Saturday, January 24, 2009

restaurant week diary: kittichai

Last night's Restaurant Week dinner was at Kittichai. I'd been wanting to go but held off for awhile because I was, I guess, a tad resistant to the idea of haute Thai cuisine. I've been to Thailand several times, eaten at both the fanciest and shadiest places, and the most memorable meal I've had remains one at a stall outdoors with traffic zipping by.

But it being RW, I went and it was a pretty nice experience. I had dinner with my girlfriend Ludette and had a great time dishing, but I'd imagine this would be an awesome date place. The perfect date dessert would be the tuna tartare, since it is delicious and interactive:

They provide you with a small cluster of tender, finely cubed Grade A tuna tartare and little pastry cups to spoon them into. The lovely yakiniku-type sauce brings such a novel flavor to every little bite. Constructing the little bites would be a cute little icebreaker on a first date.

For entrees, Ludette picked the pineapple braised shortribs in green curry, eggplant and sweet basil. I was really tempted but passed on the shortribs since I'd just had shortribs at Butter. Though admittedly, Kittichai's curried shortribs were very good and completely different in flavor to that of Butter's.
I picked the basil-crusted skate with gai-lan, cherry tomatoes, scallion and fried garlic. It was light but full of flavor and quite satisfying. I'm Asian, so I'm all about fresh fish that's prepared so that the fish's flavor is very evident and not drowned under all sorts of batter and sauce. The basil-crust imparted flavor nicely without taking away from the skate's taste. And bless them for giving me a bowl of jasmine rice. An Asian girl needs her rice.

My favorite part of the meal was the dessert. I picked the jasmine flan with coconut jasmine rice tuille. So sorry the picture below is horrible, but the flan was melting and I had to dig in. It was a bit of a shock to get the initial jasmine flavor. In the Philippines, we breathe in the scent of sampaguita (the local name for jasmine) all the time: in churches, cars, homes. Getting it in my food was a little surprising, but I loved every single bite. The crunchy tuille was also supremely satisfying. I loved how inventive and delicious this dessert was.

The good news is, Kittichai will be serving its Restaurant Week menus all the way until March 31. Year-round, Kittichai also serves a $20 prix fixe lunch and a $30 pre-theater prix fixe. But I don't know, the next time I'm there I'm gonna have to order off the menu and find out what those much-talked-about chocolate spareribs taste like ...

Kittichai is located at 60 Thompson Street, New York, NY. Tel. (212) 219-2000

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