Kin Khao

There is always a new “you have to try this” restaurant in San Francisco. This month it is Kin Khao, a Thai restaurant that recently opened in the Parc 55 hotel downtown. After reading Sandy’s post and seeing that Michael Bauer (our local food critic) was going to post a review soon, I jumped at the chance and made a reservation before it became too well known (read: busy).

A little backstory: the owner Pim was one of the first original food bloggers and managed to gain a lot of honor in the food world with recognition and awards throughout the years. Kin Khao is her tribute to the childhood dishes and flavors she picked up while being born and raised in Bangkok.

I do not speak Thai but I am assuming that their language structure is a little similar to Chinese. We would say chi fan, which directly translates to “eat rice” but really means “let’s eat!”.

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I knew after looking at the menu that I had to order the Pretty Hot Wings. How can you go wrong with a fish sauce+garlic marinade, tamarind and Sriracha glaze? To say they were delicious would be an understatement, although I did expect them to be a lot spicier. My dining companion is the type of person to start sweating at the sight of peppers but was not phased by these chicken wings. Perhaps my batch did not have as many chills compared to others.

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I also wanted to show off the original bottle of Sriracha that they use in Thailand. I wish I had more of an opportunity to try it but the food was seasoned to a T overall and the additional heat was not necessary.

Kin Khao has an impressive list of cocktails and I almost gave in; however, the Thai Ice Tea was calling my name and I answered without hesitation.

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The first dish to come out was an unique take on a traditional Pad Kee Mao. This is usually one of my staples when I go eat Thai but I never had it with rabbit before! It is not located on their menu online so I can’t remember everything in it but from the picture alone we can assume that there is basil, julienned peppers and onions. What you cannot see is the Bird’s Eye Chili that leaves you unable to close your mouth from the slow, burning pain. Worth it every time.

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Next is Pim’s take on a traditional Cantonese dish that I remember from my own childhood: Khao Mun Gai.

The chicken was poached with ginger and served alongside rice that was cooked in chicken fat. I love how the dish was presented with the long sprigs of cilantro because it did not last long after I poured Pim’s special sauce (in the following picture) and mixed everything together.

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What was really interesting about the dish (above) was that it came with a side of ‘intense’ chicken consommé. The waitress told us to take a sip every few bites to cleanse the palate.

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Okay, now what I have been waiting to share. I do not know if your eyes are even worthy to look at the picture below (and to be honest, Sandy got a better shot).

The real star of the show was the Massaman Nong Lai. Man oh man, this might have been the best thing I ate these past two months.

First, the bone-in beef shank is braised for over 24 hours in a medley of complex flavors such as house-made Massaman curry paste, coconut milk, burnt shallots potatoes. (oh, the potatoes)

Second, you might notice a little spoon and that is where the jackpot is at the end of the rainbow. Nestled inside is rich, melt-in-your-mouth bone marrow; it does not sound too appetizing but I am thinking about going back just for those few bites. Really makes the curry worth the $26.

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We wanted to get dessert but felt like a good ol’ fashioned San Francisco It’s-It instead.

And to leave this off with a surprising fact:

I rarely take pictures of myself. Yes, this blog has like 10,000 almost identical pictures of me eating, smiling and/or laughing but I never remember to take selfies. So here I present to you, my first selfie of 2014.

(do not worry, the car was parked and I realized I forgot to take one at dinner so I had to find a way to make up for it.) 🙂

Also, after opening this picture on my computer I realized how horrible my iPhone front camera is. Time to upgrade…iPhone 6 when are you finally coming out?

When eating different cuisines, do you prefer traditional or fusion?

Take Me To Senegal

I somehow find a way to mention my birthday in almost every post without me knowing. It is as if I take a sedative while writing at night and do not catch things until the morning.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, because this story requires a slight indication of the b-word (birthday, not the naughty one) and we will get to that. First, we need to cut-scene back a few months ago, How I Met Your Mother style.

Sarath and I have always made/got each other little things for our birthdays these past fews. For 2013, she purchased a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant for me. I have wanted to try this place for the longest time, but never got around to it.

My old roommate (who is back in Boston now) and Sarath used to get crazy here late into the weekend nights. I, being the grandma that I am, thought that a nice early dinner sounded much better before bedtime.

This meal was very fun because it was completely new to me. I have never eaten at a Senegalese restaurant before. For the cartographically-challenged, Senegal is located in the westernmost tip of Africa. It is also a melting pot of cultures (Middle Eastern, French, African, etc) due to politics that are far too heavy for this silly blog.

It took us a few days of rescheduling but we finally made it work! Time to eat delicious food at Bissap Baobab.

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Who better to ask to accompany me more than Sarath herself? This is her doing an artsy pose.

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My pose was a little less creative. I honestly look the same in every picture. Whenever anyone tells me to do a funny face, it ends up being the smallest variation of this.

I can not complain because it is a step up than my old smile, The Chandler. My awkward stage lasted a few years longer than it should.

