Kin Kao Opening Soon in Mt. Pleasant

The team from Commercial Drive’s popular Thai restaurant Kin Kao have secured the recently shuttered Black Lodge address at 317 East Broadway with plans to turn it into a second location by the start of this summer.

Yesterday I took a look inside what was left of the Twin Peaks-inspired Black Lodge, a would-be neighbourhood hangout that sadly couldn’t see its way through the pandemic. I’d remembered it as a dark and somewhat forbidding space, but the sun was streaming through the wispy blood red curtains and making the 100 year old wood floors glow. All of the tables and chairs were gone and the series of roofed four-top “cabins” were in mid-dismantle.

Meeting me were principals Terence Feng and chef Tang Phoonchai, together with one of Tang’s talented cooks and millworker Mo Shabani of Manner Studio. The plan they shared for the 1,600 sqft space was pretty interesting. Scott & Scott will be doing the interior design (see Mak & Ming, Torafuku, and the original Kin Kao), which will incorporate some of the room’s preexisting elements, such as the pressed tin-style ceiling and the aforementioned beautifully beaten up wood floors. It’s a much larger dining area than that of the Commercial Drive location, with more than double the seats. A good-sized bar will also feature.

Though this Kin Kao will share plenty of DNA with the Commercial Drive location, the menu will be very different. Tang and the core kitchen crew are being given the green light to do completely new things, retooling family recipes and tweaking regional specialities. The drinks program will also be different, with cocktails and wine making playing larger roles.

In all, I believe this will be a win for the neighbourhood in the same way that the highly anticipated Saola restaurant will be (opening soon at 2415 Main Street). The Broadway Subway station is only five years away, which means big changes are coming to the nexus of Main, Broadway and Kingsway. Those changes typically come with  chain restaurants, bad coffee shops, and other character-killing businesses, so anything original and independent is most welcome.

Take note: Kin Kao is currently hiring.

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