West of Kin, 17 Lacy Street, Braybrook. Phone: 9317 7553
West of Kin in Braybrook has quickly established itself as something of a star.
And it continues to defy the cynics by making “Asian fusion” something that works and delights.
I know, because I respond in the affirmative to an invite for Consider The Sauce to be guests of management again in order to try out the new lunch/brunch menu (see full disclosure below).
But instead of resorting to the usual routines in such cases, for the first time (and not the last) I throw open the invite to CTS readers through the blog’s Facebook page.
And the prize goes to … reader Lisa, who rocks up for Saturday lunch with brother Phong, sister Nikki and the latter’s daughter, Jasmine.
A more interesting, gregarious and talk-happy crew I could not dream of – so I thank them sincerely for joining me!
Given we are effectively five hungry adults, and that the new lunch/brunch menu is as compact and succinct as that which greeted CTS on its earlier visit, it’s no surprise we give the list a very solid workout.
Here’s what we enjoy in the course of our lovely meal:
Lap cheong and beetroot arancini with scrambled egg ($8, top photo) are muffin-like treats that are both delicate and chewy – and a very vivid purple inside.
The Hunan-style sticky lambs ($8) are fine – and a holdover from the previous menu.
Japanese croquette with red capsicum and pea and mint relish ($5) is crunchy on the outer wonderfully molten in its core.
For sides, there are beaut, crunchy and unoily wonton fries ($6) …
… a very good Asian slaw ($6) and …
… and kimchi ($6), though this gets a little ignored because of the profusion of food with which we are presented.
The big hit of the day is the prawn burger ($28).
Served on a “steamed black brioche bun”, the patty is chopped-up prawn that nevertheless has the same pop and texture and flavour as the whole variety.
It’s the same clever, and delicious, style that we found in the prawn toast of that earlier meal.
The burger is attended by another bowl of wonton fries, “yuzu” mayo and pickles.
This is a winning twist on “burger”!
The recipients of the egg noodle ramen with braised pork belly, slow-cooked duck egg, nori and spring onion ($19) and …
… the “Korean rice bowl bibimbab” ($18) of braised semi-dry mushrooms, pork, carrot, daikon and more enjoy their meals.
But both seem a little on the routine side when contrasted with the fantasia of sharper flavours and colours that surround them.
The soft-shell crab bun mei with lemon-cured spring onion and gochujang mayo ($14) is a sexy treat that is necessarily light of weight – and is thus gone in a flash.
The master stock shredded duck with egg noodles, fried quail egg and all the trimmings ($28), another survivor from the earlier menu, goes down well – particularly with Jasmine!
But it does seem a little on the dry side to me.
We try all three!
Panna cotta with scorched fruit and saffron syrup ($12) and …
… the choc mousse with freeze-dried fruits and mint sugar ($10) are just as smooth, tasty and wonderful as we expect them to be.
The Taiwanese pineapple cake with yuzu granita ($9), however, is an enigma that leaves us a little bemused.
Maybe the word “cake” leads us to expect more – or, at least, something different.
This has good pineapple flavour but seems more like a “slice” that loses out somewhat on the perhaps unfair basis of visual perceptions alone.
There’s no doubting that granita, though – it’s brilliantly tangy flavour explosion!
As ever, I have endeavoured here to be honest – even when the food is provided without money changing hands.
So … yes, a couple of flat spots.
But nevertheless, West of Kin impresses me – and my new friends – as something special.
My understanding is that the heritage factor prevents signage – but that just makes West of Kin even more of a slinky, oh-so-Melbourne gem.
It’s a gorgeous place to spend some time and the staff and service are very good.
(The Consider The Sauce crew dined at West of Kin as non-paying guests of the management. CTS chose the food involved and West of Kin neither sought nor was granted any access or say in the writing of this post.)