On Thursday night, a group of 9 of us competed in a very fiery Thai cook-off at Corner Kitchen in Sheung Wan.
Corner Kitchen is a charming little place on the corner (obviously) of Pound Lane and Po Hing Fong. It can serve as a regular private kitchen where you merely relax and enjoy a meal prepared for you, or you can receive a cooking lesson by the Corner Kitchen team and try your hand at mastering the kitchen. If you want to make it a little more exciting, however, as we did, you can partake in a Hell’s Kitchen style battle of the spatulas.
Divided into a girls team and a boys team, Canadian chef Nate guided us through 4 delicious Thai dishes, before deciding on the winning team whilst we sat down to enjoy an incredible meal (if I may say so myself).
Upon arrival, we were each given a glass of delicious red wine, courtesy of the venue, along with some incredibly moreish melted cheese baguettes, whilst Nate explained the night’s rundown.
Due to the fact that there was only one ridiculously powerful food processor in the kitchen, Nate gave us a demonstration on how to make a perfect Thai green curry paste. It upsets me a lot when people claim they can make an amazing Thai green curry and use ready-made paste out of a jar, so freshly-made paste is definitely the way to go. Once the paste was made, we split into our teams to make our curries.
Meanwhile, allowing the curry to simmer, each team was shown how to create a classic Tom Yum Goong (emphasis on the yum).
There was a lot of competitive feeling in the room as both teams battled to gain Nate’s approval. There may have been one or two overly-zealous competitors (me? Never!), but it was all was very light-hearted and fun. Needless to say there was no exchange of poison (though perhaps had we actually had some, it would have been a different story…)
As Pad Thai is best prepared à la minute, Nate gave us a demonstration of this, and then he and his assistant prepared a fresh one for us once we were seated.
Our classic Thai dessert was coconut sticky rice with mango. The rice was interestingly steamed through a tea towel with coconut milk and palm sugar in what looked like a huge dim sum basket.
Once all the dishes were prepared, we were given a chance to taste our competitors’ dishes and all of us girls agreed unanimously that our dishes by far outshone those of the boys. There was no doubt about it and we did not refrain from announcing this, very arrogantly, in front of them.
I fear that this might have been where we lost points, as, after being seated, when Nate announced the night’s winners, it was not the girls team which he announced. Something was definitely wrong there, meaning of course that there were five girls’ jaws touching the ground. How could this possibly have happened?!
Realising that Nate’s taste buds must have been mistaken, or he didn’t like our attitude, we recovered our dignity and enjoyed our delicious meal. Incidentally, the prize offered to the boys was 280 million year old salt. I somehow attained a bottle myself, so am eager to try it out.
The Tom YUM Goong was pretty spectacular, particularly the tiger prawns which were so fresh and tender that they required minimal chewing – perfect. Nate had prepared a fish stock using fish bones and prawn heads the previous day and this is what gave it a real authentic flavour.
The curry was beautifully fragrant – so wonderfully creamy and spicy. Even one of my friends who claims he doesn’t like Thai food (crazy!) went back for seconds.
The Pad Thai (which admittedly none of us can take credit for) was probably one of the best Pad Thai’s I have ever tasted; incredibly light and fresh with just the right amount of tamarind juice.
Sticky rice is one of my favourite things in the world. Mango is one of my favourite fruits. Enough said: it was a-mazing.
Corner Kitchen is BYO, without corkage charge… and we certainly took advantage of this. When you have the whole place to yourself, evidently, service is always going to be immaculate, but it really was great.
In the limited time that we had to cook four dishes, and the fact that the kitchen area isn’t enormous, the cookery lesson is more of a show than an actual lesson. I’m not sure if someone who has no cooking experience whatsoever could walk away from that and replicate those dishes. However, it was an amazingly fun experience with good friends, and even if people won’t remember how to make a Tom Yum Goong, they’ll at least remember that we had a lot of fun trying!
Corner Kitchen Cooking Parties are $1000 a head. Not something you can do every Thursday but, actually considering you get some wine, the lesson, the ingredients, the meal and the unforgettable experience, I wouldn’t say it’s too outrageous a price; definitely worth trying.
Ground Floor, 20 Po Hing Fong
Tel: +852 2803 2822
Date visited: Thursday 16th June 2011