I have a confession to make. I’ve never watched My Kitchen Rules (MKR).
Friends have always told me Masterchef is for those interested in the food, MKR is for those into drama. With that in mind, I never gave Channel Seven a chance, thinking it was only for those into a kind of butchered “reality TV”. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t, but one thing’s for sure – I didn’t get a chance to witness MKR’s ‘cutest couple’ – Uel & Shannelle, in action.
At least, until I paid a visit to their newly-opened café, and a new episode in their story of kinship opened up for all to see.
Date Last Visited: 21/3/15
Address: 2 Saunders Close Macquarie Park, NSW 2113
Recommended Dish(es): snap crackle & plop, the BFF bun
I was partially compensated for my visit, and as such, the Usual Disclaimer does apply…partially? Try not read too much into it 😛
A blessing in disguise is really the only appropriate way to describe the cooking duo that is the story of Uel & Shannelle. The now-married couple were eliminated early on in MKR, but that has become their fortune, for they were able to take what they had learned to open an Asian-inspired café in Macquarie Park by the name of Kin By Us.
It’s one of the cleverer names I’ve come across in recent times. That their initials make a synonym for ‘we’ as a collective is perfect. You know what else is also doing quite well? Business.
Despite there being ample seating at the café, expect to wait 20-30 minutes during peak times. Uel however, handled all of this with aplomb, taking our names down with nary a missed beat. They haven’t even been open a month, but things already look like they’re ticking along like clockwork.
Overall, first impressions have been quite positive – lovely staff, lovely interior. The only potential issue? Parking, and possibly crossing a forsakenly dangerous busy road to get here!
In case you were one of those people who got stressed out trying to cross that road to get to Kin By Us and had to cope with the wait, it’s time to relax with a chai latte. You could also get their coffee, which is a Reuben Hills blend. Whichever way you go, you’ll be taken care of!
I ordered chai as it’s been over a year since I last had it; it was a bit of an impulse purchase. I particularly enjoyed the smattering of chai spices on the surface of the latte. I was born on a bed of tea & spice, so this really hit the spot.
The rest of the drink was a more standard milk tea, with a hint of the previous chai taste. I do wish it would be a little stronger though.
The little morsel in the spoon is akin to a crunchy but light milk puff. People who grew up in China would know exactly what I’m talking about – once you try it!
If you could only receive one takeaway from this blog post, it’s this: get to Kin at 11:30. Why?
- You get access to the lunch menu…
- …while access to the breakfast menu is maintained as it’s an all day breakfast
Kin By Us’ signature dish – snap crackle plop is lunch only. You gotta get here at 11:30.
Delicious chicken rice, chicken skin scratchings and an onsen egg (basically a slow-cooked/sous-vide 63C egg). This is an umami combination that does not go wrong. The rice is lightly flavoured, but every bite is pillowy goodness and that chicken umami is ever there at the edge of your perception.
The bulk of the flavour is delivered by the chicken skin, which makes for one tasty, crunchy bite. Add in their onsen egg which gives a texture overhaul, and you’ve got a solid lunch option for only $10.
This is seriously delicious, a dish I would come back for. The portions are on the small side – I consider it a snack, but it’s also snack-priced.
By the way, where’s the spoon? Eating rice with a fork was certainly a weird combo.
The onsen eggs return in their yolky fashion as the miso yummy dish. We’re talking a good chunk of miso salmon, those perfectly poached eggs, and a little ball of spinach with a sesame/salty kick to it.
My first impression was just how well the salmon was cooked. I’m almost certain it’s been cooked in a temp-controlled water bath, as texture consistency is remarkable. Buttery-soft all the way through, this salmon is texturally perfect for the dish its trying to be.
Flavour-wise, there’s not as much going on; you’ll have to mop up a good deal of the mayo at the bottom and eat it with the eggs/spinach to get some flavour into your fisher.
As for yolkporn? Never enough. I’m a big fan of the eggs here at Kin. If you don’t like eggs, this may not be your café – most dishes incorporate eggs in some way, so just go get your protein fix!
