[Penang] Dinner at The Fisher by Krua Thai

For some strange reason, many of the new eateries which opened in George Town post-COVID seem to be Thai. Dinner this evening was at ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—™๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฏ๐˜† ๐—ž๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ฎ ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ถ, the newest Thai eatery in town, which just opened its doors for business on 8 Sep 2022. โ€œKruaโ€ means โ€œkitchenโ€ in Thai.

Headed by Head Chef Sompong Kaewphet, the all-Thai kitchen crew produced a selection of Thai regional dishes, from Bangkok/Central Thai, to Southern Thai.

Our dinner spread this evening consisted of:
:small_orange_diamond: ๐™ˆ๐™ž๐™š๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ ๐™๐™–๐™ข - wild betel leaf wraps with condiments. Iโ€™d always been fascinated by this popular appetizer - a sort of DIY wrap using wild betel leaves, a pleasant, less astringent cousin to the betel leaves, which is used on the Indian sub-continent for their paan.

The soft, pliable and mild-tasting wild betel leaves are used as edible vessels for conveying finely-chopped raw galangal, purple shallots, birdsโ€™ eye chilis, toasted peanuts, pounded dried shrimp, toasted coconut shreds, and small segments of kaffir lime.

A sweet-savoury cooked down sauce consisting of palm sugar, shrimp paste, and a combination of blended/pureed dried shrimps, toasted coconut shreds, ginger and galangal. The umami feature of the sauce pulled all the chopped ingredients together as one forms a delicate, tasty parcel with the wild betel leaf.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™†๐™–๐™š๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ ๐™–๐™š๐™ฌ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ ๐™–๐™ž- green chicken curry with eggplants. The standard Thai green curry here. We were a tad disappointed that only the normal eggplant was used, instead of the tiny pea eggplant, which gives a satisfying burst in oneโ€™s mouth when eaten.
The fact that the all-Thai kitchen crew chose to compromise on this ingredient perplexed us diners, and we wondered what else has been substituted or left out in their dishes.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™†๐™๐™–๐™ค ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™™ ๐™จ๐™–๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™ง๐™ค๐™™ - pineapple fried rice. This has always been one of the most popular dish in a Thai restaurant: the little bursts of sweet-sour flavours from the pineapple segments contrasted beautifully with the savoury fried rice. Toasted cashew-nuts sprinkled on top provide a pleasant textural contrast.
The version here was beautifully done.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™‹๐™ก๐™– ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™ค ๐™ ๐™ก๐™ช๐™– - salt-baked tilapia with ๐™ ๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ข ๐™˜๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ (rice vermicelli), lettuce wrap and coriander leaves, with red and green chili condiments.
The Thai-style preparation involved covering a whole fish with packed sea salt, plus a bit of flour and water to form a paste for binding the salt cover together.
The fish is then grilled slowly on both sides, before being served whole. The diners will need to remove the salt-encrusted fish skin entirely, as this wonโ€™t be edible. The fish-meat remained moist, and will be served with nam jim, a Thai dip for seafood, which is made from blending minced raw garlic, explosively spicy birdโ€™s eye chilis (โ€œprik kee nooโ€), Thai fish sauce (โ€œnam plaโ€), lime juice and sugar.

:small_orange_diamond: Sweet-sour chicken with cashew-nuts. Honestly, this was the first time Iโ€™d ever seen this dish in a Thai restaurant, anywhere. My bad, I Googled and Thai restaurants do serve this, so maybe itโ€™s because I just never noticed it.
Itโ€™s somewhat similar to Chinese sweet-sour chicken, but the Thais used the gentler, less sharp lime juice instead of vinegar to give the fish its sourness, and Thai semi-liquid palm sugar instead of granulated white sugar used by the Chinese.
The onions, capsicums and toasted cashew-nuts provided the crunch - very good with steamed white rice.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™‚๐™ค๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ค๐™— ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™š๐™ฃ - baked prawns with glass noodles. This is one of my all-time favourite dishes when I go to Bangkok: they do make the best renditions of this dish over there.
Iโ€™d never, ever been able to find a good one in Singapore or Malaysia, despite our proximity to Thailand, and with all those Thai chefs working here.
Thatโ€™s because most Thai restaurant owners here in Malaysia are non-Thais, mostly Chinese-Malaysians, and theyโ€™d ask (nay, demand) that their Thai chefs tone down on the use of fish sauce, or peppercorns, garlic and fresh coriander roots, when they cook this dish.
So, essentially, one gets dumbed-down, Sinicized goong ob woonsen here, never the real stuff.

:small_orange_diamond: Scrambled eggs with melinjo leaves. This was a simple dish, but done pretty well.

:small_orange_diamond: Dessert: ๐™๐™ช๐™— ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข ๐™ ๐™ง๐™ค๐™— - Thai โ€œred rubiesโ€, made from water-chestnuts coated in tapioca flour, and served with jackfruit strips in sweetened coconut milk.
Very good rendition here, with fresh, rich coconut milk.

Quite a good meal overall. The prices are on the high side, though.

The Fisher by Krua Thai
12, Jalan Burmah (Burmah Road), 10050 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6013-721 7718
Operating hours: 10am-3pm, 5pm-1am, Monday to Friday.
10am -1am, Sat & Sun.