Kiin is the newest dining experience by culinary dynamos, and couple, Chef Nuit Regular and her husband Jeff. If their names sound familiar it is because they also run Pai, Sukhothai and Sabi Sabi. This venture is different for them.
Instead of featuring mostly Northern Thai food, Chef Nuit has gone back to Thailand to learn the rare art of Royal Thai cuisine. This is a cuisine that was once served at the Royal Palace for kings and queens. It is, in fact, becoming a lost art due to its intricacies, attention to detail and extremely time consuming and painstaking work. The food is definitely more upscale than what you are served in other Thai restaurants in Toronto.
They took over a space previously held by Khao San Road at 326 Adelaide Street West near Peter Street. They transformed the narrow dark room into a light-filled, 35 seat space, with shuttered windows that are filled with flowers and potted plants, and framed pictures of the Royal family displayed on the back wall. Velvet seating looks sharp against the marble floor and wood tables.
The focus is on fresh ingredients, which will change with the season, rich flavours and delicate handiwork that is very complex. They serve authentic dishes which most have never tried before, with distinct flavours and textures, and beautiful colours.
The staff was very hospitable and welcoming and our server, Juanita, helped guide us through the very interesting sharing menu.
We ordered both an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic drink. They make a good negroni and I tried a pandam tea that looked better than it tasted. These went well with the snack offerings. The homemade root chips made of taro, sweet potatoes and squash are addictive. They have a balanced contrast of sweet, salty and citrus. A must have snack is the Khao Tung Na Tung, which is a platter of rice crackers with a shrimp, crab and coconut flavour dip. We scraped the bowl of this aromatic and flavourful dish. On the small plate section of the menu, we went with their signature Royal Thai platter, which includes four artistically presented dumplings and appetizers of varying vibrant colours and flavour profiles. The wing bean salad packs a flavour punch. The chopped beans are mixed with chili shrimp paste, toasted coconut and peanuts, and served with boiled duck eggs, which helps cool off the palate. In the large section we had the Khao Yum, served in a large brass bowl, the jasmine rice has different flavourings and colours. Tumeric, lemongrass, coriander, coconut, fried chili, sunflower sprouts, edible flowers, tamarind and soy bean sauce added to the multidimensional flavours and textures of this most beautiful dish.
But, if I had to pick my favourite dish of the evening, it would be the beef boombai – a braised AAA Wellington County beef short rib with tamarind that’s served with field cucumbers and pearl onions. I could have licked the bowl, the flavours were so satisfying. Plus, the meat is so tender it falls off the bone. We enjoyed this with a side of roti, which may just be the best I have ever had – it was perfect for lapping up that delectable sauce. For dessert, they offer just one thing, a tropical Thai fruit platter. It can contain things like mango, dragon fruit, mangosteen, star fruit, lychee or whatever they can find fresh in the market.
Each item is meticulously prepared and beautifully presented, with rich flavours that rippled across my taste buds.
For now, the restaurant’s hours are lunch and takeout on Monday to Friday 11:30-3pm (rice and noodles are more the focus), and dinner Monday to Wednesday 5pm-10pm, and Thursday to Saturday, 5-11pm. They are closed on Sunday.