Cover The duck char siu at Kinship (Photo: Kinship)

Nelson Gonzalez injects his South American roots into the all-new lunch and dinner offerings

The return of nighttime dining has brought a sense of renewal to Hong Kong's F&B scene, doubly so at Chris Grare and Arron Rhodes' Kinship, which welcomes new head chef Nelson Gonzalez. A Spanish-Venezuelan by way of Houston and New York, Gonzalez cut his teeth at the one-Michelin-starred Aureole and Michael White's one-Michelin-starred Ai Fiori, before transferring to White's now-closed Hong Kong outpost Al Molo, and most recently, Black Sheep's Carbone as chef de cuisine. 

Along with his arrival, the a la carte menu has been totally reimagined to combine the restaurant's British-American cuisine with Venezuelan touches courtesy of Gonzalez's cultural heritage. This is most evident in the starter of red snapper "ceviche", which bridges a Nikkei favourite with Southeast Asian flavours in its combination of coconut milk lime dressing and green papaya salad; as well as the crispy soft shell crab, which is served with bright green guasacaca (pronounced "wahsakaka")—essentially a tangier, smoother cousin of guacamole and officially Venezuela's national condiment.

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Headlining the main courses is the unconventional duck breast char siu, turned a deep pearlescent rouge with Gonzalez's proprietary barbeque technique and paired with local greens from the New Territories. Other highlights include the homemade cavatelli with Hokkaido scallops, bacon, English peas, tarragon and lemon butter, and seared bass with farro, roasted asparagus, oregano and lemon vinaigrette. Meanwhile, decadence abounds in the desserts, with a dark chocolate cake of hazelnut and milk chocolate mousse, and a poached strawberry pavlova with pistachio, basil and Chantilly cream wrapping up the meal in unapologetic fashion.

The weekday set lunch menu translates these dishes into a more concise format. Diners can choose a starter of steak tartare with Sichuan peppercorn, salmon ceviche with green papaya salad, or wedge salad with sesame vinaigrette and roasted mushrooms; and one main dish of seared bass, homemade cavatelli, slow-braised Okinawa pork belly with charred cauliflower and chimichurri, or black Angus striploin for an additional supplement of HK$68. The meal is complete with an option of Hong Kong milk tea-flavoured Mr Whippy ice cream, or olive oil cake with mascarpone mousse and poached seasonal fruit. The two-course menu is priced at HK$198 per person, and the three-course is HK$238 per person.

In a period of so much uncertainty, we've found that a return to hearty, honest food served with creative flair a worthy antidote to the news cycle. Gonzalez's new tenure at Kinship holds the promise of striking these notes, with his confident marriage of flavours managing to be both familiar and intriguing.

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