The pull to Kineya was irresistible, and we felt that we had to get another visit in before we left Cambridge. This time we tried a few different things and again, the tempura counter was just too enticing to ignore.
Laksa Prawn Udon – We dare you to add more chilli
Being a Penangite, Laksa on any menu is always a big temptation. Laksa made it into CNN’s Top 10 World’s best food, however, the laksa that Penang is most well-known for remains solely a Penang speciality, laksa throughout the rest world really means curried noodles.
It was much the same here at Kineya, Laksa Prawn Udon, was really a bowl of curried noodles with prawns. The freshly made udon noodles were really well-complemented by the rich and spicy broth. In an earlier post, we talked about how impressed we were with the udon. The experience was consistent. The bite of the udon was chewy and springy, with sufficient resistance to make it a nice mouth feel without the effort of having to work through it.
Kitsune’s laksa was served with prawns, fish cake, egg, bean sprouts, fried tofu and pak choi, and garnished with chilli miso and coriander. It had a small wedge of lime and with added chilli it gave just the right kick.
Kamaage Udon – For a true appreciation of Udon
Kamaage Udon is traditional udon dish in which the noodles are dished up with the water in which it was boiled and served with a side of dashi or soy based dipping sauce enhanced with accoutrements such as spring onion, sesame seeds and mashed ginger.
Although a very simple dish, it was one that certainly allowed the udon to shine. It is advisable to eat this fairly quickly as overtime, the noodles did get softer and began to lose its bite and bounce.
Overall, the soya-dashi mix was slightly too salty. Although the garnishes added extra flavour and texture to the dish. Certainly something to try just for the experience.
Beef Gyudon – Rice for a change
Although primarily a noodle house, Kineya did have a few rice bowls on its menu including standard Japanese essentials such as rice with Katsu (Chicken and pumpkin) Curry, Pork Chashu don, a couple of beef options and fried tofu curry with rice.
The Beef Gyudon did not disappoint. The beef slices were generous and nicely flavoured. Texture wise, the beef was sufficiently soft although not quite melt in your mouth. The rice portion was also generous and the authentic Japanese short grain rice was filling. The par-cooked poached egg, when mixed in, gave the overall dish a sticky, creamy feel contrasted with the crunch of the pickled ginger.
Those Crispy Sides
We ventured a bit more bravely in to the tempura options on our second visit and came away with a range of different tempura – prawn, squid, and chikuwa tempura, chicken gyoza and just a couple of takoyaki.
We know we advised in our previous post to skip the takoyaki and we wanted to make sure we hadn’t just caught them on an ‘off day’. After a second experience with Kineya’s takoyaki, the advice remains the same – skip it.
The seafood tempura were crunchy and crispy as to be expected and plunged in to the dipping sauce, made for a really good combination of textures. Unfortunately because the tempura was cold, it was not as appealing as it would have been if they were freshly fried.
While the prawn and chikuwa tempura were good, the squid tempura unfortunately was a little soggy, even before being dipped in the dipping sauce. The gyoza skin was thick although the filling was tasty.
Overall the tempura were a tasty exciting addition to an already fulfilling meal. If you only had to pick one, we would still recommend the Vegetable kakiage tempura, but if you’re sharing with friends and having a slow meal, the range of tempura is an interesting addition to individual meals.
The ambience of the place is worth sitting in. We loved the interplay of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ styles of Japanese interior and could see influences of both clearly. The booths afforded more privacy, but were often the first to be filled. The stand-alone tables and chairs made for comfortable sitting.
Likewise if you’re eating alone, the bar counter along the shop window are perfect for people watching as you slurp on your scrumptious bowl of udon.
Overall, we’d say, definitely visit Kineya if you’re in Cambridge and craving a bowl of udon to slurp on. It may not be flashy or up-market, but the food is tasty and the tempura pretty irresistable.