Kin Khao (San Francisco, CA)

Kin Khao
55 Cyril Magnin St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dining date: 12/23/15

Kin Khao

Kin Khao is blogger Pim Techamuanvivit’s first restaurant, opened in early 2014. Here, Techamuanvivit shares the flavors of her Thai homeland with a slightly modernized take. The restaurant has received generally positive reviews including a Michelin star in the 2015 guide.

Kin Khao is certainly a bit ‘expensive’ for Thai cuisine, but I stopped in for a spontaneous weekday lunch to try a few items. The pricing is slightly more approachable at lunch, however the menu offers significantly less options.


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Pok Pok (Los Angeles, CA)

Pok Pok LA
978 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 11/8/15

Pok Pok was one of the city’s most anticipated restaurant openings this year. It has become one of the must-visit restaurants in Portland since opening 10 years ago. Since then, the restaurant and chef have been given numerous awards including chef Andy Ricker winning the James Beard award for Best Chef Northwest in 2011 and the New York location garnering a Michelin star this year. Los Angeles is the third city to have Ricker’s popular restaurant, following the opening of his Phat Thai street food concept at the end of last year.

Pok Pok


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Night + Market Song (Los Angeles, CA)

Night + Market Song
3322 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Dining date: 5/2/14


Night + Market has been a hit since opening in 2010. Popular for Kris Yenbamroong’s interpretation of Thai street food, it’s been consistently drawing nationwide attention for its bold, oft-spicy flavors and celebrity clientele. Its success has spawned an offshoot in Silver Lake; Yenbamroong realized many of his customers were driving from the Silver Lake area to the original West Hollywood location. With this more easterly location, it’s now within quick reach of downtown residents (like me!). Having enjoyed the original a few times (but hating the drive to WeHo), I was very excited to hear it was coming to Silver Lake.


This location is currently serving an abbreviated menu without any alcohol (the license is in the works). Still, there are plenty of options on the menu to choose from. We dove into some old favorites and some new dishes.

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Night+Market (West Hollywood, CA) (2)

9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Dining date: 7/23/12


I really enjoyed my first visit to Night+Market nearly a year ago; a return visit has been long overdue. It’s mostly due to the location (on the Sunset Strip) and the fact that I dread driving to West Hollywood more than any other neighborhood of LA. However, a birthday dinner and dineLA were the impetus for this return, and I was glad to be back.

The restaurant continues to garner consistent buzz/accolades; one of the bigger ones recently was chef Kris Yenbamroong being nominated as a James Beard semifinalist in the ‘Rising Star Chef’ category. Not bad for someone with no formal culinary training; however, Yenbamroong has essentially grown up in the family’s Talesai kitchens, something that seems to have suited him very well for this gig.

Night+Market had a special 3-course menu going for dineLA; we opted to mix and match a bit, ordering two dineLA meals and a bunch of la carte items. Everything was served family style.

The restaurant has a pretty well-stocked wine list (and full bar), but this night was a beer night. Go big or go home.

tower of chang

fried pig tail

fried pig tail

I loved this in my previous visit. My piece was much fattier than I remember, but the meat itself was again so good. Sweet and succulent with a crispy exterior. A little bit of garlic and chilies provided the depth.

som tum | papaya salad

som tum | papaya salad

Cool, crisp slivers of papaya provided a little bit of crunch and reprieve from the spiciness of other dishes. However, this salad had a lingering heat of its own.

hoi nang rom sod | raw oysters on the half shell

hoi nang rom sod | raw oysters on the half shell

These oysters were cool and refreshing, though I felt the fried scallions overpowered the flavor of the oyster.

yum ruam mit talay | seafood yum boiled fish, shrimp, octopus, bird eye, lime, fish sauce, mint

yum ruam mit talay | seafood yum boiled fish, shrimp, octopus, bird eye, lime, fish sauce, mint

A medley of seafood was cooked with bright mint and lemongrass flavors that were nice complements. Thinly sliced Thai chiles provided bursts of heat like hidden bombs.

nam kao tod | crispy rice salad spicy fermented pork, bird eye, ginger, chile jam, fish sauce, lime, peanuts

nam kao tod | crispy rice salad spicy fermented pork, bird eye, ginger, chile jam, fish sauce, lime, peanuts

I liked the texture of the crispy rice in this dish, with meaty chunks of pork and slivers of ginger. A good balance of hot and sour.

