Last month, CT & I celebrated our one year anniversary. Unfortunately, we had been so busy that it had taken a while to find time in our schedule to celebrate. As for the selection of restaurant I decided on Kin Shop. It is the newest restaurant from Top Chef Season 1 winner Harold Dieterle. We previously went to his first restaurant, Perilla, for CT’s Birthday and loved it. Kin Shop is a “contemporary Thai restaurant.” This was even more perfect since CT loves Thai food. Although the restaurant had only been open about a month, it had gotten mostly positive reviews, with the only negative being that the food wasn’t spicy enough like you would get at Jaiya.
We started with one of the specials and ordered 2 Grilled River Prawns ($4 each) with fresh lime and “Phuket-style” black pepper sauce. It was interesting that you can order as many or few pieces as you wanted. With the two, it was a nice amuse bouche. The prawns were grilled nicely and had a good spice rub on them. Were they worth $4 each? Probably not, but it was a special occasion afterall.
CT says: I agree, the flavors were nice, but a little steep for what it was.
Our first appetizer was Spicy Duck Laab Salad ($13) with toasted rice, ground chili & romaine hearts. Our waiter warned us that this was the spiciest item on the menu. We didn’t pay much attention to this since we heard from initial reviews that the food here wasn’t that spicy. Boy, were we wrong! This was melt your face off spicy. I could only put down about half of a romaine leaf topped with the laab. Even CT had trouble with this and she can eat spicy foods like none other. We didn’t finish the whole order, but held on to it to nibble on with our mains. What can I say? We are gluttons for punishment.
CT says: I was feeling this burn for hours after we left the restaurant. I don’t know if they changed the recipe or the previous reviewers were fire-breathing dragons, but this dish was HOT. However, and this is a big however, the flavors were still spectacular – the crunch of the romaine heart with the moist duck crumbles overflowing off the edge, it was fantastic. As I was eating this dish, I knew it was too spicy for me but I still couldn’t stop. It was only after that the lingering heat kicked my butt. If you like really spicy food though, this dish is a must.
We also started with the Fried Pork & Crispy Oyster Salad ($12) with celery, peanuts, mint & chili-lime vinaigrette. This was a good contrast to the laab since it was not spicy at all. The oysters were fried perfectly- crunchy on the outside and briney on the inside. The fried pork was deep fried chunks of pork belly, no complaints there. The celery and the vinaigrette were quite useful in cooling my burning mouth from the laab.
CT says: I really enjoyed this dish too, once I rediscovered my taste buds. The oysters were so well cooked – not too mushy or ocean-y like I’ve tasted at some places. They had a delicate texture and taste. Also, as TT said, how can I complain about fried pork belly?
For mains, we ordered another special, Santa Barbara Sea Urchin ($24) with raw tuna, carrots, black cumin, rice noodles and galangal vinaigrette. I am pretty sure uni is CT’s most favorite thing in the world, next to me, of course! This dish was just full of surprises. First of all, it was served in a hollowed out sea urchin shell. A+ on presentation. Next, it was a cold noodle dish. To be honest, I think we both just read sea urchin and ordered it without looking to see what else was in it. The dish had some interesting flavors with the uni, tuna, and sauce. It leaned towards the sweeter side, so I felt the uni was a little lost, but still a nice dish.
CT says: I was very surprised, and a little disappointed, when I took my first bite to discover that the noodles were cold. However, I realized that it worked perfectly for these ingredients. TT hit the nail on the head, I had no idea what was in this dish except sea urchin and noodles, I even snuck a peak at the menu again to figure out what all the different flavors and textures were in my mouth. The crunch of the tiny carrot pieces and the al dente noodles offset the creamy texture of the urchin and soft flesh of the diced tuna. Nothing like anything I have tasted before, but pure deliciousness. I might have liked the noodles cooked a touch more, but that’s just nit-picking for my own personal preferences. (I also found out from our neighboring table that we got the last urchin of the night, so if you make sure you to get an early reservation!)
Our other main was one of the most praised dishes in the reviews and by our friend, Chris, Massaman Braised Goat Curry ($21) with fried shallots, purple yams, mustard greens & toasted coconut. I think even Yvo would have a difficult time arguing with her food nemesis on this. The goat was super tender and flavorful. Our side order of grilled roti ($5) was quite useful in helping to sop up all the yummy sauce. This is definitely a must try dish.
CT says: I love goat. I love (not-overly-sweetened) thai curries. I loved this. The roti was also nicely crisped on the outside with just a thin soft layer inside, perfect for the curry. While this dish is nothing unheard of in the realm of thai food, it was very well executed and a great recommendation. It is easily a dish I would order often for takeout if I lived in the area.
To end our meal, we needed a little something, so we shared one scoop of Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream($3). It was a great choice as it wasn’t too sweet, which made for a good palate cleanser.
CT says: I like Thai Iced Tea and this was delicious! It was definitely the right option after our large and heavy meal. Plus, it relieved the lingering burn from the laab.
All in all, this was a great experience. I was quite impressed that the restaurant was already running on all cylinders despite only being open a couple weeks. Our server was super friendly and helpful and the food was delicious. Prices were pretty reasonable, so this is not just a place for special occasions. Harold once again proved why he is a Top Chef.