NYC Restaurant Review – Kiin Thai Eatery

(Above: Vegetarian Golden Bags)

It’s Bistro Sunday! – A weekly review of an eatery or restaurant in New York City

Cafetasia near New York University closed down! *Sobs* It was my favorite place to get “cheap” (not really) Thai lunch specials. Honestly, it was a mediocre place. But compared to its neighbor Spice, I think it was slightly better.

Kiin Thai Eatery replaced Cafetasia. It opened recently within the past month or so and specializes in Central and Northern Thai cuisine. I’m not going to regurgitate the details on who opened it because New York Times and Eater already covered it. I’m just here to tell you about the food — cause that’s what’s important.

If Cafetasia was the cool club girl, then Kiin Thai Eatery is your garden housewife. Cafetesia was clad with dark wooden tables dimly lit with battery-powered plastic candles. Kiin is decorated with white tables, white walls with black flower print (and occasional wooden planks painted in white), chalkboard slate and flower bouquets. The only thing missing — mason jars as cups.

I visited on a Thursday evening (around 5-6 p.m.) and it was quiet. My friend and I went in as the only patrons. By 7 P.M., there were a few more tables occupied. I’m assuming it’s because Kiin is new and possibly a little pricey for the NYU students around there. (Come on, the cheapest appetizer is $7, all almost the entrées are $12+ AND you have to pay $3 for a bowl of white rice that’s not included with your curry.)

Onto the food! Please excuse the photo quality, I took photos with my phone.

Here’s the down and dirty about what my friend and I ate and how it was.

Bottom line: Kiin’s entrées are a celebration of spices and deep flavors — especially seen in the green curry. It’s slightly more expensive for the amount you get, so go for the lunch special Monday – Friday from 11:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

tiki-Kiintiki-Kiin

My friend ordered an alcoholic drink (because she just turned 21 and is on that alcohol craze). It’s pictured as a flamed drink, but our waitress couldn’t get the sugar cube to light up.

The drink is a mix of rum, triple sec, passion fruit puree, amaretto, orange, pineapple and lime juice. It’s a fruity drink (not too strong) for anyone who doesn’t do alcohol well. It’s on the sweet side and could use more lime juice.

Golden Bags
Vegetarian ‘Golden Bag’
We chose this appetizer to share because who doesn’t like cute looking FOOD BAGS? These fried munchkins are potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, water chestnuts, corn and green peas wrapped in rice paper. The bags are served with a sweet and spicy sauce similar to duck sauce. My friend thought these were good.
Golden Bag-4
But for me, the carrot cubes, corn kernels and green peas were a turnoff. This is the combo you would find bagged up as “Classic Vegetable Medley” in the freezer aisle. I dislike the medley in my Asian food because it reminds me of the Chinese fried rice (people would bring to potluck) that was pale in color and flavor: filled with THAT vegetable medley.
Golden Bags-3
These food bags are not too interesting. Think of these as a cuter and vegetarian version of your Chinese takeout wontons because they leave behind a nice pool of oil.
Pad Thai 1
Pad Thai with Shrimp wrapped with Egg Crepe
Truth be told, I ordered this because it has an egg crepe. I typically go for Pad See Ew. But I was really excited to try an omu-noodle (like omu-rice, but omelet + noodle). I got the shrimp one but chicken, beef, pork and vegetarian is also available (for the same price).
Pad Thai 2

The noodles are cooked perfectly: soft and slightly chewy, savory and not spicy. For those who like the heat (me), there’s spicy chilli powder available on the side. They’ve also included peanuts and sugar adjust to one’s taste. The shrimp was not dry and overcooked (win!). There were tiny dried shrimp and shrimp paste in the noodles which added extra umami flavor. The only disappointing part was the parched and tough egg crepe. I was hoping for something more fluffy and soft.

Green Curry
Green Curry ‘Gaeng Kheo Wan’ with Fish Ball

Gosh, this green curry was the star of our dinner table! The lemongrass aroma was pronounced. The texture was thick and stew-like, perfect for rice. It also packed in enough heat to make you desire more, plus there were fresh peppercorn clusters.

Other than peppercorn, there were sliced Thai green eggplants, fingerroot strips, sweet basil leaves and fishballs stuffed with salted yolk. I prefer soft eggplants, but the crunch was interesting.

The fishballs were “forgettable” as my friend said. The curry overwhelmed the fishballs; you could barely taste the salted yolk. For me, the fishballs were not as chewy (or “QQ” in Chinese lingo) and were noticeably fishy. Maybe because I’m spoiled by my aunt who makes fishballs from scratch with fresh fish — but those balls had a whiff of old dried (and died) fish flavor.

