Krung Thep, Republik Damansara Heights

August 12, 2019

With an Isan-origin chef commanding the kitchen, Krung Thep emerges as one of KL's few Thai restaurants that blast beyond culinary cliches, serving skilled interpretations of regional specialities that will make this a popular spot in Damansara Heights' new Republik F&B enclave.

For the first-time visit, small plates prove the ideal introduction to this sleek, sultry space. Head chef Gug hails from Khon Kaen, one of the major cities of Thailand's northeastern Isan region, and his experience spans respected establishments like Bangkok's Nahm, so there's a confident sense of sophistication imbued into rustic-sounding temptations like batter-fried chicken hearts and gizzards, furnishing a textured chew for fans of offal, subtle and mellow in flavour, brightened by a medley of fresh herbs and sweetened with house-made sriracha sauce (RM18). Chicken parts also feature in the complimentary snacks that include crunchy chicken skin with sprightly traditional salad leaves, tamarind sauce, smoked aubergine dip, and more of that moreish sriracha.

Krung Thep's competence with produce stretches from sea to land - seasonal oysters, currently U.S. Pacific, come with house-made chilli jam and fried shallots for an unmistakably spiced-up Southeast Asian preparation of molluscs (RM45 for three), while northern Thai-inflected lamb sausages, with a reassuringly genuine-meat coarseness, are smoked in-house, cushioned with nam phrik num chilli condiment for a balancing spark of zest (RM16). The harvest of farms is also revered: Luscious smoked Thai aubergines are bolstered by a fish sauce dressing, prawn floss and lime, plus an egg for extra exuberance, fully conveying the culinary-alchemy interplay of sweet-sour-spicy-salty dynamics that makes Thai cooking so beloved (RM24).

Krung Thep strives to encapsulate Thailand's length, from north to south, the latter of which is represented in our favourite dish here, tenderly binchotan-grilled baby squid immersed in a rich dry curry that's deeply resonant with roasted coconut notes, finding a lively, tangy counterpoint in assorted pickles with a juicy crunch (RM26). 
And there's still more to explore, including recipes that rely on Malaysian produce like Ipoh kampung chicken and Pulau Ketam flower crabs, leaping from minced duck larb to turmeric-tinged kingfish soup.

Thai-inflected cocktails here - Lalu Lemongrass (RM30; Stolichnaya vodka, lemongrass, lemon), Princess Pandan (RM30; Tanqueray gin, pandan, Earl Grey), The Butterfly (RM30; rice wine, butterfly pea, lychee) and ChaCha Yen (RM30; Mekhong rum, orange tea, milk) - are pleasantly easy-drinking, but for a more potent punch, head next door to Tickets Bar; both Krung Thep and Tickets Bar are run by the same folks behind Chinatown's PS150 bar.

Krung Thep

Lot G-05, Republik Damansara Heights, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 530pm-1030pm. Tel: 03-7622-8760

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