Tucked away in Central Eastville comes the newest opening by the people behind Naj, The Local and Crab and Claw.
Kinkao is a down-to-earth eatery with seriously good offerings, sourcing the best possible ingredients from all over the country.
Depending on the daily catch, the menu will include fish dishes like pla sam rod (deep-fried dish with sweet and sour sauce, B380) or the flavorful pla tapian tom kem (B380), a family recipe in which they simmer java barb for 15 hours until you can actually chew all the bones.
In keeping with the theme, the gaeng ranjuan (shrimp paste soup, B200) is made according to an ancient cookbook.
Founded by the people behind top Bangkok restaurants Naj, The Local, and Crab and Claw, this space out in Central Eastville largely lives up to the high standards set by its siblings. While the decor—characterized by a shining wall of silver patterns taken from traditional metal water bowls—can’t quite wash away the restaurant’s suburban mall surroundings, the menu of traditional Thai comfort food (much drawn from the Eastern and Southern regions of Thailand) certainly doesn’t compromise on quality.
Don’t underestimate these good-looking dishes in nostalgic enamel plates and bowls—they’re the real deal when it comes to spiciness. The gaeng kua pla kapong (Southern-style yellow curry of seabass with coconut shoot, B250) performs a slow burn as it balances a complex profile of Thai spices, while the Rama V-era gaeng ranjuan (shrimp paste soup, B200-220) is one of the best versions we’ve tried in ages thanks to a tom-saeb-like piquant character. Equally strong are the crab curry (B380) and stewed pork belly (B290)—richly intense and aromatic—as well as the pungent nua poo pad koey (stir-fried crab meat with shrimp paste, B380).
It’s a shame that the pla tapian tom kem (B380) doesn’t quite reach such heights. The giant-sized portion of java barb is sure tender enough thanks to 15 hours spent simmering so you can chew the bones, but its broth lacks the simplicity of a good tom kem (sweet-and-salty soy sauce), tasting more like Chinese five-spice soup. The deep-fried chunks of seabass with tamarind sauce (B380) are also a tough struggle, while their sweet sauce lacks the sourness of tamarind.
Despite a hectic weekend dining room, the kitchen still manages to roll out its dishes in crack timing, and the quick turnaround of tables speaks of a restaurant that’s achieved the local seal of approval. We only wish it were a standalone with a less fussy vibe. Corkage B300 (wine), B500 (spirits).
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