Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Late Late Dinner

We made our displeasure known to the staff when we finally got our table some 30 minutes later than what we have originally booked for, an inexcusable mistake any restaurant could make no matter how good the food was, or how many times they said sorry for, or how many rounds of drinks they offered to compensate with. Not to mention we already made accommodations by taking a late seating (9pm) for our big group but turned out we weren’t seated until half past, and it was another 20 minutes before the first dish of the tasting menu arrived.

Rant aside, we were happy to meet up with some old friends when C came back for a brief visit to Hong Kong in mid-October, and this special menu offered by Soul Food Thai seems to be a perfect choice of venue with Chef-owner Jarrett Wrisley (of the original Soul Food Mahanakorn in Bangkok) joined hands with Chef Charrin Singdaechakarn (Chef Noom) who headed the kitchen at their Hong Kong branch for this one-night-only event on the day we were planning to meet.

The menu consists of 9 different courses served family-style, with some of the signature dishes from both restaurants. When our dinner finally started (at long last), we began with a platter of three appetizers. The Southern Thai Samosas were exactly like how they were described, with chicken and curry spices wrapped inside spring roll wrapper and deep-fried like a samosa, and served with a mint dip. It’s crispy, slightly spicy and delicious. But my favorite belonged to the Fish Sauce Chicken Wings, with the umami-rich fish sauce added to the batter of the wings before they were deep-fried and served with crushed peanuts, fried shallots and a lemongrass salad on top.

Next was Aep Pla which was interesting. A thin piece of fish fillet was wrapped in a leaf and grilled on open-fire then it’s served with “a salad of fragrant Thai herbs” on the side. I loved the subtle herb flavor in the fish which was soft and moist, plus the various textures and spices in the salad. It did remind me of what we would get sitting on a street-side stall in Bangkok under a hot, humid day. I am sure the chefs wanted to stay true to the authentic flavor by not holding back on the chilies for the Tom Kha Gai Yang soup, but I did find the bowl a little too hot for me to handle, and it overwhelmed the flavor of the grilled local chicken that went with it.

The Congee was another interesting dish that was served. In a deep bowl was porridge made of organic brown rice, and on top was a piece of soy braised pork belly. In the midst of all the spicy dishes, this was especially comforting and I enjoyed the hearty combination of the congee and the rich and tender pork belly.

The Panang Curry was exactly what I expected, with the creamy curry with beef brisket served with a bowl of rice. It’s on the sweet side with coconut cream and burnt pineapple mixed in, and it was salivating. So was the stir-fried morning glory done in the typical style with garlic and a gently sprinkle of chilies – it’s delivered to us straight from the kitchen right after they were done so one couldn’t go wrong with it.

We finished with a shot of passionfruit-gin (off-menu but complimentary on the house) and a simple dessert with sweet sticky rice (infused with butterfly pea juice) topped with house-made coconut caramel – almost like a sushi except it’s sweet.  The evening might have begun with a bit of a hassle, but at the end it’s all good and I think we all had a great time just to catch up on things happening in life.

Before we left the restaurant, we were asked to fill out the feedback form about the meal and service. Well, there you have what we thought of our experience now. Yes, the food was right on par of what we expected with well-executed street-style dishes and authentic Thai flavor and kudos to the chefs of pulling this off reasonably well on a particularly busy night, but I just wasn’t sure whether I wanted to take any chance with any other debacle like what we encountered on a late night in the rain and without a table and without food. That’s by no means pleasant, just as I have made it clear to them on the night.

When? October 15 2018
Where? Soul Food Thai, 26-28 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Fish Sauce Chicken Wings with peanuts and lemongrass salad
Drink? 2016 Danzante Pinot Grigio, Friuli, Italy
Web: www.soulfoodthai.com.hk

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