Fried Pork & Crispy Oyster Salad ($12)
Tender slices of pork belly layered between large, crisp oysters are dressed with a mildly spicy celery and peanut salad. Each individual component was fantastic, but they didn't come together on the palate as well as we'd have hoped.
No pretenses here, just a solid, neighborhood friendly, inviting space. Elegant, but casual.
Selection of Grilled Eggplant ($8)
Velvety grilled Chinese eggplant and crisp, seed-filled Thai eggplants are deeply charred. The smokiness combined with a sprinkle of fish sauce lends a savoriness that borders on meaty, while tapioca-like pearls of rice flour add yet another textural element to this surprisingly complex dish.
Warm Sliced Snap Peas with Bay Scallops ($12)
Another textural masterpiece. The sweet and briny scallops are cooked from one side only, giving them deeply developed flavor while still maintaining a medium-rare tenderness. Sweet fried shallots and toasted coconut add crispness, while bright green, barely-cooked snap peas add freshness and crunch. This was one of our favorite dishes of the night.
Squid Ink & Hot Sesame Oil Soup ($10)
Deep black and intensely aromatic, you've got to really love squid ink to enjoy this one. As it was, it was a little on the heavy side, though adding a few splashes of chile-spiked vinegar at the table brought the whole thing into much sharper focus. The squid rings stuffed with ground brisket are prefectly tender, if a little bland.
Casual enough to stop in for a bite at the bar, but fancy enough for a nice night out. It's a good balance for a neighborhood restaurant.
Braised Wild Striped Bass ($25)
We're not really sure where Chef Dieterle is getting wild striped bass right now (the season waned a couple weeks back), but with fish this delicious, we're not questioning it. Paper thin slices of matsutake mushroom are the predominant aroma in the broth, with holy basil (different from Thai or sweet basil) lending an almost anise-like medicinal tone. The slick, sweet, jelly-like objects that look like shellfish on top? Those are rambutan, a close relative of lychee. Sweet, spicy, and aromatic, cooking a dish that's simultaneously comforting, and completely novel is quite an achievement in our book.
Steamed Rabbit Leg Yellow Curry($23)
The rabbit actually undergoes a two-part cooking process. An initial braise renders it completely tender and moist, while a brief last-minute steam in a banana leaf stuffed with rice lends it another layer of aroma. The hot eggplant chutney that comes with it is perhaps even better than the rabbit itself (good thing you can order extra on the side).
Braised Goat Massaman Curry ($21)
Rich with shallots, toasted coconut, and dry chile with braised goat shanks that literally melt in your mouth. The lightly gamey flavor (close your eyes and it could be lamb) fares surprisingly well against the rich sauce. Before tasting this we wouldn't have believed that braised goat could ever be described as "vibrant" or "fresh."
Pan Fried Crab Noodles ($21)
One of the best renditions of this dish we've tried, in Thailand or out. The vermicelli noodles maintained their distinctive chew, picking up a deep smokiness from the wok. $21 for a bowl of noodles? When the noodles are this briny-garlicky good, they're worth every penny.
Crispy Roti ($5)
Though in Thailand roti are more often eaten as a sweet desert drizzled with condensed milk, the excellent buttery, flaky roti at Kin Shop are meant to be used in the Indian style—as a vehicle for sopping up curry.
Steamed Passionfruit Pudding ($8)
We were almost relieved when we weren't particularly pleased with the one dessert in the house besides ice cream. The steamed Passionfruit Pudding was moist, but not exciting. And the ice creams ($9 for three scoops), while unique and perfectly flavored, were icy—almost crumbly—in texture. The Thai iced tea was the best of the group (which also included a fantastic ginger and kaffir lime).