Since the launch of her first restaurant Kin Dee, restaurateur Lukkaew Srasrisuwan has aimed to present Thai food in various atmospheres. Srasrisuwan opened the come-as-you-are, casual sit-down restaurant that offers up Thai classic dishes and brunch in 2020, following it up with a 2023 foray into the world of American fast food with M Thai Express Kitchen, which quickly out basil beef burgers, Drunken hot dogs, and Panang chicken sandwiches to diners on-the-go.
Now, Srasrisuwan has opened her third restaurant in Houston’s Upper Kirby area — this time showing the elegance and magic of Thai cuisine often presented in the homes of royal families in Thailand.
Located at 2651 Kipling Street on the ground level of luxury high-rise Hanover River Oaks, MaKiin is Srasrisuwan’s most sophisticated endeavor yet. Though the name translates simply into “come eat” in Thai, the restaurant aims to offer a novel, fine dining experience for Houston, one that derives inspiration from Thai temples, its bustling night markets, and the most extravagant forms of dining in Thailand.
“There’s a lot of fine dining in Houston, but fine dining Thai cuisine is rare. There’s not a lot happening at this scale or this type of menu that we work so hard to do,” says Srasrisuwan, who officially opened the restaurant to the public on Monday, October 23. “It’s something that Houstonians should try.”
The restaurateur has tapped award-winning Thai chefs Eakkapan Ngammuang (“Chef O”) and Aphassorn Predawan (“Chef Bell”), who pay homage to royal Thai family recipes that originate from the Northern and Southern culinary regions of Thailand that incorporate flavors from nearby countries like Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and China.
MaKiin hones in on some of the culinary artwork and big presentations that are done in royal family kitchens, with insight from Bell’s grandmother, who works as a chef for Thailand’s royal family, and Srasrisuwan’s mother, who works as a nanny. Both have allowed them to have a “peek” into that cuisine, where certain dishes can take days to make. “It’s hard to mass produce that because it takes so long to make it look great, but we’ve managed to apply some of this to the modern age” by incorporating newer technology, widdling down the cook and presentation time for the most intricate dishes to around 8 hours, Srasrisuwan says.
Diners will find elaborate dishes like the Duck Garden Oasis, a serving of sous vide lemongrass duck breast with a colorful display of microgreens, edible flowers, and pomegranate seeds; the Flavors of Siam, a sugary seared wagyu steak served with charred eggplant, lemongrass, and Thai-style sauces, and the Majestic Ocean Medley casserole made up of poached lobster tail, scallops, crispy soft-shell crab, calamari, and bean vermicelli noodles. Chef O’s Award-winning Chicken, a dish composed of deboned chicken wings and stuffed chicken lollipops served with carrots, potatoes, and a Massaman curry with gold dust served tableside, is one of the top features, says Srasrisuwan, noting that it was Chef O’s submission to international cooking competition for years before he finally earned a gold medal.
Desserts and drinks are just as picturesque and intricate, with butterfly pea flower-infused coconut ice cream served with fruit kelly and salt-cured egg yolk, and its otherworldly Dessert Wonderland, made with rich chocolate soil, lychee rosewater sorbet, edible moss, and a chocolate tree with tufts of cotton candy. In addition to the 50 wines on hand, MaKiin offers 10 signature cocktails, including its savory and splashy vodka-based Bangkok Pad Thai, a combination of tamarind, lime juice, chili powder, and peanut-infused simple syrup that’s garnished with shrimp and tofu.
The decor is something to behold. Interior designer Gin Braverman has incorporated vibrant hand-painted and 3D murals that showcase aspects of Thai land. The entrance, which features a bold gold door, sets the tone, leading into a dining room with tufted booths and banquet seating adorned in ruby, teal, and saffron velvet. The restaurant also features an illuminated gold facade bar, an ornate canopy that pays homage to Thai mythological creatures Galuda and Naga, and three private dining rooms, each sitting 10 people. Diners can also choose to experience their meals on the outdoor patio that seats 56 people, with umbrellas printed with Thai designs and lush planters.
Srasrisuwan says she MaKiin has been a long time coming. She knew when she got into the hospitality business at the age of 19 that she wanted to open three different restaurants that showcased the different levels of dining in Thailand, from street food to the most refined and upscale styles of dining in her home country. Kin Dee — a more casual restaurant that still served some of the most traditional dishes — was an easy and accessible first pick for Houstonians, followed by her fast food M Thai Express Kitchen, which is an ode to quicker styles of dining in Thailand. She knew, however, that an establishment like MaKiin would take the most time and dedication. “It’s the most difficult because we had to have the right recipes, the right executive chef,” says Srasrisuwan, and she wanted to do justice to the breadth of Thai cuisine and dining in every last detail. Even the dishware, napkins, and silverware are hand-crafted and hand-painted by Thai companies.
“Everything here is a product of Thai talent,” Srasrisuwan says proudly. “We have a lot of Thai talent, and I bring it here.”
MaKiin is open for dinner from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 4 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Happy hour specials will be available from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. The restaurant will offer live entertainment Thursday through Sunday starting at 6:30 p.m.