Bangkok Post reviews
A taste of old Thailand
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: July 15, 2014 at 8:27 am
Hop along to Rabbit In The Kitchen for traditional Thai flavours in a contemporary setting
Before I got to Rabbit In the Kitchen, I had no idea why a cuddly pet animal would be in the cooking area of this newly opened Thai restaurant in Siam Square. The one and only clarification was revealed to me upon arrival. It was a humiliating enlightenment for a Thai person whose family kitchen has been enjoying the assistance of a “rabbit” ever since she could remember.
At this point, especially if you’re Thai, you might have got some clue that the name of this 11-month-old eatery is inspired by kratai (rabbit), an indigenous coconut scraping apparatus shaped like the animal, once a pivotal tool in traditional Thai cooking that has lately been forgotten with the increasing popularity of mass-manufactured coconut milk.
Thus, the food served at this contemporary-looking restaurant decked out with a variety of coconut scraping rabbits is a tribute to the century-old culinary wisdom and sublime cookery of Thailand.
The Rabbit’s 60-item menu features a number of age-old classics, vanishing recipes and all-time favourites, as well as some new creations.
The spicy barbecued beef salad (180 baht), a bracing composite of succulent fillets of beef, thinly sliced fresh eggplants, shallots, mint and lemongrass in fiery jaew sauce, gave our lunch a very tasty pungent kick-start.
It was followed by an order of traditional Thai steamed dumplings (90 baht). The gourmet plump and juicy pork treats arrived piping hot on a bed of rice wine-vinegar-soy sauce and sprinkled with crispy deep-fried garlic to provide a long-familiar taste profile.
Another appetiser, stuffed chicken wings (180 baht) featured five perfectly deep-fried podgy wings stuffed with seasoned sticky rice, dried shrimps and mushrooms and served on nestlike fluffily crispy rice noodles in a tin can. The flavoursome filling may remind diners familiar with Thai-Chinese fare of bajang (steamed bamboo leaf-wrapped sautéed glutenous rice with the works). Even without the sweet soy sauce, which I didn’t like and that came on the side, the wings proved a tasty treat, yet could be improved with a saltier touch.
My favourite dish was the yellow chicken curry with paratha (120 baht). Proving to be one of the best yellow curries I’ve ever had, the dish was served with soft, buttery and flaky pan-fried roti. Unlike the watery version found at many restaurants, the yellow curry here was outstandingly delicious with all the herbs and spices that helped lend a thick and pungently flavourful mouthfeel.
The yellow curry was so superb that I decided to also sample a green curry. Unfortunately the rather sweet and watery beef dish proved below par.
The restaurant boasts a khao kluk bar, a cooking station where jasmine rice is freshly tossed with the diner’s choices of condiments (mainly chilli paste), meat and vegetables. One of the most-ordered options, khao nam phrik long ruea, or tossed jasmine rice with savoury chilli paste and salted egg (120 baht), proved a fair deal. The rather sweet seasoned rice was accompanied by assorted vegetables, namely morning glory, lotus stems and cabbage, and a small serving of caramelised pork.
The restaurant is decked out with a variety of coconut scrapers to celebrate Thailand’s century-old culinary wisdom.
A friend who had dined here before strongly suggested that we try the spaghetti with northern-style sausage (160 baht). It was a delectable East-meets-West offering that unified Italian pasta with spicy tomato puree, morsels of sai ua (northern-style pork sausage) and some local herbs.
Two desserts we sampled that day provided contentment. For those who yearn for an old-fashioned Thai delight, the som chun, or seasonal Thai fruit with ginger, bitter orange syrup and crushed ice (90 baht) is ideal. But should you crave something a little crunchier, creamier and more contemporary, then Rabbit Mess (120 baht), a jumble of meringue and cubed fresh fruit (papaya, peach, dragon fruit and kiwi) topped with whipped cream promises to be truly satisfactory.
Considering the lovely service, easy-access location and very affordable prices on the menu, Rabbit In The Kitchen, though demonstrating some culinary hits and misses (who doesn’t?) proved another venue worth checking out, especially if you happen to be in the area.