gai tod mae chan | mae chan fried chicken upcountry fried chicken thighs, sticky rice, fried shallots

gai tod mae chan | mae chan fried chicken upcountry fried chicken thighs / sticky rice / fried shallots

The fried chicken thighs were tasty and juicy on their own; the richness was cut by the accompanying lime and ginger sauce.

panang en neua | beef tendon panang with roti

panang en neua | beef tendon panang with roti

I’m typically not a fan of the gelatinous tendon and can’t say this had me deviating from that sentiment. I much more enjoyed the warm curry and delightfully crisp roti.

hor ab | catfish tamale

hor ab | catfish tamale

hor ab | catfish tamale

I thought this was an interesting dish on the menu. A soft tamale exhibited the flavor of the fish, but I found it somewhat one-note and in need of some textural contrast.

moo sadoong | ‘startled pig’ grilled pork, basil, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime, bird eye chile, raw garlic

moo sadoong | 'startled pig' grilled pork, basil, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime, bird eye chile, raw garlic

Juicy chunks of pork were complemented by lemongrass and garlic. Strong, bright flavors…and not too spicy!

pad kee mao | drunken noodles with short ribs flat noodles, chile, basil, garlic

pad kee mao | drunken noodles with short ribs flat noodles, chile, basil, garlic

This was another favorite from my previous visit and I enjoyed it just as much this time. It’s a pretty simple dish I suppose, but it always gets me.

ice cream sandwich

ice cream sandwich

One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes is this dessert. Rarely does an ice cream sandwich contain actual bread and even rarer does one contain rice. This one has both with an excellent coconut ice cream and sweet rice sandwiched between toasted bread.

I enjoyed this meal at Night+Market, though it’s pretty damn spicy (it has a way of compounding throughout the meal). The menu clearly states that there is an option to make things less spicy, something I would definitely consider next time (our party in this visit liked the heat). Hopefully I’ll make my return to Night+Market much sooner this time.

Night + Market (West Hollywood, CA)

Night + Market
9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Dining date: 8/7/11

Night + Market is a sort of annex to Talesai, which is a more upscale Thai restaurant on the Sunset Strip. Talesai has been open for decades, but Night + Market is a new concept (opened late last year) by Kris Yenbamroong, whose parents originally opened Talesai. Yenbamroong now runs both kitchens, with Night + Market being his venue to serve dishes inspired by the street food of Thailand.

We put our stomachs in the hands of the chef and allowed him to create a tasting menu for us.

chiengrai herb sausage w/ noom salsa, cucumber

isaan sour sausage grilled fermented pork sausage w/ bird eye chile, cabbage

These felt a little bit lean to me, with a predictably meaty flavor accented by some herbs. Not as ‘sour’ as I expected, which I didn’t mind.

fried pig tail

Wow, these were great. Much less gelatinous than the ones I had at The Spice Table a couple nights prior, with a perfectly crispy outside and rich, flavorful meat. Slightly sweet, really savory. There wasn’t a ton of meat on these bones, but it was delicious. I could eat a plate of these, easy.

pork toro grilled fatty hog collar with ‘jaew’ northeastern chile dip

As advertised, these were pretty fatty though slightly chewy.  The porky flavor was definitely present, but I found this to be a bit overly fatty for myself.

moo sadoong ‘startled pig’ slices of pork w/ mint, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime, bird eye chile

Chunks of pork were tossed in herbs, garlic, and a rich brown sauce. Not bad, though not particularly memorable for me.

kar moo parlow whole braised pork hock skin on slow cooked with dark soy, five spice, garlic

Oh yeah. Love a big piece of meat, served on the bone. The meat was tender while the skin kept a crispy exterior. Soy and garlic flavors in the braise were definitely prominent, complementing the pork quite nicely.

whole fish (branzino) sam rod deep fried topped with ‘three-flavor’ sauce-garlic, palm sugar, chile

As much as I love a big piece of meat served bone-in, I also love a whole fish. Here, a whole branzino was fried and topped with a sweet-spicy chile sauce. Pretty tasty – the flesh was moist, and I thought the sweetness really worked well with the fried fish.

gang ho ‘dry’ pork stew fatty delicious belly and shoulder cuts, slowly simmered with palm sugar, pickled garlic and ginger, tossed with glass noodles

