Kin Khao (San Francisco: Day One, Part Two)
I am in San Francisco this week for WWDC (Apple‘s Worldwide Developers Conference). I found out a few months ago I’d be able to attend, so of course, I made a list and asked for advice beforehand. Now that I’m here, I plan on posting a report as quickly as possible for each day, to stave off procrastination. My report for “San Francisco: Day One, Part Two” (Sunday, June 1, 2014) is as follows:
After chilling out back at my hotel room, posting pics to our respective Instagram accounts, Andy and I headed back out for dinner (or for second dinner, if you considered Porcellino an early dinner).
Kin Khao is a new Thai restaurant that was opened by Pim Techamuanvivit in the Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel. It took us a moment to locate it from within the hotel (we entered at the wrong end of the building), but once we arrived, we were promptly seated at the bar, and ordered our food and drinks. Kin Khao’s Thai iced tea, which I neglected to capture in pixels for posterity, was almost unsweetened, which was a refreshing change from the typical cloyingly sweet drink.
Since we weren’t that hungry, we ordered just four dishes, starting with…
Yum Kai Dao, Fried Duck Egg Salad: This salad, with chili jam dressing, peanuts, shallots, mint, and cilantro, was had a really clean taste, which isn’t always how Thai food is described. It wasn’t clean in a literal sense, especially once we broke apart the sunny side up yolk, but I thought the flavors of each ingredient were distinct, while still working really well with each other.
Sai-Ua+Namprik Noom: I’ve had this Northern Thai sausage at Night+Market, and I really like it there. I also really liked Kin Khao’s version. The herbs inside the sausage really came through. The namprik relish was also good. I’m used to having it usually in a finely ground paste, but I liked it this way too.
Plah Pla Muek, Charred Monterey Bay Squid: I saw this dish on @icanalwayseat on Instagram and knew I needed to try it. This dish lived up to my expectations, with really tender squid, a copious amount of peanuts, and a great tangy, spicy sauce that was great with the side of sticky rice that came with the Sai Ua. I would have liked a little more char on the squid, but that’s a personal preference. I loved that the dish was not afraid to push the heat to the edges of “Thai spicy” territory, while at the same time balancing it with an equally sharp tang. Actually reminded me a little of leche de tigre (tiger’s milk), the tart, citrus-based Peruvian marinade.
(By the way, I love how so many restaurants in SF are using fresh local squid; why not, if you have access, right?)
Khao Mun Gai, Thai Hainanese Chicken Rice: The description of this dish on the menu starts with “chicken fat rice (yes, that’s what we said)”, and what comes is indeed jasmine rice imbued with rendered chicken fat, but it had an incredibly clean taste. The ginger-poached chicken was cooked just right, with the meat still tender and not tough. The accompanying chicken broth, that can be used for dipping the chicken, drizzled over the rice, or pounded like a drink, and the sauce, a combination of ginger, garlic, chiles, allows you to customize how bold or subtle your particular dish will be.
I wasn’t sure how I would like Kin Khao. Many SF natives warned me away from Thai here, since I have access to Thai Town in L.A. The truth is Thai Town is quite far from where I live; a recent late-afternoon weekday trip took 1.5 hours, due to traffic. Yes, I have been to Jitlada, but most of my authentic Thai food experiences come from West Hollywood’s Night+Market, a restaurant (or restaurants, now, with a second location in Silver Lake) that embraces its “street food” roots.
In contrast, Kin Khao is quite refined, but without compromising on the flavors and heat of Thai cuisine. I just found out that they’re restarting lunch service this week, and since it’s only blocks away, I may have to pay a return visit before I head back down to SoCal.
Onto Day Two!
[Previously: Day One, Part One.]
55 Cyril Magnin St
San Francisco, CA 94102