68), a Eurasian festive dish that D’Silva’s grandfather would whip up from leftover meats with a mix of spices, shallots, Bombay onions, ginger and dried chilli. It is typically eaten on Boxing Day.
At Kin, this spicy stew is presented using roast pork, smoked pork knuckle and potatoes, and is heartfelt salute to an alltime favourite.
While on the topic of the holidays, for Easter D’Silva has decided to share his favourite dish on the menu — the Beef Murtabak ($22), which is available from March 26 to April 4.
A staple in his grandfather’s kitchen on Good Friday, it features a soft egg crepe wrapped around ground beef with aromatics along with a house-made chilli sauce and raita (an Indian condiment made from yoghurt, mixed together with a variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs) on the side.
While you are at it, pair your meal with some of Kin’s newly launched cocktails featuring classic local ingredients with modern bartending techniques by the Straits Clan beverage team. Chilli Padi ($18) is a tequila-based cocktail boosted with calamansi and green and red bird’s eye chilli while the Curry Leaves & Banana ($18) is an explosive blend of dehydrated banana, fried curry leaves and bourbon. There is also a selection of refreshing tonics, highballs and coolers like the Mugicha Highball ($18), a concoction made from roasted barley kombucha, Japanese whiskey and shiso — an ideal complement to the more spice-forward dishes.
Finally, end your meal on a sweet note with some of Kin’s specially house-made bite sized snacks by chef Gabriel Khoo. The Kueh Kosui ($12) is a staple on the menu and a definite must-try. The meltin-your mouth consistency along with the strong palm sugar flavours were just phenomenal. Also available daily are Khoo’s Kueh Platter ($25). The menu changes daily but it is a great way to sample some of his personal creations as well as those made from traditional recipes.
31 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel: +65 6320 9180
Monday to Saturday:
Lunch 12pm to 2.30pm; Dinner 6pm to 9.30pm
Closed on Sunday