The ball of spinach is essentially that – a ball of spinach that’s lightly salted and carries a decent dose of sesame flavour. Use liberally with the salmon.
Oddly enough, I didn’t taste much miso in the dish! That aside, it is a nice, standard cafe plate.
It’s hard to look past a breakfast burger, especially when you’re talking about the one that’s Still Hungry. I really, really wanted to order another dish off the menu, but in the end, after a bit of nudging from The Lady, I caved in such extraordinary fashion, it’s like I was always going to order The BFF Bun anyway.
For all its simplicity in ingredients, it’s a damn tasty ‘breakfast’ treat, and one that I definitely did not regret ordering. In fact, it comes closest to reminding me of the legendary Hammer & Tong soft shell crab burger in texture. The bun is lightly toasted so it’s crispy on the sides but still fluffy within. The bacon is crispy in all the right places, and flavour is easily sorted out by the chilli mayo and natural sweetness of bacon and the brioche bun.
Holy moly, so tasty, one of the best things you can get for $10.
Pro-tip: you’ll be using that brioche to mop up spilt yolk. No need to cry over this one. Unless you’re talking tears of joy, it is eggporn, after all.
I’m Still Hungry (literally), so we ordered a fourth dish in the guise of something I frequently eat at home – chicken rice congee w/youtiao. A Cantonese-inspired dish, this is Kin By Us’ response to the question: “what’s the best balm for a wintry day?” A valid question, as we’re now entering Autumn, with winter to follow.
The two big questions about congee are
- How’s the flavour? Too strong? Not enough?
- How watery is it? Nice and gluggy, thin and watery?
Question one can safely be answered with “flavours are on point”. The rice is cooked in a kind of chicken stock which, with the copious amounts of provided pork floss, ensures that you don’t get a bland congee. This stuff is solid. If you’re feeling game, mix in the ginger and chilli for a bit of a spice kick. You know you want to. It’s how I’d do it 😉
As for texture, I’m personally used to congee that’s slightly thicker, but Uel & Shannelle have what I feel is a solid recipe under their belt. The congee, despite its high price relative to its portion size, will definitely find likers, and I’m one of them – for the most part. The addition of a hidden onsen egg inside the congee, which breaks apart releasing that yolky goodness into the bowl…that is one cool, cool move.
You may know of youtiao as “fried Chinese breadsticks” or “fried Chinese doughnuts”. Please don’t use the latter definition…it’s nothing like a Western doughnut. Let’s not mislead more than we have to. These are literally deep fried pieces of airy dough. Hey, you’re eating healthy congee, you have to turn it back into junk food somehow, right?
Besides, when they’re as crispy and delicious as these, you won’t mind chomping down. Besides, you want to vary up the texture of the congee, right?
I’m the convincer.
Four dishes later, I decided to obtain a piece of stardom. Uel & Shannelle have treated us to some delicious food – they are true winners. Man, what an infectious couple. Here, everybody is Kin 🙂
One curio: Kin By Us is not open on Sundays, as the staff are youth workers that help out at church (thanks Chocolatesuze for the tip!). Despite the noble intentions, this is unfortunate, as weekend traffic is what cafes are soaking up – don’t make the mistake of showing up on Sundays!
This post is based on one partially paid-for visit to Kin By Us.
Have you been to Kin By Us yet, or do you want to? Let me know your thoughts or questions on this local gem!
- Delicious food that’s great on the wallet and on the belly
- Stands apart from more generic/standard cafe fare
- Portion sizes are small
- I don’t understand how a bowl of congee (rice in stock) is $17
- Its popularity means you pay with your precious time in line
- Being closed on a Sunday hurts when you’re the travelling foodie
I have a new scoring system! Read all about it here.
Most important takeaway – three separate scores for food, service and ambiance to give the final score. The new system is not compatible with any score given prior to 11/11/2014.
F7 | S4 | A3