Bar Review: Songkran Thai Kitchen

The Lychee Martini at Songkran Thai Kitchen: Tito's Vodka, SOHO Lychee Liqueur, canned lychees
The Lychee Martini at Songkran Thai Kitchen: Tito’s Vodka, SOHO Lychee Liqueur, canned lychees

I love Thai food, and I thought I knew Thai food, but it turns out I really don’t. Chef Jett at Songkran Thai Kitchen is changing our perceptions about Thai food. As he explained, what we generally think of as Thai food is very spicy, but that’s what he calls “Thai street food.” In the fancy hotels, they eat what he calls “royal Thai food,” which is something completely different.

Mussels in rich, red curry at Songkran
Mussels in rich, red curry at Songkran

At Songkran, he is meshing the two and making a cuisine with which I was unfamiliar.

But very happy to enjoy.

The Goong Ka-Bok, or chicken and shrimp roll with plum dip, was one of the best crispy rolls I have ever had, and the Sai Krok Moo, Thai sausage with herb savory topping, was a loose, house-made sausage that put many barbecue restaurants to shame.  Add to that the Pad Hoi, or mussels in red curry, and you have a great meal.

Wagyu beef short ribs with herbal angry sauce at Songkran
Wagyu beef short ribs with herbal angry sauce at Songkran

But everything was done right, including the whole fried red snapper and the melt-in-your-mouth Neua Siam, or braised Wagyu beef short ribs with angry sauce.  It was too perfect, and that’s a problem for me. I’m not sure that I can go to my local Thai restaurant anymore and just order the Pad Thai like I normally do. I’m gonna keep thinking about Songkran.

What about the drinks?

But wait, this is a BAR REVIEW, not just a restaurant review.

The Red Lotus: Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka, SOHO Lychee Liqueur, pineapple juice, cranberry juice
The Red Lotus: Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka, SOHO Lychee Liqueur, pineapple juice, cranberry juice

After those delectables, I made my way to the bar and sat under the tutelage of Bill Bedner, a cicerone, sommelier, and spirits specialist.

He made a few delectations for me, including the Red Lotus, one of their more popular drinks, made of equal parts Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka, SOHO Lychee Liqueur, cranberry juice, and pineapple Juice. It’s a fine drink that goes for the sweet side, both from the juices and the lychee liqueur.

The Black Basil from Songkran Thai Kitchen: Pyrat XO Rum, lemon, tamarind syrup, Thai basil garnish.
The Black Basil from Songkran Thai Kitchen: Pyrat XO Rum, lemon, tamarind syrup, Thai basil garnish.

The Black Basil, however, is more like a sweet and sour, as it combines Pyrat XO Rum, tamarind syrup, and lemon juice, with a Thai basil garnish. I usually like sours, and this one was exceptional. The differences are what made it, too: the tamarind syrup and the Thai basil garnish. Bill’s tamarind syrup is not overpoweringly tamarind, and it gives the drink just a hint of that special tamarind sweetness. Combine that with the Thai basil bouquet, and it’s fantastic. I could drink these all day.

Bill's Tamarind Old Fashioned at Songkran: Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Angostura, tamarind syrup, orange peel.
Bill’s Tamarind Old Fashioned at Songkran: Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Angostura, tamarind syrup, orange peel.

The highlight, though, was the Tamarind Old Fashioned. Bill muddled an orange rind with about 4 dashes of Angostura before adding 2 1/2 ounces of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and about 3/4 ounce of the same tamarind syrup. This is a drink I could make and serve to even cocktail purists. The tamarind gave it just enough difference that it stood out but not enough to make it taste like something other than an Old Fashioned.

Songkran Thai Kitchen’s wine selection is great, too, but I would only go for the wine during the main course. For the appetizers and desserts, stick with the cocktails. Make sure you try the Black Basil and ask for Bill’s special Tamarind Old Fashioned.

Anyway you go, though, you can’t go wrong with Songkran.

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