PS: I miss my long hair, I got a haircut two days ago and it is so short. 🙁

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Our appetizer, the pastelles, were a great introduction to this foreign cuisine. These deep fried pastries filled with marinated beef tasted amazing and I wish we ordered two! Yum.

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Family style is always more fun because you get the pleasure of eating two entrees without the guilt of feeling like you are going to rip your pants after. This decapod dish was marinated in garlic and cayenne pepper, served in a red curry with pita bread. The Baobab Gambas had a unique curry taste, tasting more similar to East Asian curry rather than Indian.

Marco, the owner, told us that he gets some inspiration from the South East Asian flavors from traveling in Bali and the surrounding areas. Sarath introduced us and I really enjoyed talking to him, it is always nice to see the vision behind the man in charge.

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Our other shared entree was the Niebe Thies, chicken and black-eyed peas cooked with vegetables in a spicy Senegelese sauce. Coincidentally, I was commenting on blogs the morning of our dinner and wrote that I never tried black-eyed peas before. Somehow the stars aligned and I knew that I had to try them! Love at first site, really. This was my favorite dish.

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The star of the night was the Banana Flambee, bananas sautéed in butter and rum, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A la mode always does it for me on a cool San Francisco night. Plus I love banana desserts, like fried bananas with green tea ice cream. Mm mm.

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I tried to take a picture of their sign but it was too bright for my camera. I love the little dancing man.

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In more recent news, Erin @ The Almond Eater and I officially met in person! Is she not the cutest little being ever? Our original plans was to grab beers and tapas but the restaurant was closed for a private event. Instead, we chowed down on delicious burgers and I gave her a small tour of the city!

PS: Do not ask why the picture is so yellow, I can not remember the lighting being so horrible. Also do not bring up the fact that I tried to hide my half coke half diet coke.

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What culture’s cuisine have you been wanting to try?

When you met your blogger friend, what activities did you partake in?

The Terracotta Army Visits San Francisco

Two weeks ago, I was driving home and saw the new exhibit in the Asian Art Museum. The Terracotta Warriors were sent to San Francisco for a few months and I was ecstatic to be able to see them again.

The first time I saw them was when I did a China trip with my mom two (or is it three now?) years ago. We started north in Beijing, headed west to Xi’an, back to water in Shanghai and ended our trip south in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. I was able to see the Terracotta Warriors in full prestige in Xi’an, and it was absolutely breathtaking. I don’t know if I will ever go again, so that’s why I knew I had to make a trip to the museum.

I’m taking an online Asian Art History class with my roommate Sarath, so it perfectly linked up to a mandatory museum visit we had to go to. We started our day in the mood for Indian food. I took her to one my dad introduced me to a decade ago, Shalimar. My dad was a total food snob, so I always trusted his judgement regarding restaurants. Although Shalimar only rocks a 3 1/2 stars on Yelp, I don’t blame them because I think it’s hard for hole in the walls to get more than that.

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Sarath and I decided to do family style, so we can try more things.

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Our first dish was the Seekh Kabab Mughlai, which is grounded beef with delicious herbs and spices, and then barbecued as a skewer on charcoal. I know it doesn’t look so appetizing, but the taste was really there. Indian food isn’t for everyone, which is why I’m happy Sarath was delighted to go.

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This curry, the Chicken Tikka Masala, is probably the most popular and well known dish. My favorite part of the meal was dipping my Naan in the sauce.

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We can ignore how obnoxiously bright my sweater is and talk about the basmati rice, which was described as “cooked in a rich stock of safevory spices and brown onions and made aromatic with a touch of exotic saffron”. My favorite combo was Naan dipped in the Masala sauce, with rice and a little bit of ground beef on top.

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Mango Lassi is the perfect drink to wash down all the heavy flavors coming from the Indian food.

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After being extremely satisfied, and only $18 (for both of us!!) later, we headed to the Asian Art museum. We found great parking outside of City Hall.

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Then walked a block and a half over to the newly placed museum. The AA museum use to live behind my old house in the Golden Gate Park, this is the third time I got to visit since it reopened.

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The exhibit cost $20 to view the Terracotta Warriors, but you get admission to go to see the rest of the exhibits as well.

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A replica of some of the figures found inside the caves. This one is housed outside the exhibit, so it isn’t the real deal.

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Finally in the third room, after seeing ornaments and clay animals, we got to see the beloved warriors. So pristine.

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Obligatory Buddha head, which I have an infatuation with. This one is from India.

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Sarath went a little picture happy with my camera.

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And a picture of what I came for, Guan Yin. We had to find something in the museum we wanted to write an essay about, so of course I chose Guan Yin. She and I have a special relationship that I will write about another day.

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We did so much walking that day, but I’m so happy we got to visit the museum. It’s so hard for me to find people that actually want to go, so thank you Sarath!

Do you enjoy eating Indian food? What’s your favorite kind of art?