Dining

Next of Kin

Kin Khao is not your average Thai joint
San Francisco Union Square Kin Khao Pim Techamuanvivit Michael Gaines Thai Restaurant
Khun Yai's green curry with rabbit (Photos: Chris Rochelle)

"I won't eat at any Thai restaurants in San Francisco," says Bangkok-born Pim Techamuanvivit, proprietress of newcomer Kin Khao, a Thai restaurant on the edge of the Tenderloin.

"Those restaurants with the giant menus? They're not making food from scratch, they're making it from the freezer."

Every item on Kin Khao's menu of traditional Thai dishes--overseen by chef Michael Gaines, late of Manresa and Central Kitchen--is painstakingly made, beginning with the curry pastes and sauces underpinning the menu.

Even the sourcing--tracking down apple eggplants, importing Thai-made Sriraja Panich, the original Sriracha--is a headache.

We're glad someone is taking such great pains, though--pains resulting in dishes such as kua kling ribs ($15), pork riblets that are fried and smothered in a turmeric curry paste and showered with filaments of Kaffir lime leaves. Who else would make us khao mun gai ($16), extraordinary rice cooked in chicken fat, accompanied by ginger-poached chicken and a cup of golden chicken consommé?

The Massaman nong lai ($26), a bone-in beef shank curry luxuriating in a rust-colored sauce with a float of vivid orange oil, takes two days to prepare. There are no fewer than 15 ingredients in the curry paste in Khun Yai's green curry with rabbit ($22), and the lush, silky, coconut milk-based sauce obscures a bunny trifecta: loin, saddle, meatballs.

Pim Techamuanvivit | The Hua Hin Beach cocktail
Techamuanvivit has also had the good sense to introduce a very of-the-moment cocktail program, created by the Bon Vivants. The improbably delicious Hua Hin Beach cocktail ($12) combines Pampero dark rum, stout, coconut cream, lime and salt, poured over a mountain of crushed ice.

"I'm making the food that I want to eat, the food I like to cook," says Techmuanvivit, nodding toward Gaines and the kitchen, "but I don't have to make it myself anymore."

Kin Khao 55 Cyril Magnin San Francisco CA 94102 415-362-7456

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