Chive Cake Sunrise at MaKiin is a rice-based dish that’s steamed and then pan-fried, made with chopped fresh chives that are baked on a stick, topped with a sunny-side-up quail egg and a squeeze of sweet Sriracha chili sauce. (Photo by Raydon Creative)
MaKiin's chef Aphassorn (Bell) Predawan, owner Lukkaew Srasrisuwan, and chef Eakkapan (O) Ngammuang have created an ambitious new Houston restaurant. (Photo by Sean Rainer)
At MaKiin, designer Gin Braverman of Gin Design Group captures the exotic essence of Thailand through color-soaked, three-dimensional murals of glittering temples and lively night markets. (Photo by Sean Rainer)
MaKiin's signature cocktail, Kara Blue Gem. Photo by Sean Rainer.
"Eggcellent" appetizer, hollowed eggshells filled with a light Tom Yum bisque mousse with crispy shrimp and a touch of caviar. Photo by Sean Rainer.
"Crispy Delights Unleashed" is made with crunchy rice crackers created in-house and topped with minced prawns and chicken, dried shrimp floss, and chopped peanuts. Photo by Sean Rainer.
Lukkaew Srasrisuwan, the woman who brought Houston the popular casual Thai restaurant Kin Dee in The Heights, now has MaKiin (pronounced Ma-kin), her long-awaited upscale Thai restaurant. MaKiin recently opened on the ground floor of the luxury high-rise Hanover River Oaks. The new restaurant’s name is Thai for “Come to eat” — and that’s exactly what you should do if you’re curious about Thai food that’s apropos for the royals among us.
Beyond a pair of mighty golden metal doors is a dining room awash in jewel tones. Designer Gin Braverman of Gin Design Group captures the exotic essence of Thailand at MaKiin through color-soaked, three-dimensional murals of glittering temples and lively night markets. Centering the 4,500-square-foot space is a bar wrapped with a gold façade, its 17 seats illuminated with an installation of tubular lights. While overhead a canopy of original sculptures depicts Garuda and Naga, mythological feuding creatures from Srasrisuwan’s motherland, poised to battle it out.
Take a seat in the plush velvet banquettes or on the Platner-style dining chairs upholstered in bright shades of ruby red, turquoise, and saffron, where you can dine on authentic recipes that Thai-born chefs Eakkapan (O) Ngammuang and Aphassorn (Bell) Predawan elevate with innovative presentations.
These MaKiin dishes are typically the food of the royals, created during the days of the ancient Ayutthaya court. According to the Michelin Guide, Thai cuisine “has survived political upheaval to serve as a powerful weapon of diplomacy.” It appeals to all the senses, from its appearance to its aromas.
Dishes are made with the freshest ingredients and are usually quite laborious and time-consuming to prepare. If we’re talking traditions, they should also be served devoid of bones, seeds, pits and stones, all in an effort to create a more elegant dining experience.
In keeping with tradition, Srasrisuwan pairs very specific and sometimes quite elaborate serving pieces with each dish at MaKiin. For example, share the Appetizer Symphony ($38) with your dining companion, and what arrives at the table is a metal tree-like form with broad leaf forms cradling four different chef-selected appetizers. Starting at the top, we found a pair of hollowed eggshells filled with a light Tom Yum bisque mousse with crispy shrimp and a touch of caviar. Our next tier featured Crispy Delights Unleashed (crunchy rice crackers made in-house and topped with minced prawns and chicken, dried shrimp floss and chopped peanuts) as well as Tenderloin Temptation, MaKiin’s version of steak tartar, served atop a toasted slice of baguette. Last was Chive Cake Sunrise, a rice-based dish that’s steamed and then pan-fried, made with chopped fresh chives that are baked on a stick, topped with a sunny-side-up quail egg and a squeeze of sweet Sriracha chili sauce.
Soups and salad options include the aforementioned Tom Yum prawn bisque, a light sweet-and-sour broth poured tableside from a white elephant pitcher over a shallow bowl filled with prawns, mushrooms and drops of spicy chili and cilantro oils ($18). The classic Thai green papaya and carrot salad, studded with cashews and cherry tomatoes, is topped with crispy soft-shell crab when in season ($23).
Signature dishes include the ubiquitous pad Thai, the national dish of Thailand. It was actually created in the late 1930s, at a time when the country was suffering from a limited supply of rice and a growing desire to westernize. The Thai government began a campaign to promote rice noodles, a product that utilized 50 percent rice and was more efficient and less expensive to produce. Pad Thai was born as a means to preserve the country’s rice resources and convince its patriotic citizens that by eating the dish, they were also serving their country.
MaKiin’s version utilizes sen chan rice noodles tossed with fish sauce, vinegar and tamarind paste. The noodles are mingled with diced tofu, bean sprouts and chopped peanuts before being wrapped in a delicate egg crepe net and topped with jumbo tiger prawns ($32).
While the pad thai skews sweet, Sizzling Northern Adventure is a spicy Northern-style yellow curry dish that will warm you from head to toe ($39). Served with paper-thin slices of short rib (or another protein, if you wish), it’s presented on a sizzling hot stone with a decorative arch of crispy egg noodles. Tip it into the curry below and as it softens, it absorbs the piquant broth accented with pickled green mustard, red onion and quail egg.
Desserts, prepared in-house, are as thoughtfully and intricately prepared as the courses that precede them at MaKiin. The whimsical chocolate tree is constructed of bittersweet chocolate and pink cotton candy, with a quenelle of lychee rosewater sorbet sitting atop rich chocolate soil ($22). Traditional mango sticky rice makes an appearance on the menu, too. Cradled in a pâté sucrée crust, it’s topped with fresh diced mango and a scoop of violet-hued butterfly pea coconut ice cream ($15).
MaKiin is located in the Hanover River Oaks high-rise at 2651 Kipling Street. It is open from Sundays through Thursdays from 4 pm to 10 pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 4 pm to midnight.