Kin Dee is located on the corner of Chicago Ave and 2nd St, across the street from the Guthrie.
The place has a stylish and beautiful interior, with an open kitchen. I didn't count the tables but I'd surmise there aren't more than about twenty. We ate lunch there Thursday, May 21, and to be fair, I believe their first 'open' day was Monday, May 18.
Service was courteous and professional. The owner/chef is Thai.
We ordered four items for the two of us: Laab Gai, Beef Panang, Pla Foo Yum (a crispy fish salad), and a green curry with chicken.
Yuck X 4.
Some perspective...my wife is Thai and we spend a couple months a year in Thailand with family and keep a pretty keen tab on what Thai food really tastes like. It definitely colors our opinions of what is presented as Thai food in MN.
The laab was mushy and very bland. It was served with wilty green lettuce, ostensibly to be used as a lettuce cup I'm sure, but given it's soggy nature, couldn't possibly be eaten that way.
Panang, when done well, is cooked until the coconut oil separates from the coconut milk. The result is a much thickened and dark red finish to the dish. The peanuts should be incorporated into the sauce and frequently you'll find some thai basil in there as well. Ours was light pink, absolutely overwhelmed by coconut milk, peanuts merely sprinkled on top, and a consistency of soup.
Pla Foo Yum is a crispy fish salad. It is made with snakefish in Thailand which is a very dry meat fish that lends itself well to being "foo'd". Pla Foo is fish that is deep fried into a "wild hair" kind of texture. Ours was made with Tilapia. Is there no other fish available to Thai restaurants here? Tilapia is a very WET fish and doesn't crisp up much at all. The more annoying part is that our salad came with maybe an ounce of fish total and a very large pile of lettuce salad, and four slices of green mango. The proper salad is a very large portion of crisped fish atop a green mango salad with a little bit of lettuce on the side as a garnish. We were disappointed in all aspects of this dish.
The green curry was tasteless and lacked any fire of any kind. It too was such a pale color, nearly white from the preponderance of coconut milk. A couple bites were enough to push it away and ask for the bill.
We met the owner/chef before the meal, spoke to her in Thai, asked if the dishes were being presented in an authentic style or if they were adapted for local tastes. We were assured everything was traditional and authentic. Nothing could have been further from the truth. We were also a bit troubled to see several bottles of commercial Pad Thai sauce on the counter in the kitchen. After seeing those, my wife felt pretty strongly that the curries were packaged as well, but we have no evidence to stand behind that statement. They just tasted that way and were inflected with dried chili dust typical of large commercial chili grinders. Curries made by hand have ingredients in the finished paste whose elements are very irregular from being ground in a mortar. Commercially ground curries are very uniform. You can draw your own conclusions but we'll stand behind our suspicions.
The bill for the four items was about $40 before tip.
The place is clearly geared for the Guthrie crowd and they're probably going to do fine. Nothing about their food is offensive to MN tastes. The food is Thai in name only and all but the most discerning probably won't care about that.
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