Modern Thai at Kha

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Hort Park is a special place for DC and me. We go there regularly but never quite during dinner time till this one time we went to Kha, a modern Thai restaurant. It’s run by the same person who does boutique hotels, one of them being Jia in Hong Kong. It’s cute how the names of the two places are linked: “jia” means “home” in Mandarin while in Cantonese, it’s pronounced “ka”. In Thai, kha is a modifier word for females to use at the end of a sentence to make it polite. (The equivalent for males is “khup”.) What a clever way to name the restaurant. I like!

I was pleasantly surprised already when they served the complimentary appetiser. Instead of the typical prawn crackers with sweet chilli sauce, they gave us popped rice biscuits with red curry sauce. It made for a zingy start to the meal.

IMG_3245

We ordered two appetisers and a main so that there’d be space for dessert. First was the crispy catfish with sweet pork and mango salad. It was very good – tangy and slightly spicy with plenty of texture. I’ve always liked the crispy floss-like texture of catfish done this way. They did right not to mess with the classic combination of catfish and young mango strips. I also liked the extra crunch of the peanuts but felt that the pork wasn’t necessary.

IMG_3246

Our second appetiser was banana flower salad with young coconut and chilli. I didn’t like this one as much. It still had the classic sweet-sour-spicy combination so characteristic of Thai salads, but I felt that the texture of banana flower didn’t lend itself well to a salad as it was too “siap siap” – you know that nasty tannic texture, a bit too sappy? The young coconut helped a little but didn’t help much to give interest for flavour. Interesting idea that flopped.

IMG_3248

The main we shared was very good! It was baked half sticky chicken stuffed with coriander and lemongrass, paired with stir fried pineapple rice. The sticky chicken was marinated in some kind of sweet dark sauce hence the stickiness from all that sugar. It tasted Asian but not quite vehemently Thai. The meltingly tender chicken paired nicely with the pineapple rice for a very safe, crowd-pleasing main. I liked how they used some unpolished rice to add flavour and texture. Good call.

IMG_3251

For dessert, we went for the baked pumpkin custard with coconut ice cream. The pumpkin custard is very typically Thai. This version was very nicely made, with smooth silky and not too sweet custard. It went very well with the rich coconut ice cream, a very nice end to the meal.

IMG_3255

Too bad the drinks weren’t as good. We wanted to enjoy the view outside and had our post-dinner drinks there. They tasted as bad as they looked. Don’t drink the aromatic pear mojito – the pear was somehow oxidised and brown; it left a very grainy feel in the mouth. The khao lao rum looked less bad and tasted OK. It was just another sweet drink. Both were very weak, so Kha is not a place for getting smashed.

IMG_3261IMG_3262

My verdict? A nice place for a romantic meal, just skip the drinks. I hear that they are moving soon. It’s a pity as the space is really quite lovely. Check it out soon!

Kha Restaurant
33 Hyderabad Rd
Tel: 6476 9000

Advertisements

July in Vietnam: Sand Dunes, Canyons and Fairy Springs

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Mui Ne is particularly famous for its sand dunes and there’s little question why. They are smack in the middle of seemingly nowhere, surrounded by scrub and water.

00308

It’s inexplicable to me how a patch of dry desert sand can rise up behind a lake full of blooming water lilies and lotuses, but such is the micro-climate of the area.

00315

Fine yellow sand had somehow been deposited in this area. The dunes built up somehow stayed here and only shifted their peaks from day to day in the wind.

00319

The wind blew ripples in the sand and soon covered up evidence of human presence.

00320

There were a fair number of other tourists poking around and it was a little tricky to get pictures with no one else inside. Yet, when I took these pictures, it all looked so unspoiled and untouched.

00322

Only the well-trodden paths showed signs of people around…

00323

… otherwise I was free to enjoy the company of the early morning dunes in solitude.

00324

The time of the day was just right to admire the play of light on the sand and against the sky.

00326

I can’t help but let you scroll through a few more of the pictures yourself, they speak for themselves so well.

00327

00328

00329

00330

00331

00333

00336

00338

00339

00340

00341

00342

00343

00345

And then it was time to go, the sun was getting high in the sky and the lake was starting to lose its intense blue.

