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KoKai Thai Bistro: From the Streets of Bangkok to You

Noodle dishes shine at simple, modern Thai joint.

I’ve ordered many (perhaps too many) dinners from KoKai Thai Bistro in the Hong Kong Supermarket shopping center—all of them have been good, some very good. But it seems that I was missing the point. I was delighted when I finally went into the local restaurant for dinner this week and ate straight-from-the-wok dishes. 

The modern, minimalistic bistro touts its specialty as “Bangkok street food.”  But before you start thinking of greasy finger food understand this: street food in Bangkok is an art form. Books have been devoted to the subject. Top Chefs have made their mark with it—and KoKai does not fail to impress with its noodle-heavy line-up of the classics.

This is no street truck, though: The inside of the shop has Ikea-esque furnishings with original oil paintings of eggs and chickens in orange, yellow and grey giving a splash of color. 

We were starved, so started off with the fresh spring rolls. The translucent wrapping was stretchy and the boiled shrimp inside was fresh and plump. Crunchy lettuce gave nice texture and basil was a lovely herbaceous kick. The only drawback was the peanut sauce, which had a slightly strange peanut butter-y texture. But nevermind that. 

The real “hero” dishes on this menu on the noodles. The Thai Boat Noodle Soup is a classic: beef, meatballs and bean sprouts in a fiery broth. The Pad Thai, the quintessential Thai peanut noodles, are really nicely executed.

My favorite is the Kee Mao Noodles, though. The thick, stretchy rice noodles and a wonder, ever-so-slightly chewy. The abundant veggies are not over done; sweet, crunchy cabbage, green beans, onions, strips of bell peppers. Large pieces of basil and egg finish it off, with everything tossed in a rich sauce with a little bit of fire.

The curries, though they are good, are not the stars. We’ve found the Panang to be tart and puckery and the Massaman rich and sweet, with salty cashews topping it off.

All in all, the dishes are all a great deal, with most costing $6.95 and nothing coming in at over $10 on the menu. At that price, how could you afford to not take to the streets?

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