The CPH Crawl (I): Kiin Kiin

It’s been some time – but my memories are still so vivid. It was great fun – and not only that – it was also unusual, surprising and entertaining. Unusual because six diners visited six restaurants in the course of one night in one city (well, not really as Holte is not part of CPH). Surprising because some dishes were clearly pushing the border. Entertaining because I had great company and discussed many insights on the culinary scene with them (you know what I mean)…

First stop: Kiin Kiin

A Thai restaurant to start a crawl about Danish/Nordic food… Most surprising but in the course of our first hour there it became very clear why it had to part of the evening.Kiin Kiin is located in Nørrebro which was rather known for occupied houses and street riots. When Henrik Yde-Andersen who had worked as a chef in Thailand for some years was looking for a place for a restaurant together with his business partner Lertchai Treetawatchaiwong this young and upcoming district seemed natural. They opened Kiin Kiin which means ‘eat-eat’ or ‘come and eat’ in Thai in September 2006. Soon in 2007 they were awarded a Michelin star – another surprising point as there are not that many Thai restaurants in the Guide Rouge to my knowledge (well, there is only Nahm in London)…

Taking a cab from my hotel I was first at Kiin Kiin at around 17.30 (wondering whether they would be open yet) and was warm-hearted welcomed by the team and Henrik who escorted me downstairs. In the wine cellar they have established another big table such that the restaurant can host private dinings or extend the capacity on weekends. The atmosphere was quite special – dark, a bit spooky and yet comfortable. I was offered a nice home-brewed Dim Sum beer with lemongrass and had a chat with Henrik till Trine and a little later Bruno, Guillaume and Laurent arrived (well, they still had to finish their 18+ courses at noma I suppose). Henrik explained about the history of the neighborhood and that in this very cellar one of the biggest cocaine finds ever had been made (well, it was actually a drug den before they moved in). So, somehow my spooky association became alive in my head…

Henrik Yde-Andersen

They served us nice snacks – pork cracklings with dry curry, tapoika with seaweed & oyster mayo, lotus roots with limeleaves (not pictured) and soy-roasted cashews. All very delicate, an intense but not overpowering start. The Dim Sum beer worked very well with all of them.

As our conversation progressed we got into the details of our recent noma meals (we were actually eating there in shifts the two days before and on this very Thursday), appreciated Henrik’s hospitality and were joined by Morton, the Danish chef now in charge of the kitchen. I became apparent that here two men share a vision without any compromises. This was a first glimpse of what I frequently encounter when eating in Danmark that the chefs have a unique dedication, passion and love for their own style of restaurant and are proud of what they are doing. It’s more than just running a restaurant – they are able to transmit a feeling to diner…

Morten Bojstrup (thanks Trine)

As a next step we went one level up in the lounge, in a quite authentic Thai setting (made by the group Panta in Bangkok) and enjoyed a series of appetizers: jelly fish salad with sesame, beef roll with spicy marinade, fish cakes and cucumber chutney and scallops in coconut milk & lemongrass. To be sure, this is not traditional Thai cuisine but a modernized version of Thai food using the traditional flavour spectrum and modern techniques where useful. A second distinguishing element of this restaurant being ‘Danish’ is the use of local produce and even growing Thai herbs themselves. And, you might recognize the Royal Copenhagen plates…

All appetizers were very good and I especially remember the excellent scallops which were in perfect harmony with the coconut milk slightly touched by lemongrass. Succulent and yummy. We drank a Thai white: 2007 Hua Hin – a perfect companion for this wide array of flavours. Here, Henrik showed his sommelier education – his wine pairings are really to the point.

As it was getting late we went up another level to the real dining room and had an oyster with shallots & Thai sauce – a refreshing and cleansing ‘dish’. It had everything from sweet, iodic to slightly hot flavours, an intense oyster aroma and some nice shallots adding texture. The accompanying Charpentier champagne was excellent and added another layer of complexity with its sparkle. Excellent.

Oyster with Shallots & Thai sauce (thanks Trine)

We already wanted to head off to the next restaurant but they served us one of their signature dishes: frozen red curry with lobster and lychee. This was clearly spot on, a nice deconstructed curry dish, quite hot but very delicate in flavours and equipped with excellent lobster. The lychee could soften the strong curry and brought some balance. Henrik served us an overwhelming 2008 Gewürztraminer from Zind Humbrecht, an outstanding pairing.

Frozen Red Curry with Lobster & Lichee (thanks Trine)

We really had to rush and nearly jumped into the cabs waiting. Before, the team handed Trine five bags filled with cans and spoons. After opening the cans with the coin which they also provided we enjoyed an absolutely astonishing Earl Grey and Jasmine ice cream with some crunch in it. Clever, as this really cleared our palate like a traditional sorbet and we were ready for the next stop – Herman.

A perfect start – thank you, Henrik, Morten and the whole team for really kick-starting this evening!

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  1. Pingback: The CPH Crawl (II): Herman « High-End Food

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