Let’s Review Kirin, A New-ish Spot That… Wait, Is It Closed Already?

The sign on the door says “new hours.” Those new hours appear to be “never”.

In a neighborhood like Allston, there are so many options for quality bars and restaurants, inevitably you will overlook some of them. That’s why for this month’s review I decided on a look at a small place that I felt I was overlooking. It’s a place called Kirin and it specializes in… wait, did this place already close?

Well this is embarrassing. I had this place specifically picked out because it was one of the newest restaurants in Allston. The place only opened in September! Yet here we are, not even 6 months later and, while there has been no official announcement of closing, Google has Kirin listed as permanently closed and I haven’t seen their lights on since before the snowstorm. As far as I can tell they are donezo. And the fact that nobody has written about it closing is just a sign that nobody really noticed it was ever open.

So since I never got a chance to try the food, I’m going to wildly speculate on what went wrong. Well, for starters, they took a gamble by reinventing what the space was being used for. The previous tenant was Redneck’s, sometimes called Redneck’s Roast Beef, but as soon as you stepped inside you could tell nobody had ever considered ordering a roast beef there. The menu and atmosphere was that of a sub par pizza joint and the clientele seemed to be exclusively drunk couples who were currently in a fight over something that happened at TitS.

(For reasons I don’t totally understand, the prior establishment also sometimes went by the name Cafe Mitti’s. My guess is they wanted to be taken seriously as a delivery option.)

Make no mistake Redneck’s was not good, but they had a plan that seemed to work with their foot traffic. Kirin decided on a very different plan. They didn’t want to rely on the super-reliable drunk Allstonian demographic. No matter how well situated they were to be a hole-in-the-wall eatery, they insisted they would look like a place where people could sit down and dine. And construction they did! Where once stood permanent wall menus and decades-old pizzeria booths, they instituted an aesthetic! Specialty lighting! Covered menus! A goddamn sushi bar! Sure, maybe I’m just naming the things that are apparently obvious in the pictures on their website, but I never got to eat the food, so I don’t really have a choice.

But based on the experience I had walking past Kirin, I have to think maybe looking so nice ended up working against them. I know when I walk past most small Allston restaurants I don’t assume much if they are empty. But because Kirin committed so hard to looking nice, the jarring emptiness of the place would make me think “something is wrong with that place, that’s why nobody is there.” And I supposed I wasn’t the only one making that assumption.

And of course, a menu that was mostly American Chinese and Sushi probably didn’t help. With Allston’s eclectic mix of Asian restaurants, going for the most generic incarnation is probably not going to catch a lot of attention. But what, do I know? I’m the dumbass who didn’t know that what he was calling hibachi for years was actually teppanyaki until he went to write this review.

I’m not sure how to close out this non-review. RIP Kirin, we hardly knew ye. If you want to read something useful, check out last month’s review of Loui Loui. God I hope that place doesn’t close. I will look VERY stupid.

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