“Kiin Kiin” means “Eat Eat” in Thai and we certainly kiin kiined a lot. As usual, I debated and agonized over where to eat, as I planned the trip. I gave Stewart two choices for each meal and made him pick from my utterly unbiased descriptions (“would you like amazing Danish Thai or a restaurant centered around leaves and greens?”). Having learned to follow hints after 10 years, he wisely opted for Kiin Kiin.
I often worry when diners rave too much about a restaurant, as expectations escalate to astronomical levels. In this case, they were Everest high… but Kiin Kiin far exceeded them. Beginning straight away with their friendly email replies to accommodate my mother’s food restrictions, we were spoiled, cared for and amazed throughout.
When we booked the trip, friends (knowing how much I love food) asked if we were going to Noma. I must confess: I didn’t even try to make a reservation. I think the chef is amazing and the food looks interesting, but lately I’ve steered clear of interesting in search of delicious. And we certainly found it at Kiin Kiin!
When you first arrive at Kiin Kiin, you’re ushered to seats in the cozy ground level lounge and nibbles start magically appearing. Several were served by Henrik Yde-Andersen himself, the chef and owner. You’d think the sight of a handsome man in a smart chef’s coat would have clued us in, but we were too busy with the food. We didn’t realize until I asked about the history of the restaurant and the chef and he began: “well, I had been living in Thailand for 5 years…”
Chef HY-A makes his own beer crafted to match with Asian food and curates a wine list well suited to Thai flavours. I tried his suggested rose, a very small lot (50 case) produced by Domaine Zind–Humbrecht–one of my favorite winemakers for Alsatian whites. It seems the winemaker’s wife has a taste for rose and makes it specially for her (and a few select friends). Chef and his partner now own eight restaurants in Copenhagen, from casual take-out Thai to Kiin Kiin, as well as Sra Bua Kiin Kiin in Bangkok. Wish we had more time to sample the others (or know about Sra Bua when we were in Bangkok!).
What we ate:
Several different waiters brought loads of Thai nibbles that kept us amused and extremely happy. They were amazingly creative, unique and tasty while keeping a strong Thai soul.
Prawn crackers with Mayo, lotus root chips and cashew meringues. The cashew meringue was my favorite, Stewart loved the spicy mayo served with the prawn crackers (particularly impressive as he’s disavowed mayo otherwise).
Little cones with a very liquidy filling of thai flavors (put it all in your mouth at once or you’ll be enjoying a Thai-scented dress all evening) topped with coriander salad and nuts
Fish roe and baby coriander: a bit too fishy for me and probably my least favorite, still visually gorgeous
Frozen Tom Kha with pickled onion and mushroom: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW, this was probably our favorite bite of the entire meal. Tom kha explosion in your mouth with the frozen texture encompassing the essential flavours of thai cuisine–so gorgeous, creative and delicious.
Steamed egg and miso soup custard with fried onion: velvety, incredibly rich, and amazing. The egg masquerades as the lightest tofu imaginable, while the fried onions add texture, crunch and a touch of sweetness to the complex umami broth.
Chicken “satay” with chicken skin & peanut ice cream: another amazing dish! Little scoop of peanut ice cream sitting beautifully atop the crunchiest, most-perfect chicken skin. First you get the salty snap of the crackling, then the smooth creamy peanut that melts in your mouth.
Moe Palo Pork: according to the chef, this is the national dish of Thailand. His interpretation includes a cube of perfectly tender, five-spice rubbed pork on a skewer with a quail egg and a pork crackling, served with a sweet, black soy dipping sauce. I’d maybe have benefitted from some instruction, as it’s more than the single bite I’d wanted it to be.
Chiang Mai Sausages: Chef transports you to a Thai night market–complete with street food and tuk tuk fumes–by lifting a glass dome obscured with heavy charcoal smoke to reveal a smoky, oily bite of late night, street-side Thailand. The delicious sausages tasted of ginger, garlic, chili and loads of amazing Thai flavors. It was rich and powerful and delicious. One or two more, washed down with some Thang Thip (thai whisky) and you’re fueled up for your solo at the karaoke bar.
