After our experience at The Ear Inn, we walked a few blocks to the east to the SoHo area of Manhattan to have dinner at Kin Khao, an upscale Thai restaurant. (see map) Now, I think the world's greatest Thai restaurant is Crazy Wok (now Tantro Asian Bistro), not far from our house here in Davenport. So Kin Khao would be a great measuring stick for "the Wok".
Kin Khao, which means "eat rice" in Thai, is one-third of the Eat Rice group of restaurants in Manhattan. The other two are Kelly and Ping with one in Soho and the other in the Bowery. Kin Khao opened in 1991 and has been a favorite destination for Thai food for New Yorkers for years.
We were able to be seated immediately in a big circular booth just past the bar area. We could easily see into the kitchen to see the chefs preparing food for the patrons. The atmosphere was classy, yet muted with a darkened dining area that made it feel cozy. The place was about three-quarters full, but it wasn't loud at all. It was a nice experience.
The menu at Kin Khao was similar to other Thai restaurants I've been to, but they had the menu divided into regions of Thai cuisine. They had Northern Thai food, coastal Thai entrees, and Central Thai food. There was a lot to choose from.
One of our guests, Fred Z from Los Angeles, is a vegetarian. Fred was a little worried that he wouldn't be able to find much in the way of vegetarian on the menu, but it turned out Kin Khao had a good selection of vegetarian dishes, as well.
Before we started, we each ordered drinks. I ordered a Singha, the most popular beer in Thailand. However, Todd's girlfriend, Jennifer, ordered up Kin Khao's specialty drink for the evening - a Mojito. Simon and Todd followed my lead with a Singha, while Fred stuck with water.
I was interested in a number of things on the menu. They had a grilled pork dish with garlic, chilis and onions that looked interesting. I also kept looking at the sauteed shrimp with garlic and black pepper. As our waiter began to take our order, I was getting ready to order the sliced steak with a lemongrass marinade until I noticed the sliced beef cooked with Thai basil, garlic and onions. Since that was about as close to my favorite meal at Crazy Wok back home, I'd see how well Kin Khao did theirs. So I ordered that.
After about a 20 minutes wait, our orders came to the table. The presentation was nice, the food looked good and it was time to dig in with the chop sticks. My sliced beef with basil was good, very good. Not as outstanding as the beef with basil I get back home at Crazy Wok (Tantro), but it was certainly very good. The chilis did give it a nice little kick.
Frankly, I can't remember what everyone else got, but they were all pleased with their offerings. Including Fred who is very particular about his vegan foods, but he was overly happy with his dish.
Kin Khao used to be a lot more popular back in the 90's, but I'm sure it still holds its own against other Thai restaurants in Manhattan. For New York, I thought the prices were very reasonable, but still much higher than what you'd find in the Midwest. Still, I'd recommend Kin Khao for a very nice Thai dinner and a great atmosphere if you get to New York.
(Update - Unfortunately, Kin Khao in Soho is closed. Actually, it closed not long after we ate there.)