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Review: Kinn Thai

Michelle Brotohusodo

Do you ever wish that your favourite restaurants from other cities would open in Canberra? I know I do—but it rarely happens. So I almost couldn’t believe it when I heard that Kinn Thai was opening a restaurant here. For background, my parents live a 15 minute drive from the Kinn Thai in suburban Sydney, and we often go there when I go back for a visit.

It was therefore with great anticipation that I went to Kinn Thai in the Canberra Centre with my friends. It had a nice warm feel to it (maybe we were just happy to be out of the cold), with dark wood, a really cool feature brick wall and quite spectacular red chandeliers at the very back, which one of my friends described as 90s gothic and reminiscent of something you might have seen in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I forgot to take photos as I was excited about the food, sorry!).

I will be honest and admit that my first reaction upon browsing the menu was disappointment—not because there wasn’t a great range of dishes to choose from, but because none of them were my favourites from the Sydney restaurant. But, as my friends pointed out, that just meant that I had an excuse to try other things.

Having no such pre-conceptions about the menu, my friends found it exciting and it was hard for us to narrow down what we wanted to try on this first visit. We decided to be fair and pick one dish each (plus one we all agreed on). I’d been talking up my favourite Kinn pork dish all day, and one of my friends had subsequently been craving pork. Since that dish wasn’t on the menu (and therefore I couldn’t make her order it), she chose the pad prik khing: stir fried crispy pork with chill kaffir lime jam and green beans.

Kinn Thai’s pad prik khing.

Kinn Thai’s pad prik khing.

In my friend’s words, this was a simple but tasty dish, properly crunchy with just the right amount of spice (a one chilli rating on the menu). Another friend said he thought it started off a bit sweet before the heat from the chilli kicked in. I found it a bit too hot (yes I am a chilli wuss) but couldn’t stop myself going back for just that little bit extra, so that should tell you something about how moreish it was.

Next to arrive was the marinated char-grilled wagyu beef served with stir-fried mixed vegetables and Nam Jim Jaew (Thai spicy dipping sauce). I really liked this dish, but my friends found it rather boring (which just meant more for me!). The beef was cooked rare, and the Nam Jim Jaew set it off perfectly. It reminded me of my favourite wagyu beef entrée at Ruby’s in Dickson.

Wagyu beef with Nam Jim Jaew and vegetables

Wagyu beef with Nam Jim Jaew and vegetables

The next dish was the only curry we ordered: massamun lamb with roti. Again there were mixed views. One of my friends found it too sweet, but my other friend and I loved it. The meat was tender, and we liked the roti that came with the dish. As for the sauce, I had to get one of my friends to move the rice bowl away from me otherwise I would have just kept eating rice and sauce for the rest of the night and been too full for anything else.

Massamunlamb

Massamun lamb with roti

There was no disagreement about the next dish: crispy barramundi wok-tossed with sweet soy sauce and Thai herbs. All my friends agreed that this was their favourite (for me it was between this and the massamun lamb). The presentation was impressive—the height of it!—and we loved the contrast in texture, with the crispy outside and the soft inside. The flavour was great, particularly with the Thai herbs, and the serving size was generous.

crispybarramundi

The crispy barramundi was the favourite on the night

Our other seafood dish wasn’t so favourably received—a salmon nashi salad comprising seared slow-cooked salmon, nashi pear, Vietnamese mint and Thai herb with chilli tamarind dressing. It definitely didn’t look like a salad! One of my friends thought the ingredients of this dish weren’t as well matched as the other dishes, while another friend thought they went together quite well. She particularly liked the nashi pear. That said, we all agreed the salmon was cooked really well, it was light and delicious.

The salmon nashi salad was deliciously light

The salmon nashi salad was deliciously light

Kinn only had one dessert on offer that night, coconut ice cream with sticky rice. I opted out, as I only like coconut on lamingtons or in Cherry Ripes (or coconut cream in curries), but my friends decided to give it a go. The sticky rice turned out to be mixed with banana, with a type of bean in the middle (can’t remember if it was red or black bean), and possibly some peanuts. But the fun bit was what came with the dessert—a little quartet of toppings: young coconut, jackfruit, palm seed and herbal jelly.

Coconut ice cream with sticky rice and toppings

Coconut ice cream with sticky rice and toppings

My friends said the ice cream was yummy and very ‘coconutty’, but the texture was unusual. It was amusing listening to them trying to describe it. One friend said it was something between a sorbet and an ice cream. Or like an ice cream biscuit, crumbly and light, not the heavy creamy texture ice cream normally has. Her boyfriend described it like the outside of a scoop of ice cream when you’ve dropped it into soft drink to make a spider. They didn’t really like the sticky rice, saying the savoury insider didn’t match the sweet outside and ice cream. But they both loved the toppings, and polished all of them off.

toppings

Fun and delicious toppings: young coconut, jackfruit, palm seed and herbal jelly

The other thing I should mention is the drinks. Kinn doesn’t have its liquor licence yet (they said it’s coming soon), but they had a great range of mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails), which made a non-drinker like me very happy. I tried the Oh My Lychee while my friends went for the Pina Colada and the Virgin Margarita. They looked great and were delicious.

The Oh My Lychee and Pina Colada mocktails

The Oh My Lychee and Pina Colada mocktails

As for the service, it was great. The staff were polite and friendly, our water glasses were topped up regularly and not once did we have to flag anyone down for anything. And the food came out really fast. My friends and I had a great evening, and before we left we’d already planned our next visit there. Can’t wait to try out some of the other dishes!

The essentials

The place: Kinn Thai
Where: Shop FG08, 125 Bunda St, Civic (on the outside of the Canberra Centre)
When: Open 7 days, 11.30am-3pm for lunch and 5pm-10pm for dinner.
Food: Thai
Drinks: Mocktails, soft drinks, tea. Alcoholic drinks will be available once they get their liquor licence.
Contact: Phone (02) 6247 1277, visit their website or find Kinn Thai on Facebook

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Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author

  • Chris Sakul-Thongbai

    I love Thai food and have eaten in many, many Thai restaurants. I have been to Kinn Thai the day after its grand opening day. Pad prik khing was the second best I have ever had in Australia. The desert, khao tom mud (the sticky rice ) was a good choice as no one else seem to offer this in their menu. I haven’t eaten coconut icecream this good outside Thailand.
    I was very impressed.

    • Michelle B

      Wow, second best is a big call! Must be good then! Where did you have the first? (so I can add it to my list of places to eat around the country) Thanks for the proper name for the dessert, we didn’t actually look at the dessert menu so I didn’t know what it was called! Glad to hear you gave it a good rap as well. I’m looking forward to trying more of Kinn’s dishes. Though I still wish they had the pork belly and duck ones from their Sydney restaurant…

      • Chris Sakul-Thongbai

        The best pad prik khing I’ve had (in Australia) was at Chat Thai in Manly, NSW.
        http://www.facebook.com/thaieats

        • Michelle B

          Thanks Chris. Will have to try and get there sometime when I’m up in Sydney.

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