Kin Khao has been quietly earning some early raves since opening three weeks ago in the base of the Parc 55 hotel (the restaurant is in the former Smooth Thai space at Mason and Ellis). And it's no wonder that the food is good given that the recipes come directly from longtime, well-respected food writer and blogger Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim fame, and in the kitchen she's got former Manresa and Central Kitchen chef Michael Gaines executing the dishes.
The menu is brief, and Pim says that it's not focused on any region in particular, just on the food she grew up with, and loved, and most of which she's never able to find here. The menu changes frequently, but standout dishes include the Mushroom Hor Mok, a red curry "mousse" in a jar with a mix of wild and cultivated mushrooms (gathered by famed Bay Area forager Connie Green) and served with crunchy rice cakes; the absolutely phenomenal, Thai-spiced Pretty Hot Wings; and the Green Curry with Rabbit.
But my favorite of the dishes I tried, and maybe the most unique, was the Yum Yai salad, which featured a mix of raw, cooked, and tempura-fried vegetables, including watermelon radish, asparagus, parsley, and squash, tossed in an umami-rich, sweet-sour-salty dressing made with fish sauce and Pim's grandmother's chilli jam. It's a great example of what the restaurant looks to be capable of, with a terrific mix of flavors and textures and that bold, tangy dressing, and it will definitely encourage you to eat your vegetables. If there are more than two of you at the table I'd recommend ordering at least two.
Kin Khao, 55 Cyril Magnin (enter at Mason and Ellis), 415-362-7456