Based in Toronto and New York City

, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Archival posts from my former blog, Walking and Talking

Thai food via Harold Dieterle lands in the West Village

One of the very few disappointments of New York City dining has been the lack of great Thai restaurants. Los Angeles, even Boston, had more to offer in this category when I lived in those cities, the great Sripraphai in Woodside notwithstanding.

Suddenly, however, we Villagers are graced with two pedigreed newcomers. I haven't tried Las Vegas import Lotus of Siam, at 9th Street and Fifth Avenue yet, but happily dug into Harold Dieterle's take on Thai at Kin Shop on Sixth Avenue at 11th Street.. The winner of the first season of Top Chef had no background in Thai cooking, but a trip to Thailand made such a deep impression he immersed himself in the cuisine and made it the animating passion of his second restaurant.

Like Dieterle's first venture, Perilla, on nearby Jones Street, Kin Shop's decor is modest, clean and modern, in this case done up in watery blues and greens and soothing Thai prints.

We loved California's Uncommon Breweries Siamese Twin Ale, a malty, Belgian-style amber infused with lemongrass and kaffir lime. It got along famously with a deeply flavored steamed pork meatball soup with bok choy and a grilled wagyu beef rib cap salad with fiery pickled cauliflower, gooseberries, and mint bathed in a fish sauce dressing. There was vinegary grilled egglplant, showered with sesame seeds and biting black pepper, and bay scallops in a mild curry were marred only slightly by stringy  snap peas (something I've encountered lately in other green market snap peas). A comforting braised goat in Massaman curry showed off what Dieterle's Western culinary training brings to the table, slow cooked meats in favor of the more traditional Thai-style quick-firedproteins.

It's fantastic to have Kin Shop in the neighborhood, but stepping out into the cold on Sixth Avenue reminded us why at any price point, New York is a great eating town. Next door, a man stood in front of Ray's Pizza, an open box in his hand, scarfing a slice while his black lab sat by his side, panting eagerly after a taste. "He's had more pepperoni than I have," the man told us, just a tad defensively..


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Pots and Pans 101