Miami Beach, Florida; Khong River House may have opened just days ago, but on a Thursday evening, the place was already as lively as its sister establishment Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.
Like Yardbird, Khong’s colors are warm. Repurposed Thai shipping crates serve as wood wall decor. Edison bulbs cast a warm copper hue on the dining room. The ceiling is covered with tin panels that have been patinaed with age.
50 Eggs Restaurant Group’s John Kunkel was at the restaurant when we stopped in to dine, and he pointed out some details. Thai license plates line the stairs leading to the intimate upstairs dining area and bar in what used to be Buck 15.
Small dining nooks are placed in the back of the restaurant, inviting small groups to dine in private. A Buddhist blessing, written by monks from the Wat Buddharangsi temple in Homestead, is seen above a statue of Buddha covered in flowers.
Most interesting, however, is the Truth, Dreams, & Confessions project. This interactive piece of art by Candy Chang invites patrons to write their anonymous secrets on a board and share it. Kunkel admits he’s had to censor a few of the confessions.
A few we read included “I like my iPhone more than I like my friends.”, “I am addicted to cheating”, “I would like my mom to stop worrying about money”, and “My daughter is not my husband’s biological child — but he doesn’t know it.”
Sitting down in the main dining room, we were greeted by an extremely knowledgeable server who ran down the experience and explained each spice, each side, and made recommendations on how best to enjoy each dish. When we asked how she knew each item so thoroughly, she replied that she and the rest of the staff had been schooled for over three weeks. Quizzes and finals were given before “graduation” day.
Chef Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, or “Chef Bee” alternated between the kitchen and the dining room. We watched as the chef made the rounds of tables, answering questions and making sure diners were satisfied with his dishes, which focus on the flavors of northern Thailand, but take cues from Vietnam, China, Burma, and Myanmar.
The result is far more adventurous and flavorful than your local Thai restaurant with generous portions more than suitable for sharing.
Kauyteaw Hor Phama (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวห่อพม่า) House made Burmese style noodles containing roasted dried red chili, roasted peanuts, palm sugar, lemon, cilantro, and culantro ($12).
Sai Ua (ใส้อั่้ว) Housemade Chiang Rai sausage is served with pork cracklings and pickled vegetables ($12).
Het Op Mhor Din Jim Nahm Prik Kha (เห็ดอบหม้อดินจิ้มน้ำพริกข่า) Wild mushrooms simmered in lemongrass are served with a small dish of galanga chili powder.
Pad Mi Korat (ผัดหมี่โคราช) Thin rice noodles stir fried in tamarind juice with minced pork, crispy tofu, chives, and dried shrimp ($12).
Pad Pet Grop Prik Thai On (ผัดเผ็ดกรอบพริกไทยอ่อน) Thai crispy duck from Chef Bee’s mother’s recipe, sauteed in young peppercorns, white onion, fresh chilies, and basil leaves ($25).
Story By Laine Doss, Miami New Times
Sources & Images
http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shortorder/2012/12/khong_river_house_first_bite_d.php (by Laine Doss)
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