Last Updated on February 16, 2022
A Filipino Feast in Soho at Kasa and Kin
I’m a complete newcomer to Filipino cuisine so it was excellent to be asked to review Kasa and Kin, an exciting new restaurant that sits in Soho’s Poland St. The restaurant’s website says it is all about ‘home, heritage, community and family’; these are important issues that must resonate with a global Filipino diaspora that has kept its own culture under wraps until recently.
The interior is colourful and informal. There is industrial ducting on the ceiling and bright lively murals on the walls and lots of the colour orange.
The bakery section sells exciting looking, unfamiliar products and then there is a restaurant where we are going that is full of young Filipinos all dressed up and having a good time.
We start with a couple of cocktails. The Ube Martini is a thoroughly violet colour. It’s a blend of Stolichnaya Vodka, Malibu, ube (a purple yam), coconut cream and cranberry juice. It’s a tropical concoction with the Malibu and coconut coming to the fore. It’s not too sweet and it goes down almost too easily. The Weng Weng is a Filipino version of a Long Island Iced Tea, an 80s classic I haven’t tried since then when I swore never to have one again after a serious LIIT induced hangover. How easily I’m swayed. Blending together Russian Vodka, El Jimador Tequila, Courvoisier Brandy, Balvenie 12 Years Old Whisky, Bacardi Rum, Blu Curacao, pineapple juice and grenadine the cocktail arrives with four spectacularly different coloured layers. Mixing the sweetness of the grenadine together with the bite of the rum, whisky and brandy and the tropical notes of the pineapple creates a lethal tropical concoction that is far too easy to drink… Helping mop up the alcohol was a classic Pandesal, the ‘quintessential Filipino bread’, a soft white salted roll. It came hot and fresh from the oven.
I love reading menus that are unfamiliar and if like me you’re looking for something different to kickstart your jaded palate then Kasa and Kin is a great find. We skipped the Hot Broths option (stocks, served over noodles and fresh vegetables) going for the Kilaw Marinated Style Bowls. This is the Filipino equivalent of the now ubiquitous Hawaiian Poke or Peruvian Ceviche with vegetables, meat or fish cubed, then dressed with a citrus and light soy dressing, coriander and lemongrass pesto, avocado and micro leaf salad. We ordered the salmon fillet which was thinly sliced and marinated in cane vinegar and Cornish salt flakes. Our fresh, generous portion was delicious and great value, zinging with flavour.
The third starter option was a selection of Chilled Fresh Rice Paper Spring Rolls. These reminded me of Vietnamese spring rolls and were stuffed with lettuce, shredded vegetables, coriander, chilli, ginger, soy and beansprouts and then served with a dip. We went for the spiced shrimp option with juicy pink shrimp and shrimp paste finalising the filling. Topped with fried rice noodles it was a great combination of textures and fresh delicate flavours. It was time for some wine and our bottle of organic and vegan Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, 2020 was floral with a hint of sweetness. It was a really good match with the food and particularly with the starters.
The restaurant has a ‘Pinoy’ (Phillipino) Robata Grill that offers the ‘best Filipino BBQ sticks you’ll find outside of Manila’. I’ve never been to Manila so can’t possibly attest to the veracity of this statement; however the three veg sticks we tried, piquant Padron peppers and squash, both brushed with annatto oil, and okra, seasoned with Cornish salt flakes, were perfectly charred with the BBQ process adding smokiness and bringing out the natural sweetness of the vegetables. The accompanying Sao-Sao Weng sauce, garlic, chilli and ginger in vinegar, added some extra spice to the proceedings.
There’s a premium Robata BBQ Deluxe menu from which we sampled the Fresh Lobster in the Shell option which was beautifully juicy, spicy and sweet. The Beef Fillet was tender, full-flavoured and moist.
One of the interesting things about Kasa and Kin are their dips, sauces and salt seasonings which are a fantastic way of complementing the BBQ dishes. The Bahay BBQ sauce is the house BBQ dip infused with the sour-sweet notes of tamarind; there’s a fresh-tasting coriander and lemongrass pesto which was perfect with the beef; the Spiced Bagoong mayo with spiced fermented shrimp paste was a must with the lobster as was the Calamansi (a Filipino lime) Aioli with garlic, soy and mayonnaise. For something with a bit more bite the green mango, ginger and jalapeno jam was perfect.
There is also a wonderful array of salt seasonings; Truffle salt, Smoked chilli pepper salt, Lemongrass salt, Schezuan pepper salt and Ginger and garlic. It was a lot of fun dipping the veg into them and exploring the various flavour combinations.
The sides were uniformly good. Tasty fried rice was studded with crisp fried garlic. Bok choy came simply stir-fried with ginger, soy and sesame. But my favourite was succulent long strips of smoked aubergine sitting on a green salad.
After a feast like this, it’s always necessary to have a couple of desserts. Dulce de leche cheesecake with crushed peanuts was as indulgent as it sounds. With a moist cheesecake middle, a biscuit base and slathered with the caramelesque Dulce de Leche sauce this was most definitely not a healthy option. Ah well, it was delicious! The Calamansi Citrus Filipino Tart was like a tarte au citron but slightly rubbery which made it less successful.
There is lots to explore and enjoy at Kasa and Kin without breaking the bank so do give it a try next time you’re in town.
Kasa and Kin
52/53 Poland Street,
London W1F 7NQ
020 7287 5400
For more Soho Restaurants, check our roundup