Kinkan (Japanese Thai in Virgil Village)

Warrior: Kinkan is an ambitious Thai restaurant with a ten-course menu of fancy small plates that use Japanese main ingredients such as wagyu, unagi, raw fish, uni, and ikura. Some sources (e.g., Eater) call the restaurant Japanese, but I think the dishes are more Thai at heart. The execution of the dishes tonight was generally good, and they were all creative and presented well. I found all the sauces tasty and refined. I was unconvinced, however, about the merits of the raw fish and Thai flavor combinations. I appreciate the restaurant’s courage and creativity, but part of me wishes it didn’t have such heavy Japanese influences. I think the restaurant would have Michelin-star potential as a purer Thai restaurant. In its current form, I have my doubts—fusion food is hard. But there was enough promise tonight that we will definitely go back. Overall, I recommend this restaurant to everyone, and I’ll be curious to see what other think. It is currently BYOB.

Peony: I enjoyed the meal tonight. Notwithstanding the Japanese elements, I feel the main style is elevated, high-end Thai food. I liked the combinations of Thai spices with raw fish, which worked really well and were quite exciting. I also liked that the chef was light with the Thai spices and sauces, so they didn’t overpower the seafood flavor. I feel this food may work well as high-end Thai food by itself.


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Never heard of this place. Seems like a really ambitious restaurant for that part of town.

Is the service formal to match the plating of the food? Price?

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Warrior: Yes, the restaurant is a surprise. We just saw it pop up on Tock and decided to make a reservation. It is slightly less than $200 per person, with service included. I would say it is a fair value given the pricy ingredients. The service was sweet, not at all formal. (I believe our server was the owner/chef’s daughter.) Every seat in the restaurant, including the bar seats, was occupied, but the restaurant did a good job moving things along. The closest comparison (in terms of overall feel) would be Kato (or at least Kato as I remember it three years ago).

A lovely meal. My review is forthcoming…

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It was formerly a pop-up, but this is the brick and mortar space they’d been looking to open.

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it’s owned by Nan who previously was in the fashion industry and only recently taken up food/japanese cuisine. She has since hired a team of Thai chefs and her Japanese mentor Chef Yasu who is the other person behind the bar ( along w/ Nan). So while we were all baking sourdough, Nan learned to make IG worthy bentos during the pandemic and now has a restaurant. Pretty amazing.

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wasn’t there some controversy surrounding Nan on IG?

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Yup: she kept using photos of Japanese chefs’ bento/dishes via Andrew Gyokudari’s IG and presenting them as her works without crediting the photos or specific dishes, then when called out made her IG private. Of course no one really cared, and it was forgotten after the next news cycle…

Edit: there are actually a couple of other minor things, but they’re not public so I’m not at liberty to discuss. But credit to her for being extremely PR/social-savvy and targeting the perfect clientele.

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Yeah I remember Jimmy Sugi or maybe some other bento chefs doing take out at that time calling her out on IG—and even one of the photos that was used in Bill Addison’s LA times feature possibly wasn’t hers. Don’t think anything came out of it though.

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Dang, I did not know that…

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Warrior: We didn’t mention in our review that the (delicious) dessert came from Bahn Kanom Thai, but the waitress was quick to let us know when we praised it.

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was it listed on the menu.

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Warrior: there was no menu. They didn’t try to hide it; the (amazing) coconut cream pudding thing came in the same metal foil that you would see at Bahn Kanom Thai. The dessert course was really good (it was my favorite course, actually). But I would like to see this restaurant striving to make its own desserts. I can go to Bahn Kanom Thai any time. Anyway, it is hardly my intent to pile on. I’d like to be supportive and to cut some slack.

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