In a city that could always use more affordable dining options, a new casual eatery is in the running to becoming SoHo’s most popular neighbourhood dining destination this summer, led by two of the city’s hard-working chefs. Recently opened on Shelley Street, Kinship is a joint venture from Chris Grare and Arron Rhodes; with a name reinforcing the long-time friendship shared by the chefs, the restaurant aims to spotlight casual, family-style dining stripped of fuss and pretensions.

The two entrepreneurial chefs will be familiar to local foodies: Grare was most recently the Executive Chef of Lily & Bloom, where he introduced his brand of American-style comfort food; while Rhodes was Executive Chef of Gough’s on Gough, dishing up refined British-style fare rooted in impeccable ingredients. Friends for almost a decade now, Kinship takes inspiration from both chefs’ backgrounds. With Grare running the kitchen here while Rhodes manages the front-of-house, the result is a true hospitality-led experience that starts the second you walk through the doors.

Kinship
Chefs and co-owners of Kinship, Aaron Rhodes (left) and Chris Grare (right).

In envisioning Kinship, Grare and Rhodes wanted an elegant yet relaxed space, championing a ‘family-first’ mindset in everything from the choice of communal seating to the open kitchen and upbeat playlist creating an intimate and convivial atmosphere. To supplement the rustic nature of the cuisine, the restaurant leans on a familiar industrial-style template, where exposed piping wrapped with hanging Edison lightbulbs casts a warm glow on the open dining room — as well-suited to a casual lunch date as a rambunctious group dinner. Navy blue banquettes, wood and steel lend a slight maritime feel to the space, while a bright open kitchen is lined with bar stools offering some of the best seats in the house.

Chris Grare
Formerly of Lily & Bloom, Chris Grare heads the pass at Kinship.

The food is defined loosely as ‘New World Cuisine’ — a sort of catch-all term for the myriad influences on the menu, inspired by the chefs’ backgrounds growing up in the US (Grare) and the UK (Rhodes) as well as their travels across Asia. You’ll find Asian-style pork belly, a handful of pastas, and some category-defying inventions such as the Australian beef tartare fused with a Balinese-style bean salad. With a hodgepodge of influences, the menu could easily go off the rails if not for the concerted attempt to keep the list concise and manageable, with the menu changing regularly with new dishes and seasonal ingredients.

Kinship burnt onion risotto
Burnt onion risotto is crowned by a soft-yolked egg beignet.

With a large group, it’s easy to make your way through a good chunk of the menu (split into starters, sharing plates and desserts), as we discovered on a recent visit during opening week. The grass-fed Australian beef tartare (HK$168) is a welcome starter, featuring the clean tang of fresh beef with a jolt of acidity from fresh lime and roasted peanut sauce adding a Balinese-style spin. Although listed under ‘First Flavours’, burnt onion risotto (HK$138 half / HK$238 whole) functions better as a main, with the generous portion of creamy Worcestershire-spiked rice easily feeding 2-3, crowned by a golden-yolked egg ‘beignet’. Other dishes spotlight sustainable relationships with family-run farms and premium suppliers — from the roasted carrots (HK$128), grown locally in the New Territories; to the smoked salmon with jicama salad (HK$158), with the fish caught in the cool waters off the coast of the Faroe Islands.

Those familiar with Grare’s cooking won’t be surprised that the dishes lean towards aggressive flavouring over subtle seasonings: Dishes such as giant duck ravioli (HK$210) — served in a yin-yang pool of lo shui sauce and scallion and ginger cream — and roasted spring chicken (HK$225) with pancetta tomato ragu come doused in bold, aggressive sauces; and while attempting to finish a plate on your own could be overwhelming, the heavily flavoured mains are balanced out well with lighter sides such as crisp fried brussels sprouts (HK$78) and roasted cauliflower with pickled prunes (HK$188).

Roasted spring chicken in a bold-flavoured pancetta tomato ragu.
The giant duck ravioli is stuffed with fork-tender duck leg confit.

Seafood lovers have a few options to choose from: a generous fillet of seared bass is served with a umami-packed black garlic purée (HK$250), while the spiced seafood stew (HK$298) is studded with chunks of charred lobster, black cod and spaetzle sitting in a peppery sofrito sauce. For dessert, don’t miss out on the gooey chocolate tart (HK$88) which tips its hat towards Southeast Asia with pandan mousse, toasted coconut and kaya jam.

A one-page menu of wines is easy to navigate, with a few go-to varietals available by the glass (New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp Provençal rosé). Cocktails continue the friendly pricing; priced at HK$88, thirst-quenchers include an Apple Spritz and a Boracay Mojito splashed with Barbados plantation rum.

The chocolate tart nods towards Southeast Asia with toasted coconut and kaya jam.

Extending the party to the weekends, a new experimental brunch menu (HK$388 plus 10% surcharge per person) will alternate weekly between American and British themes, inspired by both chefs’ upbringings. The “American Brunch Menu” kicks off with warm homemade biscuits under a blanket of sausage gravy, softly scrambled eggs spiced with Cajun seasoning, and salt-baked beet and citrus with a cooling mint yogurt sauce. For mains, guests can choose between hot and sweet fried chicken and waffles, polenta and fried prawns with pickled jalapeno sour cream, or fluffy pancakes loaded with all the fixings. Cap it off with classic American boardwalk treats — from funnel cake to ice cream sundaes.

Craving a Sunday roast instead? The “British Brunch Menu” invites guests to gather around a classic British spread: there’s pea and ham soup and chicken truffle terrine to start, tangy vegetable relish courtesy of Rhodes’ grandmother’s recipe; followed by mains of tender Devonshire beef roast sirloin served with a puffy Yorkshire pudding, or baked Norwegian salmon with shellfish cream. The elegant spread is rounded out with roast potatoes, gravy, cauliflower cheese and honey-roasted carrots with salted cashew nuts. Dessert ends on a high with homemade vanilla soft serve and a classic English Bakewell tart topped with summer berries.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hong Kong-style brunch without free-flow: HK$198 covers cava, wines, beer and the choice of Arnold Palmers or Gin & Tonics. Brunch extends from 11:30am–4pm every Saturday and Sunday, with the party vibes fuelled by a pop and hip hop soundtrack.

Kinship is now open for dinner Mon–Sun (6–11:30pm & 1am for drinks), and brunch Sat–Sun (11:30am–4pm) at 3/F, 2-4 Shelley Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2520 0899

Leslie Yeh
Editor in Chief
Having worked as a lifestyle editor for almost 10 years, Leslie is thrilled to be writing about the topic she loves most: wining and dining. When she's not out pounding the pavement for the latest new restaurant opening or tracking food trends, Leslie can be found at home whipping up a plate of rigatoni vodka and binge-watching Netflix with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand.