One of my long time childhood friends was in town for the week and we decided to go to Kin Khao, an upscale Thai Spot located in downtown San Francisco. Kin Khao is not just any ordinary Thai eatery. Khin Khao has earned an impressive Michelin Star and we decided to give this place a shot on a lovely Monday Evening.
Reservations are a must if you want to snag a seat at most modern Michelin Star spots. My friend had trouble finding dinner time reservations so we ended up grabbing the 8:30 pm slot. Booking was easy we arrived a bit early and were seated about 15 minutes prior to the 8:30 booking.
Located within the Hilton San Francisco, Kin Khao seems like any other upscale Asian fusion spot. The exterior décor doesn’t exactly stand out but is clean, modern, with nice hints of Thai flavors. I expected a very formal ambiance being that this was a Michelin starred spot, but found the complete opposite. Kin Khao was very laid back and stayed away from emphasizing the Fine in fine dining. With laid back feel and awesome food, I had a feeling that we were in for a culinary adventure.
Food and Menu
Diners have two options: You can order a la carte items or you can try the sampler menu which consists of about 8 courses. The sampler menu cost you a heft but manageable $95 and you get to try some of their most popular items. I decided to give this a try and was blown away by the complex flavors of each dish. To honor the meal, I’m going to give a summary of each dish below!
Dish 1: Stone Fruit Salad
This was a very interesting salad that was heavy on herbs, and sweet fruits such as peaches, and topped with nuts and a fish sauce/ Thai chili dressing that packed some heat. The mix of fresh mint among other herbs created a unique fresh herbal taste and the sweetness of the fruit went well with the heat. Overall, the presentation was interesting and could be tweaked but flavor was 10/10!
Dish 2: Mushroom Hor Mok with Crispy Rice Cakes
This was a very flavorful vegetarian dish which was a curry mousse in a jar with mushrooms and a nice mild coconut cream. The mousse was served with crispy rice cakes and was the Thai version of chips and dip or bread and dip. The mousse was savory and creamy and while it was supposed to be a curried mousse, the mild curry flavors helped bring out the other elements of the dish. I was thoroughly impressed at how savory a simple dish could be!
Dish 3: Nam Tok Beans
A vegetarian version of the extremely popular ground pork wraps, this dish substituted the ground pork with stir fried beans. The server warned us that this dish was one of the most popular items on the menu, but that it also packed some serious heat! The beans are served with lettuce wraps, cucumbers, and some sticky rice.
Dish 4 & 5: Caramelized Pork Belly and Plah Pla Muek
The Caramelized Pork Belly came in a stone pot and was pipping hot! (No Rhyme intended). The pork belly was tender and melt in your mouth quality with a savory soy based sauced. I ended up using lot of the left over sauce for sticky rice.
The Plah Pla Muek was charred baby squid with a tangy seafood sauce. The charring was a great touch to go with the squid and the addition of fresh herbs helped create a nice balance between the char.
Dish 6 & 7: Massaman Neua & Tossed Snap Peas, White Corn, and Shishito Peppers
This paring was a great touch for the main course. The Massaman Neua was a beef cheek curry with fried shallots and potatotes. The dish was creamy and served with traditional Thai Jasmine Rice. To balance out the heaviness of the curry, a light vegetable dish of tossed snap peas, white corn, and shishito peppers was also served. The vegetables had a nice XO sauce which brought hints of heat. The different flavors really went well together and the freshness of the vegetables helped balance out the hearty curry.
Dish 8: Dessert: Black Rice Pudding
A great looking dessert, the finishing dish of the night did not disappoint. The black rice putting was amazing with just the right sweetness and a hint of coconut cream.
For my first visit to a Michelin Starred spot, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was curious to see if this would be a fine dining experience, an display of creativity. I think it was a little bit of both as the wonderful service created hints of fine dining. With Kin Khao being a eatery, the laid back atmosphere was great and the attention to detail by the staff was splendid. Overall, while the food was utterly delicious, I’m not sure if the meal was Authentic Thai food or upscale Thai fusion. Either way, I definitely recommend this spot to anyone who wants an affordable yet utterly delicious South East Asian Michelin Starred meal! Just be warned, spicy means spicy!