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One of Salt Lake City’s best noodle spots just got even better

Kin Sen Noodle Bar - sriracha and condiments

When Covid derailed the nascent Kin Sen Noodle Asian Bar in 2020, noodle lovers lost one of the finest in town. For some, that might have been that, but for owner Pornpimon Prathummas (who goes by the name O), this was only the beginning.

Prathummas began her career in the restaurant industry amidst the kitchens of L.A. – most notably at the well-regarded Thai eatery Chan Dara (a Thai Select restaurant). Skip forward to 2006 and a move to Utah brought about a new culinary direction, a twelve-year stint under Valter Nassi; first at Cucina Toscana before moving in tandem when the famous restaurateur began work on his titular Osteria.

Leaving Valter’s, Prathummas’ first solo outing in SLC was Ekamai Thai; eventually opening a trio of locations across the valley. A return to Thailand ultimately beckoned with Ekamai sold to new operators. Thankfully for fans of her work here in Utah, the move didn’t stick, the charms of the Beehive proving too strong.

On her return, the ill-fated first iteration of Kin Sen fizzed to life in the old Tin Angel location (alongside Pioneer Park in downtown SLC). The brief tenure was well received, but alas, like many a budding business, Covid had other plans. Undeterred, Kao Thai in Millcreek came next before Kin Sen 2.0 booted back up in 2023 – taking over the East benches space left vacant by Nuch’s Pizzeria. I initially dropped by back in February and was instantly head over heels in noodle heaven.

Prathummas credits her time under Nassi as both a catalyst and an education for her endeavors. The most vivid demonstration can be tasted at Kao Thai – a lusciously tender short rib in rich curry – a direct inspiration from Valter’s osso buco. But I’m here to talk about Kin Sen, and why some recent updates make this another must-eat spot. First, allow me to whet your appetite with some snaps:

Kao Thai - braised short rib
Kao Thai – braised short rib
Kin Sen Noodle - sen yai
Kin Sen Noodle – sen yai
Kin Sen Noodle Bar - spicy dumpling
Kin Sen Noodle Bar – spicy dumpling
Kin Sen Noodle Bar - kai pattaya
Kin Sen Noodle Bar – kai pattaya
Kin Sen Noodle Bar - khao soi
Kin Sen Noodle Bar – khao soi
Kin Sen Asian Noodle Bar - boat noodles
Kin Sen Asian Noodle Bar – boat noodles
Kin Sen Noodle Bar - chicharron
Kin Sen Noodle Bar – chicharron
Kin Sen Noodle Bar - sweet combo
Kin Sen Noodle Bar – sweet combo
Kin Sen Noodle Bar - sweet combo close up
Kin Sen Noodle Bar – sweet combo close up

Sen Yai is a stellar way to start a meal at Kin Sen. A slippery snarl of flat rice noodles, sauced with dark soy and capped with a golden tumble of ground pork and tofu. I’m also partial to the spicy chicken dumplings – which in fairness afford relatively mild bites. Those with more robust palates can reach for the condiment caddy, replete with all the capsaicin and umami you need.

One of the signature threads that link together all Prathummas’ menus is a keen alertness to detail and critically, flavor. Familiar Thai curries leap from their bowls with a newfound sense of purpose – I’ve tasted no better examples in Utah. A case in point is the captivating boat noodles. A specialty of Kin Sen and as far as I know, unparalleled anywhere else in the state.

These are mammoth pots of protein and rice noodles and broth – itself the work of at least five hours – offering an alluring note of cinnamon throughout. A variety of preparations are available, but my pick would be the boat combination – a mix of beef short rib, meatballs, and brawny hunks of oxtail. Crispy chicharron is one of the final finishes alongside aromatic herbs and crisp beansprouts.

One of my favorite recent additions to the Kin Sen menu is the khao soi, a northern Thai/Laotian dish again meticulously executed under Prathummas’ watch. A fennel/anise diffused Thai yellow curry is the base for a duo of noodles – both a tangled crispy crown and a softer pile of egg noodles lurking in the gravy. A giant chicken thigh and leg come next, as do sharp pickled greens that cut through the coconut-rich sauce. A spritz from a slice of fresh lime and you’re good to dig in. It’s comfort food of the highest order. Other new dishes from a menu update include kao ka moo (braised pork leg in black bean sauce), curry puffs (both shiitake and chicken varieties), a Thai-informed spin on sukiyaki, and deep-fried garlic shrimp.

If you plan to swing by with friends, another must-eat is the the cheekily underplayed sweet combo. The dish relies on the pizza oven left by the former tenants, and moments after ordering the restaurant fills with the aroma of sweetly toasting bread. The dish is centered around a fort-like construction of Japanese-style honey toast, garrisoned with ice cream, mango, sticky rice, rotee bread, and a drizzle of this and that. The dish is a show stopper that turns heads as it heads to the table. It’s plenty to feed a small group.

Since my first visit to Kin Sen earlier in the year, there have been other changes too. A secluded rear patio came online for the Summer months and a new liquor license means beer, wine, and sake are now poured as well. Never one to rest on her laurels, I’ve spied a ramen birria in the works and Prathummas tells me that a new chef from Thailand should arrive soon to bolster the kitchen team. His particular expertise? Roasted duck. Watch this space.

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2 thoughts on “One of Salt Lake City’s best noodle spots just got even better”

    1. Hope it hits the spot for you Jeff, I really enjoyed it, much like all their curries, some enjoyable complexity and depth 🙂

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