It has been a long and rough few years, but luckily for us, it’s finally over. No, not the pandemic, I’m talking about waiting for Michelin-starred Kin Khao to reopen.
I got some of my fix at Kin Khao’s temporary location in the Dogpatch, but there’s just something magical about the bustling and surprisingly casual charm of their original Union Square location. I went on reopening day, and again a few weeks later, and thoroughly enjoyed each dinner. No reopening jitters here, they are back and haven’t missed a beat.
One of my favorite dishes is the khao yum, a colorful turmeric rice salad with an incredible mix of flavors and textures. An ideal bite for me has some of the tart grapefruit, crunchy puffed rice and coconut, greens, and tamarind black sesame dressing which ties it all together.
The plah pla muek squid and caramelized pork belly are two standouts that remind me of the squid and pork jowl at Chef Pim Techamuanvivit’s other SF restaurant Nari. The tangy brightness of the squid contrasts nicely with the luscious fatty pork belly. Get a side of rice to soak up the sauce from both.
For the extra adventurous, the nam prik long rua is a pungent fermented shrimp paste relish served with an assortment of vegetables. The taste was a little intense for even my palate, but it did come with a warning on the menu.
The curries here, while good, don’t call out to me as much as their other dishes. Do save space for the warm black rice pudding though – a sweet & salty bowl you might need seconds of!
Their concise cocktail menu is also a treat. Creative Thai flavors add a fun spin to well-balanced classic cocktails. The Siam Sipper is like a spicy old-fashioned, while the Tom Yum 2.0 alludes to the soup, without actually tasting like soup. A few alcohol-free cocktails are also available, as well as beer and wine.