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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