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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bite-Size Review: BK Thai Center (Maybe)

Extremely spicy tom yum goong with chicken (the chef had run out of seafood by then.)

I was intrigued when foodie friends recently told me about an obscure Thai eatery in Wan Chai; phrases like "private kitchen," "no name," "home cooked style" and "need a pass code for entry" floated about and, susceptible creature that I am, I was immediately hooked.  In fact, they already had me at "authentic" and "cheap."  Knowing of my appetite - pun always intended - for culinary adventures, they kindly invited me to join several of their boisterous friends (two of whom are Thai nationals) to this in-the-know outlet last weekend.
Minced pork omelette
We walked down a small side street between Johnston Road and Queen's Street East to this innocuous little run-down (as Wan Chai residences are wont to be) apartment block.  My friends had allegedly forgotten the access code but it was fortuitous timing that someone else came along right that minute, punched in the requisite numbers and we just followed them indoors and upstairs to the second floor.
Seafood vermicelli salad (left) and green papaya salad (right)
We stopped in front of a locked door, above which hung a large wooden sign proclaiming "BK Thai Center" in English and Thai lettering.  One ring of the doorbell brought forth one of the two waitresses to the door, and we finally entered the Siamese sanctum.
Seafood fried rice
My friends were right. The place, which seats 20 people more or less comfortably, was actually a small kitchen attached to an elongated dining hall, with soundproofed and heavily tinted windows on an entire wall.  Service was affable and served with lots of smiles; the setting was casual and unpretentious; you had to help yourself to your own drinks - alcoholic and otherwise - from the fridge; and the matronly chef was amazingly quick with her cooking of the many, many (spicy) dishes that we'd ordered. It was just what I'd imagined going to a friend's home for dinner would be like if we were in a Thai suburb.

Sauteed pork liver and minced pork with onions and basil
And the food?  Well, everything we had was downright super tasty....too much so, if there's such a concept.  I don't know where you stand on MSG but whilst I'm not exactly allergic to this additive, my lips started getting all tingly and dry almost right after my last bite, and I was seriously parched the rest of the evening plus a little during the following morning as well.  So yes, although I really enjoyed the somewhat cloak-and-dagger intrigue of this restaurant, the cheery bonhomie of the team who work there, and all those gorgeously spiced dishes, the cumulative side effects from all the MSG overload might have me thinking twice before heading back there again.   As Ern would say, "spitty."
Spicy mystery meat (aren't they always?) sausage
Stir-fry kangkung or water spinach with generous dollops of garlic and fermented soybeans
The entrance

BK Thai Center - 9 Cross Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.  Access Pass Code: Unknown.
Recommended Entry: Get a personal invitation or stand at the entrance waiting for someone else to be buzzed in and follow them like a stalker.  An MSG-deprived stalker.

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