Surprises make everyday life exciting and walking into this restaurant was like opening a door into a culinary adventure that takes you to Southeast Asia. Chef Bee (Piyarat Potha Arreeratn ) and his team manage to transport the flavors of the countries that surround the Mekong River to Miami Beach.
By Brenda Benoit
Upon entering the Khong River House, the coziness, aromas and warmth almost makes you fall in love with the place before even trying the food. Lots of dark wood, vibrant yet subtle colors wrap patrons like a warm blanket and get the taste buds ready for a distinctive and unforgettable taste voyage.
We started with the Mu Rotisserie Pork Belly Bánh mì – Lundy’s Farm marinated and slow-roasted pork belly with pork rillettes, fresh herbs, house made mayo, pickled carrots and daikon in a fish sauce vinaigrette on a fresh French baguette. Banhmi is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread. Bread, or more specifically the baguette, was introduced by the French during its colonial period. The bánh mì is usually more airy than its western baguette counterpart, so as a result, has a thinner crust.
I am not a fan of crunchy bread as one bite usually leaves a substantial amount of crumbs all over the clothes, but this sandwich was quite pleasing. The crispy textures of the veggies commingled perfectly with the soft pork belly. My dining companion, on the other hand, was expecting a crispy piece of pork in the sandwich, almost like a chicharrón, and was disappointed. This was my first banhmi so I still give it a thumbs up.
The Chicken Noodle Curry – Khao Soi Gai is a Burmese and Northern Thai-style egg noodle with chicken in coconut milk and turmeric broth served with fresh shallots, pickled mustard greens and roasted red chili. Talk about paradise in a bowl: the velvety texture of the broth did unmentionable things to the palate. Leftovers were taken home with the intention of sharing with the kids but this did not happen. The chicken noodle curry was hidden deep-deep in the fridge, away from greedy eyes, and consumed at midnight, by me.
The Boran Salad – Thai Vegetarian Salad had fresh romaine, endive, radish, sprouts, steamed pumpkin, taro, corn, and grilled oyster mushrooms with spicy lemongrass dressing. Pumpkin was an uncommon and enjoyable addition to this sumptuous salad that was crunchy, soft, and spicy all in one bite.
Goong tod gluar prik thai dum were Vietnamese-Style Crispy Prawns sautéed with fresh Thai chili, garlic, shallots, spring onion and spices. The “spices” made this dish mysterious, dark with flavors so intense and satisfying that the bowl was almost snatched and taken outside for a lick. The prawn heads were reserved for Miss E., my dining companion, who could not stop praising the virtues of the flavoring.
Broccoli Stir-Fry – pad pak kah nah fi dang was served with fresh chilies, garlic, oyster sauce and fermented soybean. The queen of broccoli dishes. Out of this world…
The killer B was the choice for our libation as it was made with Beefeater Gin, lemon juice, bird pepper and chili syrup. The chili pepper garnish looked menacing but was actually the star of the drink, infusing the aroma and taste of the pepper without the heat that can usually scorch the insides.
The Passion Fruit Panna Cotta was a creamy passion fruit custard, ginger crumble. The custard was faultless, the ginger crumbles fabulous, the passion fruit topping, a bit too sugary.
According to Khong River House, the cuisine is a passionate representation of the melding of disparate tastes, ingredients, and techniques that has resulted in the bold, complex harmony that is the hallmark of authentic Southeast Asian cuisine. Traditionally, meals include a curry, a fish, chicken, or pork dish, a stir-fry, a salad, a soup and vegetables. Chef Bee, who hails from the small town of Ban Sankhohiang in the Chiang Rai region brings us face-to-face with the fascinating flavors of the region.
The restaurant offers a myriad of cocktails, wines, private dining rooms and unparalled service in a venue that is both stylish and casual at the same time; ideal for any occasion. Khong River House offers a tribute to the food, flavors and traditions of the Northern Thailand area and they do this exceptionally well.
Khong River House
1661 Meridian Avenue, Miami Beach
Brenda Benoit was born in the city of St. George’s in Grenada and grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. She has been living in Miami for over 20 years, loves to cook, eat and to try new restaurants & cuisines - always with her camera as a companion. She's a dedicated cookbook collector and is in the process of writing one of her own.