Kin Shop’s Spicy Duck Laab Hits it Out of the Park

Kin Shop is Harold Dieterle’s modern play on Thai classics. Everyone from Serious Eats to The New York Times has praised its food – quite the boon for Dieterle. I don’t care how many Top Chefs you won, if you aren’t Thai and people still like the Thai food you make…you are doing something not only right, but special. 
The first thing he did right was hire an amazing front of house staff. The moment that I walked in (quite a bit early for my reservation), Lawrence treated me like I was the queen of England. He sat me at the bar, spent time discussing what I should get for the meal, and made sure that I never felt awkward or lonely whilst awaiting my dining companion. He didn’t know I was a blogger-I didn’t take any photos of the drink. He didn’t know how much I would be eating. He just knew that I was excited to dine there, and he shared in and increased my enjoyment. From the first, I was inclined to like Kinshop.

  • Fried Pork and Crispy Oyster Salad with celery, peanuts, mint and chili-lime vinaigrette
    If Liza deGuia likes a dish, you just order it. No questions asked. And when she recommended this dish on Twitter, I knew I had to get it. Soft oysters, coated in a feather-light, greaseless batter that crunched through to the sweet, plump oysters – deep and oceanic tasting the way that oysters are. The natural brine in the oysters cut through the crispy pork’s pearly later of unctuous fat, straight to the sweet and salty meat. The celery added a crunchy, herbaceous taste and texture to the decadent dish, and the bright mint and tangy vinaigrette kept it from being too heavy on the palate. This is a must order. 
    Spicy Duck Laab Salad with toasted rice, ground chili and romaine hearts
    Oh. My. Gawd. The best laab I have ever had. EVER. Beat Lotus of Siam by a mile. So bright, so tangy, so fruity-spicy with a heat that prickled behind my lips but never made me cry (so, I mean, it could have been a LITTLE spicier). The duck added a depth of flavor I don’t get from chicken laab. It lent a slightly heartier, wilder taste to the dish – making it not only spicy and fresh but also hearty and fulfilling. The pickled onions on top added the perfect amount of tang and zip. Don’t get this if you don’t like heat. And if you don’t like heat…I just don’t know how to help you. Really, I don’t.
    Triggerfish with Mussels in Green Curry
    One of the night’s specials. The server referred to it as halibut, but this reminded me more of sole or sand dabs. It was quite thin, with a crispy outside and a drier, flakier interior. Pan seared, it had a mild taste that absorbed the lemongrass and other aromatics of the creamy green curry. The mussels were few, but their delicately salty, shellfish flavor seasoned the whole broth. This is a dish for someone who appreciates the subtlety of a well made green curry. It was incredibly complex but not at all in your face or aggressive. It was about the crispy fish, the tender mussels, the balanced sauce. 
    Northern Thai Style Curry Noodle with braised brisket, cucumber, peanuts, fresh herbs
    Their version of Khao Soi was – like many things I ate that night – about balance. Melting cuts of fatty brisket with tart lime. Creamy coconut with the zesty, warming spice of curry. Thick, springy rice noodles with crunchy cucumber and meaty peanuts. Hunks of green vegetables – water spinach, perhaps, or bok choy-that absorbed the meaty, creamy, hearty sauce like a sponge. It made the vegetables meatier and 
    the sauce lighter. Crunchy cucumbers and fresh basil served alongside added a lightness to the dish, and the springy, chewy rice noodles were nothing short of addictive. I could have eaten them plain. The ample serving seemed like too much at first, but…well, we did a pretty good job on it.

    And Dieterle did a pretty GREAT job on Kin Shop. Relaxed atmosphere, casual enough for dinner at the bar or dinner with a date paired with fair prices, an interesting and well executed menu and a fantastic staff. Not just Laurence, the whole staff was kind, efficient, jovial and really added to the meal.

    And for the staff to stand out next to that phenomenal laab….that’s really something.

    Kin Shop on Urbanspoon 


  1. This looks delicious. I can't find any good thai food out in San Diego. In fact, this looks so delicious I want to drive across the country right now and eat it. That crispy oyster salad looks especially mind blowing. Now I'm literally salivating. Damn.