This is an invited session
Its kind of funny how the theme of my invited sessions will coincide with what I had written in the same period. Previously it was L'entrecote with Wolf Brasserie, now when I'm done with my Thailand posts, along came an invitation to a Contemporary Thai restaurant!
Located along the rather quiet Martin Road, Kha could be quite a walk from Clarke Quay MRT, though I found a slighter shorter route by alighting at the bus stop of Miramar Hotel. Housed in a SOHO-like structure, I would have missed the place if I wasn't particularly looking out for the restaurant sign. But once inside its a different world altogether!
Decked stylishly in dark, wooden furnishings, the place had a mysterious yet casual vibe to it, while we were constantly reminded of its Thai origin by the hip postage artwork of their honourable king.
At first I thought that it would be a place for a quiet couple meal, then I realised the long tables had communal dining in mind. Each had a tall standing counter nearby that was perfect for holding water flasks and to allow the staff to distribute your dishes into individual serving, much like Chinese fine dining.
They also had private dining rooms that could hold mini dinner parties comfortably but with all due respect, I'm not sure if I would be too comfortable eating with such a large Buddha statue looking at me.
The menu was thoughtfully designed in the form of a rustic newspaper, announcing classic Thai dishes with a modern twist. One interesting thing to note was that the wine list was on par, if not longer than food menu itself. We would figure out why later!
Complimentary snacks, Ruby Starlet ($12.00)
To kick start the meal, we were first served bite-sized rice crackers with spiced seafood red curry, sure whetted our appetite!
Pardon my ignorance, I actually thought that the Mocktail resembled Ribena on my first sip, but the refreshing, sourish nature of pomegranate soon kicked in with the sweetness of lychee juice. Alright now I'm really game for the meal ahead!
Saur Rong Hai ($20.00), Yam Tang ($17.00)
The first was a beef salad with grilled beef slices that were tender but a tad coarse, and we all agreed that it could do less with the sweet red sauce that oddly reminded me of Korean bean paste.
The second salad, which used chicken and (more) pomegranate was more unique with its crunchy texture and light aftertaste. A good change from the usual papaya salad!
Crispy Whole Chili Filled with Pork and Herbs ($14)
Don't be put off the word "whole chili", as this was actually very mild in terms of spiciness. In fact, the chilli skin was so thin that I thought a touch of thick, juicy capsicum will be more suitable. Nonetheless, the minced pork within was very well-flavoured and I liked the tom yum mayo best among the three dipping sauces.
Tom Yum Goong ($18)
What's Thai food without Tom Yum soup? Served with a huge, fresh tiger prawn and two smaller shrimps, the rendition here was very well balanced between its fiery chilli padi and refreshing lemongrass. I tend to have a lower threshold for spiciness so the usual level got me sweating already (Then again, I sweat darn easily), but you could always have the extra spicy version for that addictive kick!
Phad Thai ($16.00)
Having eaten so many fantastic ones during my trip, I was eagered to find out how the first one back in Singapore would fare. Unfortunately, this was below my expectation with the noodles being too moist and again coated with the korean-like sweet red sauce. Next!
Poo Yam ($23.00), Papa Adun’s Phad Tow Hu ($14.00)
Though the menu described the soft shell crab as crispy, ours arrived a tad soggy with all that sauce on top. Quail eggs no doubt looked cute but didn't do much to enhance the taste.
The tofu dish had almost the same sauce as the soft shell crab, but I was loving how well the simple tofu cubes went with rice!
Wok Fried Omelette Topped with Thai Herb Salad and Crabmeat ($18.00)
Nothing much to talk about really. Definitely luxurious with chunky crabmeat, but otherwise just another omelette that was nicely done.
Gaeng Sam Yang ($32.00), Khao Kong ($4.00/head)
We also had a combo serving of their signature curries, consisting of Penang Beef, Green Chicken and Red Vegetarian. I liked the first one best for its robust flavours, though the name suggested that it probably wasn't Thai. The green curry could have been a bit more creamier, while the vegetarian was interesting in using fruits and other herbs/vegetables that I had never quite eaten before.
The brown rice could have been a little more plump and fragrant too, but I might be a little too picky already!
Sang Kha Ya Fug Thong ($13.00), Thap Thim Krwap ($13.00)
Being the only guy at the table with 6 other ladies, you could be sure that we had plenty of desserts! In fact, we tried all the creations they had!
The first one was a baked pumpkin custard with shredded fruits and coconut ice cream. With pretty presentation, the soft, whobbly custard had the light aftertaste of pumpkin that went well with the creamy ice cream. Good one!
Red rubies was another one of those classic Thai desserts, with the rendition here having the additional fragrance of Jasmine in the coconut syrup. Not bad at all!
Cake Khao Neaw Dam ($14.00), Khao Neaw Ma Muang ($14.00)
This turned out to be my favourite dessert for the night! The sticky rice and date combination was a surprise hit as the dense texture and heavy taste went really well with the equally good mango ice cream.
Yet again, I wasn't satisfied with my usual Thai dessert. The mango could really be a bit more ripe and the glutinous rice was steamed to a messy lump. The coconut pandan sauce redeemed some points though.
Caramel Ma Muang Suk ($12.00), Mocha ($5.50)
I think they used the same batches of mango but the cheeks here were sweeter, perhaps due to caramelising after grilling and with the aid of mango sauce. Again, very well-paired with lychee sorbet.
And they could do a real mean mug of Mocha too! Rich and creamy, it was almost like drinking hot chocolate if not for the hint of coffee aroma and aftertaste. Soothed and perked us up after the heavy meal!
Now the reason behind the extensive wine list was because the compound also hosted two other eateries. One was Provisions, a takeaway deli that sold simple pastries and snacks, as well as dried pastas, seasonings and beers for home cooking. Completed with retro fridges!
The other was Graze, a brunch place that had its first outlet hidden among Rochester Park, filled with white furnishing and cheeky chairs-on-the-wall decor, formed a very strong contrast with Kha if you thought about it.
I have to admit that I wasn't too impressed with the contemporary offerings at Kha; preferring good old formulas for curries and noodles. Then again, I might have been too pampered by the likes of Blue Elephant to cut the standards here some slack, though one got to admit that the ambience and signature Thai service of Kha did make it a really good place to unwind with friends after a day of work. Try it for yourself someday!
38 Martin Road
Tel: 6476 9000
Check out their website for full menu!
Special thanks to Sihui of Ate Consulting for the invite!
Taken with Nikon D70
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