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It’s no secret that we enjoy ourselves some Thai food, so when I came across a promising new Thai joint called Kin Khao during my research into San Francisco eateries, I immediately put it on the shortlist.  By no means are we Thai food experts; neither of us have been to Thailand and what we know of Thai food is from eating at various restaurants in Calgary and area.  Our idea (or knowledge) of Thai food is, therefore, on a very limited scope, but we always welcome the opportunity to try new places to see if there are dishes or flavours that we’re particularly drawn to, and expand our experience in that way.

Located just a short jaunt from where we were staying, it took us a few minutes to actually find its location.  It’s tucked away in the Parc 55 Hotel with very minimal signage, but Google maps came through in the end and we made it just a couple of minutes past our reservation time.  The decor is sleek, modern, and minimalist; it has a relaxed, casual vibe that put me at ease.  We settled into our seats with anticipation in our bellies.

The menu has a nice selection with a variety of dishes, with a few recognizable ones but most of them were new to us.  Their website doesn’t list all the menu items and sadly I didn’t take any notes while we were eating, so I don’t have the correct name for a couple of the dishes we had.

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First up is a Papaya Salad, which our server noted is quite spicy.  Usually when we get warned that a dish is spicy, we typically don’t think anything of it; Mark, man with a palate of iron, can eat just about anything spicy that’s put down in front of him, and my tolerance has gotten up to an acceptable level. We boldly went on with this option and we were not at all disappointed.  They were not playing around with the spice level of this one; as soon as the spiciness hit my palate, I felt ALIVE.  It was just on that brink of “I can’t handle this” and “this is too good to stop”, so I kept going and each bite was just as delicious and spicy as the last.  Besides the spiciness, we found all the components to be fresh and crisp, with a beautifully refreshing, bright, and tart dressing that was well-rounded.  Mark really loved this salad (and no he did not find it that spicy; I think he’s an alien).

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Because we didn’t get enough spice with the first dish, we ordered the Pretty Hot Wings (Nam Pla fish sauce+garlic marinade, pretty spicy tamarind+Sriracha glaze), which are aptly named.  Deep fried to a crisp and generously coated with a spicy glaze, these wings were substantial and a hot mess to eat.  There is no way to be civilized when chowing down on these big wings.  They normally come 3 to an order, but our server kindly added an extra one so we could each have two.  I didn’t find them as spicy as the papaya salad, but they had a nice amount of heat with a bit of tang, and were juicy and flavourful throughout.  Thankfully they give you a wet towel to wipe away the remnants of the chicken wing battle.

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For one of our mains, we ordered something we’d never tried before – the Sai Ua+Namprik Noom (grilled house-made Northern Thai pork sausage, cracklings, with darn spicy young pepper relish). When this came to the table we both “ooooh’ed” at the lovely presentation.  It’s basically eaten like a lettuce wrap with all of the fixings, and comes with a side of sticky rice.  The sausage was tender, meaty, and oh-so-flavourful, with tons of spices that I couldn’t even name and a generous amount of heat.  It was fun putting these wraps together; the crispy pork cracklings were the best part as they provided a welcome contrast in texture.

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To round out our meal, we also got a braised beef massaman curry with a side of brown rice.  This was probably one of the best curries I’ve had in a long time.  The braised beef was melt-in-your-mouth tender; it fell apart with no resistance and it was soft like butter.  The curry itself was rich with a beautiful depth of flavour and an amazing aroma.  The portion was really generous, too; we had to take it with us to go because we were so stuffed from the earlier dishes.

Our meal at Kin Khao was one of the food highlights of our trip and this place is well worth the hype.  The dishes we had were beautifully executed, all with generous portions.  We had excellent, attentive and friendly service throughout the evening, and they even gave us extra brown rice with our takeaway curry.  I would definitely go back to Kin Khao if given the chance to try out more of their unique dishes and to continue expanding our Thai food repertoire.

Kin Khao
Parc 55 Hotel
55 Cyril Magnin St San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 362-7456
http://kinkhao.com/

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