I’ve complained before about the Copenhagen restaurant scene – there are so many great new places opening all the time that it’s hard to keep up! Luxury problems, I know.
One of the latest newcomers is a spin-off of the famous, Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Kiin Kiin (which I have yet to visit, and I want to so badly!). Kiin Kiin Bao Bao opened its doors at the end of October on Vesterbrogade, where Mad Mad MadBodega used to be. Like the name suggests, one of its key menu items is the classic Chinese steamed bun (bao). So one cold and rainy Tuesday night last week, I followed my friend’s suggestion and gave it a try.
I absolutely loved the interior, which mixes the typical Scandinavian look – clean lines and minimalism – with distinctly Asian inspired elements, such as knotted candle glasses hanging in front of the windows and little cacti on the tables.
Kiin Kiin Bao Bao combines two current trends in the Copenhagen food scene. One of them is social eating: recently opened restaurants often focus on serving “family style” dishes to be shared around the table, often combined with smaller portion sizes, to allow diners to try a variety of dishes (other examples include Bæst and Noma’s new venture 108, for example). Kiin Kiin Bao Bao describes its food as “Asian tapas”.
The second trend is to move away from beer and wine and offer a wide selection of cocktails that are specially matched to fit the food. I have yet to see a place that offers a tasting menu with a matching cocktail menu (if you know any, let me know!), but in the Meatpacking District alone, you’ll find Magasasa Dim Sum & Cocktails and brand new Turkish restaurant Mangal, both of which are working off of that same concept.
Naturally, we had to try the cocktails. I went with Kiin Bao’s take on a vodka martini, which was crisp and really refreshing. We also tasted a passion fruit and coconut cocktail as well as a slightly modified Singapore sling. All were really tasty – and at DKK 85 a piece, they were competetive with the wines by the glass, which start at DKK 75.
The menu is a little bit of a potpourri of Asian dishes – of course, there are the classic Chinese steamed buns (bao), Korean dishes such as kimchi and bibimbap, and desserts like sticky rice with mango that are typically found in Thailand and Vietnam.
You order by filling out a sheet of paper, and everything is served to share. We started out with some snacks: chili spiced cashews, kimchi, and crispy kale with a miso and pea dip. I’m usually not really a fan of kale, but this was absolutely amazing!
We also ordered two of the “main courses”, the black salmon with jerusalem artichoke, and the 45 day aged beef with white soy and charred garlic. Both were absolutely delicious – the beef was incredibly tender and matched beautifully with the condiments without being overpowered by them.
Then it was time for the main event – I personally love bao, and as tasty as everything else was, they were what I was really looking forward to! There are currently four types of bao on the menu, and I tasted all but the one with shrimp (since I’m not a fan of most shellfish).
There’s the classic bao with braised pork, peanuts, and hoisin sauce. You can’t ever go wrong with this! I loved the sweetness of it, with warm spices and hints of cinnamon. The bun-to-meat ratio was good – there was meat in every bite. The buns themselves were soft and squishy, as they should be, but sturdy enough not to fall apart.
We also tried the red curry braised pork, which had a nice kick to it, and the crispy chicken, which came dressed in a chili mayo and was super yummy as well. Really hard to pick a favorite here!
Bellies filled, we decided to skip dessert, so I’ll have to try that another time. We ended up paying around DKK 400 per person, including a cocktail each, which I think is a good price range for what we got.
Service throughout the night was incredibly friendly and attentive, to the point where it almost became a bit annoying – it seemed like staff hadn’t quite agreed on who was serving which tables, so we ended up being asked whether we wanted to order multiple times after we’d ordered, and whether everything was okay an estimated twelve times during the dinner (by around seven different servers!). But I’ll chalk that up to the restaurant being new, and of course overattentiveness is a million times better than being left alone or even ignored for extended periods of time. And all staff was super friendly every time, so no complaints there.
I’ll definitely be back for some more bao and cocktails! Have you tried Kiin Kiin Bao Bao? Or where do you get your bao fix? Let me know in the comments below!
Kiin Kiin Bao Bao | Vesterbrogade 96, Copenhagen | kiinbao.dk