I found this dish to be a little disappointing, finding the flavors rather muddled and hard to distinguish. I wanted some brighter flavors in this dish.

pu pad pong karee curried crab jumbo lump crab, curry powder & onions

Next we had large chunks of crab simmered in curry. Loved the jumbo lumps of crab, but I thought the curry was slightly one-note and didn’t have the depth of flavor I typically look for in curries.

kao kluk gapi shrimp paste-seasoned rice w/ candied pork, shredded egg omelette, red onion, green mango, cilantro, bird eye chile

A number of components here, but I thought they came together. The pork was sweet, salty and crispy, while the mango added a fresh sweetness, countering the heat from the chile. The small dried shrimp added a nice textural element.

pad kee mao drunken noodles with short ribs flat noodles, chile, basil, garlic

Loved this dish. It was a rather simple drunken noodle dish, but it’s one of my favorite in Thai cuisine. The sauce was aromatic (from the thai basil) with a touch of heat…just really delicious. The short rib was done well, leaving it tender and tasty in its own right. I’ve been inspired to try to make something like this at home.

ice cream sandwich coconut ice cream, sweet sticky rice, condensed & evaporated milk, toasted mung beans on a sweet roll

I was eagerly awaiting this dessert, having heard much about it. First of all, the coconut ice cream was very good – sweet, rich and full of flavor. Instead of a cookie, the sandwich was actually supported by a sweet bread roll, lightly toasted, and topped with mung beans, milk and sweet sticky rice. Something very different for me, and a great way to end the meal.

I really enjoyed the meal at Night + Market. Sure, there were some dishes I didn’t care for, but I remember this meal for the ones I really adored (pig tails, pock hock, drunken noodles, ice cream sandwich). The prices were very reasonable too, especially given the restaurant is located on the Sunset Strip. It’s a little bit further than I’d like from me, but if I were in the area, I wouldn’t hesitate in coming back.

I can’t remember whose bright idea it was, but we progressed from this dinner to another 11 courses at Animal.

Lotus of Siam (Las Vegas, NV)

Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89104
Dining date: 3/30/11

Lotus of Siam has probably become one of the most famous Thai restaurants in the country, if not the most. Not too long ago, it was one of those hidden finds off the touristy Las Vegas Strip. Thanks to rave reviews from people across the country, as well as attention from the James Beard Foundation, the restaurant is squarely on everyone’s radar.

I’d been here once a couple of years ago and was yearning to make a return trip. We popped in here for my last meal on this mini-vacation to LV.

GARLIC BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN WINGS chicken wings deep fried until crispy then sautéed with a lot of garlic, black pepper, and seasoning

These were very crunchy and probably a bit overcooked. Surprisingly, I also found them rather bland. I’m curious if perhaps we received the wrong order, as there wasn’t really any noticeable black pepper.

STUFFED CHICKEN WINGS chicken wings stuffed with ground pork, deep fried, served with homemade sweet & sour sauce

These wings were better, stuffed with some pork. Really meaty with a nice, light crunch to them. These weren’t as moist as I thought they could’ve been though.

TOM KAH KAI (Bangkok Style) a distinctive soup of sliced chicken with coconut milk, straw mushroom galanga, lemongrass and a touch of lime juice

I’m actually not at all familiar with this soup, but it was popular on Yelp. It didn’t look like the most appetizing thing, but it was pretty good. There was a little bit of heat here, balanced by some lime juice and the coconut milk. Kind of reminiscent of a Chinese hot & sour soup. Kind of.

COMBINATION BEEF NOODLE SOUP small flat rice noodle, Thai style beef ball, beef in seasoned beef soup

My mother was craving some soup noodles, however this was a little too spicy for her. It had a lingering spice that seemed to compound.  The broth had a lot of beefy depth, and I really liked the noodles here. Comforting.

SEA BASS DRUNKEN NOODLES deep fried sea bass topped with homemade fresh chili and Thai basil served on the top of pan fried flat rice noodle

Wonderful dish. The sea bass was excellent. Lightly fried, the fish was moist and flavorful with just a little bit of crispiness. The noodles were very good as well, with some heat from the chili and a nice herbal sweetness from the basil.

I don’t know a whole lot about Thai food so it’s hard for me to really draw comparisons. I found this to be a pretty good meal, with the drunken noodles and sea bass to be a big highlight.