"Consistency is the last resort of the unimaginative." Oscar WildeIn early 2008, the only Thai restaurant I considered worthy in Vinohrady closed down. Tiger Tiger's Pad Thai and red curry chicken were favorites, and I was a regular eat-in and take-out customer.
Oddly, after it was gone, there was no other serious Thai restaurant in that upscale neighborhood or even in neighboring Žižkov and Vršovice.
Sure, these days you can pick up some Thai-like food at Sushi Tam Da or Sawadi, but it is mostly stuff would not try more than once.
As far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been any serious Thai food in this part of town for years. When I wanted Thai, I'd go to Noi, Modry Zub, Lemon Leaf or maybe Siam Orchid.
So I was quite intrigued when I saw that Kiin Modern Thai Restaurant had moved into the large space once occupied by Ristorante Soave.
During the warmer months, they have tables set up outside.
Inside, the spacious restaurant looks much the same as it did during its Soave days. There is a small, darker, somewhat intimate space near the bar area.
I made five separate visits and ate my way through a lot of the menu, which has cute names for many of the offerings.
I tried the Pok Pok Wings (69 CZK). I'd recommend this little starter.
The "Daisy in Pyjama" (90 CZK) was a nice twist on Vietnamese-style summer or salad rolls.
They also do a cold roll with smoked salmon (79 CZK).
If you like hot, fried spring rolls, you could go for the "Gold Fingers."
The Sun Burn (75 CZK) was described as moo krob or "crispy, pork bacon and honey mustard sauce." This dish was less successful in both execution and description.
From the salad section, I tasted the "Crying Tiger" (145 CZK). This was a generous portion of warm flank steak with red onion, lime juice, fish sauce, green onion, and lime leaf.
Although cooked to medium, the beef was disappointingly chewy and tough. I mentioned this to some international foodie-types I met on a later visit, and they told me theirs was tender. So maybe I had bad luck.
On many visits, I had a half-liter of Pilsner Urquell (35 CZK), which they have on tap.
One dish that I liked, but could be even better, was the "Lonesome Heart" (185 CZK) This was a roasted duck breast glazed with chili, garlic and ginger sauce, served on a bed of red lentils mixed with coconut milk and red curry.
The duck skin was nicely crispy, though some of the meat underneath was dry. The lentils had light sweetness and a slow-building spicy kick. They worked well with the meat on the fork. I'd get it again.
I also sampled the "Canard Enchainé" (175 CZK). This was roasted duck leg served with lychee red curry sauce and rice.
Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes and something I use as a benchmark to judge a Thai restaurant. I had Kiin's Pad Thai (150 CZK with chicken) three times -- twice for take-out and once in the restaurant.
On the downside, the peanuts were too roughly chopped and didn't mix in well. There was a lime slice, but I wished for more citrus and salty notes in the balance. For me, the standard-setter in Prague is still at Noi, which almost always balances the flavors well and includes smoky strips of tofu in both their chicken and shrimp Pad Thai. The last issue with Kiin's, and it is not a small one, is some of the noodles were only warm and some were actually cold.
I enjoyed the "shoryuken" (195 CZK) more than the Pad Thai. It was homemade rice noodles with flank steak, asparagus, green onion, broccoli, carrots, and bean sprouts.
The Sweet Sticky Rice (59 CZK) was a fun and satisfying choice for dessert.
Although it was small, I'd recommend the pandan crème brûlée (55 CZK). It was super-creamy and they went very light on the sugar.
The service I experienced was very good. I had the same male and a female servers on most visits. They were very helpful, friendly, and charming with a sense of humor. These two definitely added to the warm, neighborhood feeling of the restaurant.
On my first visit, I was told that the kitchen staff included cooks from Modrý Zub and SaSaZu. That, of course, will raise expectations for some. Those expectations should be tempered.
Yet, there is nothing like Kiin in this part of town. Some of their offerings are unique, with combinations of flavors you'll find nowhere else in Prague. Many dishes were not large, but I still thought the prices were very reasonable.
Kiin is still relatively new, having opened in May. I'm hoping they'll iron out their imperfections, combining imagination with consistency to make their restaurant the star of the neighborhood.
Kiin Modern Thai Restaurant
Tel.: +420 728 889 999 or 222 938 596