After a trek down from Clarke Quay MRT Station to No. 38 Martin Road, one would easily have missed the nondescript building where the fusion Thai restaurant Kha is housed in if not for the bold letters of the establishment’s name stationed at the door. And if one would normally walk past the place, I guess it would have easily passed off as an arts museum or private function room of sorts, and nothing that says anything about the place being a Thai restaurant.
Stepping into the restaurant is like an experience of venturing into another world. The stark contrast from the sunny bright outside into the cool and homely earthen tones together with potted greens at the side of each main table give a simple yet cozy ambience. Its almost a sense of tranquility, especially for the moment where not many people know of Kha’s location (yet.) during lunch.
The menu at Kha is printed and presented like a replication from a Thai Newspaper in all of its Headline News and Advertisement. The Chef’s Selection adorn the first page within and let’s just say I was quite impressed with the thought of challenging myself to a dish of Crispy Whole Chilli filled with Pork and Herbs ($14) served together with dipping sauces of Malibu Chili Soy, Tom Yum and Honey Mustard.
The dish arrived looking deceptively spicy as the first association with any chilli is immediate hotness. Surprisingly, the stuffed peppers were quite toned down in hotness to a mild spice and zesty fragrance which lifted the spirits of the meat stuffing. Its very good on its own even without the dipping sauces. The Malibu Chili Soy is a somewhat strong pairing as the soy is a tad too salty to go along with the chilli, but if that taste is acquired, expect the luxurious sweet floral scent from the Malibu soy itself.
For a starter that is relatively lighter and oceanic in flavour, there is the Yam Ta Lay ($18). Prawn, Scallop and Calamari served in a tossing of Lemongrass, Green Leafs, Thai Herbs and Three Flavour Dressing. This was interesting, but not to the extent of wow.
If there is a craving for meat to start with, perhaps the Rare Grilled Red Curry Rubbed Wagyu Beef ($29) could serve to satisfy. Grilled slices of tender juicy wagyu is served under a sprightly mix of Papaya salad, yoghurt and chilli jam. The wagyu is good though I personally was not head over heels in the mix of yoghurt and chilli jam as it almost covered the otherwise meaty nature of the meat itself.
Then the Goong Sarong ($17) came out with wows hailing from the table. Simply stated as King Prawns wrapped in Rice Vermicelli and served with Honey Mustard sauce, its all presentation galore and the play of crispy crunchy savoury meaty textures. Thumbs up!
Pomelo has always been an excellent mix to salads, and the Yam Som O ($17) with its mix of Spiced pomelo, prawns, chicken, roasted coconut and sweet and sour sauce, is a decent dish on its own. Apart from the slightly too generous portions of chicken meat, I particularly enjoyed the bits of roasted coconut on the top which added a certain sweet fragrance and chewy texture to the dish while bringing out the juicy sweetness of the pomelo bits. Though on the whole, the flavours were more “apart” then together.
I have to agree that the Tom Yum Goong ($18 per serving) is by far one of the most excellent Tom Yum Goongs I’ve taken. I requested for the extra spicy level to savour its full robust flavour and I was not disappointed. Slightly clear reddish brown broth was served with bits of herbs, lemongrass, chopped chilli padi floating about and finished with a King Prawn in the centre. The flavour was clean tasting yet with the fiery touch complemented together in a refreshing outlook of sourness.
A non spicy alternative to soups would be the Kra Poh Pla Nam Daeng ($18) – Fish maw soup, crab meat, prawn quail eggs and black vinegar.
The Phad Thai ($16) was recommended and for those who are a little unfamiliar with this hugely popular Thai dish, its described as Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Poached Prawns, Tofu and Banana Blossom Salad. Good flavours with spices about.
Thai Curries have always been a little more interesting with unique ingredients and are almost like a distinct entity from the curry one would usually know. Fiery red in hue, the Gaeng Phed Ped Yang ($28) or Red Roast Duck Curry with Pineapple and Lotus Seed is more flavourful and creamy rich then extremely spicy. The roast duck is nicely done with all the goodness of the curry absorbed within, leaving the meat pieces tender and juicy with the slightly gamey taste of the bird. The curry is excellent with hot steaming white rice or brown rice.
