In a city whose modern dining scene is built on foraging, preservation and the sort of Artisan practices that are rarely seen in 2017 it may seem strange that one of Copenhagen’s most well-regarded restaurants is a Modernist interpretation of Thai Cuisine by two Danes, Lertchai and Henrik Yde-Andersen’s Kiin Kiin continually considered one of the world’s best for over a decade.
Originally opened in 2006, a love for Thai food cultivated through several years in the country giving its founding Chefs the sort of exposure and assurance to launch a unique concept in the emerging Nørrebro neighborhood long before Christian Puglisi turned the area into one of the trendiest places to drink and dine in all of Denmark, Kiin Kiin is currently toqued by Holstebro-raised Dak Laddaporn who learned to cook at the elbow of her Thai Mother, a molecular influence only embraced later during apprenticeships throughout Copenhagen and her current menu a nine-course affair that actually becomes more than double that when accounting for snacks served in the foyer.
Decorated in religious artifacts, orchids and woven textures, guests entering on the ground floor immediately offered a seat on rattan chairs where snacks including dehydrated Lotus Root with Lime Salt, refreshing Citrus Tea and an “eatable bag” of Thai flavors await, the scene at Kiin Kiin is set early with servers aflutter, the set-menu presented largely for perusal and drink pairings decisions, though by-the-glass selections of Juices or Wine are also available.
Not exactly a comfortable way to sit for those of any height, the recessed chairs putting ones knees at nearly eye level if leaning back, snacks in the lobby continue by way of crisp Meringues with Wasabi Cream revealed by a swirling ‘magic trick’ before progressing into a Spinach Leaf Wrap with light heat, the “Satay” of Chicken Skin topped in Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Ginger and Apple the meal’s first memorable bite with compelling texture and temperature components as strong notes of Cumin come first before dissipating into a sweet finish.
Smiling at shaved flakes of Bonito dancing atop what was essentially reconstructed Chawnmushi next, the Moo Ping and Chiang Mai to follow both served hot with big flavors of Char and Curry, respectively, it was here that guests were led upstairs to tables tightly packed into a dining room that was unfortunately both warm and stuffy, the Kiin Kiin cookbook present on each and every table to pass the time as courses were brought out as readied by the kitchen with wait times often substantial.
One of the few Michelin starred restaurants in Copenhagen open on Mondays, the reservation a tough one even today thanks to tourists as neighboring tables on all sides were heard speaking English, Kiin Kiin’s proper menu began by way a trio of diverse flavors including a Ginger and Lemongrass Rice Cracker and delicate Prawn Toast alongside a bowl of Tom Yum Soup into which guests are encouraged to unload a syringe of liquid Tofu, the hot Broth quickly cooking the ‘Noodles,’ though the combination of such a large bowl and small syringe made for a bit too much liquid and not enough substance.
Requesting a glass of Iced Tea to go with the meal, the staff inexplicably never asking if the table wanted Water and eventually such an odd situation that it became a point *not* to ask just so the surcharge could be refused at the end, course two was served as a big pile of Cotton Candy that was vanished by way of a tableside pour of Chili and Garlic Marinade, the dish described as spicy perhaps “Thai Level 2” by American Standards though the Citrus-cured Fish in a tangle of Mint and Greens seemed to benefit from the subtlety as it allowed diners to taste each of the well-sourced components individually as well as in combination.
Presenting a Kiin Kiin ‘signature’ next, the Nitrogen frozen Red Curry creating a billow of cold steam that was soon expelled from nostrils atop a snappy Langoustine hidden beneath a blanket of Vegetables with a bit of Citrus and Fish Sauce, it was here that diners were given the choice as to whether or not to add the 155DKK “Extravagant” supplement of seared Duck Liver in foamy Plum Wine Sauce, the expectedly unctuous Foie Gras finding its foil in a liberal grating of fresh Ginger.
Thankful for small portions to this point, Chef Laddaporn’s riff on Thai Coconut Soup served with a round of White Rice to be added at the diner’s discretion to a bowl also containing Chicken Breast stuffed with Forcemeat, Asparagus and crispy Vegetable threads, those fearing too much heat from the Massaman Curry will be happy to know that Denmark’s idea of spicy is quite different from most places, the deconstructed and reconstructed dish of Potatoes, Lovage, Coconut and Tamarind beautiful in its balance and complex in textures thanks to the individualized presentation of its components.
Transitioning from savory to sweet by way of a steel ball flipped open to reveal Lime Curd and Meringue on one side with Citrus Cream Cheese topped in Leaves of Holy Basil on the other, a refreshing duo whether enjoyed separately or mixed, it was only after a nearly thirty minute pause that dinner came to a sudden end by way of Banana Cake with Salted Coconut Ice Cream served in deconstructed textures on wood, the Cookbook’s suggestion that “we always serve a large selection of after dinner sweets” instead replaced by just the check, a fairly odd decision considering the parade of bites that the evening began with.
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