Kala is the brand-new sister restaurant to Cha Yen Thai Cookery in Watertown MA, which many consider to be the best Thai restaurant in the Boston area. I've never actually been to the latter, so I was excited to try Kala for the first time.
Unlike most Thai cuisine in the Boston area, which is typically the sweeter Thai-American style we all grew up with, Kala seems to have some more traditional influences. But I wouldn't necessarily call it an "authentic" traditional Thai restaruant, but representing a more modern style of Thai cooking with some fusiony elements thrown in.
The dishes were large and filling, with quality, fresh-tasting ingredients, and very reasonably priced. We enjoyed the following for a 1PM weekday lunch in an almost empty restaurant:
PAPAYA SALAD (SPICY): Green papaya, tomato, green beans, chilli, lime juice, carrot and peanuts ($8)
~This was a good example of Kala's fresh, modern styling. Not as complex or as pungent as some versions around town (like Little Big Kitchen's), but refreshing and light, with some cherry tomatoes and green beans thrown in. However, the unusually long julienne for the papaya and carrots made it a bit difficult to eat, especially with the small tasting size plates each person was eating off of
CORN CAKES: Fried sweet corn fritters with sweet and spicy peanut dressing ($6)
~Everyone's favorite dish, according to early Yelp reviews, but we did not care for this. First of all, it is a huge dish for an appetizer (don't expect to graze across this menu, since every dish is quite large). Although the concept is appealing, fresh corn surrounded by a crispy fried crust, this dish takes an exciting, seasonal ingredient, and basically hides it, wilted inside a fairly heavy crust
SEE EW (BEEF): Wide rice noodle stir-fried with egg, Chinese broccoli and black soy sauce ($10.95)
~Also available with chicken, tofu or shrimp, this was my favorite dish, with tender beef, a smokey dark flavor and slightly chewy noodles
CHICKEN SATAY: Served with peanut/ cucumber relish ($9)
~Not the typically small skewered grilled meat, this was a large dish with no skewers in sight. The chicken was flavorful and tender and served with rice and assorted steamed veggies. The peanut sauce wasn't the fake tasting stuff from a can that most Thai restaurants serve. A good deal for the price, it would make a nice lunch by itself. Brown or sticky rice can be substituted
THAI ICED TEA: ($3.50)
~Nice, not too sweet, served in a big Mason jar mug
HOMEMADE ICE CREAM IN A CUP: "Flavor of the Week", no artificial ingredients, 3.8 oz ($2.75)
~Mutiple flavors were available, so we tried two. Strawberry had a good fruit flavor, whereas Green Tea was very strongly flavored, unlike the weak versions served at most Asian restaurants. However, the ice cream was served at a much too cold temperature, which hurt its flavor/creaminess and made it difficult to eat with the supplied small wood spoons
An attractive, although small interior, perhaps a bit loud (thanks to an awful sound track in the background). You can either order takeout at the counter, and there is table service as well. Right across Hanover Street from Boston Public Market (and the Haymarket vegetable market is right out front).
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