Set in the memory of a time in Kyoto when chaos was the mandate and danger was foretold, Chi Kinjo is an intimate yet lively Sushi & Izakaya restaurant and basement bar where promises are made and secrets are kept. The back story of Chi Kinjo is an intriguing and engaging one, enough to keep any impassioned bibliophile suitably enthralled. A tale of forbidden love, dramatic enough to rival the likes of a Shakespearean tragedy, Chi Kinjo tells the story of the title character, daughter of an influential man. She was betrothed to Riku, her childhood friend and son of her father’s ally, an engagement she accepted as her destiny. In a cliched twist of fate, she meets and falls deeply in love with Dai Lo, a powerful man from Hong Kong, as he hid in her basement bar chatting over highballs & sake. However, the pair of star-crossed lovers were never meant to be as she refused to leave Japan with him, burdened with the weight of familial obligations and her commitment to Riku.
Chi Kinjo, with its informal setting, belie its laid-back, friendly vibe. This intimate space offers an alternative to fine dining without compromising on culinary standards.
Operating at the pinnacle of fine dining, Chef Lamley Chua brings a lifetime of experience working in International and Michelin Star restaurants such as LP+Tetsu. The Bushido code is a Japanese code of conduct that is embodied by samurai, and is a sacred set of virtues that Chef Lamley lives by. His craft is defined by tremendous respect for tradition and maintaining the integrity of ingredients. He elevates a time-old cuisine with contemporary flavours to suit the modern palate. The delicate balance of flavours showcases the complexity of each dish and his thoughtfulness.
The menu at Chi Kinjo is neat and comprehensive, divided into five distinct sections; Starters, Maki, Aburi Nigiri, Hot Small Plates and Hot Big Plates. The spicy tuna roll was first invented in Los Angeles in the early 1970s by mixing tuna scraps with chili sauce. Chef Lamley’s influence is deeply felt as he recreates this popular dish to make his own rendition: Chi Kinjo’s 80s Spicy Tuna Roll with rice that is soft and pillowy and finishing off with bonito flakes to add a touch of smokiness.
Chi Kinjo’s Aburis are unapologetically decadent. The Salmon and Foie Gras is a prodigiously fatty creation marinated in miso and milk to further elevate the fattiness while rendering an irresistible umami flavour. The Buri Cheese features seared Buri fish, the highest grade of Japanese Yellowtail, topped with smooth and rich tobiko cheese, that melts delicately on the tongue, teasingly ephemeral yet deeply memorable.
The Kaffir Lime Karaage is light and addictive as popcorn. Juicy chicken thigh is marinated in tangy kaffir lime, sprinkled with dried nori and lightly fried to a tender crisp. To further elevate the dish, a charred red pepper mayo dip is served on the side.
Known for all of Coterie Concepts’ creative cocktail programmes, Group Chief Bartender, Sam Wong, delivers an extensive menu that perfectly complements the food.
The Gin & Ginger is the feistiest concoction in the house. The tipple is spiked with the lingering heat of muddled fresh ginger and incorporates mint leaves with Tanqueray 10, ginger beer, lime juice and simple syrup, showcasing spicy notes delicately balanced with the acidity from the lime juice.
The space between the imaginary highballs & sake in the accompanying story and the real food at Chi Kinjo is where the real excitement happens as patrons are immersed in a dining experience as open to interpretation as an abstract work of art.
The food is good. But food that comes with a story as dramatic as Romeo And Juliet? Even better.