Monday, September 22, 2014

Khunnai Chang Thai Cuisine

I do not care about the authenticity or use the word when it comes to food because who cares? If the food is good, it is good. There are even a few "authentic" restaurants that are not even good! However, Khunnai Chang is an authentic Thai restaurant. Honestly, that is the only word to describe the restaurant. From the interior and staff to the food, the restaurant is 100% authentic.

Khunnai Chang is another one of my great finds, where an online blurry photo of their chicken wings made me know the restaurant would serve good food. When we walked in, there was a rich aroma of spices and the restaurant is actually a bit dim… so not sure why my photos look brighter than it was.

The restaurant is not very big but there is a decent amount of tables and the seating arrangements are not cramped. The interior looks very simple, not cluttered and there are tapestries from Thailand. I also like the unique looking handcrafted wooden chairs. Not sure how I feel about the faux flowers on every table and the counter though, but meh.

TOM YAM KHUNG, "Hot and sour prawn soup" ($17.95).
The tom yum goong has layers of flavours but spicy is not one of them. There is a rich tanginess and plenty of tamarind as well as lemon grass. In addition, the fair amount of butterflied prawns taste just cooked with a nice snap. However, there are no other ingredients? No mushrooms? We did not mind it that much because the tom yum goong tastes great and is one of the better ones we have had.

Housemade chilli powder and red chilli oils are provided to tables that like spicy food. After adding a couple of spoonfuls of the chilli powder per bowl (BF only added one spoonful lol), the tom yum goong tasted great! The flavours of a rich tang and spiciness really stood out and the two of us had no problems finishing the soup - it was that good! The cilantro also provided a bit of that refreshing flavour.

KHAO PAD GAI, Fried rice with chicken ($12.95).
We wanted to order the pineapple fried rice but the restaurant ran out of pineapples. This made me thick back to how some cooks actually walk down a block to grab a missing ingredient and not even tell their customers! Of course we do not expect every restaurant to do that, but we were a bit disappointed because the restaurant was not busy and there were plenty of staff. I would even be okay if the restaurant used canned pineapple. Regardless, we ordered a different fried rice with no cashews or pineapples for a dollar less.

As for the level of spiciness, the restaurant offers a level one through five and we requested for a level three which seems like a medium spiciness. However, the waitress insisted on a level two and mentioned every restaurant uses different levels.

I was actually starving so when the rice arrived, I took a huge bite and my mouth was burning within seconds! I thought perhaps there was a chunk of chilli powder that was not properly fused with the rice and took another bite… but same thing! The level of spiciness was NOT a 2/5 on any level and is more a 5/5, coming from someone who enjoys spicy food. As for BF who has a more sensitive palette when it comes to spicy food, this was a 6/5 for him.

We assume the kitchen accidentally added double (or even triple) the amount of chilli powder and oil because no one would eat fried rice this spicy, including the cooks themselves. Even looking at the photo, you can see specks of chilli powder literally everywhere! This was a big disappointment because we had to waste the fried rice. For the couple of bites I did have, the slices of chicken have a nice char and tastes tender but also dry. The diced carrot also provided a bit of crunch and the cilantro gave the rice a nice freshness.

GAENG KEO WAN GAI, "Green curry with chicken, eggplant, coconut milk and Thai basil" ($13.95).
Due to the fried rice, our mouths were burnt and we had to pack up the curry for the following day. The curry has a high medium spiciness (3.5/5) and is the kind that starts buzzing immediately, not where there is a nice slow addictive build up. There is also a hint of sweetness from the palm sugar as well as the red and green peppers, and the curry tastes amazingly flavourful. The curry tastes rich, creamy, milky and the coconut flavour is very strong, easily one of the best I have had.

As for the ingredients, the slices of chicken taste tender but dry and my favourite is the eggplant. The slices of eggplant taste tender, juicy and have that natural flavour. In regards to the level of spiciness, it seems more like a 3.5/5 than 2/5. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the spiciness.

CHU-CHI KHUNG, "Shrimp in coconut milk, curry paste and kaffir lime leaf" ($15.95).
I had a few prawns at the restaurant which were nicely deep fried and had a crisp exterior. The prawns also tasted meaty as well as juicy. As for the curry we had the following day, the spiciness is a bit more mild compared to the green curry. The level of spiciness starts off like a medium spicy and slowly builds up, the kind I like. There is a medium level of spiciness and the flavour is addictive, where you slowly start to sweat and want more. Also similar to the green curry, the red curry tastes rich and full of flavours.

KHAO MUN, Steamed rice with cocout milk ($2.75).
Before we realized our mouths were burnt from the fried rice, we thought perhaps an order of coconut rice could help. The portion is fairly big and is actually enough, where one person does not need two orders of rice. As for the rice, coconut rice is a bit trickier to cook than generic Jasmine and many places undercook the rice (U & I Thai). At Khunnai Chang, the rice is perfectly cooked and there is rich coconut flavour. Although, I wish they passed on the sugar because we found the flavour too sweet.

TOTAL: $72.85 + TIP $9.15 = $82.00.

Khunnai Chang serves authentic Thai cuisine and the food tastes good. The curries are rich, creamy and full of flavours. If U & I Thai has the hype that the restaurant does, Khunnai Chang is a lot better and worth a visit. However, the fried rice was a big mistake on the kitchens' end. If comparing my photos to Follow Me Foodie's visit, the chilli powder is a lot noticeable in our dishes and is certainly not a level 2/5. There are instances where people complain that a dish is too spicy when in reality it is just selective (and they have a low tolerance to spicy food…), but the fried rice was really spicy and inedible. In hindsight we should have sent back the fried rice but did not want to be labelled as "those" people. BF had to order three pops too after a few spoonfuls LOL.

For those who like spicy food or just a bit, I recommend ordering a level 1 spiciness and using the chilli powder provided on the side to adjust the level at the table.

- Staff is friendly
- Quality ingredients
- Authentically prepared food

- Fried rice was not a 2/5 spiciness on any scale
- How does the level of spiciness work?

- Restaurant no longer offers red rice, sticky rice or stuffed chicken wings
- I would revisit after trying a few more Thai restaurants and will not be surprised if Khunnai Chang is one of the Top Five

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 2.5/5

Khunnai Chang Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I have been going there for years, and the spicy scale is 1-5 but usually they warn you this is Thai scale... 3 is usually about as spicy as most Farangs can do ! ;-) ( I stick to 2 !!!)
    The flowers are always real and fresh... The owner is also the chef and always has fresh flowers on every table, as well as an enormous arrangement on the bar... not "faux flowers" there !



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