A few years ago, Noppadol Sophon and Wannee Muangpakorn visited Adelaide and saw a gap in the market.
“There was no authentic Thai street food in Adelaide,” says Sophon.
At the time, the couple were running a café in Sydney, but had previously worked in five-star hotels in Thailand before migrating to Australia. Sophon worked as a chef at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok.
“The market [Adelaide Central Market] inspired us to open a Thai restaurant here,” he says.
In the meantime, there have been others with the same idea – Hide’n’Seek Thai Bar and Sukhumvit Soi 38 – ringing in a refreshing change to Adelaide’s Thai dining offering.
Kin Kin Thai Eatery opened around four months ago on the southern end of Hutt Street, next door to Japanese fusion restaurant Kenji.
It presents as a simple and cheerful café-style eatery, offering a concise list of dishes designed for sharing that changes every fortnight.
Sophon and Muangpakorn draw inspiration from street-food dishes from all over Thailand as well as “Central Market specials”.
“We try to make our dishes as authentic as possible by making all our own pastes from scratch; we don’t use white sugar – only palm sugar – and we cook everything fresh for each order.”
Sophon is accompanied by three other chefs who help prepare some of the more time-consuming dishes.
Favourite dish: Khanom Co ($9). This dish takes two days to prepare. Shredded coconut is cooked in palm sugar until sticky enough to form into balls that are smoked using a jasmine candle and then coated in thin dough made from rice flour and pandan leaf and served in warm coconut cream cooked with pandan leaf, salt and sugar. Imagine the comfort of hot porridge and the sweet chewy texture of a Cherry Ripe coming together as a final treat after a series of equally impressive dishes.
Other dishes: Thai Wafter ($4 each). Sophon says this is an “old school” dish, but like the Khanom Co, it is one we have never seen before. Similar to a Thai-style cannoli, the wafers are made in-house from mung-bean flour, rice flour and sugar, cooked till crisp, then rolled, cooled and stuffed with a mixture of finely shredded chicken breast, coconut and Thai herbs.
Tord Mun Pla ($12). Light, irregular dollops of fried fishcake mixture flavoured with kaffir lime and curry paste and served with chilli, fresh and fried basil leaves, peanut and cucumber relish.
Gai Satay ($8). Two skewers of tender grilled chicken served with satay sauce that’s light and fresh, a relish of sliced cucumber, Thai herbs, onion and chill, and two slices of toasted bread. Sophon explains the toasted bread is a traditional satay accompaniment that is used to mop up any leftover peanut sauce.
Steamed Silken Tofu ($17). For this clean and light dish, Sophon sources fresh soft Japaese tofu and serves it in a broth of soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, ginger, shallots and mixed mushrooms, topped with Thai herbs, chilli and white pepper.
Kaeng Keaw Wan ($20). After becoming jaded from a lifetime of ordinary green chicken curries, we were happy to eat one worth going back for. Tender chicken pieces with Thai eggplant and bamboo shoots in a delicious sweet, fresh, hot and salty green curry sauce.
Something sweet/to drink: As well as the Khanom Co dumplings, Kin Kin offers a Thai Milk Tea Soft Serve in a cone ($5.50) and Khao Tom Mat ($7; steamed banana and sweet sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf).
The drinks list offers a limited selection of Australian wines, beers and ciders, including a couple of Thai beers, and soft drinks including fresh young coconut.
The service at Kin Kin Thai Eatery is delightful and the food is exceptional.
Kin Kin Thai Eatery
242 Hutt Street, Adelaide, 7073 0328.
Open Tuesday to Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturdays for dinner only and on Sundays for lunch and dinner.
Gai Satay. Photo: Tony Lewis
Steamed Silken Tofu. Photo: Tony Lewis
Khanom Co (jasmine-smoked coconut dumplings). Photo: Tony Lewis
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