Verdict A light, bright delight in Kennedy Town
Rarely in Hong Kong does a restaurant transport you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s not for a lack of trying, it’s just that, with ever increasing rent calculated per square foot, not many can afford the space for such wanton restaurant fantasies.
Named after the picturesque fishing village on the south coast of Ireland – a highly regarded gourmet destination – Kinsale is situated off to the side of the waterfront in New Praya, Kennedy Town and possesses this trancendental quality. The high-ceilinged, 3,000sq ft restaurant is accentuted by nautical-themed décor and sleek sofas that add a loungey feel to the interiors. Entering through the French doors, the ceiling fans create a fresh breeze, and we’re pleasantly surprised by how light and airy the general atmosphere is. The well-spaced tables – a luxury in Hong Kong – actually saves us from the usual unavoidable eavesdropping on other diners’ conversations.
Grilled sea bass ($220)
Filled with comfort items, the menu offers family favourites like burgers, salads, pies and steaks. We plump for the items that seem to feature a small twist from the standard recipe and start with blue swimmer crab cakes ($138). The smooth, supple texture of the blue swimmers adds sophistication to the humble appetiser, while the dash of basil aioli cuts through the greasy aftertaste of the fried bread-crumb shell. The grilled sea bass ($220) is a crispy pan-fried fish submerged in a flavourful mussel chowder and served with hearty bacon bits and vegetables – the broth here really makes the dish. The star of the evening is the Triple Double Realman’s Burger (above, $198) with two beef patties, cheese, bacon and truffle, all packed between two thin buns. There’s a cute option to order a single portion that halves all of the above ingredients if you have a daintier appetite, but we’d rather die trying than back down on the manly double burger option. The oh-so-substantial burger arrives with ample rashes of lean Irish bacon that skirt the whole burger – we find the bacon a bit salty by itself, but it works with the patties and cheese. The use of gherkins and sauerkraut over regular dressings give the burger a real European flavour that certainly gets our vote. Our only gripe is that the bun is a little too flimsy for the ingredient-packed burger and almost disintegrates under the meat juices within minutes.
Black Forest trifle ($78)
We regret filling up on food before the burger but we’re too tempted by the menu to pass up dessert. After milling over choices like hazelnut dacquoise ($88), vanilla panna cotta with strawberry compote ($78) and baked camembert with pear chutney ($148), we settle for the signature Black Forest trifle ($78). This is a messy treat where spiced cherries, cream and cake bites are occasionally broken up by pockets of cherry jelly, adding interest as we scoop up the hearty dessert.
If this restaurant were a block further down the street, overlooking the water instead of the tree-lined Kennedy Town bus terminal, the ambience would be near perfection. But it’s still a great little spot, which offers up a solid menu, and the spacious décor manages to transport us to a distant seaside town. A perfect place to enjoy a short getaway. Lisa Cam
Kinsale Shop 3, New Fortune House, 3-5 New Praya, Kennedy Town, 2796 6004; kinsale.com.hk.
Shop 3, New Fortune House, 3-5 New Praya, Kennedy Town