Slow-poached octopus with ginger, lemongrass and white wine, finished with house-made chili powder and chili oil (Photo by Monica Escamilla)
Kampot helps fill the Pok Pok-sized, Thai-cuisine hole in my Pacific Northwest heart, and that is a very serious statement to make. Here in Richmond, unabashed bursts of fresh herbs, briny fish sauce, tongue-tingling lime and spiky chili make Indochinese dishes dance out of Kampot, the rebranded kitchen at Balliceaux; it’s a brilliant palette of flavors that keeps your taste buds begging for the next leap.
When you sit down, you’ll get a little dish of peanuts laced with kaffir lime and chili. Follow up with delicate, seared mushrooms absolutely littered with crispy shallots — slightly lacking in seasoning, but there’s fish sauce on the table. Each plate is available in a small or a large size, so be sure to grab at least a tapas-sized Kai-Lan to make sure you’re eating your sesame-infused greens. Whatever you do, don’t let the seemingly humble Cabbage 3 Ways pass you by; it’s a stunner loaded with bright lime and herbality.
Stack your table with signature proteins from land and sea: The slow-poached octopus is a must, and the lemongrass notes in the braised oxtail impart an addictive brightness to the unctuous meat. Make your own surf ‘n’ turf with perfectly grilled slices of hanger steak dipped in tamarind sauce, and add massive, coral-toned Gulf shrimp in the shell. The banana leaf-steamed fish sounds tempting, but it’s over-steamed and over-curried.
Don’t forget drinks and desserts: LSD and Motorbikes — with that hint of cinnamon! — and a punchy Key lime pie, respectively, are standouts. And there’s a drink-dessert combo, the Rap Game, featuring root beer, butter-washed rum and coconut cream. Get ready to fall in love in the Fan.
3.5 out of 4 forks
203 N. Lombardy St.
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 6 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 6 to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday: 6 to 9 p.m.
Prices: $2 to $26