Sorry, Kinki is not a Gentlemen’s Club—it’s a fish, or for our purpose a restaurant in the Krylatskaya suburbs of northwestern Moscow. It’s located not far off Rublovskoye Shosse in an unassuming location on the first floor of a small office building, which also houses the headquarters of the Coffeemaniya chain, Kinki’s creators.
We seldom venture far outside the Garden Ring for a review, but Kinki has become a PASSPORT favorite. For creative sushi and Japanese fare, PASSPORT Publisher, John Ortega, ranks it right up with Nobu and Megu. Unfortunately, Kinki has audience- thinning prices to match as well.
Kinki, the fish, is a bright red, bony seasonal rockfish from around Hokkaido island, which is also the origin of robata, the beachside style of oak-fired grilling used by local fisherman. At Moscow’s Kinki, a long Robata grill is the centerpiece, wrapped by a large, heavy granite sushi bar. By the time you open these pages, Kinki Chef, Aaron Stott, should be tending his Robata grill, back from a holiday visit home to New Zealand.
Aaron grew up near Gisborne on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island where he learned cooking at home and gained respect for fresh and natural products, but his formal training came later in London. After honing his skills with some of London’s masters, he moved on to Dubai and then to Moscow to open Kinki’s about a year ago.
The Tokyo firm Super Potato executed Kinki’s pan-Asian, stainless and natural material design, which is reminiscent of the work they did for Nedalny Vostok. At first glance, Kinki appears to be a Novikov restaurant, but this is due to the Super Potato design devices that have become a Novikov trademark: walls, floor to ceiling, covered with identical glass containers, and large tubs of produce placed around the kitchen: lemons, sheets of kelp, dried mushrooms.
The cuisine is essentially Japanese, but Aaron told us the emphasis at Kinki is on the Robata grill, apparently the only one in Moscow. The Robata grill has a shallow, high temperature ceramic lined firebox that is designed to provide even oak-fired cooking platform.
We started with a snack of lightly steamed Edamame wholepod soybeans (270r) and a bottle of Australian Triple Overtime Game 7 Viognier at 3000 rubles. The Triple Overtime label is Igor Larionov’s, the Russian star of the Detroit Red Wings who turned wine-marketer in retirement. The Kinki wine list is short, with about ten white wines and about twenty reds covering most major world wine regions. There’s a good selection of wines by the glass, which range from 500 rubles and up, as does a small decanter of one of Kinki’s premium sakes. I found the Antinori Cervaro della Sala that I use as a wine price index listed at 7500 rubles, a markup index of 3.5.
We tested the nigari sushi and sashimi: Dorado (430r), Scottish Salmon (470r), Bluefin (650r) and Yellowtail (950r). We added three of Aaron’s new-style presentations: Spicy Tuna Roll prepared with pickled daikon, rolled inside out, and topped with a square of tuna and slice of jalapeno, Gyoza Dumplings (700r) prepared with foie gras, shitake mushrooms and balsamic vinegar and served with a truffle sauce, and King Crab Hurumaki, a fat roll with tempura Kamchatka crab with tobiko (flying fish roe) and a dab of wasabi mayo (900r). For freshness, Kinki’s fish matches any place in town, and Aaron’s specialties prompted me to agree with JO that his kitchen skills are a match for Moscow’s two big names in creative Japanese cuisine.
Aaron set up a grill selection for us: New Zealand Ribeye (1500r), Zuke Lamb Rack with Wasabi potato puree (1500r), Waygu Tenderloin (2800r), Baramundi–an Australian seabass (2100r), and Mixed Vegetables with Goma Dressing (1300r). The results from the robata were impressive, particularly with the very tender lamb rack, perhaps the best I’ve tried in Moscow.
Aaron sent out a sumptuous dessert tray: fresh tropical fruits with Idzumi (750r), which are crispy triangular apple spring rolls; Macao (750r), a creamy meringue with mangopassion fruit sauce; and Chocolate Fondant (850r) oozing with rich dark chocolate, all tied together with vanilla and pistachio ice cream. Another tip of the hat to the chef.
We topped this off with a
tumbler of Kinki’s delicious homebrewed cherry shochu (500r) brought down from one of the dozens of large jars of shochu that line a wall near the entry. Each with is own hue of seasonal fruits and berries for its home-brewing.
Kinki proved itself one of very few Moscow “destination” restaurants, worth a trip to the outskirts, and certainly a good stopover out Rublovka way.