kitchen story.....once upon a thai
The Castro, a neighborhood I haven't eaten in for awhile. Thai food, a cuisine I usually eschew because of small portions and coconut curry, ugh! But me and Ms. O haven't had dinner in her hood the last few times so we thought it would be good idea to dine nearby. After a little back and forth we picked Kitchen Story, a spot we'd toyed with before but never actually gotten around to trying.
Part of it was my reticence about Thai food, but after perusing their menu posted at the door, they do seem to have more than just the usual suspects. Yes, they have the curries and what not, but they've also got a fair number of other choices on what is a rather large menu. Fortunately it is early on a weeknight so we are able to waltz in and get a table without a reservation.
Me and O are super hungry and you what that means? Appetizers! And Kitchen Story does have a couple of things that caught both of our eyes.
First up are the corn fritters. I'll try anything with fritter in the description because it means it has been deep fried, which makes everything better. It's sweet yellow corn marinated in red curry then mashed and fried into a thin crispy patty served with avocado, toasted coconut and a side of spicy shrimp salsa. Very pretty presentation for sure. It was crispy and you could taste the corn pieces but honestly, not much going on for it outside of that. The red curry flavor is lost and the fritter seems to be more of a crisp element to offset the avocado (which I'll skip along with the coconut flakes) and the shrimp salsa. Which was a mix of cut up shrimp and chunky salsa but not really spicy. Overall it tasted all right but it was a lot of stuff going on without much flavor.
And of course both of us were all over ordering this! It was called POP & IING, 48 hours slow braised Kurobuta pork belly, arugula and a spicy dark ginger dipping sauce. Okay here's a winner. Juicy pork with a crispy skin in large tender, pull apart chunks. The ginger sauce was like a glaze you might put on a pork roast. It had a nice strong ginger kick and added some flavor levels to the pork. Though, the meat stood up pretty well on its own and I was more than content to chow down without it. Weirdly it was the same price as the fritters, but I will call this a better option.
Ms. O never met a rib, short or long, she could pass up. Thus we decided to tuck into some short rib tacos. More slow cooked pork on white corn tortillas with crispy yam bits, micro greens and sides of kimchi pico de gallo, mango salsa and spicy guacamole. Well, you definitely get a lot of meat which is nice considering the price. The meat is tender though I wasn't the biggest fan of the sauce which was a little on the sweet side. A little heat here would have been nice to level out the sweet. O liked them which is why she got to take the leftovers home.
Yeah, so, it is a Thai place and seriously, you can't go there and NOT get a curry. In this instance it was a green curry with chicken, grilled eggplant, bell peppers, bamboo, carrots, green beans and basil leaves. Well, that whole small Thai portion thing is play as is the coconut. Though the chicken was tender and in big chunks. The veggies were also bright, colorful and plentiful. It also had a nice little spicy kick to it and surprisingly the coconut was a very light touch in the curry which allowed me to actually enjoy this a lot. Shocking, I know, but it was a pretty tasty bowl and I felt a little healthy eating it.
Okay, let's see how many of these I can throw in. Kitchen Story is an interesting tale. With a big menu you can make it a short story or a novel. It is a tale as old as Thai. I can read their story in the food. They express their words in food. They are definitely worth reading! Oh, I could read this all night!
In the end, Kitchen Story is worth a visit for it's traditional Thai curries and mash ups of other Thai dishes. I think the hardest part is trying to figure out what to get from a large menu. (Almost like a rambling novel!) Though, whatever you choose, it will most likely be full of fresh ingredients and mostly strong flavors. The place is also known for it's weekend brunch and based on dinner, I'd be more than willing to get up early and schlep over to the Castro to try them out. A story that definitely needs a sequel. (See, I just can't stop!)