Kasa and Kin is a new Filipino all-day eatery, in Soho. Lusso takes a look.
My great Uncle Mattia was fond of taking me to Soho back when the place could actually claim to be a village.
I would tag along as he pollenated the delis and coffee bars that brought him back to his home in Italy. The conversation, the pink football papers and the espressos all combined to make him feel at home. For me it was the smells and the tastes, the posters of Juventus on the walls and the heated conversations which always sounded like arguments, punctuated by waving hands, wild gestures and, thankfully, frequent smiles.
That all seems like a long time ago. But it was a delight to experience a surprising sense of deja vu when we were shown to our table at Kasa and Kin, a Filipino all-day eatery which exudes the same reassuring family vibe, as vouched for by the number of expats occupying most of the 70 seats. The place seemed as busy and full of life as the cafes of my youth.
I know my spaghetti sauces but I know little (make that nothing) about Filipino street food, upon which much of the menu is based. And I can tell whether or not a welcome is genuine.
Which is where our waitress, Italian not Filipino by some weird chance, scored points straightaway. She presented us with a two small loaves of home-baked bread before explaining a varied meu in some detail. And then offered to explain it again, which was just as well given the number of options available.
We went for lunch on a Saturday but at weekends the menu is expanded to include the dinner options. Starters include broths, bowls of marinated fish, vegetables or meat and rice paper wrapped spring rolls featuring chicken, prawn or an avocado-based veggie option.
Our waitress suggested we share. So we settled on marinated ribeye steak and a chilli chicken spring roll. Both were excellent, infused with real flavour but not too heavy-handed and all wrapped up in a firm invitation to try some more.
We spent a while choosing our main courses from no less than 20 BBQ sticks cooked on the Pino Robata grill. At times like these I search desperately for a set menu. But help was at hand in the form of another detailed rundown from our waitress. Again, there were meat, fish, shellfish and vegetarian options. We settled on BBQ pork belly
glazed in honey, tomato & pineapple and ‘Chinoy’ (Chinese Filipino cuisine) inspired duck breast scented with oriental spice. We shared jasmine rice and a bowl of stir-fried back choy along with a pot of green mango and jalapeno jam. Full on delicious. I know I’m supposed to describe the taste and flavour in detail but that’s cruel if you’re just reading this and you haven’t had your lunch yet. And it’s not that kind on me either, seeing as I’m writing this from memory instead of while I’m eating it. Which is what I wish I was doing right now.
The food, like the presentation, was excellent. If I had a criticism, it would be that the portions could have been more generous. But that was before we happened upon our desserts. The Phillipines must be the home of the sweet tooth. Various cheesecakes give way to a range of deep fried fritters, called Sticky Turons, but top billing is reserved for Iskrambol, described as slushy street food and consisting of banana or yam drenched in, amongst other things, chocolate syrup, marshmallows and puffed rice. Try explaining that at the next Weight Watchers class.
Kasa and Kin is the Soho version of Kensington’s Romulo restaurant. Jeremy Villanueva, executive chef at Romulo, designed the menu here, in consultation with Michelin-starred chef Pat McDonald who has inspired menus at the Savoy and Liberty’s.
The pedigree is there but the real test is in the eating. And Kasa and Kin passed our examination. The family atmosphere is a real strength, and, at around £60 for two including service but not drinks, a respite from the shopping madness of Oxford Street and the oh-so-cool and oh-so-overpriced bars nearby. Kasa and Kin is a bright, happy and welcome addition to the Soho village.
Kasa and Kin, 52-53 Poland Street, London W1F 7NQ Tel: 020 7287 5400