OH-MY-AKASE

Indulge in an Adventurous Dining Experience at 5Kinokawa

Chef Billy Kin creates an intimate culinary delight that features fresh ingredients flown in from Japan’s Toyosu Market.

By Rosemary Akpan January 18, 2023

 

Flying to Tokyo for the best Japanese cuisine probably isn’t terribly convenient for the average Houstonian. Luckily, Chef Billy Kin brings this exquisite treat to us with his intimate multi-course dining experience at 5Kinokawa.

You can find Kin’s luxury omakase restaurant on the corner of White Oak Drive and Oxford Street. But buyer beware, Chef Kin says, to fully embrace the culinary experience of 5Kinokawa requires a truly adventurous palate. Chef Kin’s menu features boundary-pushing dishes like a milt- (or cod sperm-) infused egg-roll (yeah, you read that right), and Japanese river crab, caught and cooked minutes before it’s placed in front of you. But it’s exactly exotic dishes like  those that elevate 5Kinokawa into a class of its own.

With fresh ingredients flown in weekly from Japan’s famous Toyosu Market, Kin transports diners to the eastern part of Asia through a mix of intentional culinary demonstrations, impactful flavors, and thoughtful storytelling. One story that stood out in particular was how Kin transformed this former bagel shop into a warm and intimate 14-seat space with classic hip-hop tunes from the 90s and early 2000s playing throughout the room and hand crafted design elements—many created by Kim himself—on display. 

 

Much like his stories, Kin’s omakase meals are thoughtful, well paced, and satisfying. The roughly two-hour dining experience is highlighted by frequent moments of laughter, usually inspired by the chef, including a vivid memory of Kin holding two-large octopus tentacles.

Traditional omasakes are meant to be an engaging experience, so Kin makes sure to lock eyes with diners, call them out by their first name, and even offered rounds of shots whenever the room fell silent (though the silence was often from patrons entranced by the chef’s considerable torch skills, or how he entertained the crowd by squeezing a lime using a knife instead of his fingers). 

Our 12-part tasting menu began with a cod milt Viet egg-roll with homemade fish sauce, thinly sliced pieces of Giant Pacific octopus, garnished with winter white truffles, a Blue Hill Bay oyster, and a bluefin toro lightly smoked with binchotan charcoal. Following shortly after were chawanmushi topped with Kaluga black caviar, hirame (Japanese flounder) sushi, and Japanese A5 Wagyu from Ōita Prefecture cushioned on a bed of risotto. We were then delighted with a bluefin akami zuke, Japanese scallops with foie, dashi broth with oden (japanese fish cake), and river crab. The tasting finished with a decadent slice of coffee opera cake for dessert. 

 

Depending on when you visit, these items are likely to change, but what stays the same is the exquisite and unique flavors packed in each meal. The private restaurant serves in-house cocktails like a yuzu margarita and a smoky old-fashioned, decorated with a floral ice-cube in the center of each drink. But, feel free to BYOB.

If you’re looking to experience this vibrant event for yourself, reservations are available Thursdays through Sundays with two seating times per night.  

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