I’m so excited to write about Kiin, the latest of Chef Nuit Regular’s ventures to open its doors, that it’s suddenly apparent to me how invested I’ve become in her success story.
Okay, maybe it was also apparent when I was jumping up and down in our apartment, yelling out to Mike in the next room, upon discovering that the new, mysterious Thai restaurant around the corner belongs to Nuit and her dream team (with husband Jeff Regular of Pai, Sabai Sabai, and Sukhothai, and Janet Zuccarini of Trattoria Nervosa, Gusto 101, and Pai).
In a previous Hungry Girl Series post, I wrote about Chef Nuit’s story, taking her from Thailand to Toronto, and her Northern Thai kitchen, Pai, here in Toronto. My first visit was a done deal. Nuit was busy and buried in the back of the clinging, clanging kitchen, pumping out her acclaimed authentic plates and from the moment I shoveled in her Pad Thai, I’ve been a loyal follower.
So, devoted as I am, I’m dedicating this post solely to her most recent rendition of Thai cuisine – Kiin.
When Mike and I first moved to Toronto, one (of many) night when we were hungry and lazy, we moseyed over to the nearest Thai spot according to Google maps. What we stumbled upon was Koh San Road (the original Adelaide location) and unbeknown to us at the time, it was Nuit that had originally granted this spot its fame. After helping to launch the kitchen, Nuit and Jeff split from it, taking their culinary power and prowess to Sabai Sabai and Sukhothai.
Mike and I took one look at the tight spot, harsh lighting and shoulder-to-shoulder crammed, communal tables and grabbed our goods for the road.
Fast forward to last Friday night, Mike and I stepped back into the space that Koh San Road previously called home (it has now moved to Charlotte Street) and, as Kiin, it was barely recognizable. The space has been completely transformed – capturing the colonially influenced mansions in Nuit’s hometown. Interior Designer Katherine Gudov and architect Steven Fong reinvent the distinguished lavishness of these homes with stained glass, marble, and shimmering gold accents.
Mike and I arrive for a late dinner and the place is once again packed – but in a romantic, cozy way this time. We take a seat at the marble bar lining the wall, order our drinks, and huddle over the menu.
Kiin is Nuit’s experimentation with the techniques behind ‘Royal Thai’ cooking and the plates that are placed before us are a work of art – intricate, delicate. The complexity and depth of flavours is intense. The dishes are bursting with colour, expression and passion.
From the Small Plates:
From left to right: Mha hor, pickled turnip sliced into pineapple and filled with coconut and peanut paste; Chor ladda, a dumpling made from butterfly pea-dyed jasmine rice and topped with crispy Thai garlic; Rhoom, an egg net parcel filled with chicken; and Thoong thong, a deep-fried parcel filled with shrimp and chicken.
Kang Moo Yang Nam Jim Jaw
Say that three times fast. On the recommendation from the bartender – grilled pork jowl with tamarind, roasted rice, mint, roasted red chili, and Thai kale stalks.
From the Large Plates:
This is Nuit’s royal take on an originally southern dish; centred around rice coloured from beets, turmeric and butterfly pea flowers, the dish is cooked with long beans, lemongrass, sawtooth coriander, lime leaves, cucumber, toasted coconut, pomelo, fried chilies, sunflower sprouts, edible flowers and white turmeric imported from Thailand.
Chef Nuit has outdone herself yet again, bringing to us a new face and feel of Thailand – and my allegiance is stronger than ever.