Thursday, November 26, 2009

Eating in Bangkok: Krua Sa

with Prof. Thanet

Dinner with Prof. Thanet is always interesting. I have had several wonderful meals with him, both in his native Thailand and in a wonderful restaurant in San Francisco, where he was on a visit to his alma mater, and I was on a stopover on a business trip. I have also chronicled various interesting dinners in Bangkok...the most memorable for me was the recent visit to Krua Apsorn.

This time, we drove to yet another interesting restaurant...Krua Sa Ros Jad...as I understand it, translated from Thai, this meand Sa's Kitchen of Strong Good Taste. Interesting name. Interesting place too...as it was on a narrow soi, off Vibhavadi. As it happens, two restaurants are side by side...Krua Sa is further in from Thanon Vibhavadi.



But step inside what looks like a home, one is presented with the even more homey feel...



Ajarn Thanet tells me that the owners are also in the antique business...and have chosen to decorate their restaurant as would an antique lover would do up his home...I feel like I was eavesdropping into someone's home...very beautiful.



As usual, Thanet ordered a variety of dishes to sample. We started with a very interesting appetizer comprising of lightly poached cockles covered in a green chilli sauce:



I found the dish exquisite. The rich, luxurious taste of the lightly poached cockles...still juicy and very plump, was counterpointed by the limey, spicy, hot sauce. The condiments that accompanied the dish were raw sliced garlic, dried chilli, and peppermint leaves.

We then had a dish which was described in the menu (yes they have an abbreviated English menu) as fried chcken pieces.



Indeed, pieces of a small free range chicken were marinated and deep fried, and covered with deep fried, crispy garlic. The chicken was excellent. Juicy, and tasty, but I found the garlic to stick to my teeth....though, as a fried garlic lover, I am enthralled by the taste. I would have preferred the garlic to be more well fried, so it is crispy through instead of a crispy exterior but soft, slightly moist insides.

The also have satay...



Minced pork, marianted and put on a satay stick, grilled. And eaten with a smooth, creamy peanut sauce. The meat was juicy.

Tom Yam Kung is a Thai standard. Basically there are two main varieties...the original version with a clear soup: hot, spicy. And a more modern adaptation with a cloudy soup by adding assam and making it sour as well.



The kung (prawns) were super fresh, very large river prawns. They were plump, fat, tasty...slightly crunchy and sweet. The prawns were halved, and the fat within their huge heads allowed to cook with the soup...the crimson floaters you see in the soup is actually fragments of the super-flavoured, tasty prawn fat. The soup was very tasty as a result of the prawn fat, and lightly flavoured with lemongrass, light in spice hotness, and not sour at all. Well balanced soup. The vegetables added variety, especially the fat mushrooms which imbued additional flavour and taste.

Green curry fishballs were next:



This a very complex dish...many ingredients, many textures from the richness of the coconut milk in the green curry, to the crisp julliened vegetables, to the soft, spongy, springy fish balls. Interestingly the fish balls were halved and were empty inside...perhaps designed to pick up more of the rich, spicy curry sauce.

Main course, so to speak is deep fried sea bass:



The fish was very fresh, I would imagine it was live just before we ordered it. But this was common with sea bass which is farmed. The freshness was very apparent...the fish smelled fresh, clean. And the texture of the meat within was tender, moist, flakey and very tasty...while the outer was a shell fried to a crisp. The same deep fried garlic which was garnishing the fried chicken was also liberally sprinkled on the fish.

And for some variation, clear noodles - tanghoon (or woonsen in Thai) with crabmeat.



The woonsen was cooked just right...slight softer than al dente. And the crab meat provided the foundation for this wonderful dish. Rich, creamy, fresh, fat crab meat. Really a great dish.

I found the sauces offered by Krua Sa to be very interesting...and assualts all the senses, sight, smell, taste...and offers a wonderful accompaniment to the dishes.



As usual, Prof Thanet has succeeded in tantalising my tastebuds...the restaurant selected was interesting...certainly a tourist would not be able to have the knowledge, resources, or ability to casually wander into such a temple of Thai traditional cuisine, but also one which shows off the fresh produce of the land, and culinary genius of the people.


Krua Sa Restaurant
177/1 Soi Vibhavadi 13 Vibhavadi Road Chatuchak, 10900 Chatuchak, Bangkok
tel: 662 9363982
Map here
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