I feel accomplished now that I can finally call myself a veteran of Kin Shop, most famously know as Top Chef’s Herald Dieterele’s Thai noodle house. Though I tend to be wary of reality TV chef establishments, my entire experience tonight left me convinced that fame and talent can actually go hand in hand.
It all started with the delectable vodka drink, as it usually does. As my friend Lauren and I sorted out our plan of food action, I sipped on a Phuket Fizz – a perfectly sweet pineapple-basil cocktail that I could have easily chugged in minutes had I not been pacing myself with a wine drinker. As such a stickler about overly sweet drinks, this simple-syrup-free concoction tasted like a dream come true, especially after a 20 minute walk in 94 degree weather (pain also mitigated at the sight of Rihanna at Da Silvano).
Inventive currys and salads overwhelm the menu at Kin Shop, and after so many recent meals at Western-style restaurants, I was relieved by the challenge of selecting our courses. With dishes ranging from stewed goat to squid ink soup, this place can’t possibly remedy a craving for Pad Thai, but can no doubt satisfy the Anthony Bourdain adventure-seeker within us all. Regardless of the menu shockers, Lauren and I decided to keep it somewhat straight forward for our first go round and started with our waiter’s first recommendation: the fried pork and crispy oyster salad. Though the sound of fried pork and crispy seafood had no initial appeal, upon one bite of the beautifully deep fried oyster, I was sold. The description of “crispy” rang true throughout – from the celery, to the peanuts, to the crunchy oyster and the perfectly fried pork fat. The tangy flavors of the vinegar sauce on top of the buttery soft oyster, complimented by the thick, crispy chunks of the pork created an unimaginably incredible combination. With the unifying ingredients of vinegar and spice, this dish just about surpassed every surf and turf interpretation I’ve ever tried. Gotta taste it to believe it!
For our entree, Lauren and I split the pan roasted halibut with bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and green curry. Expecting large chunks of fish and vegetables masked by an overwhelming sauce, I was thrilled to find a perfectly clean pan roasted fish atop a beautiful, pea-green, subtly creamy curry. The vegetables were perfectly crisp and delicately cooked. The sauce beneath the fish was such a relief – it was nice to have the option to eat cleanly when the curry got too overwhelming.
We paired the fish with an interesting selection of grilled egg plant pan fried with fish sauce and a light portion of freshly chopped mint. Though the grilled eggplant all appeared to be the same breed to me, the soft, glistening slices were addictive.
A pot of rice would have tied all of this together well, but we instead fell for the perfectly fried roti, an indian bread that was as beautifully flakey and buttery as a fresh baked french croissant. With the coriander nam prik, a decadent dipping sauce made with shrimp paste and duck fat. I don’t regret the decision to opt for bread over rice, and I would even consider a trip to Kin Shop just for this side.
After an amazing meal orchestrated by wonderful, timely service, I left Kin Shop with full confidence that I would be back at the next sign of a bold-flavored, spicy cuisine craving. And, second time is always easier than the first: I’ve got that spicy duck salad on my radar for next time around.
Location: 469-6th Avenue between 11th and 12th Street