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Kin Kao Changes Thai Food Scene in Vancouver

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We don’t usually post on our Vancouver food blog on Wednesdays…
but when we do, we have really, really, tasty news.

If we had to break it down, the Thai food scene in Vancouver is like this: There’s Maenam – consistent winner of “Best Place to Eat Thai Food in Vancouver” and every one else. Maenam’s dining room is small, modern and chic, with a hint of Asian influence in the decor. It’s upscale food that suits the Kitsilano neighbourhood, that is also home to Vancouver staples like Fable, Tractor Foods, and Rain or Shine Ice Cream. Foodies know Maenam and it’s a great place to eat for special occasions.

The “every one else” group in Vancouver’s Thai food scene includes places like Sala Thai on Broadway, Sawasdee on Main St, and Bob Likes Thai Food. They fall somewhere along a spectrum of “casual,” whether that means homey Thai decor or a simple “hole-in-the-wall-type” space. There are lots of menu items, the food is decent, and the prices often match. And that, though rather blunt, is how Thai food in Vancouver goes.

This is why everything stopped when we picked up word of a new Thai restaurant on Commercial and Venables called Kin Kao Thai Kitchen.

Kin Kao Thai Kitchen
903 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC

Kin Kao Thai Kitchen is the first place in Vancouver to pioneer a new niche market for Thai food in Vancouver: It’s home-style, street-style, Thai food…with a focus on local, fresh ingredients. A modern, West Coast dining room – stark white walls, sturdy wooden tables, only 25 seats. The minimalistic space was designed by a local architecture company. Are you hearing the word local? They have 33 Acres beer on tap, you know what I mean?

The menu is strikingly simple – starters at $8, mains between $11-$13, and just a pair of desserts to choose from. At a glance, you’ll note the “expected items” at a Thai restaurant – Phat Thai, Papaya Salad, Green Curry with Chicken – in addition to some eye-catchers like the Red Curry with Duck and Deep Fried Crispy Pork Belly.

Regardless of the menu selection, what we were most struck by was the authentic tastes and fresh flavours of the food. Somehow, they’ve captured the addictive taste of Thai street food with the bright and vibrant profile of West Coast ingredients. This is uncharted territory for Thai restaurants in Vancouver, let alone on Commercial Drive.

When we had dinner at Kin Kao, we walked right in. But we know, the luxury is short-lived. For what might be the first time ever, there’s a casual, authentic, Thai restaurant in Vancouver that also has the swagger of the West Coast lifestyle we all love. Soon…very soon, the foodies will flock. We wish you all the best, Kin Kao – there’s a very bright future ahead!

Fun Facts:

  • Kin Kao means “Eat Rice”
  • They’re under 2 months old, so the menu isn’t set in stone. We do know that the Red Curry with Duck is here to stay!
  • They have a Take Out Menu
  • They’re closed on Mondays, don’t set yourself up for failure
  • The next thing we’d like to try: The Fresh Mango with Sticky Rice and Coconut Milk!

Thanks for the read, Foodies! Go forth and eat well. Don’t forget to read last week’s post and enter to win 4 tickets to our World’s Best Food Truck Tour!



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