Would I visit again? Yes, for lunch special only. Or for dinner, if I get salaried.

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NYC Restaurant Review – L’Ecole

It’s Bistro Sunday! – A weekly review of a eatery or restaurant in New York City.

I went to L’Ecole to try food cooked by ICC (International Culinary Center) students. There’s a large menu offering. Plus, you can bring your own wine (maximum two bottles) on Mondays and have it with your meal — without the corking fee.

I made a reservation for 12:30 P.M., arrived at the restaurant and someone had called to change my reservation to 2:00 P.M. Note, I did not call L’Ecole at all. I asked for the number that called, it was not a NYC number and was definitely not mine. Thankfully, there were tables available.

But had this jeopardized my lunch and table, I would be very hangry (hungry + angry). This restaurant should consider caffeinating their hosts because Open Table reservations have customer’s phone numbers and the host did not bother checking.

Onto the food! Please excuse the photo quality, I took photos on my cheap android phone.

Here’s the down and dirty about what my cousin and I ate and how it was.

Bottom line: L’ecole got their sauce on point (or should I say on fleek), their entrées are good but they could do better with the dessert. 

nowater-24Country Pâté – Truffles, Pistachios, Cornichons, Whole Grain Mustard

Great choice for a pâté beginner because it tastes like ham and has little liver in it. But for me, I prefer pâté to have more animal innards and have soft, pasty texture so I can treat it like a spread for my bread.

nowater-21Duck Confit Ravioli – Cured Duck Leg, Toasted Hazelnuts, Brown Butter, Lemon Zest

The ravioli filling was pungent, salty and had an off-putting sweet tone to it. The ravioli skin, wrapping or pasta part was a bummer. It was thick, chewy and strong in flavor — battling the filling for attention.

nowater-6Braised Cod with Chorizo and Clams –Kale, Saffron Potatoes, Chicken and Clam Jus, Chorizo Oil

A well-dressed fish that could have spent less time in the heat. The clam jus was a great accompaniment to the cod and the table bread.

Pan Seared Duck BreastPan-Seared Duck Breast – Warm Asparagus Salad, Crispy Fingerling Potatoes

My favorite dish of them all. This crisp and well-seasoned duck did not taste like a blood trip to Game of Thrones, but a sweet velvety ride in the duck pond park. The sauce was similar to barbecue sauce. And like the clam jus from the fish, I cleaned off this brown and sticky substance with bread.

nowater-5Orange Olive Oil Cake  – Sunflower Seed Crisp, Crème Celeste, Orange Supremes

Asides from the Crème Celeste portion (or vanilla bean custard sauce in my world) this dessert was a letdown. I expected a cake (maybe a square or triangle slice) that was not a cupcake. To my demise, it was a cupcake. I didn’t go to a fine dining restaurant to have a CUPCAKE. (Sorry cupcake lovers, but like cookies, cupcakes are sweet snacks — not desserts.) Heck, I could do to Georgetown for that. On top of that, it was DRY. The Crème Celeste provided was not enough to moisturize the dry pores in that cake. Plus, the seed crisp was dry too. Without the crème, this dessert tastes like desert.

nowater-3Passion Fruit Baked Alaska – Raspberry Coulis, Fresh Raspberries

When I ordered this, I expected a bowl of white fluff blazing in fire. To my dismay, the dessert was not ablaze. The chefs had already torched it in the kitchen. I can’t say I loved or hated this dessert because meringue’s not my favorite and it was my first time having baked Alaska, so I have nothing to compare to.

Asides from a three-course lunch L’ecole also gave us nice table bread, an olive, tomato and smoked cheese amuse-bouche and extra chocolates and cookies to go with our desserts.

Would I visit again? Maybe not.

Sweet Hut Kuala Lumpur

mealtropolitan-sweet-hut-20

Chocolate Snow – Very similar to shaved ice but much smoother and has a texture similar to ice cream

A meal isn’t quite complete without dessert to finish. Today, after dinner I found a cute dessert chain called Sweet Hut. Heavily influenced by Asian cuisine, the menu is filled with Hong Kong-style dessert soups and ingredients such as coconut, lychee and longan. But for those who like American desserts, they offer various cakes, ice cream and chocolate-laden goods. I haven’t found my favorite dessert yet. From what I’ve had, this dessert shop is average and a good option for late night sweets since most locations are open past 12 a.m. If you’re looking for good dessert, you might want to make a trip to Tong Pak Fu Hong Kong Desserts in Mid Valley Megamall. Scroll down for more info.

For Sweet Hut locations visit their Facebook. For more info on Tong Pak Fu click here.