When I first saw it open, I had my typical thought – “another mediocre Thai restaurant, that everyone will say is the best Thai they’ve ever had…” – and I chose to ignore it. Then I began hearing mention that it was “authentic” Thai street food and it brought back memories of eating kanom krok (grilled coconut rice cakes) and fried chicken underneath the Taksin bridge – could this really be coming to Atlanta?
So HX and I decided to give it a try and I have my answer. It is a resounding NO. Maybe my palate is screwed up, maybe my experience in Thailand was freakishly skewed and unusual, maybe I was in the wrong country – but Kokai struck me as: “another mediocre Thai restaurant, that everyone will say is the best Thai they’ve ever had…”. I don’t often do this here, but be forewarned – I’m panning this restaurant. Fortunately, I’m feeling a bit lazy and I wasn’t pissed off by this place – just disappointed – so I won’t be flying off the handle (I’m saving my vitriol for bigger things).
Yen Ta Four
No flashbacks of great memories, no flood of relaxation that you get when you put wonderful food in your mouth, no excitement – just bland, mediocre food – no depth of flavor – nothing. Now admittedly, the presentation was beautiful (yeah, yeah – you eat with your eyes as well as with your mouth – whatever), but that only seemed to heighten the disappointment. The Yen Ta Four (mixed seafood noodle soup) did have a nice mix of large prawns, fish, squid balls, fried tofu, vegetables and wide rice noodles. Unfortunately, the seafood was overcooked and rubbery (seriously – doesn’t everyone know by now that shrimp can only take a few minutes in hot broth before they are shot? These seemed like they were in the bath from the beginning). The hot pink broth was reminiscent of watered down sweet and sour sauce.
Pad Ka Pao
Pad Ka Pao (fried chicken with basil) was bland and reminded me of the “pre-mixed” stir fry kits you find in the freezer section at the grocery. Again with the overcooked, rubbery proteins….
Surprisingly, the vegetable spring rolls (HX insisted – typically I avoid these), were surprisingly good – crispy, light and full of flavor.
As always, I welcome counter opinions (though they won’t change mine…). Tell me that I’m wrong – convince me to give it another try. I’d love to find good, authentic Thai street food in Atlanta.
Kokai Thai Bistro
5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd
Norcross, GA 30093-1519