Tantalising for the tastebuds

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NO matter how much blood, sweat and tears, opening a new restaurant can throw up nasty surprises.

My heart went out to Morks, which opened at Kingston Foreshore mid-September. During its first couple of days – bam – the exhaust system decided to cark it.

And so the restaurant was really smoky on my first visit. But the experienced team at Morks knows that a problem calls for a solution. They swung open the doors to let the air clear and didn’t skip a beat wining and dining customers.

Morks’ mission in Kingston is the same as it was in Florey (now closed): to tantalise the tastebuds of guests with original, unpredictable and exciting contemporary Thai food.

At this “double-the-size” location (which means more than double the work), customers are already returning over and over to experience the friendly front-of-house service, led by Benn Ratanakosol, and the exciting food dished up under head chef Mork Ratanakosol. Mork created this contemporary Thai food working alongside his father Adul, who the family says has been “cooking longer than he has been walking”.

If you want a great overall experience, opt for the eight-course tasting ($125 per person with wine/$90 without), so you hit all the signature dishes. If not, the four-course tasting ($75 per person with wine/$55 without).

Entrees start at $15 for zucchini fritters with roasted chilli, which we adored. Whatever you do, order the pan seared scallops and pig’s ear terrine, which might not sound attractive but it’s divine. And, now that I think of it, the wontons entrée – pan seared king prawns, pork and prawn wontons, with ginger and soy emulsion, and a pork master stock – are a must ($16).

Mains begin at $24 and top off at $28. The tender-braised pork belly with English spinach and boiled quail eggs is sensational. The small crunchy bits of crackling aren’t so hard you lose your teeth and the dish is prepared with a five-spice pork reduction. Contemporary Thai for sure. Another favourite dish was Mork’s famous Monk fish poached in green curry.

This type of cuisine is perfect for sharing. Hint: this can be challenging at Morks unless your party is an “even number”, since most entrees come in twos or fours. Staff should ideally offer additional pieces, if required.

The memory of the first few days of opening will quickly fade in the minds of Mork’s staff. They know they have a winning formula with their innovative cuisine. They know they have decades of experience under their belts (the parents ran Yarralumla’s Sukothai Restaurant for 19 years). And they know they will feed thousands of happy customers over time at their new Kingston home, including me.

Morks, 18/19 Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore. Closed Monday and hours vary other times, with brunch weekends. Call 6295 0112.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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