It’s been 10 years since gazing up at the petite lighthouse cornerstone to the modern Japanese bar. One of the few downtown rooftop bars positioned opposite the iconic towering triplet then, Kinki was an alfresco spot to drink where the tie didn’t necessarily have to stay on.
The Marina Bay vista remains unchanged across the two levels, but the establishment has since expanded its offering with its recent reopening. Familiar patrons will likely reminisce the drinks and open-air gaiety, but this time, dining takes the foreground, and the background space gets a little more refined.
Makis here earn humorous names but deliver serious bite. The AC/DC Dynamite (SGD22) is a savoury sucker punch of tempura seafood and homemade Sriracha sweet soy, while the Cowabunga serves A4 Wagyu beef in and on the roll (specifically, sautéed short plate within and aburi striploin atop, because who doesn’t love beef on beef?), drizzled with the restaurant’s signature spicy mayo.
Still, it’s hard to beat the Unagi Claypot (SGD35). Once served on occasion as a chef ’s special but now benevolently included in the permanent menu, it perfectly fulfils the local love for charred rice. An audacity to the traditional cuisine, we’re sure, but not a terrible treatment of the Niigata Koshihikari rice, which is also used across all dishes.
The purists amongst you can opt for the kick-ass Chirashi Don (SGD42), where it is adorned with sashimi in its freshest form. Sure, there’s also Polanco Oscietra caviar, but you know a chirashi is good when even the humble tamago is flavourful on its own.
Drinks are deceptively easy. We wouldn’t call them experimental; think smooth blends that don’t kick in until you’re an hour in. The Gold Quencher (SGD19) is a Japanese take on the G&T classic in a refreshing tall glass of Yuzu Umeshu and Roku Gin. The Earlgroni (SGD19) is a mellowed gin-based Old Fashioned, and the Geisha-Rita… well, you get the drift.
Some are a good dessert double, like the sweet Naughty Kopi (SGD22) of equal parts Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kahlua coffee liquer, served with Varlhona dark chocolate, or the Tears of a Geisha (SGD22) with a pearl of Sakura No Hana jelly. It doesn’t advocate skipping the ice creams though.
Imported from Japan, the Kyoho and Momo are not overtly sweet with their sorbet-like texture, while the Goma accomplishes the rare feat of being substantially concentrated in flavour without leaving you too full. Neon signs, graffiti-esque artwork and an elevated fare; if this is the cusp of a new era, we are here to herald it.
Kinki Restaurant + Bar is located at Customs House #02-02, Singapore 049323.