Earlier last week I had the opportunity to try out the newest dining package from VanEats.ca. For those of you in Vancouver who aren’t familiar with VanEats.ca, they work with some terrific Vancouver restaurants to put together some delicious dinner packages or “dining passes” at incredibly reasonable prices. They’re a great way to sample some of the great cuisine this city has to offer.
The latest pass is Kindle With Kin, featuring Kin Resto Bar at 1500 Robson Street in downtown Vancouver. Kins describe themselves as Asian fusion with the predominant flavours being Taiwanese and Vietnamese. Vietnamese cooking includes some of my favourite flavours so I was excited to try them out.
Designed for two people, the Kindle with Kin pass includes six dishes:
- Prawn & Thai Basil Rice Paper Rolls
- Beef Short Ribs
- Beef La Lot
- Seafood Salad
- Chicken Chay Curry
- Lemongrass Ginger Creme Brulee
And so, my intrepid girl reporter friend, Rosalie, and I headed out to give Kin, and the dining pass, a try.
The restaurant is modern but cozy and we were greeted and seated by the owner and excecutive chef, Toby Tseung. Drinks aren’t included in the pass, but we decided to order them as well. Being a big fan of mint and lychees, I had the lychee mojito and it didn’t disappoint. Rosalie went with the Dep Gai, which she also quite liked.
First up was the prawn & thai basil rice paper roll. I’m a big fan of rice paper rolls and it had been ages since I’d had one so this was a tasty treat. Filled with vermicelli, lettuce, cucumber, fresh basil and a crispy noodle centre, it was delicious. The fresh basil gave it a nice little twist and the crunchy noodle was the perfect contrast to the soft vermicelli and rice paper. Rosalie commented on how flavourful the shrimp was compared to a lot of the bland shrimp that you often find in some restaurant rolls. The topper for me though, was the peanut sauce – perfect balance of peanut and spice. I could drink it!.
Our next two dishes, the beef short ribs and the beef la lot, arrived together. The short ribs are marinated and barbequed in 17 spices and there was only one problem with them. There weren’t enough! They had just the right blend of sweet and salty and were cooked perfectly. We both nibbled ours down to the bone.
The beef la lot was the only dish on the menu that I’d never had any experience with so I was quite curious. The dish consists of grilled, minced beef, star anise, black pepper, and jicama, rolled in betel leaves. So I’m part Ukrainian and this is what I’d call the Vietnamese equivalent of the cabbage roll, only far more flavourful. The jicama added a nice crunch to the filling and while I did get a nice peppery bite in each mouthful, I couldn’t taste the star anise.
The seafood salad was the next dish presented to us and it was a toss up between it and the short ribs as to which was our favourite. The crowning glory of the salad is the seafood – generous portions of shrimp and huge, plump scallops, nicely seared on the outside but melt in your mouth soft and tender on the inside. They were accompanied by grape tomatoes, sweet mango – that offset the other savory flavours beautifully, and crunchy asparagus that tasted like it had been lightly roasted.
Everything was tossed together with fresh greens and rau ram sauce. Normally, I like dressings on the side because I find most places let their salads swim in the stuff but this was just right. We had an odd number of shrimp so that was our only disappointment – deciding who got to eat it!
Up to this point everything had been a really nice blend of seasoning – not too spicy hot but very flavorful. So we were ready for our chicken chay curry! This is what the two of us would both consider a mild yellow curry, although Rose said her husband would have found it too spicy – so mild is a relative term I suppose! For me, it was perfect. Just enough heat to feel it but not so hot that you couldn’t appreciate all the other flavours of the dish.
This was a yellow coconut milk curry, filled with a generous helping of chicken, lots of veggies, and tofu. Rose found the veggies to be cut too big to mix in her rice bowl but I like chunky crunchy veggies so I didn’t mind so much. Otherwise it was a solid curry – good comfort food on a cold night.
Our last dish was dessert. While I have a huge sweet tooth, when I’m out for dinner, it’s all about the savoury food for me and I’m not a big creme brulee fan – I find it a bit too rich. Still, having said that, ginger and lemongrass are two of my favourite flavours and I love the way they both cleanse the palette. This was a really nice twist on a classic dessert – not too heavy or rich and the ginger really came through. Topped off with pineapple chutney for a little extra bite, it was a perfect dish to share for that little taste of sweetness that finishes off a meal and makes you feel satisfied.
We both really enjoyed Kin. Our meal was beautifully seasoned and fresh and we found the food to be the perfect amount to leave us both feeling pleasantly full. It’s definitely on my list of places to try again and sample more of the menu – as well as for second helpings of those short ribs!
The VanEats.ca Kindle with Kin package goes on sale January 2nd and at $25 for a package for two, I think it’s great value. The packages sell out early so be sure to sign up for the VanEats email sale reminder
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary dining package by VanEats.ca for the purpose of reviewing the Kindle with Kin package. However, the opinions expressed are 100% my own.