Chi Kinjo: New ‘Modern Sushi and Highball Haunt’ Goes Hand in Hand with Narrative Concept
Restaurant operator Coterie Dining Concepts is taking the connected universe route with its bars and restaurants (we’ll explain) – and its latest addition to the crossover is called: Chi Kinjo.
What is Chi Kinjo? Essentially, it’s a modern sushi bar and highball haunt along Stanley Street.
But what Coterie Dining wants you to ask instead is – who is Chi Kinjo? (Stay with us.)
Here’s what we learned on a recent visit to the restaurant: Chi Kinjo is the heiress of a powerful Japanese family who quarreled with her entire clan and flew to Hong Kong to find her long-lost lover. a long time, Dai Lo. Dai Lo, however, now has another woman by his side – a lady named Mona (you may know her as the back room bar Mona Lounge) as his third wife (in Cantonese, “Sum Yi Tai”, yet another concept of a gourmet lounge). Mona is also Eliza’s stepmother (cocktail club Eliza).
Phew. We’re getting there, guys.
Now that you’re all caught up in the epic saga, let’s get back to our regular lineup. Chi Kinjo would be Coterie Concepts’ entry into the world of sushi and highballs. And the place is literally split into these two regions, with the upper level containing a cozy (read: small) sushi and izakaya, while the shaded basement is a swanky bar with Japanese-influenced cocktails alongside a selection of sake, whiskey, gin, and other potent libations.
As compact as the modern sushi restaurant is, the menu offers a fairly wide range of dishes – but be prepared to wait a bit longer due to a small kitchen team. Respect where respect is due, however. Chef Lamley Chua doesn’t seem to compromise the quality of his culinary art just to rush food through the kitchen, and it’s especially evident in his aburi-style maki rolls and nigiri sushi. The 80s Spicy Tuna Roll ($16) melts in your mouth and delivers creamy, smoky bursts of flavor in every bite. On the Aburi Nigiri side ($12 for 2 pieces), the Salmon and Foie Gras is a decadent delight, the latter marinated in miso and milk to enhance its already oily flavor to umami-rich levels.
Americanized Japanese sushi, but Chef Lamley ensures tradition is upheld by balancing the complexity of the high-quality ingredients he orders. He also tells us that there will soon be more people helping him in the kitchen, for faster service, when we inquired about it.
Beyond sushi, the hot menu offers small and large plates to share, combining bar snacks with heartier options. A table favorite is the Kaffir Lime Karaage ($15) – fried chicken pieces, the pieces of which are pre-marinated in kaffir lime for a tangier, juicier version of the classic snack.
The Smoked Wagyu Steak ($28) takes center stage in the large plate selection (if its position on the menu is any indication). It tastes quite fine and is enhanced in flavor with black garlic onion cream, but we can’t say that the dish as a whole stands out in any way.
Chi Kinjo’s upcoming plans for a lunch menu, however, sound intriguing. There are bento boxes; there are sushi sandwiches made with Chinese-style braised pork belly; there are Hawaiian-style sushi sandwiches with braised spam. That’s the official word, although no date has yet been announced for their introduction.
The experience at “Modern Sushi Bar and Highball Den” isn’t complete without the aforementioned highballs, and Chi Kinjo keeps them all very satisfying. Watermelon Shisho ($14) turned out to be the most appetizing of the lot thanks to the refreshing taste of Shisho sake combined with freshly squeezed watermelon juice, calamansi, simple syrup and lemon juice. The Sweet Pear & Rosemary ($16) emphasizes floral and fruity notes blended with Tanqueray gin; the Gin & Ginger ($16) is high bodied with Tanqueray 10 while balancing the potency with fresh ginger and mint leaves.
Chi Kinjo is a chewable concept, but luckily the food and drinks are worth it.
Chi-Kinjo is at 29 Stanley Street
6910-2742. Open Monday to Friday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Sat 6pm-1am; close on Sunday
MRT: Telok Ayer