A Songkran feast offering
PETALING JAYA, April 23 — Thai chef Korn couldn’t make it home for the Songkran Festival this year but he wanted to celebrate it with people he loves. We were delighted to be counted among this select group for his Thai feast at Erawan Classic Thai and Fusion Restaurant in Kota Damansara here.
Cooking makes him happy so that even on this important Thai festival he preferred to be in the kitchen turning out some exquisite dishes. He was aided ably in this by his Malaysian brother Anan.
First, we were garlanded with jasmine and the wonderful scent of it reminded me of the bedak sejuk my mum used to make, and to which jasmine was added at the last. The Songkran Festival is celebrated with flowers, as the restaurant was filled with orchids, and we even spotted some old-fashioned Spider orchids.
It seems that flowers inspire Korn so much he is on to creating a cuisine with them. First the Lotus Flower Salad, so prettily presented with the deep pink lotus petals surrounding a crunchy Thai salad of peanuts, lemongrass, dried prawns, shallots, coriander and shredded kaffir lime leaf. The lotus petals were silky and so delicate against the nutty salad.
Then we had the super delicious Water Lily Stem Coconut Milk Soup with Codfish. The tender stems were sweet and smooth in the aromatic coconut milk soup with a gentle sourness from tamarind; the creamy cod was perfect in it.
Korn has promised to cook and serve a dish with edible organic orchids, and I can’t wait to taste it. He was so proud of the Bulgarian rose water he managed to secure to make the Black Rose ice-cream that wowed everyone at the end of lunch.
Back to the Songkran feast. I was blown away by the Banana Seafood Spring Rolls — sweet and savoury came together with aplomb, the banana squirting out of the crispy roll at the bite.
The Grilled Australian Beef and Eggplant Salad was so subtle — the eggplant did not have that unattractive eggplant smell at all. The secret? The vegetable has to be in icy water before being sliced, and Korn’s expert technique with it has given it a velvety yet crunchy texture, and it complements the beef so well, with mint and garlic stirred in the tangy dressing.
The shredded, spicy and crispy catfish that mimicks our Nyonya sambal habi (dried prawn sambal) was delicious too. One can imagine eating it with white rice, or on bread!
Then there was the Thai Laksa to assemble together with small twirls of noodles and vegetable garnishes like bittergourd, sweet basil, chopped long beans, shredded cabbage and beansprouts, together with three thick curries of beef, fishballs and prawns. Together they tasted just wonderful.
You would have to be quite lucky to get cockles at Erawan. Korn only wants the plump, juicy cockles to make his salad or curry. I have had the unforgettable Cockles Curry with Betel Leaf here, now I got to try his unusual Cockles Salad, tossed with shredded mango, mint, shallots and cherry tomatoes.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Thai Otak Otak being a less rich version than is usually served and I enjoyed it. Tod Mun Pla (Thai fishcakes), Fried Stuffed Chicken Wings, Salmon wrapped in pandan and served with a treacly sesame sauce and a Thai salad with assorted vegetables and a Thai shrimp sauce were the rest of the Songkran goodies.
Of course the lunch wrapped up sweetly and heavenly with the Black Rose ice-cream, Pandan Sago with Red Beans, and Bananas in Coconut Milk.
Now how much time did Korn have with us after to-ing and fro-ing from the kitchen to the dining room? He did express his heartfelt feelings about cooking for friends on this meaningful festival.
Most of the dishes are on the menu at Erawan — just go to its website http://www.erawan-classicthai.com/. This year Erawan has been shortlisted again for the Miele Guide, so go to the website and vote for it.
• Erawan Classic Thai & Fusion (pork free) is located at No. 22-1, Jalan PJU 5/16, Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya (Tel: 03-6141-2393).