IMO, Chef Trakool “Korn” Yodsuk is hands-down the best Thai chef in Kuala Lumpur. His breakthrough restaurant, Erawan in Kota Damansara, had raised the bar for Thai food in Malaysia to a whole new level when it first opened back in late 2009. With his careful attention to detail, and his finesse in producing Royal Thai dishes previously not seen in Malaysia, Chef Korn managed to elevate the status of Thai cuisine among Malaysians from the ordinary (think, pandan-wrapped chicken) to fine dining status. Some of his offerings back then included miang kham (Thai: เมี่ยงคำ) using fresh lotus petals instead of wild betel leaves for wrapping.
Another one of my favourite dishes there was the rhoom, also known as la tieng (Thai: ล่าเตียง) , a popular Royal Thai dish dating back to the rein of Rama II. These are delicate little parcels made from egg-nets used to wrap a stir-fried filling of meat/shrimps/peanuts.
Then, came the move to DC Mall at the upmarket Damansara Heights neighbourhood, which opened in Sep 2016, with new business partners providing the financial backing for an even swisher version of Erawan. Erawan at DC Mall, despite its stratospheric prices, continue to draw in the affluent crowds from nearby Damansara and Bangsar on the strength of Chef Korn’s stellar reputation.
All of which, of course, bring us all to the surprising news that Chef Korn and his brother, Anann (the front-of-the-house host extraordinaire) had severed all ties with the restaurant which they founded late last year, and has now moved on to a new venture: La Moon in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI). The new one-month-old set-up looked less severe than the DC Mall incarnation of Erawan - lofty ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass walls that resulted in the bright, airy feel of the dining room.
Anann was there, his usual, infectiously effervescent self. And Chef Korn - consistency is his middle name: for he brought along his old crowd favourites and produced them perfectly in this new month-old kitchen without missing a single makhuea phuang (Thai: มะเขือพวง).
One of his best-known dishes - the Cockles Curry - which had customers in raptures since his Erawan @ Kota Damansara days, still topped my list of dishes to have here. Mind you, it’s as good, if not better, than I remembered it from a decade back. The blood cockles were sweet, just-cooked perfectly, and deliver a flavour explosion like nothing else I’d found in KL, ever.
Chef Korn’s Crabmeat Omelette, his answer to the one at Bangkok’s One-Michelin-starred Jay Fai, uses crabmeat from Thailand. The result was a lush, fat disc filled with sweet crabmeat flesh, almost as good as Jay Fai’s. It doesn’t come cheap at MYR98 (US$24) for a single order, but it’s more than enough for two.
A new discovery (for me) is Chef Korn’s Corn Salad, pepped up with the inclusion of wedges of salted duck’s egg and tossed in som tum dressing (usually used for the green papaya salad). Toasted dried shrimps and cashewnuts are thrown in for extra crunch.
We were a disappointed with this spicy, soupy stew - but then, it was our fault: from the name of the dish (it was the day’s special), we’d thought it was something akin to Penang-Nyonya perut ikan, an intoxicatingly addictive stew which utilises fermented fish intestines. Turned out, the dish was actually more like Southern-Thai kaeng som (Thai: แกงส้ม) and used fish belly, not fish intestines. The flavours were okay, but didn’t have the pungent assertiveness we looked for. However, we absolutely loved the stink-beans or sataw (Thai: สะตอ) in there, though. I’d never had sataw in a soup or stew form - this one’s really good.
Tub Tim Krob
I think the kitchen’s still settling in, so what we had here was a rather “ordinary” Thai waterchestnuts-jackfruit in chilled coconut milk dessert. Nothing fancy. But knowing Chef Korn, it’ll be a matter of time before he ups the ante.
La Moon ticks all the boxes for what I look for in a good Thai restaurant. Prices are high, as always is the case with Chef Korn’s ventures. But then, this is the place one comes for the best Thai food in KL, if not actually in Malaysia.
G-02, The Greens Terrace
2, Jalan Wan Kadir 3, Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
RSVP: +60128 2682333 (WhatsApp only)