Thai restaurant Kin Kao softly opened on Commercial Drive last night and we snuck in for a look and a nibble. They’re running with a limited menu for the time being, but it was more than adequate to give everyone an idea as to what they’ve got going on (menu can be viewed in the image gallery below). To refresh your memory of the place, here’s a little of what we wrote about it while it was still under construction:
There’s a new 25 seat Thai joint called Kin Kao opening soon at 903 Commercial Drive. It’s coming to us from chef Tang Phoonchai, a former Bangkok native, and Terrence Feng. I toured the construction site yesterday just as a floor treatment was drying. They’re only two weeks away and eager to get cooking.
To craft the small, simple, clean, uncluttered space – which used to be the Bocadillo sandwich shop – they enlisted the help of local designers/architects David and Susan Scott of Scott & Scott, the same aesthetes who designed Bestie in Chinatown.
The food concept is a cross between home-style and street-style Thai with many of the dishes finding inspiration in what Phoonchai’s grandmother and housekeeper used to cook when he was a child. The menu I saw wasn’t set in stone, but there’s a good chance we’ll see items like red curry with duck and pineapple; a clam stir-fry with lemongrass, Thai basil and chili jam; palm sugar and oyster sauce-marinaded pork collar; deep fried whole fish with tamarind chili sauce; and sour cured ribs – not to mention usual suspects like Phad Thai, satays, and so on. Bottled beers will be in the vernacular, while the taps will see a few locals (eg. 33 Acres, Brassneck).
They played to a packed house last night, and appeared to be managing the onslaught well enough. Once all the pieces are in place (this week), Kin Kao will serve lunch and dinner six days a week (closed Mondays). My first thoughts? It’s as if Maenam and Bestie had an East Van lovechild. It’s not as refined or as exacting as the former or as refreshingly uncomplicated as the latter, but hey…look at the cute baby! Scott & Scott did a great job with the design. It feels open and egalitarian, with the best seats being either the window booths or the bar stools that look through the kitchen pass and straight into chef Poonchai’s frenetic, aromatic domain. Check it out…