Review: Nittha Siam Kitchen
Contributor: Jesse Pratt
A lifelong passion of mine is dining out. To me, nothing can quite match the excitement felt when a tantalizing main entrée is served.
My favorite types of restaurants are either ethnic or, maybe, American—but only if they have a particular uniqueness about them.
An extra special treat is when I get to try a new dish.
Thai cuisine has provided that opportunity to me. It has been a regular staple of my diet for the last decade. There are so many combinations to enjoy: a hearty rice or noodle Pad Thai, Tom Yum fried rice or any one of the various aromatic and colorful curries.
I’m willing to make a relatively long drive for a guaranteed quality meal. I once drove an hour and a half to revisit a restaurant in Lexington, KY, only to find out they were closed. (That is a story for another post.) However, last year I had the fortune of eating at one of best Thai restaurants I’ve had the pleasure to experience.
My first restaurant review will be of this restaurant, Nittha Siam Kitchen, located in Highland Heights, KY, a southern suburb of Cincinnati, OH.
Shrimp Hot & Sour Soup
Upon entering, one is greeted by the staff, seated, and drink orders are promptly taken.
Two menus are given, one for Thai cuisine and another for Japanese/sushi. (Thai will be the focus of this piece, however, it must be said that the sushi is certainly worth experiencing.)
A great way to begin is with an order of Som Tam, a green papaya salad made with a dressing consisting of fresh garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar. It is often garnished with green beans, peanuts, cherry tomatoes, and Thai chilies. A sweet taste is often associated with papaya, however, these are unripened green papayas, and the sweetness has not yet developed. This leads to a refreshingly savory start to the meal.
A word of caution regarding the chilies: this dish is prepared RAW. They will pack a FAR more potent punch than when cooked as part of a dish. On a scale of 1 to 10, a 4 may quickly become a 7.
Green Papaya Salad
On a chilly day, perhaps a bowl of soup may sound like a more palatable option, and Nittha’s does not disappoint in that department either. A bowl of Tom Yum Goong, or shrimp hot and sour soup consisting of lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves can be just the dish needed to warm up for dinner.
For the main entrée, the following dish is off menu, but available provided the kitchen is not busy. Kaeng Pa, or jungle curry as it is also known, differs from the more familiar Thai curries in that it is much spicier and contains no coconut milk, as it originates from the forests of northern Thailand that are devoid of coconut trees.
Typically spiced with kaffir lime peel and leaves, lemongrass, galangal, and green peppercorns, this is a treat well worth seeking out. The version that is shown below also contains perfectly ripened Thai pumpkin (neither mushy nor crunchy) and green bean. Pork and chicken are the preferred meats to go with it. As mentioned earlier, a bit of caution needs to be taken with the spice. A 5 on this will be much hotter than a 5 on a Massaman curry.
Jungle Curry w/ Pumpkin & Pork
Finally, a particularly interesting dish on the menu is Khao Pad Gang Keow Wan or green curry fried rice. The chefs at Nittha’s expertly combine the simplicity of fried rice with the complex flavors of the green curry to create a truly masterful dish.
The ambiance is that of a typical Thai restaurant; the bright green walls, sushi bar, and the mix of cushioned benches and tables make for a comfortable setting for all ages. The staff members are friendly and the restaurant is always kept clean.
In summary, a meal here is an enjoyable experience and comes with my highest recommendation.