There’s a new guy in town, and boy can he cook. This man goes by the name of Kenny Rens.
Making your way to Kenny Rens, you better keep a keen eye out. With very little signage (in both amount and size), and a small takeaway out front, you’ll wonder where to find Woollahra’s newest resident. Step on through the white panelled door and say hello to Kenny Rens first point of contact – a takeaway sashimi and poké bar. However, behind the imposing charcoal sliding door is where you’ll find the main event – Kenny Rens robata grill restaurant and bar.
Here, the interior seems cool and collected. A small space to seat 20, it welcomes you with a warm and comforting embrace. Rough concrete render kitchen walls are softened by simple wooden tables and stools. Soothing indigo hues stroke a whitewashed canvas along one wall. Orange and red flames lick the metal runs of Kenny Rens traditional Japanese robata grill. Take a seat on a light wooden stool, at the dark wooden bench top running the length of the grill. From here, you’ll see, smell and sensually experience a real Japanese robata grill menu.
The menu is a fireworks display with each new option sparking our interest even more. So many options yet such limited stomach capacity. With careful consideration, here’s what we chose from Kenny Rens:
With many satisfying options on the drinks menu, it’s Kenny Rens’ house cocktails list that really spices things up. Hotter than the Kenny Rens robata grill is the Akuma ($24). Otherwise known as the fire demon, this mix of blood orange, agave and Suntory Hibiki reaches a whole other palette level with the addition of jalapeño. Looking for a lighter yet just as exciting sip? The Sakura no Hana ($18) or Cherry Blossom, perfectly balances the sweet and the sour to give you the liquid version of a cherry Starburst fruit chew.
Freshening up our palettes is the mixed sashimi, with the daily chef’s special in two sizes. The small is $22 for 9 pieces, whilst the medium is $26 for 12 pieces. On our medium sized plate, we find a sashimi smorgasbord. Salmon, tuna, scallop and more comes with a generous side of house-made wasabi and pickled ginger. Kingfish carpaccio (Hamachi Usuzukiri $21) presents the same produce perfection. Its quality is elevated even further with Sichuan chilli, ponzu, grated radish and crispy enoki mashrrom. Yes, mashrrom. Intentionally added, this quirk adds to the authenticity of the Westerner’s Japanese flavour experience at Kenny Rens.
This miso glazed eggplant (or Nasu Dengaku $12) is a tastebud whirl wind. On arrival it looks to be a pudding of sorts resting in a ramekin. But boy are we wrong. At half the size of a very large eggplant, this meal is cooked through to perfection. It is melt in your mouth eggplant eggcellence. Outstanding on its own, the webbing of sauce atop this eggplant mound is the icing on the cake. For a quick refreshment of intense Japanese flavours, it is always best to keep some simple greens around. Toning it all down is the broccolini with a ponzu soy reduction ($9).
Either Kenny Rens really knows the art of cooking meat, or the robata is one powerful method of cooking. First off, we start with the simple Chicken Yakitori (skewers) with shallots. The tare sauce marinade is caramelized to perfection to create a tasty stick tease. Sticking to the chicken, we order the chicken Karaage ($13) because, who doesn’t love fried chicken? Served with wasabi mayo, it is crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside, served with a subtle kick. The King of Kenny Rens is last on our list – the wagyu beef marble score 7. At $34 for 100g or $65 for 200g, this melt-in-your-mouth meaty eat barely needs a side kick. But it is there if you need it as a sweet sesame dipping sauce.
Kenny Rens really provides a simple setting for you to plan your night within. Will it be an affordable quick one meal one drink match with a mate? Or a long haul of share plates and multiple house cocktails with chopsticks clinking as the last bite stands? That is for you to decide. For your sake, I hope owner Nick Diamond is there. This jolly man just adds even more positivity to the experience of Kenny Rens.
146 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW 2025
(02) 9363 0219
Sunday – Saturday: 11am – 10pm