Interview: Dalad Kambhu from Kin Dee

For Dalad Kambhu, eating well means authentic flavors, love, and good thought put into every dish. We visit her new Berlin restaurant Kin Dee

Last summer we spoke to Dalad Kambhu, who had just moved from New York to Berlin for a new start – and a new pop-up project at dóttir restaurant with artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. And who – see how time flies! – has now begun her very own food empire with Kin Dee, a new restaurant located on Lützowstraße in the same space that formerly housed Edd’s. We reconnected with her for a quick update and catch up:

What is the concept behind Kin Dee?

“Kin dee” means “eat well” in the Thai language. I want to make Thai food that has the flavors I grew up eating, but at the same time want it to be a little bit more than just those same good, delicious flavors. I want to incorporate local and regional products as much as possible without losing the integrity of Thai food – it’s a shame not to look at what is closest to you before going straight to import products. Of course, there are things we cannot compromise in order to create the flavors I grew up eating, so things like Thai herbs – which we use in the pastes – need to be imported from Thailand. All of the pastes and sauces at Kin Dee are made in-house, just how I learned from the teachers and masters in Thailand. We use them to create the flavors

For me, eating well is eating good flavors – in my vocabulary, that would be “yummy” – food that is made with love and, importantly, also with good thought put into it. I believe there is enough information and knowledges out there for us to work with sustainable ideas.

The restaurant has been up and running in beta mode for a few weeks now. Is running your own restaurant like what you expected it to be (assuming your own restaurant was one of your life dreams)?

Hahaha – strangely, I can’t really remember if I had any expectations. It’s not that I didn’t have the desire and hope for it to be well received, but rather that the only things I had in my head were food and thoughts about food. Since what we are doing isn’t usual Thai food – not to mention that this is my first position as head chef and owner – I spent most of my energy on the food idea. I remember making the pork belly three different ways to find out the best way cooking moo hong (a very lovely and delicious Thai pork dish!), only to try three more times with three sauce recipes.

Also, I had to learn that it is important to pace myself and to lower my expectations because this job comes with its pressures. Even though I was in very good hands with the team, I was nervous and had the normal worries of any other chef or creative person launching a project.

Is it a dream? I guess it is more of a deep crush or love…one I fell into when I first moved to New York 10 years ago. It was there that I discovered that restaurants are not just about putting food in your stomach – they can be an experience, as well. Yes, there are amazing quick and casual food spots that are delicious and I love them, but there are also places where the ambience and the experience are put into the process. People can choose where to go depending on how they want to feel, what kind of experience they would like to have. Dining can be fun, interesting, challenging, or even inspiring if you want it to be. With that idea in mind and my big love for food, I always wanted to do something in this business.

What has been your favorite moment while running Kin Dee so far?

When I have time I always try to say hi and thank the guests for coming, and quite a few times the guests have shown me their appreciation for the food we serve at Kin Dee. Weather they thank me for making the food or just tell me how much they enjoyed it, these moments make my heart glow and keep me going at Kin Dee!

See more on Kin Dee’s Instagram and Facebook.
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Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.