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Jurisdiction: Thai

Outcome: Unanimous Verdict

Ratio Decidendi: In short Khao Pla is on par with Spice I am if you’re looking for a benchmark-setting Thai meal. Factor in the option of having dessert and Khao Pla actually shades this one. If you’re on the north shore and are allergic to bridge-crossing – there is no competition.

Scope of Discovery: Moo krob pad prik khing ($16), Pork Ribs ($19), Salt & Pepper Soft Shell Crab ($15), Black Sticky Rice ($) and Gaeng Keaw Wan ($14).

Case note: Rule #1 of ordering Thai – if there’s crispy pork belly on the menu, it’s a must-order. Moo krob pad prik khing is the spicy version – wok fried with curry paste and long beans – and sure to be a popular choice on the table. I suspect the non-spicy version (Kana moo krob) would be equally well received as the pork belly in isolation is crunchy on the outside without having an overly tough or overcooked center.

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The sweet & sour pork ribs, twice cooked with palm sugar and tamarind is another winning dish, and offers a point of distinction from Spice I am. In my rush to dig in and avoid the wrath of my fellow diners I failed to take a decent photo (which would not have done it justice in any case). Succulent and whoops-the-meat-just-fell-off-the-bone, the only issue with this is the small-ish portion means one serve won’t be enough if your party is >3. I’m not usually a fan of sweet & sour but even I found this very much to my liking.

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Soft shell crab is another dish with winning potential if executed well – and it happily is at Khao Pla. I had trouble detecting the tom yum element in the spice salt, but it was well seasoned and not too oily. The Gaeng Keaw wan is a classic green chicken curry with Thai eggplants and bamboo shoots. Stacked up against the other 3 dishes this isn’t on the same level, but plays an important role nonetheless. The curry helps add a ‘wet’ / ‘gravy’ element needed to balance out the meal as a whole as the other 3 elements can be too ‘dry’ to eat with rice. Ordering e.g. the papaya salad would also help balance out the meal given the distinct lack of vegetables thus far.

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The warm black sticky rice dessert with Thai tea ice cream (ordered on a previous visit) is definitely worth ordering to round out the meal. Quite a few elements but the core 3 which make it are the sticky rice (warm texture element), tea ice cream (binding and contrasting cold element) and jasmine tapioca (fragrance).

Obiter Dicta: The comparisons are unsurprising when you learn Pla Rojratanavichai spent 5 years at Spice I am.

Khao Pla on Urbanspoon

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