Malaysians already know and love Thai cuisine. We grew up with Thai cuisine so integrated into our lives — Khao Pad Nam Prik Paua weekday dinner, a spicy and sour bowl of hot tom yum on a rainy day, waiting through dinner for that dessert of coconut and mango sticky rice. We have a list of Thai food haunts we recommend, and can now skilfully single out lemongrass in any food or drink.
To our delight, Krung Thep opened up last year as one of the newest fashionable restaurants in Republik Damansara Heights, let alone Kuala Lumpur. Chef Piyanat Yowabu aka Chef Gug helms the kitchen at Krung Thep, short for Krung Thep Mahanakhon or more fondly known as Bangkok, the urban capital of Thailand. Bangkok adopts all of the four region’s cuisines, creating a more modern Thai fare that caters to city life and reflects the vibrant, engaging energy of its people — not unlike our own city of Kuala Lumpur.
Since its launch, Krung Thep has introduced a dinner-focused “experience” degustation menu alongside ala carte dishes, signature thirst-quenching cocktails, and notoriously addictive fried chicken skin starter. Now the restaurant has launched a new lunchtime concept called ‘Noodle Bar by Day’. A menu of only eight specially crafted noodles and seven Small Plates may sound modest, but us having sampled our way through most of it, see (and taste) how that’s really all Krung Thep needs to get the attention of the Damansara heights and Bangsar working crowd. Eccentric artwork and mood lighting helps too.
Chef Gug reinvent dishes where creativity pays off, while staying true to his Isan-cuisine roots and love of authentic Thai recipes — much like how Bangkok creates its own food scene. We’ll start with the best of ‘Noodle Bar by Day’: Kao Ooi Gai. This a dish of northern Thai chicken curry rice noodles with Chiang Mai mustard greens. It’s highlighted as spicy in the menu but we are Malaysian. Thick noodles, creamy curry and a nice side of greens — you really can’t complain. We kept coming back for forkfuls of this one.
Pad Thai is of course in the menu. Prawns, tofu and toasted peanuts are stir-fried with noodles and duck egg, a safe bet but one that could never disappoint. We also tried the Gung Orb Woon Sen: claypot baked sea prawns with glass noodles and green chilli sauce. This dish was surprisingly light yet packed flavours like ginger and tanginess from the sauce.
For vegetarians, options are limited to the Pad See Ew Veggie (rice noodles with oyster mushroom, assorted local greens and soy sauce) and Wun Sen Pat Dtao Huu Yui (stir-fried beancurd and mushroom glass noodles). Opting for the rice noodles was a good choice, as this turned out to be our second favourite noodle dish of the menu. The Pad See Ew Veggie looks a lot like Penang’s famous Char Hor Fun and by comparison to the other dishes, simple. But when you toss the noodles around crunchy garlic crumbles and a generous amount of soy sauce, the flavours both exaggerate and complement each other.
Groups could also order starters to share from the ‘Small Plates’ menu. Everyone’s attention will turn to Kai Ceiw Pu on the top of that list; duck egg omelette, crab meat and sriracha, and Kreng Nai Gai Tot Song Kreng; fried chicken hearts, gizzard, mixed fresh herbs and sriracha.
We also had the Yum Tua Plu, wing bean, sea prawns, chilli jam, onset egg and the star of the dish — the delicious coconut milk dressing. And because no Thai meal is really complete without it, a steaming hot bowl of Tom Yam Pla Gra Pong Daeng. Personally we loved the strong taste in turmeric in the snapper soup, but if you’re not on team tumeric, let the wait staff know.
We’re proud to say the desserts pass the test, and you know we love our desserts. The Khao Niaow Dam Ma Muang; fresh mango with black glutinous rice is not overly sweet, but it’s the ice creams that you should make room for. There’s the Tub Tim Krob coconut ice cream with red rubies, jackfruit, coconut syrup and toasted peanuts, and the Cha Yen Thai Milk tea ice cream with fried mushrooms and croutons — an interesting take, but Krung Thep really is that kind of a place.
- Noodle Bar by Day at Krung Thep is available daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm.