Kitchen Tips

5 Secrets We Learned From Crashing One Of Toronto's Best Thai Kitchens

Chef and restaurateur Nuit Regular takes us behind the scenes of her newest hotspot, Kiin.

Chef and restaurateur Nuit Regular has become a bit of a legend in Toronto, revitalizing Thai cuisine and bringing delicious regional dishes to hungry Torontonians through her multiple restaurants, Sukhothai, Sabai Sabai and Pai. Her latest venture is Kiin, a beautifully designed space in the city’s Entertainment District that focuses on Royal Thai cuisine— an intricate style of cooking that’s exacting to prepare.

Nuit says the key is to work with fresh, high-quality ingredients to create a stunning presentation  it’s all about eating with your eyes first. She’ll use crushed butterfly pea flowers to dye dumplings blue, or place a multicoloured rice salad call khao yam in a gorgeous brass bowl.

Nuit let Chatelaine crash Kiin’s kitchen to see how the magic happens. Here are five things we learned from our behind-the-scenes tour:

Nuit Regulars hand touching handle of brass wok

1. Brass is best

Not only does Nuit serve rice salad in brass, she also relies on a traditional brass wok in her kitchen. She says it distributes heat evenly, which is very helpful when making braised curries as well as Thai desserts. The wok she favours reminds her of her hometown, Chiang Mai.

Nuit Regular pointing to cooling waterfall in her kitchen

2. There’s a waterfall on site

Kiin is a popular spot, so in order to serve all the hungry diners, the kitchen employs about seven or eight cooks and has a long wok station built atop a gas range. This area can get pretty hot so there’s constantly water running behind the woks to keep everything cool.

Nuit Regular's hand pointing to labeled jars of spices

3. She keeps her spices easily accessible

Nuit stores her spices in labelled containers, including her most-essential ingredients, which include cinnamon sticks, raw sugar, coriander seeds, turmeric, white pepper and star anise. Nothing fancy — just clear jars, tape and a Sharpie to keep everything organized.

Dried, wild Sichuan peppercorns in Nuit Regular's kitchen

4. Don’t be afraid of a little heat

The Kiin kitchen might get hot, but so does some of the food. Nuit reveals her favourite spice isn’t from Thailand — it’s wild Chinese Sichuan peppercorn. She says it gives food a nice, deep spice, as well as a beautiful aroma.

Nuit Regular with three mortars and pestle

5. Low-tech lifesaver

Nuit’s must-have kitchen tool is the humble mortar and pestle. She has three on hand, including one made out of clay, which is just for making papaya salad. Her granite versions are perfect for pounding aromatic ingredients into rich and flavourful curry pastes.