On our first evening in Miami, I booked the recently open Khong River House which is conveniently located just off the pedestrian street Lincoln avenue and an easy ten-minute walk from the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. Managed by the same group who own Yardbird Southern Table and Bar showcasing Southern cooking and the soon-to-open Swine Southern Table and Bar which will feature a nose-to-tail menu. Khong River House focuses on the cuisine of Northern Thailand (not the stuff you in usually see in Thai restaurants) plus nearby Burma and Lao which is seen in the exciting menu. Running the kitchen is chef Bee with his team – chefs Pai and Danny, also from Northern Thailand, and chef Rene. Before its’ recent transformation, Khong River House was a restaurant called Miss Yip which was more Asian in looks than food as my lunch there in 2010 proved. Luckily, the same corner spot has been transformed into a well-designed cozy space with the use exposed brick, reclaimed wood slabs used both in the bar and chairs plus a corrugated tin ceiling just like roadside shacks found all over Asia coupled with dim lighting and loud music.
I booked a table via Open Table and good thing I did as the restaurant was packed when we walked in on an early Thursday evening. The bar was pumping as they had a Happy Hour promotion on all their signature gin cocktails. The drinks list is extensive with 34 types of gin, several Asian beers and an interesting well-presented wine list.
We were seated in on one of the banquettes, right in the middle of the action and beside the bar. We had a look at the dinner menu which had several sections: small plates (appetizers), salads, noodles, traditional main courses, rice and a few side dishes labeled to share. We decided to order one small plate, two traditional dishes and a vegetable side dish, all of them to be served family-style. A had a glass of the Patient Cottat Sauvigonon Blanc, an organic wine from the Loire valley, and I chose a Kesseler Riesling, another organic wine producer, this time from the Rheingau region. If only we were beer drinkers, we could have had an ice cold Asian beer from their list of
Our starter of Burmese fresh noodle wraps was served not long after – five parcels filled with roasted dried red chili, lemon juice, palm sugar, cilantro and crushed peanuts wrapped up in a fresh noodle and served cold just like a summer roll. This vegetarian bite was both sweet and salty and a good omen for what was to come.
The main courses were then brought out one after another with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice – Vietnamese style crispy prawns, the best dish we had that evening, deep fried shell-on prawns tossed in chili, garlic, shallots, spring onions and spices and cheekily served in a bowl lined with Asian newspaper and a banana leaf. There was also the char-grilled Thai eggplant with stir-fried minced pork, basil leaves and oyster sauce which was surprisingly bland so we returned it and asked them to prepare a new one which came back much better with a hint of spice. We also shared the stir-fried tofu with garlic chives, bean sprouts and chili – a simple vegetable dish with fresh flavors and such a pleasure to have as we often crave these vegetables in Puerto Rico where bean sprouts and garlic chives are nowhere to be found.
Asians don’t normally have dessert except for fruit as sweets are usually eaten as snacks instead of after a meal but there is a small dessert menu at Khong River House with some Asian-influenced sweets. We shared the Mango Napoleon – crispy filo layers filled with mango mousse and served with cubed mangoes – it was a nice tart ending after all the spiciness but not really necessary. Next time, because there will definitely be a next time, we’ll skip dessert and have another delicious small plate or side dish instead.
Khong River House
1661 Meridian Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
Telephone: +1 305 763 8147
*Open daily for dinner, lunch from Mondays to Fridays and brunch on weekends.
* Valet parking available.