Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ter'ra X Kin: One Night Only in Kuching

Our perfect location.

5.30pm, 13th February 2018:

I arrived at Kin, half-expecting a frenzy. Michelle was tying up loose ends outside, sorting plates, cutlery, briefing the service staff. She exuded ice-cold calmness, something uncommon for a 23-year old. This was her show(she's from Kuching) - it was probably the only time her extended family could enjoy her talents in one place, and it was not fazing her at all.

Michelle giving her final instructions.

Top was nowhere to be seen. He's definitely sweating it out in the kitchen, out of my sight. The flash-frozen groupers, 'dying' clams, his high temperature. He must have found a solution for everything, or so I hope.

The selection of wine for the event.

6.30pm, 13th February 2018:

Finally, a glimpse of Top. Everything seemed under control. Adrenaline had taken over. He looked in perfect shape.

The #sexythaiboy displaying his usual antics.

Come, one nice shot before hell freezes over, oh, I mean before Ter'ra X Kin takes over.

7pm, 13th February 2018:

After turning a couple of walk-ins away, guests seemed to be finally arriving. It was also the time when Kin, the restaurant itself, transformed from the bright homey eatery in the day, into a classy dining insitution at night. The ambience was spot-on, especially the long wooden platform in front of the kitchen that allowed our chefs to finish off every dish in the clear view of all 40 guests. What a perfect place for the event.

Soon, a healthy elderly man strutted in.

"Are you a guest for the event?" I asked, trying to be as polite as possible.

"Michelle is my grand-daughter!" he bellowed back in pride.

I was taken aback, how was I to know? He proceeded to move forward to take pictures of his granddaughter with his mobile phone.

I looked at Justin and Sze-lyn, my fellow organisers for this event. Sh*t's really happening, here in Kuching, and to think that this was only the 3rd time we met since our 'accidental' meet-up in Bangkok at the end of December. By now, Michelle's entire clan was showering her with embrace and adoration. It was quite a sight, and even before a single dish was served, I knew the effort was worth it.

(From the corner of my eye, I caught Top playing with the wok in the kitchen, and I remembered him saying he had little to no experience with it.)

2 chefs based in Bangkok, 1 with high fever, taking over a kitchen in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

100% local ingredients. Unfamiliar kitchen. Unfamiliar equipment. Unfamiliar restaurant team.

1.5 days of prep. 6 dishes. 40 guests. 1 night (aka 1 chance) only.

Let's do this.

Coriander Crackers| Crab| Rose Apple, an appetising starter to kick the night off.

Soft Seed| Bovril| Honey Butter, the absolute crowd pleaser, I don't think anyone expected the bread dish to be this spectacular. I believe most customers had at least 2, if not 3 of these soft rolls. This was a clear testament to Michelle's talent as a pastry chef.

Mango Sorbet| Fish Floss, back in Bangkok, this was a gamble. Customers either loved or hated Top's frozen mango + fish sauce combination. It was a winner here in Kuching. Everyone finished their lot, even my 7-year-old niece.

Black Rice| Pork Belly| Prawns, a congee dish that tasted more Asian than anything I had ever eaten from Top. It was a little salty at first, but every spoonful gave a different experience, especially after breaking the cured egg yolk hidden under the rolled pork belly charsiu. Many well-cooked elements put into 1 hearty bowl. I could eat this every other day.

Rock Grouper| Clams| Turmeric| Cabbage, I am not going to mince my words, I didn't enjoy this dish as much as I liked to. The dish had potential, but somehow I felt that with a bigger, fresher fish (which proved to be impossible during the Chinese New Year season in Kuching), served warmer, this dish would have been much much better.

Limau Kasturi| Tuak| Coconut, a play on uniquely-Kuching ingredients, but turned out to be possibly the most forgettable dish of the night. Mainly because we were all stuffed by then, and also that the Tuak (a wine commonly drank by Sarawak natives) and coconut didn't really come out.

And so, we pulled it off. There were hits and misses, but we pulled it off!

Such events, and food, are rare in Kuching, and it felt immensely satisfying to have finally made a small difference to this little city that I call home.

I hope everyone who has followed us in this journey will be inspired, even in a little way, by what a few passionate people have managed to achieve. Be creative, be brave. Share your ideas with your best friends, but ideas don't become things if no action's taken. If you find the right people in the right places and join the right dots together, anything is possible.

So thank you Justin, Sze-Lyn, Aaron, Top, Michelle, Jerome, everyone at Kin and all the diners that night. You made a dream come true.

PS. Read all about Ter'ra X Kin: The Making Of.... and follow #terraxkin on IG and Facebook to see all the precious pictures taken of the event.

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