If I had to narrow down all the cuisines of the world and pick a favourite, Thai food would most definitely be in the running. The fresh, balanced flavours never cease to impress me and satisfy my cravings; needless to say that a new Thai restaurant, such as the recently opened Soi 7 on Wyndham Street, will always capture my attention.
Although Soi 7 is owned by the same people as Koh Thai, and has in fact taken over the space that was formerly Koh Thai, the one really has nothing whatsoever to do with the other. Soi 7 is not a rebranding of either the menu or the look, but it’s in fact its own completely new concept. It offers is modern Thai cuisine, transforming traditional Thai staples and merging them with influences from other cultures. This is reflected in the design of the restaurant, which merges industrial style with Thai history and modern Western touches.
The menu is created by Chef Arata Chankhong (or Khun Sen as she is known), who previously worked with renowned chef Ian Kittichai at the Issaya Siamese Club in Bangkok. Ian Kittichai’s aim is to show diners that Thai cuisine is so much more than just pad thai and curry, and this approach is clearly visible in Khun Sen’s menu as well.
Whilst sipping on a refreshing passion fruit caipiroska and mango chilli martini respectively, our meal began with a serving of spicy shrimp, which we were advised to eat immediately (after feeding the camera first of course) before it “melted.” These huge tempura prawns, coated in sriracha aioli, were absolutely divine. The prawns themselves had a wonderful bouncy texture, with only a thin dusting of batter to keep them nice and light and absorb the delicious spicy aioli.
Thai dumplings then followed, beautifully presented in a dim sum steamer, highlighting again the crossover of cultures. The Australian Wagyu beef wasn’t as tender as I had imagined it would be, given that it had apparently been cooked sous-vide for 12 hours, but nonetheless the flavours were spot on and I appreciated that the chilli hadn’t been dulled down for the Western palate.
Pad Thai is the epitome of Thai street food. Everywhere you go in Thailand, you’ll see hawkers cooking up a quick, easy and dirt cheap Pad Thai on the side of the road. At Soi 7, this classic dish is taken to another level, as what you get here is Pad Thai Lobster. An entire Boston lobster is cut into chunks and stirred through this firm favourite, connecting the old with the new and epitomising modern Thai cuisine.
Another of Soi 7’s signature dishes is the laughing bull, which pays homage to the traditional Thai dish, ‘crying tiger.’ This Australian beef shoulder is again cooked sous-vide for 12 hours, creating beef so incredibly tender that, as the story goes, it’s “enough to make a tiger weep.” Despite being beautifully tender, we found the beef on its own to be a little bland, so it very much needed the sweet, sour and spicy nam jim-jeaw dressing to liven it up. The reasoning behind the name was further explained to us by Operations Director Eddy Bundro: apparently the idea is that after trying this combination of flavours, the diner and the bull would “laugh together, wondering how these ingredients could ever be separated.” Interesting…
Alongside the beef, we were served some lemongrass chilli fries, which I seriously could not get enough of. Rather than being your standard fat or skinny chips, these were chunks of new potatoes that were not in the slightest bit greasy, had a gorgeously fluffy centre and a lovely flavour. They probably weren’t supposed to outshine the laughing bull, but in my opinion they did exactly that.
Service at Soi 7 is friendly and personal. Our waitress (who, like Eddy Bundro, I recognised from Shore), made sure to give us her personal suggestions of her favourite drinks and dishes, a touch that I think makes such a difference. Prices are just a tad higher than Koh Thai, but still pretty reasonable, and dinner for two is likely to cost around $800. Soi 7 offers a fun approach to Thai cuisine, without being too far removed from Thai food as we know it. I can definitely see this place sticking around and becoming one of my go-to Thai eateries.
Soi 7, G/F, 57 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2840 0041, www.soi7.com.hk