A couple of weeks ago, I read a great review by Eileen over at The Food Avenue, who sang praises of the new Kinn Thai Restaurant in Canberra Centre. Being a huge fan of Thai cuisine myself, I knew I had to check it out.
Kinn Thai resides in the previously vacant space between Wood & Coal and Sammy’s Kitchen. Arguably, setting up shop here offers new competition for the long-standing Chinese-Malaysian venue next door. And judging by the amount of patrons milling about the foyer area, I would say Kinn Thai is rapidly becoming a strong opponent.
I first suggest making a reservation early in the day. When we arrived, although we had a booking, the host was unable to seat us for a full ten minutes. It seemed that the host and servers were a tad disorganized, but I’m chalking that up to inexperience as they only opened shop a few weeks ago. The décor of the place is decidedly modern and industrial. Thin florescent lights zig-zag across a large expanse of roof and overlook a roaring, chaotic establishment. The ceilings, being so high, seem to be the cause of most of the noise, and I doubt even the enclosed area at the back of the restaurant could escape the commotion. Do not plan on having a deep and meaningful conversation here – it’s simply too loud.
I first began perusing the drinks menu and was disappointed to find that Kinn Thai chose to open before obtaining their liquor license. However, they do have a long list of tasty looking mocktails and other classic Thai beverages. My dining partner ordered the Thai Pink Milk, which, true to its name, came out bubblegum pink. I could only manage a single sip of it. The liquid was too sugary and tasted similar to a bubblegum cough medicine I used to choke down as a child. They also serve it with a hunk of iced sugar which makes the drink unbearably sweet. You all know I have a big sweet tooth and enjoy new food experiences, but even I couldn’t handle this drink.
One thing I noticed instantly was how fast the service seemed to be. The employees were quick to take orders, clean, and set empty tables, and the food came out of the kitchen at lightning speed. There was a small miscommunication about two appetizers that were not meant for our table, but soon after that we received our Petite Satay Chicken ($9.50). Eight small skewers of chicken smothered in a sweet peanut sauce arrived alongside a small bowl of pickled vegetables and chilis. The satay was delicious. Although the sauce was a tad sweeter than other satays I’ve eaten, you can easily remedy this by eating a skewer topped with a slice of bird’s eye chili. Both my dining partner and I liked that you were able to choose your own level of heat, since I’m a chili fan and he is not. The chicken itself was considerably moist. One platter of satay is probably enough for four people as an appetizer.
The next dish that arrived was the Pad See Iw with Vegetables ($15), which was amazing and probably my favourite dish of the evening. The thick noodles were marinated well in the soy-based sauce, giving it excellent flavour. Although the noodles were a little overcooked, the vegetables, egg, and sauce made up for the slight sogginess. I definitely recommend this dish.
We were then given our order of Prawn Fried Rice ($19.50), made with shrimp paste, egg, onion, broccoli, and seasoning. I was surprised at the amount of prawns we were given in single serving. No less than eight or nine large prawns arrived among a plethora of colourful vegetables and deliciously spiced rice. My only criticism of this dish is that Kinn Thai does not tail their prawns. However, this is a personal preference and does in no way hinder the fabulous rice.
Finally, we were sent our last dish: the Wagyu Beef ($25). Although the beef was perfectly cooked and the side vegetables crisp, I was a little disappointed that this plate was served to us lukewarm (nearly cold). Given the price I was willing to pay for the dish, I had expected it to arrive hot. Nevertheless, the sauce served with the beef was stunning and complemented the steak very well.
In all, I believe Kinn Thai will be a success. They do have a few kinks to work out as a team – disorganized seating, meals delivered to incorrect tables, and lack of liquor license – but their cheerful attitude and striking dishes make up for their inexperience. Judging by our dinner, I would say that two mains and an appetizer are more than sufficient for a party of two. We definitely ordered too many platters and were overfull. The pricing is affordable by Canberra standards, but there is a 1.5% surcharge for the use of credit cards.
I recommend Kinn Thai for their commendable dishes and extremely quick turnaround. I will be returning, and I hope that they stick around to give Sammy’s Kitchen suitable competition.