ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Kin is not easy to find. I drove past it three times before I finally picked it out. The sign–already small because of the shortness of the restaurant’s name–is hard to see. The chef-owner is name: Nhat (call him Nate) Nguyen. Also in the kitchen are Matt Engle, Matt Fraser, Nate Kruse and Jason Vu. The menu shows fine economy of names, needing only three first names for five people. The same compactness shows itself in every aspect of the place. When space is this tight, you loosen up wherever you can.
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Chef Nate (Nhat) is full of enthusiasm, and talks about how he might expand in the future. His staff seems to be having a great time working there. Why would they not? The customers and employees are mostly on the young side. One of the waitresses is particularly engaging, with a short stature and a voice like that of a singing bird. You can practically see a trail of happiness follow her as she carries this delicious food to the diners.
The menus for lunch and dinner seem to come from two very different restaurants. The midday selection is riddled with Asian broth-and-noodles dishes. The evening menu breaks away from all of that. The six small plates and seven large ones could be served in any New Orleans gourmet bistro. You’re more likely to figure out the Vietnamese heritage here by looking at the chefs and servers than by reading the menu.
Hieu Than made the rounds of the American and New Orleans food scenes, in both his formal and practical culinary career. The same can be said of most of the people he works with. They all seem to be on the cutting edge as far as technique goes.
Kin’s building is tiny as restaurants go. Only twenty-something seats, half of them at counters. We were seated at the main counter, from which we could see the great outdoors every time one of the kitchen staff opened the back door. It was about ten percent of the way of being outside.
More ruminations appear in our Dining Diary. Click on any of the dates below for those reports, each written a few days after a meal at Kin.
FULL ONLINE MENU
Our usual list of the dozen best dishes is impossible to compile at Kin. In my visits there, I found few dishes that repeated themselves on the abbreviated menu of about a dozen dishes. This is one of those restaurants for those nights when you want to experience new flavors and ingredients. That said, here are a few dishes that capture the restaurant’s style:
Greens and artichokes (battered, fried artichoke hearts atop an assortment of greens, with Asian pear slices, pine nuts.
Crispy duck leg, with gnudi (“nude gnocchi”) made of queso fresco and adobo.
Pork chop with rice-pasta dumplings and roasted peaches.
Game hen with sticky rice and barley.
Kin’s Facebook page is also illustrative, with photos of almost everything currently on the menu.
FOR BEST RESULTS
The seating is so tight that a reservation is essential. Trying to pull together four people is difficult. This is a place for dining a deux.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Although it will engender risk, they’ve got to get out of this overgrown phone booth and makes it more comfortable. The food is there.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment
- Consistency +1
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +3
- Local Color
- Reservations recommended