If the winter blues are getting you down, it may be time to venture out and experience Winterlude’s culinary escapades. February is the time of the year when Ottawa’s internationally acclaimed chefs create tasting and prix fixe menus showcasing winter’s finest regional ingredients.
I recently had the opportunity to stop by at Kinki’s in Byward Market to sample dishes from their new menu. The restaurant is a staple in the Market and a local hangout for sushi lovers. While you can never go wrong at Kinki’s for sushi I was excited to try new creations from the “back of the house” chef, Chef Pablo Robainas.
Robainas recently moved from Mambo to Kinki’s to add his own Latin and Mediterranean flavors to the Asian fusion menu. The results did not disappoint, Robainas’ new menu choices highlight the seafood set off by the bright citrus flavors of both Latin America and Asia.
The meal started with a sushi trio of fish so fresh it’s hard to believe they lived in the ocean. Chef Amin Takanao’s Tuna Inferno had a nice heat to it with pickled jalapenos and a chili lime glaze. The Shrimp Sabi enrobed a beautiful piece of shrimp tempura and was given a generous kick of wasabi mayonnaise.
The final piece of sushi was the most creative – the “New Pearl” – with a succulent roll of grilled scallop, asparagus, spice eggplant and shiso leaves. The sushi was just as I like it – flavourful and fresh with a good dose of something crunchy to keep it interesting.
After the sushi first course had settled, helped down with a taste of hot pomegranate sake, I was happy to try some of Robainas’ creations. Once again, the server brought out a trio of tapas tastefully plated on a rectangular platter.
The Hamachi with edamame sofrito was like the most beautiful deconstructed fish taco you could imagine. The Hamachi, which was seared to perfection showing grill marks and smokiness, came with a ‘melt in your mouth’ flavour. Again the soft fish was paired with edamame and crispy shallots to add the needed texture. The highlight of the plate, however, was certainly a salmon carpaccio topped with a sweet and citrusy apple and pineapple drizzle.
|PHOTO CRED: Noreen Fagan|
The last tapa of duck confit lollipops is a new addition to the menu. Although tasty, I felt the dished strayed too far away from Robainas’ roots. While the duck was certainly well cooked, breaded and browned to perfection, they paled in comparison to the preceding fish dishes that really reached amazing heights. If you are, though, a duck lollipop fan I think you might like these, the rich fattiness of the duck was cut nicely with pear and cranberry mixed and fried into the balls.
The final course of my meal was Kinki’s noble attempt to bring desserts back to their own kitchen, plated and made to order. The “lovers’ cheesecake” – not my favourite name – was meillefuille of puff pastry layered with a fresh cheesecake filling and drizzled with mango and raspberry coulis. It was delicious but not entirely special, but then again I am possibly a little too fussy about my desserts.
|PHOTO CRED: Noreen Fagan|
All in all, the meal was far beyond my expectations as was my overall experience at Kinki’s. Although the restaurant was quiet (I missed the lunchtime rush), I understand that the evenings are busy with sushi lovers and tapas fans.
To entice diners to linger longer on the weekends, Kink offers after dinner entertainment beginning on Thursday with Ottawa’s very own drag queen Dixie Landers. Friday’s Kinki tops its fusion menu with pole dancing and music, while on Saturdays DJ Sean entertains guests with funk, retro, Motown and classic house.
It’s certainly worth visiting Kinki, either for sushi or for Robainas’ new Latin and Asian creations – and if you are not interested in trying the food, then there’s always salsa dancing lessons and learning how to do the Cha Cha.
Kinki, 41 York St., www.kinki.ca
Pierre Lapointe ~ NAC
Pierre’s latest disc, PUNKT, released in February 2013, has sold more than 25,000 copies and was longlisted for the 2013 Polaris Prize. Click here for details.