When we talk about Thai food, we would immediately think about Tom Yam soup, Green Curry and mango sticky rice, right? Well, don’t expect that at Kin Hoi because they are not bringing your stereotypical dishes to your plate. Instead, they’re bringing in authentic Thai cuisine that you can find in the homes and streets of Thailand.
The heart of Kin Hoi’s food is Head Chef Alie, who comes from a family of chefs in Thailand, which explains why the food is so good! Alie’s move to Singapore left her nostalgic for Thai food, especially the taste that she grew up with. As such, she started preparing recipes from her grandmother, which also started her dream to someday own a small good business.
Alie’s friend, Daniel Teo, has been the biggest fan of her food and eventually presented Alie with a partnership. This led to the birth of Kin Hoi, and they now run four outlets island-wide!
Now, I’ve already mentioned that they don’t serve up the usual Thai cuisine that we’d normally find in restaurants…so what do they serve? The general theme of Kin Hoi is: authentic Thai street food with premium ingredients. So let’s start off with their Signature Half Shelled Cockles (S$19).
I dare say that this is a must-try dish from Kin Hoi, especially if you love cockles. They’re so fresh and par-boiled just so that it’s not too raw nor overcooked. Daniel explained to me that due to health and safety reasons, their cockles are more cooked than what most Singaporeans would prefer. However, I didn’t think that it made a difference as the doneness was perfect in my opinion.
What made the cockles shine have to be the accompanying sauces. You can choose from two: Thai Spicy and Thai Teochew, the latter being a local twist with Thai spices, for those who want a milder level coupled with flavours closer to home. Personally, I preferred the Thai Spicy sauce, and I think many agree with me because Kin Hoi even sells them in bottles!!
Special mention goes to the Duck Noodles (S$5) because the first time I’ve ever eaten a Thai duck noodle dish was in Koh Samui and it was in some ulu place that I wouldn’t have known where to go if it wasn’t for our bus guide. Kin Hoi’s version brought back memories of that trip and the taste of something that is familiar but yet different. It is slightly spicy so be warned. The original Thai rice noodles are super springy and chewy (love!) but the disappointment was in the duck meat itself. While Daniel explained that it is because they cooked the duck for a long time so all the flavour went into the soup (which was really yummy)…but it really is not the best experience to taste something so delicious and then only to bite into a piece of dry meat. And…my family cooks Salted Vegetable Duck Soup (Itek Sio/ 咸菜鸭汤) where the duck is boiled for hours and it never comes out this dry. So…all I can say is eat the noodles and slurp the soup but maybe give the duck meat a skip.
(From top, clockwise) Crab Thai Omelette, Signature Half Shelled Cockles in Thai Teochew sauce, Melting Beef and Half Shelled Cockles in Thai Spicy sauce
If you’re not into chilli (like my brother who ate with me), then you can dig into their speciality meat dishes such as the Thai Honey Grilled Pork (S$12) or its Melting Beef as well as their omelette ($16.80). The Melting Beef is so-called because it is cooked to the right doneness and is so soft that it melts in your mouth. Seems like a huge claim but indeed, the beef was really tender. If served at a proper restaurant, this steak would’ve cost at least S$40-$60 but you can get it at a bargain at Kin Hoi for only S$12! That’s even cheaper than the ribeye that I usually buy from online butchers. As such, this is another must-try dish if you’re ever at Kin Hoi.
Another non-spicy dish is the omelette, that is topped with sweet crab meat. You definitely won’t go wrong with this dish and it was a nice balance to all the spice from the cockles.
Another recommendation from the team was the Thai Vermicelli (original S$8, Crayfish $18) and we chose the one with the crayfish. The vermicelli was very flavourful and is definitely familiar to local palates (unless you’ve never eaten tang hoon) although with a bit more of a Thai kick. However, my suggestion is to eat this as soon as it is served so that it doesn’t dry out…but then you might want to dehydrate it with some of that Thai Spicy sauce from your cockles…if you can take the extra heat!
What I didn’t get to try but would like to try next – their Omega Rich Fluffy Thai Fish Roe (S$12). Daniel explained that they have limited amount of fish roe because they buy it fresh daily from the fish market, which they have to auction for. As such, the fish roe is always fresh and delicious!
My conclusion is that Kin Hoi serves up fresh, Thai food that they keep at reasonably low prices by choosing to open in the heartland coffee shops. It’s not your stereotypical Thai cuisine but is definitely authentic and you’ll be hooked onto it!
Kin Hoi outlets:
Jurong West (Dine-in and Take away)
Blk 429 Jurong West Ave 1 #01-322
Toa Payoh (Dine-in and Take away)
Blk 168 Lor 1 Toa Payoh #01-1040
Holland (Dine-in and Take away)
Block 6 Holland Close
Selegie (Take away only)
171 Selegie Rd
Kin Hoi is also available on GrabFood and Foodpanda as well as through their website www.kinhoi.sg.
Images: Kin Hoi and Inchefmode.com