00346

Before it got too hot, I went to check out the flowers blooming in the lake.

00347

The lotuses were beautiful but I couldn’t get too close because of the mud and insects.

00348

Then it was onwards to the red canyon.

00349

Here, the red sand wasn’t quite as pretty as the yellow/white dunes of earlier in the day, but past rains had cut a canyon of sorts through. It made for an interesting study that I wish I’d seen when I studied physical geography in school so many years ago.

00350

Last stop of all was another series of dunes, this time cut through by an actual spring.

00356

The multi-coloured sand and earth it revealed made it quite apt to be called the Fairy Springs.

00357

It was a bit of a fun walk squelching my way up the fine silt, passing by dried up tributaries.

00358

But after a while the scenery was a little monotonous and I headed back…

00359

… to the beach to say my goodbyes before heading to Ho Chi Minh City.

00352

June in Thailand:Deeper into Karen Territory

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

We headed out from the village into the newly transplanted padi fields, green shoots pushing out from the dark brown earth.

00087

Jare explained to us that the charred trees were from the previous growing cycle where the chaff was burnt in the fields to break down the nutrients quickly for the next batch of seedlings. The trees were collateral damage, a testimony to the impact of man on nature.

00088

There was also the occasional little hut dotting the valley, made as rest huts for the tired farmer.

00090

In one of these huts, Jare and Kiat found a traditional headpiece worn by the villagers to protect them from the elements. It shields the head, neck and back from the fierce sun and offers some relief from the incessant drizzle so characteristic of that season. It wasn’t too uncomfortable, but the moment it started pouring again, I was back in the humid poncho!

00093

Soon, we moved further away from the village where it was too far away and not worth the effort for the villagers to farm. Here, the valley gave way to an incredible spectrum of green, Nature showing us the inadequacy of our own paints and colours.

00098

Even more beautiful were the little splotches of bright colour on the way, including this pretty pink flower that came into our path all of a sudden.

00094

Jare pointed out various weird and wonderful creatures, including this cow-horned insect, a beetle of some sort. It’s amazing how long and curved its antennae were and the odd mask-like back with black dots on white looked so out of place.

00095

In direct contrast was the stick insect Kiat coaxed onto his parang. I’d not seen one before except in pictures, and it was almost a shock to see how, well, stick-y this fella was! The details were amazing, even down to a little knob of a shorn off branch on the top.

00097

Soon, we reached our destination for lunch, another village nestled in a valley, this time a little lower so there were plenty of coconut trees.

00104

Here, they were a little bit more old school, with shrunken skulls from the way back in the days where they dried enemies’ skulls and hung them up to ward off evil and other enemies.

00101

The strangest thing was sitting around the stove slurping up the instant noodle lunch Jare cooked for us, watching the skulls stare out at us from their empty sockets.

Special Oat Cookies

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I made these oat cookies as a birthday present for someone special. Not only did it have to have less sugar, it also needed unique flavours to distinguish it from store-bought or other quotidian home-baked stuff. Oat cookies can be boring as it seems so healthy, but fiddling around with the flavours gave the old-fashioned recipe a nice lift. The verdict? She liked it!

DSCF7125

Ingredients:

250g rolled oats
130g plain flour
130g sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½tsp salt
200g butter, melted
1 egg

cherry and chocolate
1 small handful dried cherries, chopped
20g dark chocolate, chopped

pistachio and orange flower
1 handful of shelled pistachios, chopped
1 tsp orange flower water

apricot and almond
5 dried apricots, chopped
1 small handful almonds, chopped

crystallised ginger and walnut
6 cubes crystallised ginger, chopped
5 walnut halves, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Line 2 cookie trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly, then stir in the egg and butter. Feel free to use your fingers to mix thoroughly.
  3. Divide into 4 lots and mix in the flavourings separately.
  4. Using your hands, roll the mixture into tight balls and space out about 2 inches apart on the lined trays.
  5. Bake for 20 to 30 mins or until golden brown. Remove immediately and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 40 cookies.