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Koh – We Found Thai Love

Reinvent your love for Thai cuisine, like we did, while sampling Chef Ian Kittichai’s new menu for Koh at Intercontinental Marine Drive Mumbai

Reinvent your love for Thai cuisine, like we did, while sampling Chef Ian Kittichai’s new menu for Koh at Intercontinental Marine Drive, Mumbai.

Thai food, as known, is internationally celebrated. Distinct flavours constitute the unique Thai cuisine that we all have come to love. With Thai Pavilion reigning strong for so many years, Koh at Intercontinental is as good, if not better, at satiating those luxe Thai cravings. Situated in the heart of Mumbai, Koh by Ian Kittichai is a perfect place to enjoy a relaxed evening in an exclusive international ambience.

Two years into the opening, Chef Ian Kittichai (fresh from the launch of his restaurant in New York) was in Mumbai to unveil another edition of the ‘What’s New at Koh’ series of pop-up menus. The new menu will be served in addition to the ongoing menu at Koh, for a period of four months, till Chef Kittichai is geared up with his next offering. Being an avid traveller, he assures an authentic, yet contemporary Thai food. “One of the biggest inspirations for these dishes comes from my travels. I am always absorbing and studying various cooking techniques and ingredients which I see in various parts of the world,” said Chef Ian Kittichai.

The posh, but calm décor of the restaurant, with dim lighting amid neon purple accents, make it a perfect setting to enjoy a perfect meal. Koh is divided into two spaces – the very swish bar that serves signature cocktails and tapas, and the main dining area which is blend of rich dark woods on the floor and tables, creating a delightful contrast to the handcrafted champagne gold leafed curved ceiling panels. Catching our eyes are the murals on the huge glass panels and a Thai poem on the wall that simply adds to the entire modern Asian look at Koh.

Plentiful options
With a bar situated just across the entrance, start your night (or day) with signature cocktails like Koh Signature Bloody Mary and the Smokey Black Mojito, all of which have been created in accordance with Koh’s philosophy while offering a fresh Asian twist to the classics. Though the bar menu is also furnished with wines and beers, the Mojito will do a better job of shaking you up with its punchy notes and delicious gusto.

From the small plates, one can start off with the Singapore Sling Salad. This pickled red onion dish with apricot dressing will keep you crunching till the next dish comes on. The Koh Tacos made up of barbecued King aubergine, coconut sour cream and lemongrass tomato salsa impresses without trying too hard. Their coconut sour cream tastes much better than regular sour cream and I found myself asking for it at every Mexican restaurant after this review! Try the Coconut Tom Kha’ soup with american corn and crunchy water chestnuts which will please even non-coconut lovers. Creamy and brimmed to the top with flavours, this soup is more than enough to fill their stomachs with! A surprise package is the Crunchy Lotus Stem which sounded absolutely unexciting, but was in fact, quite the opposite. Thinly sliced, fried to a crisp bite and coated with a chilli-tamarind paste, it’s just the right mishmash of sour and spicy with a gratifying crunch in every bite. Chef Kittichai’s hand pounded rock corn cakes (available on the regular menu as well), which are rice crusted and served with a creamy spicy sauce, manage to please the taste buds every time. Strong flavours and pleasing aromas will cause you to reach out to two, possibly three at a time.

Non-vegetarians can try the gingered chicken skewers with galangal, lemongrass and bird eye chilli, which will entice you with its fresh flavours. Like all seafood lovers, you can leave your doubts with regard to monsoon seafood at the door, as the wok seared shrimp with a Thai yellow curry glaze is succulent and fresh, and vanquishes any doubts whatsoever. The blend of the red pepper, scallion greens and lemon grass juliennes give the shrimps an unsullied taste that very few restaurants actually manage.

Surprises, or maybe not
Moving on to the main course, fish lovers can try the poached fillet of Vietnamese sea perch with chili lime cilantro dressing. The Clay Pot Chicken which was chiang-rai spiced and rubbed with green onion, will mesmerize every chicken lover as each bite satisfies the soul, literally. The only dish that didn’t quite catch my attention was the holy basil king aubergine stir fried with yellow miso. The aubergine was a bit too chewy and it paled in front of the other food. An example? The Thai green curry, which was possibly the best Thai curry I have eaten (yes, I have eaten in Thailand too). Possibly a little too spicy for my taste, but when paired with the Basil rice, it balanced the taste.

Fondly called the “Golden Hand Chef”, Chef Kittichai presents his trademark cuisine and flawlessly remains true to the flavours and ingredients that are unique to Thai cuisine and culture. The new menu features a mix of Chef Ian’s new culinary offerings with some classics that he’d like diners to revisit. “Today’s guest is well-travelled and understands international standards well. He or she is willing to pay a price and expects a certain quality to be served.  Indian guests also expect a huge variety in vegetarian and Jain options, which is a new concept to international eateries and chefs planning to open shop in India. So I have lotus root and potatoes which are a part of my large vegetarian menu at Mumbai. As a chef, I like to embrace challenges and live up to them,” explained Chef Kittichai when asked about his experience with designing dishes for the Indian audiences. An array of healthy foods too, such as Fresh Tofu and Field Mushroom Broth and Basil Chilli Brown Rice, feature in the new menu, making a meal at Koh synonymous with a luxurious lifestyle of refined tastes.

The new menu, sadly, has only two dessert options, but makes up for it excellently. The reconstructed New York cheese cake looks as fascinating as it tastes, so be prepared to scoop up a little bit of everything in your spoon! With walnut soil, blueberry compote and orange segments, it is a perfect take on the cheesecake – only better! Chef Kittichai’s  fru’ noffie with seasonal fruits, palm sugar caramel, maldon sea salt and peanut crunch is a mild yet fulfilling dessert, but can get a little too heavy and creamy if you are not attentive to scooping out the good parts with seasonal fruits and peanut crunch!

New world cuisine
As mentioned earlier, Chef Kittichai loves to experiment with new cooking techniques and, of course, that is not easy. But with end results like this menu, we can hear no complaints. “European/Western cooking techniques can be very complex and also can be remarkably simple, but the resulting flavours are delicate and fragrant. They are cuisines with a long history intertwined with the people, culture and land. Grilling, roasting and poaching are the main methods of cooking in this style,” he shared. On the same page, Chef Kittichai adds that with Asian cooking techniques, the flavours are vibrant and sharp. Stir frying, steaming and deep frying are the widely used cooking techniques for Asian Food. “At Koh I use a blend of both European and Asian cooking techniques to produce this kind of food. I prefer to use the best of both the worlds and produce a menu which is my signature,” said a proud Chef Kittichai.

A celebration of the senses, the restaurant offers a marvellous cuisine within an international comfortable dining out experience. Realizing the great potential in Mumbai for a contemporary dining experience, the restaurant goes a long way in popularising the ever admired Thai cuisine at another level. All in all, good service in an aesthetically designed space that is reminiscent of Thai culture, with just the right touches of modernity and of course, good food is what defines Koh.

Coordinates: InterContinental Marine Drive, 135 Marine Drive, Mumbai, India
For Reservations, contact: +91-22-39879999 or email [email protected]