Cream of the crop

Khao offers fresh twist to Thai staples

While actively following the state's current precautions, the fine dining establishment still keeps its 5-star poise.

To tell you the truth, I had very little enthusiasm for dining out again. Simple meals at home three times a day seven days a week wasn't just a new normal but also, for me, a new comfort.

Hence, little did I expect for my first post-lockdown lunch out to be so relaxing and offering a superlative culinary subtlety.

It was at Khao, a Michelin-star restaurant by chef Vichit Mukura, which I visited last week.

Every single detail there seemed pleasantly on point and precise, no matter if it's the smallest detail and especially during this time of social devastation.

Khao was brisk and welcoming during my visit.

Although actively following the state's current precautions to prevent coronavirus outbreaks, the fine dining establishment naturally kept its 5-star poise.

In the high-ceiling dining room, seating capacity has been reduced to half and tables were spaced further apart.

Before entering, guests were checked for temperature and cordially urged to rub their hands with alcohol gel. Paper envelopes were also provided on the table for diners to keep their mask. All staffers, neatly clad and wearing masks at all times, always kept a good distance when interacting with guests.

Flocking the restaurant that day were groups of businessmen and Japanese housewives as well as friends and a romantic couple.

Khao means rice in Thai. As its name suggests, the restaurant showcases the chef's deep respect and passion in homegrown culinary heritage, especially the national staple.

The extraordinarily-large menu listed more than 100 dishes, mostly of homestyle recipes but prepared with top-of-the-line ingredients and presented as if a work of art.

Deep-fried prawn cakes ingrained with squid to mimic a visual beauty of black granite marble.

Even a prawn cake, one of the most common and popular appetisers, doesn't come run-of-the-mill here. The deep-fried prawn cake (310 baht) is ingrained with white squid meat and squid ink to mimic the visual beauty of black granite marble. To match the brilliant look was a springily soft texture and addictive taste complemented by mango puree and sweet plum sauce.

Other best sellers include pomelo salad with coconut cream, prawns and chicken (350 baht); puffed and crispy deep-fried mee krob noodles in reduced sweet and sour dressing (320 baht); fish cake stuffed with salted egg yolk (270 baht); and steamed fish wonton with soy sauce (250 baht).

An order of mixed appetisers (520 baht) allows you to choose four items from the appetiser menu.

From a selection of Thai-style salads, yum chakhram or salad of young sea blites and prawn (320 baht) is recommended. On a bed of the salty and succulent vegetable -- some blanched and some deep-fried to offer different excitement -- were extra large prawns that proved firm, fresh and naturally flavoursome.

For side dishes to eat with rice, phad phrik khing pla duk fu (360 baht) was said to be the all-time best seller. It features fluffy crispy minced catfish stir-fried with sweet red curry paste, green beans and salted egg yolk pearls. The dish proved enjoyable and well lived up to its reputation.

However, a lot more memorably delicious for me were the three dishes that followed.

Khao's rendition of khai jiew, or Thai-styled omelette -- the best I've ever eaten -- is cooked in a pot with crabmeat (690 baht). The billowy and supple omelette featured more crabmeat than egg, and was given a perfect finishing touch with fragrant basil and sweet oniony shallots.

I'm sure no one could make a lamb shank in yellow curry (650 baht) better than chef Vichit.

The lamb leg was cooked until tender yet still offered a nice resistance to the teeth. The curry was light enough to be a curry and not a dressing sauce and thick enough to offer a characteristically creamy, gritty mouthfeel.

Crab red curry with betel leaves (690 baht) was another flawlessly delicious dish. The curry was of a perfect consistency and not too heavy while the naturally sweet lump crabmeat was generously offered and in sizeable pieces.

While actively following the state's current precautions, the fine dining establishment still keeps its 5-star poise.

Complementing all these superb dishes was, of course, exceptional rice.

A rice expert, Vichit explained that different rice tastes best when properly cooked according to their character. The organic red jasmine rice that we had was double-cooked to yield a nice chew -- soft but not mushy.

I'd never seen a Thai restaurant with such extensive menu so thriving in both savoury and sweet stints. Until now.

Of the 20-item dessert selection, I highly recommend that you try sangkhaya namtan mai or caramelised Thai custard accompanied by mandarin sorbet (280 baht); khao fang piek lamyai or millet simmered in coconut milk with fresh longan and coconut cream topping (200 baht); and khanom inthanin and yok manee or green pandan dumplings in coconut milk accompanied by pandan tapioca pudding (250 baht). All were heavenly.

Almost all dishes on the menu are available for takeaway and delivery. The lamb curry and the omelette proved to retain their delicious gourmet quality even when reheated.

However, should you look for a more economically priced meal that's still prepared with the finest quality ingredients, there's "Pinto By Khao" developed especially for home delivery services.

Featured is a large variety of Thai and western dishes cooked a la minute. Highlights include phad Thai noodles with shrimp (200 baht) or chicken (100 baht); green curry with chicken (120 baht); Italian-style spinach and cheese wonton (220 baht); and beef lasagne (220 baht).

To place your order for delivery, call 098-292-9982 (Ekamai branch) or 062-424-2141 (Tonson branch) or LINE: @pintobykhao; Facebook: pintobykhao or Instagram: Pintobykhao.

  • Khao
  • 15 Ekamai 10
  • Sukhumvit 63
  • Call 02-381-2575 and 098-829-8878
  • Open daily for lunch and dinner
  • Reservations are highly recommended
  • Park on the premises
  • Most credit cards accepted

Spicy salad of young sea blites and prawns.

Crispy minced catfish stir-fried with sweet red curry paste, green beans and salted egg yolk pearls.

Pot-cooked omelette with crabmeat.

Green pandan dumplings in coconut milk accompanied by pandan tapioca pudding.

Sweet and crispy mee krob noodles.