October 11, 2021
Located conveniently on Forbes Ave in Squirrel Hill, Kiin makes its abode on the second floor above a small Chinese grocery store. It’s in a beautiful space, and the food is exquisite and quite unique, but the service leaves a lot, and I mean a LOT, to be desired. To the breakdown:
Ambience - 9/10
After a somewhat suspect staircase, the restaurant itself is absolutely beautiful. It’s a nice, recently remodeled space that any millenial hipster would enjoy a read in. All of the tables are made of a natural wood, and they serve the water in glass stopper bottles - it is chic, it feels fresh, and it feels clean.
Bathroom - 6/10
A very nice bathroom, which was kept absolutely spotless - props to the cleaning staff. It is single occupancy though, so there was a line when I needed to use it. It’s such a big restaurant, that they probably have the space and the customers for a second bathroom.
Service - 3/10
Not so happy about this. We had to wait about an hour for our food to show up for 5 people - and it didn’t even show up hot. Seems like other customers had similar issues - we saw a group take off after their food didn’t arrive for an hour. Wonder what was happening back in the kitchen. This seems to be a recurring issue that the ownership really needs to address - the last time I dined here (about 2 years ago), we also had to wait an excessive amount of time for our food (and they got my order wrong, so I had to wait even longer). Kinda disappointing nothing changed since then.
The servers also didn’t really show up all that often - we had to get up and find a bartender (?) to pay our check. Although that might be something you like if you don’t like waiters hovering over you.
The Food - 8/10
I got the Pork Laab with a spice level 5 - some sort of ground pork dish, where the meat is mixed in with herbs and spices to give it a nice extra punch. It came on a bed of romaine lettuce, which I originally wasn’t super happy about at first but later appreciated as basically a palate cleanser/balancer for the savoriness of the dish. To be honest, I quite liked it overall - it felt incredibly homey. It reminded me a lot of a traditional comfort food dish from Shanghai, where ground pork is mixed with eggs to make a filling but easy-to-eat entree.
One part that was a little odd to me was that the sticky rice that comes with the dish was served separately in a small plastic bag. It seems like unnecessary plastic waste, and surely there are health concerns with hot food in plastic. On top of that, for such a nice place, you’d also think they’d take off the plastic wrap for you or something like that…
My friends ordered a vegan Khao Poon, a vegan Tofu Broccoli, a Catfish Mok, and a chicken Khao Poon. All of them seemed to like their dishes quite a bit.
Keep in mind the spice level here is a little misleading - it seems to lean on the milder end. I ordered a spice level 5 out of 10, and at least for me that spice level wasn’t noticeable - and spice level 6 is supposed to be ‘Thai spicy’.
The Price - 5/10
To be honest, it was a bit on the expensive end (~$15-20), and the portions weren’t especially huge or anything like that. Definitely worth it for the novelty, but I probably wouldn’t want to come here every day. The food was definitely filling enough though, and these are relatively average prices for a nice joint in the area, so I won’t ding them too much.
The Verdict - 6/10
I think the food was quite unique (and good), especially for the Pittsburgh area. However, the slow service is kind of a pain - every time I’ve been here the kitchen has been quite slow with the food. If you have plans after dinner, you might want to go somewhere else.