Ever since it opened in 2004, Kin's Kitchen in Tin Hau has drawn the crowds for its Cantonese food. It specialises in classic dishes, many of which are hard to find at other Cantonese restaurants, some because they're too difficult to make (one dish involves removing the flesh and bones from a fish, mincing and seasoning the meat then stuffing it back into the skin before cooking it), or use ingredients that have fallen out of favour (including a delicious soufflé made with fish intestines).
These dishes, as well as new ones, are on the menu at the second Kin's Kitchen in Wan Chai. It's brighter and bigger than the original, and the tables - some are semicircular booths - are large and well-spaced.
The restaurant owner and namesake Lau Kin-wai (who also has Yellow Door Kitchen, in Central), was making the rounds of the tables on the night of our visit, and recognising me, he came to take our order and make suggestions.
Our starters were excellent. The drunken fresh abalone (four for HK$150) featured small, tender abalone infused with the flavour of Chinese rice wine. Sliced pork kidney with sesame sauce (HK$68) was delicious. The kidney had been scrupulously cleaned, so the pieces had a mild flavour that went well with the sauce. Contrasting with the cold dishes was the hot, crisp fried Puning tofu (HK$88).
When I called to reserve the table, the receptionist recommended that I pre-order half a fried chicken, but Lau suggested the classic salt-baked chicken (HK$208). This dish is often served with a ginger, salt and oil dipping sauce, although it wasn't here, but the chicken flavour was was so intense that it didn't need anything else. Stir-fried bitter melon with minced pork and salted egg yolk (HK$85) wasn't the healthiest of dishes, but even the vegetable hater in our group liked the crisp-tender pieces of melon coated with a plentiful amount of the yolk.
Deep-fried braised pork belly in rice paper (HK$88) was perhaps too much of a good thing. We love pork belly for its fattiness, but when it's deep-fried, it's far too rich. We each enjoyed one piece, but couldn't manage more. A soup of Chinese spinach with crab meat (HK$50) had a lovely, light, silky-smooth texture, but it didn't taste of much and seemed out of place in a Cantonese restaurant.
Our dishes came at a good pace. Lau makes a better restaurateur than a waiter: he forgot to bring one dish that we ordered (the fish intestine soufflé), although that turned out to be fine, because what we were served was sufficient for us.
Kin's Kitchen, 5/F W Square, 314-324 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2571 0913. Open: noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm. About HK$275 without drinks or the service charge. Tin Hau branch, tel: 2566 6177