Tucked into an alcove of the unprepossessing Parc 55 hotel, this restaurant won’t win any awards in the décor department—it’s spare and casual, with tables set with chopstick canisters and bowls of chili oil. But when it comes to delivering authentically layered, fiery Thai flavor with a produce-driven northern California flair, it has no equal.
Kin Khao's menu conjures up dishes from across Thailand and is a virtual homage to local purveyors. Imagine a meaty and rich five-spice noodle soup infused with duck bones and stocked with bok choy as well as delightfully tender duck leg confit; or a deliciously fresh take on som tum, with julienned green papaya tossed with golden tomatoes, long beans, dried shrimp and crushed red chili. More traditional options may include classic pad kee mao showcasing wide, flat noodles stir-fried with a potent mixture of ground pork bits, bell pepper, onion and holy basil.
Needless to say, those avoiding spicy food or craving plain old pad Thai should look elsewhere. But, if you’re in the mood for a vibrant and zesty meal, then strap in for a wild and enticing ride. Come dessert, try the black rice pudding served warm and with myriad toppings.