By Vivienne Scott
Kinou, like its founding owner and chef Benjamin Tilatti, is the perfect cocktail of contradictions. Opening in June 2018 on Tras Street, where the more discerning foodies go to escape the ‘same-same’ of busier food and beverage haunts in Singapore, Kinou is a no-nonsense restobar that presents delicate ceviches alongside the protein-fest Vegan Nightmare meat platter on a clever and playful fusion menu. The delightful contradictions continue, from the rough-around-the edges décor with bare walls and a well-loved Montreal ice hockey cap hanging proudly by the bar, to the flawless customer service and impeccably presented plates coming from the open kitchen. Much like its owner, Kinou is understated, friendly and welcoming; summed up in Ben’s own words: “My home is your home.”
You probably wouldn’t imagine Ben in a corporate hotel kitchen environment, but don’t be fooled by the casual lumberjack shirt and scruffy cap. Ben’s chef experience has taken him around the south of France, London, Montreal and Seven Seas cruises and is now presented in creative dishes that celebrate and bring together flavors from around the world. The concept he has created at Kinou is about bringing friends together over great food and drinks and not taking yourself too seriously; humor keeps things real and can be found throughout the menu, where dishes and cocktails are often created by or named after staff under the guises of plays on words and what are seeming inside jokes among them. Kinou’s playfulness follows all the way through to what is possibly the most fun little restroom in Singapore – think glitterball and disco tunes!
Lovingly borrowing his late mother’s nickname, Kinou, Ben has ensured that family is the heart and spirit of his establishment and, having been once, you will be personally remembered and welcomed back with a feeling that you have known these guys for years. The open front invites passers-by to relax with familiar music and explore the intriguing mixology and global wine list, while staff take time to enjoy getting to know you personally and ensure you feel at home. Tell them just a little about your favorite cocktails and they’ll recommend something that equates, but just a bit more out of the ordinary to whet your appetite.
Further inside, dining can be as intimate or casual as you like depending on whether you are after some Peckish Picks to nibble on, fresh tartares and fusion seafood dishes, or flavorsome and robust meat plates. Ben’s training, background and style somehow marries the finesse of fine dining with laid back comfort food and, of course, fun.
If crisp, clean flavors are your thing, try the beautifully presented ceviches: Lost In Peru incorporates flavors of a fresh lime and tomato marinade to compliment the sliced fish of the day alongside corn guacamole, while Plenty of Fish in the Ocean balances the sweetness of strawberry with tart ponzu and fragrant basil to envelope the meatiness of the tuna.
Meat gourmands will love the full-bodied flavors of their Hooked on Quack burger, garnished with zingy red wine and shallot compote that cuts through the richness of the duck smothered in blue cheese, and the Signature Burger on toasted brioche with tender Wagyu beef that falls apart in the mouth.
To finish, the star of the dessert menu has to be Nadya’s Some Kind Of Chocolate; an opulent chocolate parfait and caramel mousse with hints of savory saltiness from Japanese miso and shoyu.
Whether you’re heading straight from the office for after-work drinks, with a generous ‘New York’ pour, light bites or an indulgent feast, Kinou is an easy choice and, once you discover its honest charm and inclusive, welcoming environment, you will be coming back for more.
81 Tras Street, Singapore 079020 • 6224 0463