One of the great things about San Francisco is that there is no shortage of Thai Food restaurants. Fresh spring rolls, on the other hand, almost always run out at one of my go-to spots downtown! Those who know me, knew I’d have a blast here in SF covering the many facets of food, but they also knew that I’d most likely end up at any place with chicken fried rice and Thai red curry on the menu.
I’m a little late on reviewing this place, as it’s gotten enough media coverage from all the popular kids, but I’m not about jumping on the bandwagon when it’s cool. After all, I’ve been going to Kin Khao since it was called Smooth Thai.
That’s actually how we stumbled upon this new place. We were looking for our old Thai fave and were greeted by a much higher-end, almost booge establishment. Honestly, we were a little intimidated by the prices, especially when you can get a perfectly decent red curry for 13 bucks up the street. But there was something about it that beckoned us to stay. Maybe it was the modern décor or the fancy new hostess, somehow we knew the Thai game was about to change.
A quick Google search told us that restaurant owner, Pim Techamuanvivit, wanted to cook the kind of food she grew up with. When she teamed up with Mike Gaines, a super note-worthy chef who’s cooked at other fancy restaurants, she says that they worked together to create those very dishes she remembered throughout her childhood.
When you first glance at the menu, you’re like: WTF is all this stuff, how do you pronounce it and where are fresh my spring rolls?! When you’ve calmed down from the lack of peanut sauce induced anxiety attack, you realize that maybe its absence is a good thing.
It’s a good thing because I learned that the food we call Thai isn’t always as representative as Techamuanvivit’s take on the home cooked variety.
Baffled by the absence of commercial appetizers, I opted for the Pretty Hot Wings to start. They’re L-A-R-G-E and doused in a Nam Pla fish sauce/garlic marinade and glazed with spicy tamarind and Sriracha. Let’s just say that the hot towel they provided us with were used to wipe off the excess sauce we hadn’t sucked off our fingers. And we only stopped because people were looking.
Pad Thai Goong Sod is their interpretation of a Pad Thai. It taste just like your regular Pad Thai, just envision fresher ingredients, cooked-to-perfection rice noodles, and HUGE wild prawns that’ll make you forget all about chicken. It’s a shame the dish isn’t bigger because I probably would have had double the serving.
If you are lucky enough to have the rabbit green curry on the menu, I’d suggest you try it. Don’t let the price deter you; it’s a big enough for you to share with a buddy or a date. If you’ve never had rabbit meat, don’t worry. It’s tender, better than chicken, and literally falls off the bone, especially when it’s swimming in a gorgeous pool of green curry floating alongside some tender rabbit meatballs. My words alone will not do it justice.
I can’t say I fell in love with the black rice pudding I had for dessert. It’s really the only thing on the menu, in my opinion, is utterly forgettable. There isn’t anything incredibly impressive about the dish even with the toasted ice, coconut cream and salted caramel. I ended up spooning caramel into my mouth alone, proving that some times different doesn’t always mean AMAZING like the rest of Kin Khao’s dinner selections. That curry, tho.
55 Cyril Magnin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Thumb Photo Cred: Crab Sen Chan, By Douglas Zimmerman.
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