Is there a restaurant in your neighborhood that you’ve walked by hundreds of times and thought to yourself, “I should check this place out,” but never have?
For me that spot is Kin Dee. Nestled underneath an apartment complex on the corner of East Madison Street and 23rd Avenue East, Kin Dee — I’ve always thought — seemed like a hip, new place with its bright yellow sign and glowing lights inside.
But despite its modern decor, something about Kin Dee feels like home. Maybe it’s due to the small size of the restaurant, or the fact that it’s located in a densely residential neighborhood, but I found myself immediately feeling comfortable, as if I had been there a million times before.
For a Saturday night, it was pretty quiet — as opposed to Seattle’s notoriously noisy restaurants — making it easy to pore over the menu and talk to my dinner companion.
The fresh rolls ($7.95) — filled with avocado, lettuce, cilantro, cabbage, carrots and cucumbers — are a nice vegetarian option to start with. A general tip: The rolls are precut, and fall apart if you try biting into them, so I’d recommend fully committing by eating the pieces in one bite.
If you’re looking for a more carnivorous appetizer, the hoi jor ($9.95) is a popular dish, and rightfully so. The fried roll of crab meat, shrimp and pork, wrapped in bean curd skin, is a crispy bite that packs a load of flavor.
Kin Dee also has a handful of beverages to try — from Thai ice tea ($4) to Thai limeade soda ($4), which comes in different flavors. I did not have the chance to try it, but allegedly the butterfly-peas-flavor soda changes color from blue to purple when you add lime juice.
Our waiter was incredibly friendly, explaining the menu to us and describing some of the popular Thai street food they served. Each entree comes with a variety of side dishes, which our waiter told us, “There’s no wrong way to eat,” and that we should experiment with combining the different sides.
The kao ka moo ($12.95), a street food consisting of pork shank, came with a hard-boiled egg, Chinese broccoli, pickled mustard, rice and a mustard-green sauce. While I did not particularly care for the overpowering flavor of the pickled mustard, I did find that the mustard-green sauce added a nice complementary tangy flavor to the succulent pork. The hard-boiled egg was soaked in the same sauce as the pork, which I thought added a nice sweet flavor.
We ordered the hot basil ($12.95) with minced chicken, which is stir-fried with bell peppers, Thai basil and onions. My roommate and I decided to order it as four-out-of-five stars spicy, which I didn’t seem to find that hot — but also I love spicy food so maybe don’t listen to me. I loved the fried egg on top of the dish, with a lightly gooey yolk that spills over the rice when you cut into it. A side salad with a peanut-sauce dressing seemed like a bit of an afterthought.
Kin Dee translated from Thai means “eat good,” which I’d say is a very apt name, ate very well and had a ton of leftovers to take home, too. Maybe I’ve found my favorite neighborhood spot.