I’ll let you in on a secret. I walked in midday heat and took a 40-minute long taxi to eat at this restaurant.
Yes, it’s that good.
I was here for the first time last year, and the experience of Kub Kao Kub Pla has been haunting me since then. So of course, I had to go back.
The restaurant is on the second level of the Food Walk at Mega Bangna, but it also has branches at EmQuarter, Central Embassy, Thonglor, and Empire Tower, and I have not gone to these other branches. For a chain restaurant, the quality of food is what Thais call “took lae dee” which means good and affordable.
Atmosphere is like most shopping mall restaurants. Since the restaurant is in a mall, the tables and chairs are close together. But this wasn’t a concern for me, since I had a table for four all to myself at 3.30 in the afternoon.
Service was prompt, as it was past the normal lunch hour and I was in the space with only 4 others. In fact, the wait staff outnumbered the customers while I was there.
So let’s talk about the food.
Kub Khao Kup Pla has a lot of choices. What fascinates me about the food is that although it the menu has Thai dishes you would find in other restaurant menus, there are surprise ingredients that imply that the chef has thought about the design of the experience.
This fascinates me. I ordered a dish I had missed, which is steamed and fried vegetables accompanied with the hero of the dish, the kapi, or shrimp paste. Now the name sounds plain, it sounds smelly, it sounds like WT hey am I doing recommending this to you?
Kapi, as you recall from my food escapade to Amphawa Floating Market, is a dip made from shrimp paste. It’s a thick paste, and yes it may be smelly to the unaccustomed nose, but it gives a zing to Thai food, especially when paired with steamed vegetables.
The thing with Kub Kao Kub Pla’s dish is, the kapi had cubes of fresh strawberries in it.
Yes, fresh strawberries. And that is what sets this restaurant apart. The paste was fresh made, it did not sit in the dip dish like a lump of purple stuff. It was thickened with some herbs, but when you examined it, it had the blush of chili pieces and the small chunks of plant-based things.
The steamed vegetables included okra, cabbage, cucumber, bitter gourd, and the white flowers, which are called ‘care flowers’ in Thai and are found mostly in the northeast. Fresh items in the plate included young mango leaves, cilantro, storr, or beans from acacia pods, and some other leaves I did not recognize. The fried items included a cluster flower which tasted so light you can not even tell it is fried. And of course the white leadtree leaves in a firm omelette, sliced in squares that is present in southern dishes like Kaeng Som, a sour and spicy soup thickened with shrimp paste.
The dish was too generous for me to finish, so there was a lot leftover.
I wanted to leave space for the spicy mango ice cream.
Kub Kao Kup Pla is owned by the person who founded iberry, a chain of ice cream places in Bangkok, so every branch of the restaurant serves the sorbet that iberry makes on its menu.
The spicy mango at Kub Kao Kup Pla is a mix of green mango and almost-ripe mango, with bursts of chili in it. What I love about iberry ice creams is that they are not dominated by sugar.
The spicy mango sorbet was a wonderful refreshing end to a meal that ignited taste buds.