Like Jon Bonnell and Tim Love before him, Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin is branching out.
Although his brand-new restaurant is less than a mile across West 7th Street from his barely year-old place, he doesn’t seem to be in danger of competing against himself. As Bite City Grill’s menu is an eclectic mix of cuisines, Kin Kin Urban Thai (which translates roughly into “Let’s eat!”) dishes out mostly traditional, mostly non–Westernized versions of standard Thai dishes. Food like Chef Eddy’s mama Pat makes. Literally. Pat, a celebrated cook in her own right, starts the day at her son’s restaurants making dumplings.
Reviewers and civilians alike have raved about those dumplings, and the six plump morsels didn’t disappoint. The pastry skins were soft and a little chewy without being rubbery, and the quick pan-fry left a caramelized sear on the outside. The ground pork-and-shrimp filling walked the line between savory and fiery, and the accompanying soy-based dipping sauce was so good that my dining companion and I used it to dress the shredded cabbage that served as garnish.
Also from the starter menu, the grilled calamari was a nice change from fried rings and tentacles with a mayo-based dip. Kin Kin’s thickly cut squid tubes were grilled with a smoky, honey-sweet, subtly spicy glaze.
The addition of artichoke hearts to the tom kha, a fairly standard soup, provided a luscious, buttery element to the coconut milk-enriched broth, white meat chicken, and dainty white enokitake mushrooms. As a bonus, the lemongrass chunks flavoring the soup had been strained, so there were no odd, bark-like bits to contend with.
Entrées run the gamut from traditionally prepared items to some of the chef’s modern takes, including Thai fried chicken and hamburger served on a sticky rice bun.
The massaman beef stew’s base of cinnamon and sweet curry was full of heavy, complex flavors, with braised beef so tender it practically fell apart at the mere suggestion of the fork. Chunks of sweet potato helped sop up the delicious, exotically flavored gravy, and the addition of peanuts gave the dish an interesting texture. The chef also added chickpeas, which didn’t do a lot for either flavor or color.
In contrast, the shrimp asparagus was light, plain, and simple. Half a dozen jumbo shrimp had been stir-fried with wood and shiitake mushrooms and served over al dente asparagus. The slightly earthy sauce was a nice counterpoint to the eruption of flavors from the beef and the appetizers.
Entrées come with traditional jasmine rice. For a small up-charge, you can substitute sticky rice, which comes in its own personal-sized bamboo steamer.
And it would be a critical error to skip dessert. The green tea cheesecake was absolutely sublime. The traditional velvety rich texture and flavor of a traditional cheesecake were brightened with the addition of green tea, which added something subtly acerbic to the mix. The dessert was presented on a crispy, delicate meringue. Each bite had a bit of melt-in-your-mouth meringue and dense, slightly sweet cheesecake.
The tofu panna cotta was even more visually stunning than the cheesecake, with a dainty ramekin of panna cotta and three teeny banana slices with caramelized tops. Sadly, the tofu was prettier to look at than to taste. Even augmented by a syrupy, almost floral ginger sauce, tofu isn’t custard, and it never will be. Another option: the sweetly rich Thai iced coffee, which was strong but not overly bitter.
Our server Chris seemed to have a great command of the menu and the traditions of Thai dining –– or at least Chef Eddy’s version of them. The level of service and attention to presentation detail rivaled that of many white-tablecloth places downtown. Chef Eddy departed Dallas restaurant Pakpao about two years ago to strike out on his own but has plans to return –– to Dallas, not Pakpao. Big D is where he plans to open a second Kin Kin later this year.
Kin Kin Urban Thai
2801 W 7th St, FW. 817-984-1363. 11am-9pm Sun, 11am-10pm Mon-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards are accepted.
Kin Kin Urban Thai
Grilled calamari $9.75
Tom kha $6.25
Massaman beef stew $16.00
Thai iced coffee $3.50
Green tea cheesecake $9.00