It’s not very often you come across a good restaurant by chance, let alone a Japanese one that isn’t accented with bamboo. Kinme is that six-month-old restaurant you walk past, do a double take at, and continue walking past – its façade is neither conspicuous nor stylish, something that can be partially attributed to Plaza Damansara’s general blandness.
But once you push past the doors, it’s a different story. The space opens up into a narrow vertical set-up, where high chairs loom over tables, a glossy bar extends sleekly across the floor and sake bottles sparkle in unison on strategically lit shelves. I’m whisked to a high table by Jason, the effervescent waiter, who then hurriedly pulls out a chair to rest my bag on. He brings over the menu, launches into a brief summary of it, and gives me a polite smile. I’m left endeared and somewhat suspicious of his beguiling graciousness. What are the odds of excellent service when I least expect it?
The afternoon only improves when both my sashimi and nigiri platters are outstanding. Chef Voon, formerly of Hilton KL’s Iketeru, picks the day’s freshest catch depending on season and market availability. My sashimi platter is a bed of ruddy pink fish on ice – thick, fresh and perfectly decadent. The nigiri plate meanwhile, is an assortment of tuna, yellowtail and mackerel among other premium catches assembled in a line with housemade pickled ginger. The portion of sushi’s topping far exceeds the rice that holds it, a case for good value and wise sushi-making.
For the sake of variety, I order the lunchtime rice bowl special, yaki sakana bara don, teriyaki salmon on rice. The salmon is brushed with sweet teriyaki sauce, but it nevertheless retains an unmistakable dryness. This is compensated by the backup salad that comes plonked onto the rice – a blend of cool, crunchy cucumber and clammy, cubed sashimi. It’s considerably less fashionable than most other things on the menu, but manages to fill up a fat bowl and my stomach in equal measure.
While Kinme doubles as a grill bar, the kushiyaki items are only available at dinnertime. But Jason – adequately proving himself to be a hero – swiftly convinces the chef to make an exception. The kawa (grilled chicken skin), served in curly folds on a skewer, is sinfully crackling and oily while the uzura (whole fried quail) shimmers beneath the crispy skin. Which brings me to this conclusion: Kinme may not be a Japanese restaurant that characteristically prides itself on precision, but who better than the Japanese to display a bit of kink and play?