Malai Kitchen’s Thai Me Up Dinner Featured Fish Heads and Weasel Coffee

Kha Pong Dang Tod - 2004 Clos de Vougeot, Grand Cru Burgundy (left); Amuse Bouche - PEI Conway Royal Oyster, Nuoc Mam Mignonette (right)
Kha Pong Dang Tod: 2004 Clos de Vougeot, Grand Cru Burgundy (left);
Amuse Bouche: PEI Conway Royal Oyster, Nuoc Mam Mignonette (right) photography by Leah Clausen

Thursday night’s Thai Me Up dinner was awesome. We sat on the patio at Malai Kitchen, which was wrapped in big plastic sheets to prevent entry from unwanted pests. Across the tables were giant banana leaves and little pools of candlelit petals. Wine glasses sat next to the eager guests, who were being chatted up by Yasmin Wages, proprietor of Malai Kitchen, and her band of merry men and women working that night.

But tonight was all about the advertised guest chef, Paul Singhapong. Now retired, Chef Singhapong comes back every once in a while to dazzle the uninitiated with his creativity and style. Together with Braden Wages, Yasmin’s husband and chef, it was bound to be an adventurous evening. Yasmin had invited me and photographer Leah Clausen as guests.

As one of those previously mentioned uninitiated, I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised.

Amuse Bouche - Thai Mekong Shooter
Amuse Bouche: Thai Mekong Shooter

Amuse Bouche

The Amuse Bouche was the first course, a Conway Royal oyster in a Nuoc Nam mignonette. The oyster presentation was something else. Very pretty. I tossed it back and let the juices swirl and coalesce. It was nice and savory. The mekong shooter with lime juice really drew out the sweet and salty flavor.

Pla Kung

Next came the Pla Kung, a bowl with sweet prawn, mint, and lemongrass ceviche. The slice of watermelon was refreshing, and I noticed I was alternating bites of it with the kick from the Thai chili. But the best part was the crispy prawn head, which was packed with flavor.

Hoy Phing - Banana Wrapped Grilled Bay Scallops with Red Curry and Coconut
Hoy Phing: Banana-Wrapped Grilled Bay Scallops with Red Curry and Coconut

Hoy Phing

After that, it was the Hoy Phing. It was a plate of banana-wrapped, grilled bay scallops with red curry and coconut. You could definitely taste the curry in these scallops, but it was a nice with the coconut, which helped to provide a balance with the strong curry flavor.

Pla Kung - 2011 Scarpetta Pinot Grigio (left); Tom Yum Hua Pla - Hot and Sour Soup made with Fish Head (right)
Pla Kung: 2011 Scarpetta Pinot Grigio (left); Tom Yum Hua Pla: Hot and Sour Soup made with Fish Head (right)

Tom Yum Hua Pla

This one was interesting. It was Tom Yum Hua Pla, which is a hot and sour soup made with fish head. I don’t eat too many fish heads and I’m a child, so I giggled when I looked at its cooked eyeballs looking back at me. I took out its eye and ate it. It sort of brought everyone in the room a little bit closer together. The fish head in general, I mean. Not my eyeball devouring. The soup tasted just as advertised: hot and sour. The Thai basil was a nice featured flavor. The wine–a 2011 Livon Friulano–worked to cleanse the palette and prepare it for another spicy bite.

Kha Pong Dang Tod

The Kha Pong Dang Tod was a dish with grilled red snapper, with a crispy corn patty, and green curry sauce. I could eat this forever. Everything about it seemed to mesh—
the curry sauce, the corn patty… and the Grand Cru Burgundy didn’t hurt, either.

Koi Tod - Fried Coconut Tempura Bananas with Coconut Gelato
Koi Tod: Fried Coconut Tempura Bananas with Coconut Gelato

Koi Tod

Finally, it was time for dessert. It was Koi Tod, a bowl of fried coconut tempura bananas with coconut gelato. The fried bananas were crispy on the outside and a sweet, gooey mess inside.

Owner Yasmin Wages, Executive Chef Braden Wages, Guest Chef Paul Singhapong
Owner Yasmin Wages, Executive Chef Braden Wages, Guest Chef Paul Singhapong

Weasel Coffee

I lovingly sipped on a cup of weasel coffee from Vietnam. It’s called weasel coffee because the beans are eaten by weasels and then “released.” Workers sift through “new releases” to retrieve the partially digested coffee bits. It’s really good, so I didn’t mind the backstory.

As we sat, enjoying our weird weasel coffee and rubbing our warm bellies, Chef Singhapong and his crew arrived at the front of the patio. The guests put down their mugs and applauded their efforts.

“We like to play and come up with stuff,” Braden Wages said to the room. The chefs were appreciative of the open mindedness of the guests, allowing them room to flex their muscles and create something unique and flavorful.

 

3 comments on “Malai Kitchen’s Thai Me Up Dinner Featured Fish Heads and Weasel Coffee

  1. Your photographer ruined the evening for me and my wife. She ran around the room flashing her camera all night long.

  2. I’m happy it was a nice evening.

    Regarding the coffee, it’s really a shameful product / production method. Do a simple online search, on the subject, and you’ll find find enough reason to stay away from these coffees that are forced through animals.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a ban on bringing in these types of products from Asia? Maybe, that would help slow the demand…
    JB

  3. You mean she took pictures like a photographer should? Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. What is the world coming too? Maybe you shouldn’t be such a pompous tool. They’re camera flashes big deal.