This is probably my first time having Kheaw Wan Poo ($30) which is a Soft Shell Crab Green Curry made with Pea Eggplant, Crab Lump and Thai Sweet Basil. The curry is prepared before deep frying the servings of soft shell crab to a nice juicy crisp and then placing the crabs in the middle for presentation. A play on contrasting textures with the Green Curry being flavour rich in a medley of spices.
I am a personal fan of all things soy like tofu and tempe, so it was a real treat when the restaurant served up a batch of its Papa Adun’s Phad Tow Hu ($14) in a quick toss of Three Flavour (sweet sour) sauce topped with alfafa sprouts. The tofu itself while crisp on the outside bore a cotton like airy interior which was a surprising unique bite itself.
The Pla Krapong Nueng Manow ($26) is a unique take on the traditional Steamed Sea Bass although this time round the dressing of Sweet and Sour Chilli Sauce with Fried Shallots and Coriander was a winner. The sauce is key here in bringing out the sea sweetness of the fish while providing a simple yet lavish flavour contrast with that light touch of tamarind. Thumbs up.
Thai Desserts have always been decadent in its own way. I started the sweetness with a serving of Caramel Ma Muang Suk ($12) – Grilled Mango Cheeks, Lychee Fruit Sorbet and Mango Sauce. Grilling the mango cheeks caramelized the natural sugars and the portion of mango was huge, meaty and juicy. The side of Lychee Fruit Sorbet lightened the sweet heaviness in a refreshing clear taste.
A more unique approach to end the meal would be the Sang Kha Ya Fug Thong ($13). The baked pumpkin custard with shredded fruits, coconut ice cream and a sweet basil sauce. Very nice plating and the concept of having custard within the pumpkin is definitely a conversation starter.
The Thap Thim Krwap ($13) or “Red Ruby” as it is more commonly known in Singapore is a refreshing serving of gelatinous crystal “rubies” stuffed with chunks of water chestnut and left to amble slowly in a floral concoction of Coconut Jasmine Syrup and topped with shaved ice at Kha.
But out from all the desserts, I still give my ultimate approval for the Khao Neaw Ma Muang ($14). The dish of Mango and Sticky Rice is perhaps one of the most perfect combinations I’ve discovered till today. Sweet juicy mango pieces could easily displace the Mangosteen as the Queen of fruits, but as one digs into the sticky rice, the flavours are a beautiful mix of savoury and a hint of saltiness that gradually brings out the sweetness of the rice from within. Its warm when served, and the slight temperature opens up the flavours even further. But at Kha, the traditional dish doesn’t end there as when both portions are drizzled with the coconut pandan sauce, a different sweetness is added to each portion in servings of decadent goodness and pandan fragrance. A definite must order.
Mocktail Ruby Starlet ($12) : Signature Kha Mocktail with Pomegranate, Fresh Mint Leaves, Lychee Juice and Fresh Lime Juice
Mocktails Som O Moon ($12) – Pomelo, Lychee Juice and Fresh Lime Juice (left picture, background), Dragon Eye ($12) – Lychee, Fresh Mint Leaves, Lychee Juice and Fresh Lime Juice (left picture, foreground), Makmuang Spark ($12) – Fresh Mango, Fresh Mint Leaves, Fresh Lime Juice and Mango Juice (right picture)
An exclusive Dining room is available for up to 10 people.
Dining at Kha is simply just more than the food alone. The dishes are generally excellent with a somewhat interesting take on certain Thai classics but it is when food and the homely ambience is paired together that brings the experience to a different level. In an almost certain sense of exclusivity, Kha brings diners away from the city centre of Singapore into a tranquil land of its own where flavours come alive.
Thank You Sihui, Ate Consulting, for the invitation.
Martin No. 38
38 Martin Road
Tel: 6476 9000
Opens From :