Uptown Thai from a Downtown Chef

Upmarket Thai food is enjoying its moment in Manhattan, highlighted by the avidly anticipated arrival of Lotus of Siam, the Isaan mecca from Las Vegas. Chef Harold Dieterle (Perilla) joined the party last month with another heralded Thai newcomer, Kin Shop.

Asian flavors have long played supporting roles in the New American dishes at Perilla; at Kin Shop they take center stage. Dieterle, who has studied in Thailand, draws on his favorite Thai ingredients in a full menu inspired by the cuisine. Duck laab, one of the more authentic dishes here, is "searing hot but delicious," says rrems. Tender steamed rabbit leg is matched with sweet eggplant chutney and sour/spicy yellow curry; "I could have eaten a dinner just of that," swears orthorunner. Other early favorites include roasted duck breast in red curry with herbs, green mango, and crispy roti; gorgeous black squid-ink soup with brisket-stuffed squid and hot sesame oil; and a salad of fried pork belly and crispy oysters with peanuts, mint, and chile-lime vinaigrette.

"They could kick up the spice levels a bit," allows streamwise, "but they also give you a little bowl of spicy pepper to help yourself, so it's really not an issue."

It's an issue, however, for sam1, who found the seasoning so tame that he resorted to spiking most of his meal from that bowl of pepper at the table. Though he's a fan of Perilla and Dieterle, he dismisses Kin Shop as "a huge meh" dishing out "watered-down Thai for the masses." Dave Feldman loves the pork-and-oyster salad but is otherwise unimpressed; the sauces are way off target, he says. "Don't think the flavors quite hit the mark in the way they do at Perilla," adds jellygood. "We love love love Perilla and hope Harold will iron out these kinks in the kitchen."

Kin Shop [Greenwich Village]
469 Sixth Avenue (between W. 11th and 12th streets), Manhattan
212-675-4295

Discuss: Kin Shop in West Village - just opened

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