Now the festivities are over it’s time for me to get down to writing the last installment of my Copenhagen posts. Our final evening in the city was spent at Kiin Kiin, one of only two Thai restaurants in the world with a Michelin star (the other is David Thompson’s Nahm in London), where chefs (and owners) Henrik Yde Andersen and Lertchai Treetawatchaiwong take a modern approach to Thai cuisine. Many were sceptical when the restaurant opened three years ago in a former drug den with an untrained chef (Lertchai is a former software engineer) at the helm, but within six months Kiin Kiin silenced the critics by obtaining a coveted Michelin star. Not bad for a restaurant that had to operate a takeaway service through the back door to subsidise its shaky beginnings. Incidentally, that takeaway (ARoii) is still thriving, along with Ricemarket and Dim Sum, recently added to the portfolio. There are also plans to open an offshoot in Bangkok in the near future.
Upon arriving at the restaurant we were warmly greeted by Henrik who sat us in the lounge for pre-dinner street snacks that included son-in-law eggs (quails eggs deep fried in a piquant sauce), tasty pork satay and exemplary fish cakes (B’s litmus test for authentic Thai cooking). Despite having had the 12-course Noma extravaganza earlier in the day, we devoured all seven plates of nibbles (a real testament to how good they were!), washing them down with their two house beers. The refreshing Dim Sum beers are specially brewed to pair with Asian food, one with lemongrass and coriander notes and the other, hints of orange and star anise.
Upstairs, in the main restaurant our 5-course dinner (a fixed menu) opened with a deep Tom Yam Goong that woke our jaded palates – bright, salty and tangy and rich with intense shellfish flavour. The prawn dumplings in the accompanying dim sum basket however were disappointing, apart from being suspiciously Cantonese in origin, their wrappers were nowhere near as thin and translucent as they should be. Thankfully that was the only dud of the night – the Spicy Salad of Orchids and Watercress that followed had the inspired addition of salmon roe, giving wonderful bursts of saltiness to each mouthful. The fragrant Scallops with Lemongrass and Tamarind were just as lively, a perfect juxtaposition of sour, salty, and sweet. The food may sing of Thailand, but Danish touches creep in throughout the meal – from the locally sourced produce (the restaurant even grows some of its own Thai ingredients such as galangal and lemongrass), to the Royal Copenhagen crockery mixed in with the traditional Thai dining ware.
I must admit when I first read about Kiin Kiin I was hesitant to visit, afraid that it may be a bit gimmicky, but as the evening wore on it became apparent my fears were unfounded. The kitchen cleverly tweaks individual elements of classic Thai dishes with unexpected and delightful results. One example of this is their reinterpretation of Tom Kha – a mound of frozen coconut soup sits in the centre of the bowl, with the soup contents, prepared separately, dotted around it. When all the components are consumed together it tastes exactly like Tom Kha should, despite the unique execution. This deliberate effort not to stray from the traditional flavour profiles is what makes Kiin Kiin’s fresh take on Thai cuisine so successful. Some of the dishes actually stayed quite true to the original, like the succulent Duck Breast with Red Curry and Kumquats, served with steamed jasmine rice.
There’s no doubt the food here is exceptional and arguably of a higher standard than fine-dining restaurants I have eaten at in Bangkok. But it is the ambience and service, in addition to the food, that really makes a meal at Kiin Kiin an extraordinary experience. Henrik working the front of house is a sight to behold – flitting between tables to attend to their needs. He was beyond attentive, conversing with us extensively throughout the meal and entertaining us with countless culinary tales – he made us feel like we were guests at his home, rather than a restaurant.
2200 København N
t. +45 3535 7555