Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Isthmus of Kra

It was Jo's birthday so we all went to Isthmus of Kra for dinner. Jo turned ....., hahaha you never reveal a woman's age.

Isthmus of Kra is a Thai restaurant located in South Melbourne. It is on Park Street which is mainly a residential area. Below is a photo of Jo pointing out the small window shop front. Once you step inside, you are greeted by a lucky monkey who leads you to a very warm and beautifully decorated restaurant interior.

Here is a photo of us dressed up a bit more nicely since we rarely get to dress up. Clockwise from left is Kin, Jo, Rowena, Son, Thanh, Paul and Phuong.

We ordered a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon and a Margaret River Chardonnay to drink while we slowly picked from the delicious sounding menu.

The first entree we chose was the Oysters with Spicy Lime and Lemongrass. It was served in a very stylish terracotta plate, a similar plate to the one that Horoki served their Roast Octopus with Garlic Sauce in. It made for a dramatic effect when you opened the little lid and found a plump oyster floating in a spicy sauce. The oysters were yummy and I could have had a dozen all by myself.

The next entree was a totally delicate arrangement of Blue Dumplings. The dumplings got their colour from butterfly pea flower and was filled with caramelised minced beef. This was a dish that definitely looked better than it tasted. It still tasted good, but the artistry of the food made you not want to eat it even.

The final entree was the Crab Tod Mun, which is a mixture of blue swimmer crab meat and gem fish paste. They were fried to a golden crunch outside and served with a spicy salad and almond cucumber chilli dip. Very refreshing and flavoursome.

For mains, we firstly got the Seafood Yam Talay salad, which was king prawns, scallops, calamari with snake beans, kaffir lime leaves and mints, all dressed in roasted coconut tamarind. The flavours were very tantalising on the tongue and you could taste so many strange flavours all at once.

The Duck Peng Yang is your typical Thai red duck curry. I liked it but its hard to tell one red duck curry from another. This one was good but didn't stand out in any particular way.

The Beef Chakkri contained slow cooked beef with cardamom, cinnamon, baby leaves in a coconut sauce. The beef wsa very tender and I quite liked the flavour.

The Chicken Pai Nai was grilled marinated chicken served with a green mango salad.The chicken was nice and moist but didn't have too much flavour on its own. But when eaten with the mango salad, made for a great contrast of the tangy salad with the chicken meat flavour.

Surprisingly, one of my favourite dishes for the night, along with the oysters, was the Barramundi. The fish was steamed and as we found out later, already boned but still remained intact as a whole fish. It had many spices stuffed in it and was cooked in bamboo leaves. The meat was moist and when dipped in the totally wonderful coriander vinegrette, made for a superb dish. I usually don't like fish but I found myself going back for more and more.

With the end of mains, it was time for my favourite part of any meal, dessert. I already had my eyes set on the Durian Bavarois when we were initially looking at the menu. It did not disappoint. It was so smooth and the durian flavour was totally pungent, just how I like it. The palm sugar syrup added a bit more sweetness to it.

However, the other desserts were not to be outdone. The Chocolate Pudding with hazelnut and cardamom seed custard was also delicious. It was very moist and I loved the custard.

The Ice Cream tasted like it was home made and had nice stong flavours. The three flavours were vanilla, mango and strawberry.

The only dessert I didn't really like was the Tofu Caramel with crush toffee pistachio. The tofu caramel tasted like, well, tofu. The texture was good, but it didn't have any flavour. Even when eaten with the pistachios, it was still mainly a bland flavour that you tasted.

The service was top notch. Plates and cultery were change between entrees and dessert. Iced water was brought without being asked and glasses were constantly filled. They cleared the table when required and wiped it down between dishes so that it was always clean. Tney were very attentive indeed and got everything right. Even when my jacket fell on the floor, they picked it up and offered to hang it up in the staff room. Now that's service. Take note awful Dragon Boat. Read the Dragon Boat review, and then don't go to the place, its awful. Spend the same amount of money at Isthmus of Kra instead. What a difference the same money can get you.

Overall Rating: 16/20, Wonderful atmosphere, great food and excellent service made for a very enjoyable dining experience. Prices are fair given the quality of everything.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

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  1. Thanh,

    Is this place nicer than Dragonboat?

  2. Anonymous, very funny, yes this place is definitely much better than Dragon Boat.

  3. The food really looks great. Must ask my sis to visit the restaurant.

    Have not been to Melbourne for a long long time. Now it looks like many good restaurants have sprouted all over the city..... lucky you, Thanh to be there.... enjoying all the great food!

  4. Choo, definitely tell your sister to go and try this place, its really good.

    When you come to Melbourne, I will take you around to eat lots of good things. Melbourne does have some of the best food in the world because there are so many cultures here. You can go from Chinese food on one restaurant, to Greek next to it, to Thai, to Italian, to Spanish to whatever.