Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant
As a Melbourne foodie, I’m definitely the adventurous sort - happy to try just about anything…but I’m definitely on the lazy side.
Which is why I haven’t explored the west side of Melbourne, probably as much as I should, especially at the moment, with lots of interesting new restaurants and cafes popping up all over the place.
West of Kin is an unexpected little oasis in a rather industrial area in the West of Melbourne in Braybrook. Although fresh this particular evening, the lovely courtyard outside the restaurant, and floor to impossibly high ceiling windows at the front of the restaurant would be absolutely charming in warmer weather.
The ex-ETA Foods Factory that they reside in is heritage listed, so the crew had to get creative with the interior, but have succeeded in a fit out that’s contemporary, blending the old with new, but also warm and cosy. I just loved the lighting - so moody!
The food at West of Kin is Asian fusion, and man, they pack a punch in the flavours! From the first dish of abalone congee with house made XO sauce, crunchy wild rice, spring onions and fried shallots I was completely taken by the big flavours that were also so familiar and so comforting. The congee was the perfect thick consistency, the XO sauce so rich and the black rice providing such an unexpected but delightful crunch - and all those fried shallots? So much flavour, so much texture, so delicious. Although the first dish, it was probably one of my favourites for the evening (although they also serve tis dish for breakfast/lunch).
Cho-gochu-jang ceviche king fish with avruga caviar, almond cream, quail egg yolk, sea cucumber, ice plant and kelp infused oil is beautifully silky, and again, I love the textures through the dish, from the crispness of the ice plant to the creamy egg yolk. The gochujang was punching with flavour too.
The summer kimchi with nachi pear and pistachio, is everything we love about kimchi, but dialled back a bit and made just a tiny bit sweeter and al little more refreshing. I really enjoyed the nutty addition of the pistachios.
I did not do this dish any justice with my photos! The imitation squid ink cannelloni with prawn and squid filling, wasabi pea puree, smoked yoghurt, viola, sesame and yuzu granita is definitely on the very ‘fusion’ end of Asian fusion! Despite it’s look, the cannelloni is smooth and tender, easily cut through and lovely and creamy.
Our next item on the menu was simply called ‘Traditional West of Kin salad (we dare you)!’. Interesting. The salad arrived at our table, loaded with coriander, Vietnamese mint and looking lush and green. Being the initiator I am, I started mixing up the salad to serve out and couldn’t help but grin with delight at what I saw come up.
No wonder they didn’t want to spell out all the ingredients, as I’m sure some would baulk away from it. Amongst all the herbs, hid some tripe and spleen (sorry to give away the secret guys). In all honesty, this and the abalone congee were my favourite dishes of the night. I absolutely loved how refreshing the salad was and the huge kick of chilli with the cooling mint and coriander and peanuts with it. The tripe and spleen itself were just delicious - but hey if you don’t like it, I’ll take your share. No problem!
Another stellar dish was the deep fried flounder with pips in black bean sauce, crunchy wild rice and can nouc. Again vibrant with flavours, possibly one of the most aromatic black bean sauces I’ve had in a while and perfect with the sweet and utterly delicious flounder.
By the time the Korean bossam with braised pork belly, summer kimchi, seasonal salad and herbs, ssamjang and house made XO sauce came out - I was about ready to burst! I got a bit lazy and didn’t quite DIY a whole bun together, but I did sample a bit of the pork and although a little anaemic looking, gorgeously tender and melted in your mouth.
We finish on a sweet note naturally, with Valhorna chocolate mousse with fresh and freeze dried raspberries. Classic, not overly sweet and lovely and cocoa-y.
The Taiwanese pineapple cake with coconut ice-cream was also punchy with flavour - I found the cake a tad dry for my tastes, although I liked the flavour but the coconut ice-cream was just divine.
The calibre of food at West of Kin was outstanding, and I think it’s amazing that the owners have taken the punt of getting out of town and bringing something new to the area. It’s definitely some of the most vibrantly flavoured, interesting and yet comforting and familiar flavours I’ve had recently. I only wish it was closer…or I could just be a little less lazy! Been thinking about revisiting for brunch, where congee and soup noodle breakfast dishes are calling in the frosty, frosty weather…
17 Lacy Street