Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cobaya Bee @ Khong River House


The Khong River House Culinary Team

Wow!  As one of the co-conspirators of the Cobaya dinners over the past three years, I must admit that Cobaya Khong with chef Bee was a real highlight. Bee's dinner was exactly what I envisioned when we conceptualized them. The premise is simple, find the best chefs in town, unlock their handcuffs and  sprinkle in some food loving guinea pigs....

On January 23, 2013, Twenty-five adventurous guinea pigs met at the recently opened Khong River House located just north of Lincoln Road.  Chef Piyarat Potha Arreeratn a/k/a Bee curated a fantastic menu that was inspired by his childhood and family in Thailand.

Truth be told, I always stress about these dinners and usually suffer from insomnia as they approach. Why? I worry about whether the chef will fully grasp the concept and more importantly, will they deliver a great meal to my fellow guinea pigs.

I was slightly more worried about this Cobaya primarily because past ethnic attempts were minor busts.  But I was assured several times by 50 Eggs Inc. CEO, John Kunkel and his efficient "social media maven" Allison James that chef Bee was VERY excited to do this dinner plus he had some special dishes up his sleeve.  They weren't kidding.

Upon arrival, we were escorted past the bustling main room and the open kitchen, then up a flight of illuminated license plated stairs to a private dining room and bar area.  There, chef Bee was waiting to greet everyone with his warm smile, engaging personality and a Cobaya first, pictures from his childhood in Thailand.  

Chef Bee was genuinely excited and enthusiastic to discuss every dish along with the stories about his family that inspired each course. They were heartfelt and moving even for this clod.

Despite our segment on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Cobaya isn't about "gross out" food and Bee isn't either.  Instead, he took us on a culinary journey through his life and cherished country.

When I introduced myself to Bee he instantly thanked me for the opportunity to cook food that was special to him and his team. As the dinner was winding down, he told me that one of his older Thai cooks started to cry when he told her what she was going to be cooking for us. That's what Cobaya is freaking all about!

It's now more than twenty-for hours since the dinner ended and I must admit that I'm still full seeing and hearing chef Bee.  His passion and love for his country and its food is truly inspiring.

As I indicated in my initial post about Khong, if you are a food fan you need to pay a visit soon.  If you are unfamiliar with Thai cuisine go and let Bee and his team take you on a journey.

FYI, chef Bee hails from the small town of Ban Sankhohiang in the Chiang Rai region.

Chef de Cuisine Duangwiwat Khoetchapayook (known as Chef Danny) is from a region known as Korat in the northeastern part of Thailand.

Chef de Cuisine Cristian Rene Cuevas has cooked under 2 star Michelin Chefs Dan Barber and Chris Lee.

Sous Chef Sudarat Loasupho (known as Chef Pai), who is from the region of Yasothorn also in the northeastern part of Thailand.

Again, I recently wrote a post about Khong River House and chef Bee which you can find here.

Stairway to Thai heaven...I suspect these stairs will be climbed by numerous mini skirt and long legged Louboutin wearing models in the near future. Jealous!

The private upstairs bar and lounge was the perfect setting for an "underground"  Cobaya dinner.  

Private table sans the culinary rodents.

photo via 

No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. Once upstairs and with a welcoming cocktail in hand, we were treated  provided bowls of Dak Dae Tod, deep fried spicy silkworms.  Yes, I ate some and actually enjoyed the seasoning and texture.

The other bar snack posed more of a challenge even for this experienced eater.  Magna Da Tod- Crispy deep fried water bugs with five spices provided great flavor but I was transported to a Survivor eating challenge after several bites. These bad boys would not go down easily....

50 Eggs inc. mastermind/CEO, John Kunkle and chef Bee welcome the guinea pigs.

Yam Kai Mod Dang better known as red ant roe salad was served with a spicy chile, lime, and fish sauce on an endive leaf.  Long beans and pickled onions adorned the plate.  We were "encouraged" to eat this dish with our hands.  These may have been black ants from the Yardbird kitchen for all I know.  Nevertheless, the flavors and heat won me over.

While the squeamish at my table were still buzzing over the ants, Bee unleashed a delicious combination of pig brain and sticky rice. (Nab Ong Or Muu Yaang) The brain was steamed in a banana leaf and then smoked with ground pork, lemongrass, lime leaf, and shallots.  I happily devoured ChowP's scraps.

I always hate to pick a favorite dish from a Cobaya dinner but I must admit that Bee's Yam Gob, a northern country style frog curry was the dish of the night.

The broth comprised of lemon grass, galangal, roasted shallot, garlic, cilantro and fish sauce was immensely flavorful and packed a nice spicy punch. The Hialeah sourced frog was very tender and a rare treat.

I would be remiss without mentioning the spot on and fantastic wine pairings of Allegra Angello.  I don't know about you, but I always eat my ants and frogs with a chilled riesling.  50 Eggs wine guru, Allegra agrees.  She treated us to an awesome 1998 riesling that was wonderful and a perfect match.    

Once chef Bee was finished serving us his traditional and authentic favorites, he shared some of the more approachable dishes that are currently on his menu.  These dishes were all great and it was a nice change of pace that allowed him to showcase some of the things he is doing on a daily basis.

Bee's house-made Chiang Ria Sausage is easily one of my favorite items on the current menu.  They have a great texture along with a really nice combination of flavor and heat. Bee serves his sausage with pork rinds and a chili sauce.

Another favorire of mine, Goong Tod Gluar Prik Thai Dum- a/k/a fuck yo mama.  No, no, its a Vietnamese style crispy prawn sauteed with fresh Thai chili, garlic, shallots, spring onion and spices.  The dish packs a ton of flavor and heat.

I'm admittedly not a huge tofu fan especially when prepared by sub par chefs.  However, Bee's Pad Dok Mai Gward- tofu stir-fried with garlic chives, bean sprouts and chiles was a tasty dish and one I'd consider ordering again.

Ants in the pants bitches!!!

I know, I know, it's chicken blah blah blah.  Whatever! Chicken doesn't get much better than this one. It's marinated overnight in coconut milk and stuffed with lemongrass, tumeric, garlic and coriander seed.  It is then slow roasted resulting in a flavorful and moist dish.  It  is paired with nice spicy and sweet dipping sauce.

Earlier in the night, my good friend JDonn, was making plans for a post dinner Shake Shack run. Those plans ended quickly after Bee unleashed Kha Mu Palow Mann on us. Yes you are correct, it's a slow cooked pork leg seasoned with five spice, oyster sauce, spicy chile vinegar and paired with steamed buns.  This was cooked and seasoned perfectly.  No Shake Shack for you!!

Another favorite dish was the slightly sweet Bahmi Sua noodles.  They are a Burmese style egg noodle with vegetables, chili and peanuts.

Insane in the brain.... Allegra went Marilyn Manson on us.

Guinea pigs need some love too... and absinthe of course!

The finished product was an anise/absinthe treat.

Dessert wasn't an afterthought. Bee opted for a nose holding yet tasty Khaao Neaw Durian with sweet  sticky rice pudding.


No need to hold you nose for Bee's delicious Thai donuts.

One last cocktail arrived courtesy of Bee and Allegra.  Ruammit, sweetened jack fruit with water chestnuts was a dead ringer for juicy fruit gum.

Delicious and fun. Two of my favorite words!

Although I highly doubt that you will find most of these dishes on the daily menu, I would still highly recommend going to Khong River House.  The menu is littered with great dishes and Bee's passion is seen throughout.

 Khong River House on Urbanspoon

1661 Meridian Ave
Miami BeachFL 33139
(305) 763-8147 

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