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 V.25 No.38 | September 22 - 28, 2016 

Restaurant Review

Eat Like No One is Watching

Seriously, keep your leftovers from Kyana's Kitchen

#16 Vermicelli bowl with vegetables
#16 Vermicelli bowl with vegetables
While I highly doubt that I'll be seeing the walls of Kyana's Kitchen anywhere close to 2am, it's easy to imagine drunken, late-night conversations happening in the spacious confines of Albuquerque's newest Vietnamese spot, a restaurant that notably keeps late-night hours. In fact, it was nearer to 6pm when my first dish was set in front of me at Kyana's Kitchen—a heaping bowl of vermicelli and veggies ($7.50), with an egg roll chopped into quarter-size wedges on top of it all. Served simultaneously with the wide porcelain bowl of noodles and vegetables, was a smaller bowl of fish sauce to dress it with. Resting in the middle of the table between a dear old friend and I, was a pot of green tea ($1.75), served at a searing temperature, now cooling as we enjoyed an appetizer of lettuce wraps ($5)—boats of lettuce heaped with a pâté of beef and vegetables.
Lettuce wrap appetizer
Lettuce wrap appetizer

It was a quiet weekday evening at Kyana's Kitchen—which just opened its doors to Gold on Aug. 18. A few other patrons sat in near silence enjoying their meals as my friend and I caught up after a long few weeks. I paused every few moments to take a sip of tea—a verdant basic green with flowery high notes—offered in addition to black and iced tea options. Soon, I hoisted my chopsticks and dove into the massive bowl of noodles. Light and satisfying, the food assembled in front of me had a healthful crunch, which was balanced nicely with the greasy satisfaction of the egg roll sliced atop it. After finishing our meal, we lingered comfortably for a long time at a broad table against a plain white wall, finishing our tea and our stories—the waitstaff neither rushing us along nor acting entirely hands-off. Pouring our leftovers into to-go containers, we looked over the bill—for two dishes, an appetizer and more green tea than we could drink between the two of us, the total came to a round and reasonable $23. My friend and I parted ways and hours later, I realized I had forgotten my leftovers at the restaurant. A feeling of deep regret washed over me. Never again, I swore.

A few weeks later, I walked the few blocks between my office and Kyana's Kitchen for lunch. This time, the restaurant was noticeably fuller, a few tables full of suited men talking loudly, one even on speakerphone with a woman shouting from somewhere far away. I took my choice of seats and ordered up a bowl of vegetable pho, egg rolls and—why not?—another pot of tea. Kyana's Kitchen also has extensive banh mi, stir fry and rice dishes on their menu, several of which weren't available this particular day—the restaurant had been open for less than a month when I visited, so I consider that entirely forgivable. My server was exceedingly kind, graciously taking my request for pho sans meat, and magically, knowing what I needed a beat before I did every time.

Vegetable eggrolls
Vegetable eggrolls

The egg rolls, stuffed with cabbage and carrot, were served barely warm, but I'm going to be honest here, I've never had a bad egg roll; I ate them happily with sweet chili sauce. The steaming bowl of pho held cubes of fried tofu, broccoli, squash, bok choy—all sweet, complimentary vegetables—with thick, round rice noodles at the bottom. I pulled fronds of cilantro, slices of jalapeno and mung bean sprouts from the standard plate of pho accoutrements and dropped them in the heaping bowl of soup, adding a spoonful of chili to the oily broth for good measure. In the now bustling restaurant, I proceeded to eat like no one was watching.

As I stepped out onto the sidewalk after my lunchtime visit to Kyana's Kitchen, I made sure that my leftovers were with me and cut the few blocks north back to work. I was full, but still buoyant and, overcome with the happiness of the no longer hungry, I gave my leftovers away upon return to my office.

While not exactly cozy—the spacious restaurant has polished cement floors and exposed bulb and metal chandeliers for a vaguely industrial feel—it is a place where it is easy to linger if you have the time, or just as easy to eat quickly and set out once more into the world—cravings satisfied, calories to burn. By which I mean to say, the place is versatile, easy, affordable and not least of all, their food is enjoyable. For warm and comforting food ante meridiem on a weekend night, or a lunch in the middle of your workday, this Vietnamese spot in the heart of Downtown is a satisfying stop.

As I stepped out onto the sidewalk after my lunchtime visit to Kyana's Kitchen, I made sure that my leftovers were with me and cut the few blocks north back to work. I was full, but still buoyant and, overcome with the happiness of the no longer hungry, I gave my leftovers away upon return to my office. In my satiated euphoria, I was happy to share my bounty of pho, however, around 4pm, I once again felt the deep regret of having missed an opportunity to enjoy a bowl of noodles from the consistent and delicious Kyana's Kitchen.

Kyana’s Kitchen

315 Gold SW
(505) 503-8899
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11am-9pm, Fri: 11am-2am, Sat: 4pm-2am
Vibe: Spare, super-casual
Alibi recommends: Vermicelli bowl with veggies

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