Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thai Style

Before my reservation at Kin Shop, my mother and I made a pilgrimage to Eataly in Gramercy. I call it a "pilgrimage" because that's exactly what it is. We waited in line nearly twenty minutes, pleading our case to two disaffected bodyguards before we were finally granted entree into the most expensive and expansive grocery store I have ever seen.

I won't deny that my tiny, crunchy cannoli was pitch-perfect, nor will I claim nonchalance. Eataly is truly a sight to behold, with its gorgeous fresh pastas, scored breads, fresh fish, and various Italian imported foods. The space, weaved with restaurants and wine bars, is reminiscent of Barcelona's Boqueria, where patrons can shop and eat all in one venue. But price-wise, Barcelona doesn't hold a candle to this New York monstrosity. A small ham that couldn't have weighed more than 3 pounds cost $34.95. Lesson learned: come for the sights and a quick cannoli, but buy your wares elsewhere.

Kin Shop was a welcome relief from the fray. The restaurant has a minimalist feel, in the same genre of momofuku, with blond wood tables and chopsticks in lieu of silver. But the prices at Harold Dieterle's newest hot spot are more in line with tablecloths and china. At the behest of the server, we ordered heavy--and she was right, since portions are fairly conservative--which resulted in a weighty check of over $200 for four people. It isn't expensive by New York standards, exactly, but it isn't cheap, either. Casual dining in the city has retained its cache, but not its price point.

Kin Shop has a deep and interesting wine list, filled with German and French whites with residual sugar, perfect for spicy food. We drank a 1999 Auslese Riesling, well-suited for our creamy bone marrow (which could have used a touch more salt, but never mind), our head-on prawns (no complaints here), our scallops and snap peas in coconut milk (sweet, savory, and full of contrasting textures). Chinese sausage with a soft egg and chopped razor clams was salty and complex, though it would have been better served by leaving the razors whole. Tamarind seared duck breast had been breaded in something light to create this crunchy exterior that was nothing short of addictive. Paper-thin layers of roti had been bound together in clarified butter. I stuffed mine with a cucumber relish that tasted like chopped homemade pickles, an Asian tea sandwich of my own creation. Even a modest dish of egg noodles with Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and a poached egg failed to miss a beat.

And then: dessert. I ordered a root beer float, but instead of the galangal ice-cream that came with the dish, I had mine with Thai iced tea ice-cream, an authentic interpretation of the real thing. Coconut cookies arrived on the house, as did a scoop of icy but refreshing lychee sorbet. It's all pricey for Thai, but worth the price tag.

200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Kin Shop
469 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

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