KIN Food Halls: Feasting on the Finest of Asia's Cuisine
June 08, 2022
Welcoming Tai Kooers into its decadent gastronomical vestibule in May, KIN Food Halls opens on the second floor of Devon House in Taikoo Place with offerings of more than 200 dishes and plates from four dozen renowned chef-focused brands around the continent.
Existing as the first flagship ecosystem of the KIN brand in Hong Kong (and worldwide), the 300-seat hall space is set to challenge industry standards and fundamentals of traditional food delivery to sustainably, financially, and socially deliver food that is healthier and better for both food creators and food consumers.
Through a custom-designed app, KIN users can source specific tastes and recipes, order the latest dish drops to desk or door, or pre-order items ready for arrival at the second-floor, 18,000-square-foot space.
With curated dishes from star Hong Kong chefs alike the legends of Richard Ekkebus of Amber, Kevin Lam of DAM.A Kitchen, and Erik Idos of CHINO, KIN works with icons in Asia to import recipes and authenticity to the Tai Koo kitchen.
The Beat Asia toured the expansive KIN Food Halls with Matthew Reid, CEO and co-founder of the industrial food operation, to explore how KIN plans to disrupt the traditional food delivery system and what is in store for its technology-focused model of catering for vertical communities in Hong Kong and beyond.
Vertical Community Eating in Hong Kong
Matthew Reid describes the curated space as a breakaway from the traditional food delivery service: pollutive with plastic, harmful to a venue’s price line, and divisive between customer and chef.
“Ethically and financially, we cannot participate in the old model. There is no need to create that layer between customer and chef. No more mopeds and no more plastic,” Matthew said. "What if we change how vertical populations change the way a community eats.”
KIN Food Halls sits on the second floor of Taikoo Place, home to 40,000 office workers of EY, BAYER, Dairy Farm, Welcome, Jardine, Matheson & Co, and other international brands and companies. The space is set to cater affordable, speedy, and delectable meals for Hong Kong’s busy Taikoo Shing workers.
“We want to use technology, [our app], to make savings and build efficiency in scale delivering meals for under 100 Hong Kong dollars.”
Technology is at the centre of the operation of KIN Food Halls. Ingredients for the dozens of the dishes are logged on a system, notifying customers when dishes sell-out. The KIN app can collect meta data from your previous orders – 52 data points of each dish – to curate specific “food playlists” designed for your taste.
Chef-Curated Dishes Sourced from Asia, Made in Taikoo
Operating in Taikoo from Monday to Friday opening from 11 AM to 10 PM, with a focus on alcohol set to be introduced with local craft beer and liqueur operators in July, dishes are defined with a plethora of Asian staples: Noodle, Rice, Japanese, Healthy, Authentic Flavours, Discover, Street Classics, and Eat Under $88.
In our healthy serving of five chef dishes, we began snacking on the Spicy Tomato & Watermelon Salad (HK$88), an Ekkebus creation filled with cherry tomatoes, coriander, and lightly spiced watermelon, served with deep-fried tofu bites and a lemongrass-ginger dressing.
Vibrant with red and yellows, this Amber restaurant-designed salad sparkles with a honey sweetness within the watermelon, bursting with juice, and the tang of the tomatoes, that pair well with the ginger of the dressing and crunch of the tofu to boost umami flavours in the mouth.
The Emmer Thai Chicken Pizza (HK$158) initially threw me off with a lack of cheddar or tomato presence. However, a thin layering of satay sauce, acting as an emulsifier, paired with a dusting of shredded chicken, basil leaf, carrot, boat noodles, and beansprouts wowed me with a new level of creativity found in KIN.
As Emmer pizzas go, the dough is fluffy with abundant sugar and yeast tones, involving the nose in a full-body experience. The combination of shredded texture, juicy and stringy in texture, with the peanut satay is perfect for a balanced sharing of sweet and salty bites. The added vegetables drive home a Thai feel of the pizza and add in roughage for a wholesome pizza.
Where local food legend chef Matt Abergel shines is in the new Yardbird creation of the Furai-O-Fish Sando (HK$128), a panko-breaded fish sandwich, slapped together with a lightly toasted golden bun, a golden American cheddar cheese slice, and takana-pickle tartar sauce.
It looks like a F****-O-Fish from McD****** with a relatable sesame bun and overpouring tartar sauce, but a bite of this Yardbird sando innovates on every landscape as compared to the former. The tartar sauce’s tanginess helps to cut any oil still present on the breaded fish filet, which possesses a flaky inside pleasant on the tongue and salty to taste.
With a belly near-full, we dug into the last gem of our tasting, Axian’s Selection Beef Rendang (HK$108), a delicately stewed beef dish with ground spices, served with coconut rice, poppadom's, and daikon and mango pickles.
It was my highlight of KIN: the beef is decadent in flavour, slow cooked to reveal a beef chunk that falls apart in one's mouth, oozing a watering mix of silky coconut cream, herby cumin and coriander, and a lemongrass and lime ending for balance. Paired with the sweet rice, the beef rendang hits home with a creamy, sweet bite each and every time.
A Sustainable KIN Vision for the Future
It is not hard to understand KIN’s commitment to a better model of food delivery and consumption. With a goal to reduce all waste of plastic packaging by 2025 in delivery and service, KIN shows Hong Kong that a healthier future is attainable with the use of technology.
Evident is a commitment to sustainability in the hall. More than 25% of KIN was built from repurposed or recycled materials, tables made from soy sauce dregs and crab shells and benches made from old circuit boards; the ingredients in curated KIN dishes are sourced as locally as possible from regenerative farms and packaging is fully compostable.
“KIN means family, breaking bread, emotion, entering a restaurant and building kinship,” Matthew told The Beat Asia. In accordance with Matthew’s vision for the future, KIN at Taikoo Place is a testing ground for how a concept such as the food hall can grow in the neighbourhood’s vertical community and see a transformation in Hong Kong and, in the future, abroad.
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