Kinn Thai is a new restaurant which has just opened up where Wagamama used to be right out front of the Canberra Centre. Kinn Thai opened up on Friday and I was pretty shocked actually because I barely noticed that Wagamama had even shut down before Kinn had set itself up and was handing out menus! As you may know, we here at Lily & Ouk we have some weird rules when it comes to food places; 1. We hate dealing with long lines and 2. We also think that it’s unfair to judge a place right when it first opens, in case it has problems getting into the groove of things. What this leaves us with, is a rule where we do not go to any new restaurant within a month of it’s opening. This gives us the added benefit of not appearing like one of those over enthusiastic food bloggers that absolutely needs to be the first to every new place.
Well, it might be obvious now but we’ve broken that rule, and ended up heading to Kinn Thai the day after it opened. I understand that this might be difficult to comprehend, but I think the sole take away from this is that we are people without morals, and as such should not be trusted. Outside of that, we actually had a really nice time here at Kinn, with extremely fast service and a delightfully mixed food experience.
Alright, enough boring intro talk, now for the boring food talk!
Our first entree was the Betel leaf ($4) with a king prawn, Thai herbs and Kinn special sauce. Normally I’d go on about the price at a time like this, but to be honest, I think betel leaves are endangered or something because I’ve never found one for less than around this price. It’s a shame for my wallet too because I freaking love betel leaves! The ones served here at Kinn are especially Thai influenced with lots of sweet and sour overtones across the whole thing.
The prawn itself was cooked perfectly with quite a bite of bityness to it, but still remaining tender on the inside without being chewy. It must be a lucky year for me because recently I’ve been treated to a ton of perfectly cooked prawns (2014 wasn’t so kind).
In addition to the prawn, there was some lovely crunchy nut pieces and Thai herbs that added tons of different textures to make this a really enjoyable little parcel to chuck into your mouth. To top it all off there seemed to be little shreds of coconut, which added some lovely creaminess as well as some chewy texture, which allowed this to coat your entire mouth as you were eating it, giving it some great depth and making it feel a lot more filling. I really enjoyed this, it’s not something I’d try and get full off, but it’s definitely worth trying.
Next up, we had the Seared scallops ($9) with spicy chilli and lime sauce. I probably need to admit that I absolutely love scallops, so if they’re on a menu I’m generally going to try and eat it, and I’m probably going to really love it too. The scallops here at Kinn Thai are again, very Thai influenced, though this is a Thai restaurant so that probably makes sense. They looked to be cooked under a very high heat for a very low amount of time because they had a lovely dark brown char on them, but the flesh itself was amazingly soft and tender. Really, bravo on how nice they managed to cook the scallops.
The flavours were quite strong on this dish, masking the scallop flavour with that of herbs, spices and a drizzle of a heavily fish sauce influenced liquid. There were slices of cucumber under each scallop, and that helped to really mix up the texture greatly, giving a crispness to the tenderness of the scallops. One word of warning however, you may know by now that I cannot handle chilli at all. This is a pretty spicy dish, spicy enough that I found it a bit difficult to eat without a milk tea there with me. So, consider yourself warned.
Our first ‘main’ dish was the Soft shell crab papaya salad ($15.50) with lime juice, roasted peanuts, green beans and tomato. Let me continue the theme of spicy here and state that this dish was really, really, spicy. I couldn’t see any chilli seeds or anything through it but damn, it was a spicy dish. Outside of the spiciness, the papaya salad was pretty nice, and was comparable to most papaya salads I’ve ever had. Personally, I didn’t really enjoy the raw green beans that were there throughout the salad. Texture wise, they just made everything needlessly chewy and uncomfortable. Plus, I don’t get it, green beans should be cooked, thats when they taste the best!
The crab itself had a lovely light coating on it that wasn’t too oily like a lot of other soft shell crabs. The flavours were really subtle on this crab, so much so that I’d go out on a limb and call it a bit bland. It worked well alongside the papaya salad, but the crab didn’t really stand up well to scrutiny all on its lonesome unfortunately.
Our last main was the Massamun lamb shank ($19.50) with mashed sweet potato and roti. This dish is described as a 24 hour slow cooked lamb shank, and I can definitely see the positives out of such a long cooking time! This was easily my favourite dish of the whole night, absolutely delicious.
The massamun curry itself was really quite sweet, and much sweeter than any other massamun beef curry I’ve had in the past. I’ve noticed that a lot of dishes at Kinn Thai run quite strongly in certain flavour directions, be it sweet, sour or spicy and this was no different. In this particular instance however, the sweetness was countered pretty well by the strong savoury flavours of the lamb shank, which pushed through the sweetness of the curry and gave it a good balance. I should mention that without the lamb, I believe the curry would’ve been too sweet, to the point where I wouldn’t have enjoyed it, though I also think that if the massamun wasn’t as sweet as it was, perhaps the flavour of the lamb would’ve been excessive and overpowering.
But the lamb! If there is any one single saviour to this dish, it is the wonderful lamb shank. The meat is so tender that it almost falls right off the bone. With just a little prodding with a fork, all the meat just slides off! I’ve never had the good fortune of trying a lamb massamun prior to this, but the heavy flavours of lamb go perfectly with such a dish and cannot recommend it enough. On top of the lamb, the curry comes with a light sweet potato mash that was pleasant, as well as a really nice roti bread, though you can forgive me for not being as excited about those elements as I was about the lamb.
Not pictured here is rice, and as with any curry, I recommend you eat this with rice because there’s nothing better than getting standard white rice and getting it all curried up.
For drinks, we got two, the Balefruit drink ($4) and Traditional Thai milk tea ($4). These were really pleasant and of course, served out of mason jars. Out of the two, I definitely preferred the milk tea, it was dense, smokey, with a slight caramelised after taste to it. It’s definitely different to the standard milk tea you’d get at a place like EasyWay or Chatime, and worth a try in my opinion.
For the balefruit drink, I should mention that I’ve never really heard of balefruit before (but it does look familiar, a bit like a non saggy custard apple) but if it tastes anything like this drink did then I’m expecting something extremely, extremely sweet. Flavourwise, it kind of tasted like a herbal jelly drink but without the jelly and with a slightly medicinal aftertaste, but in the best way possible. If you kind of like sweet things and don’t mind Asian flavours, this drink is definitely worth a try.
So there you have it, our rule breaking trip to Kinn Thai in Civic! As you can see, it was a bit of a mixed experience for us , though I think that can be put down to the fact that we couldn’t handle our spice. Some of the flavours here overwhelmed us with how strong they were, but overall the food was quite nice.
One thing I should mention that I never got the chance to earlier was that the service was FAST. I think it only took about 5 minutes between when they took our orders to when we received the first bits of our food, and we had our entire meal in front of us within 15 minutes, tops. So this could be a great little power lunch option for any of you that work in Civic. Woot, new place for work lunches! Plus, there are so many dishes here that I’m keen on trying, the first of which will be those sticky pork ribs, so we’ll likely be back at Kinn Thai in the near future!
125 Bunda Street, Civic
Monday to Sunday
Breakfast, lunch and dinner