“That is excellent!” “Wow!” “I can’t think of better food in Portland.” Those were among the spontaneous reviews coming out of our mouths after the food went in at Kin.
Kin is a chef-owned restaurant, and chef Kevin Shikami has a top reputation, having worked in Paris and San Francisco and having owned restaurants in Chicago. Maybe being the first diners on a quiet Tuesday evening gave us his undivided attention and best efforts. Although the menu changes daily, we had some of the regular items: tuna tartar, steamed buns with pork, salmon, and deserts. All five items exceeded expectation.
I’ll skip to the buns. The last time I had steamed buns was in a Chinese restaurant, which were baseball-sized bread with a speck of something inside. By contrast, the “buns” at Kin are better called pork belly burgers. The buns have a softer and more porous texture and much better flavor than those buns we get at Chinese restaurants. Also, they were cut like a hamburger bun. Inside was a thick cut of pork, which, again, was flavorful and cooked to perfection. We were tempted to pick up the plate to lick every drop of sauce, but, instead, I used some bread. I can imagine returning to Kin after work for a drink and the buns / sliders.
Yes, we’ve all eaten salmon 5,000 times in Portland. There were other more adventurous items on the menu. But despite this, the salmon did not just provide us food on a “school night.” It was a real treat. Unfortunately, I do not have the vocabulary to tell you how or why the sauce was a cut above. I can tell you that it was very tender inside and firm outside. I can tell you that the greens underneath were flavorful, and the little side of a so-called spring roll looked and tasted better than any spring roll I’d had before. It was indisputably fresh, not hard-packed, and filled with chunks of salmon.
The two deserts we had were also top-flight: artful, creative and delicious.
Just go to Kin. Keep this chef happy so he does not leave us in Portland like he left Chicago. I suspect his departure disappointed many Chicagoans.