At this point, we moved upstairs for the real meal….already satisfied, but very excited for more as the aperitif blew us away.
Galangal & prawn soup with baby lobster side dish. While appearing to be a clear, light broth, the soup’s richly flavoured with prawn and galangal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galangal) (you can see how they infuse the broth in the kettle). We were guided to have a taste of the soup followed by a bite of the creamy, chilled, baby lobster–and repeat (not that we needed further instruction after the first revelation). The salt and scent of the soup flavors carry over to influence the sweet and light taste of the most tender lobster. Impressive.
Cucumber and lobster salad with spicy marinade: This was incredible. The salad dressing, prepared tableside, had a very nice kick. The cucumber slices around the plate were fresh, crisp, and bright, while the lobster tempura was light and delicate. The little curl of marinated squid was a happy surprise that was tender and tasty. Probably my favorite dish among the ones on the main menu.
Red curry and white asparagus: this dish triggered a lot of positive reactions. Shocked by the complexity, Stewart giggled with his first bite. The flavours of the red curry quenelle and the asparagus cream were intense and powerful, yet delicate and refined at the same time. I almost got angry at this dish as I feel like I will never be happy again with any red curry–it’s set the bar very high and likely ruined me for life.
Extra course of yellow curry with asparagus and blue fin crab: The curry was hiding at the bottom of the dish, but was a particularly interesting contrast to the red curry dish it followed. The yellow curry, with its very different texture and lighter flavour, matched well with the curls of shredded celery and bite of the shizo celery green “juice”
Sweetbread with tamarind and lemongrass: the sweetbreads were served on top of shrimp noodles with peanuts, tamarind, coriander, and lemongrass. Very interesting and unique. My favorite course? Probably not… but tamarind is a unique taste, particular to a only a few cuisines and a noodle made of shrimp paste is quite entertaining.
Mashed eggplant with bone marrow & beef tartare: an extra course not listed on the menu, the bone marrow and beef tartare bites were amazing, while I found the eggplant a bit mushy and unexciting.
Braised beef in oyster sauce with Thai ginger: very delicate pink beef hiding under “onion paper” and with dollops of pea purée around the plate. The beef, exquisitely cooked, was tender in the middle and crunchy around the edges and the onion paper had a strong onion flavor without being overpowering.
The palate cleanser was candy floss, on top of some kumquats. It was served with a passion fruit sauce that once poured, dissolved all the candy floss. Restaurants should pass on sorbets and serve candy floss instead. I’m now rooting for a candy floss palate cleanser trend!
The flowers of Thailand: two extra desserts – one rhubarb with rose and hibiscus (pink one below) and the other Jasmin with elderflower: both refreshing, light and floral without tasting like a soap bar. A fitting transition to a richer desert following…
Banana cake with salted ice cream and caramel: this reads delicious and was delicious. But no way to go wrong with this combination of flavors. The only flaw is that I wanted more of it……
Because 8 courses plus uncountable nibbles were not enough, I went for the petit four (charged extra and worth it)! We asked for espressos, but were instead offered a unique coffee drip brewed tableside. The extremely passionate waiter/brewer educated us on the particular method (ideal water temperature not to burn the coffee, etc,) and qualities of the coffee while we waited for the results… a light and delicious coffee that didn’t even need sugar or milk.
The Petit fours included: grapes dipped in white chocolate, lychee & coconut pandan, coconut marshmallow, cashew jasmine tart, meringues, and, my favorite, a peanut & caramel truffle. With my dinner companions too full to eat… more for me!
In Sum: One of the best meals of my life! Memorable, delicious and special without arrogance or pretension – bravo! Also, Stewart and I shared one wine pairing and the wines were unique and from small producers. I definitely suggest it.
Kiin Kiin http://www.kiin.dk/?lang=en
Guldbergsgade 21 2200 København N +45 3535 7555