OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

 OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Obao is not totally unknown to me as it is the former Ember Room where Chef Kittichai, purveyor of eclectic desserts at Spot Dessert Bar, use to serve chocolate ribs, as well as a lemon Mille crepes cake to die for. I am not sure why they changed the name and concept, but, I have to admit, that Obao is worth knowing. There, they served dishes from South East Asia, especially Thailand and Vietnam, but with a twist. 

 Dining room at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Dining room at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

 Dining room at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Dining room at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Decor wise, there has been a bit of change, but they definitely kept lots of the atmosphere of the Ember Room, with wooden walls and the ceiling decorations that look like heart shaped. 

As far as the menu is concerned, they have a bunch of small plates that are great for sharing, or simply discovering their menu. We decided to try few dishes. The first one was the Japanese eggplant, served with chilies, shallots, herbs and nuch cham that is a Vietnamese dipping sauce. 

 Japanese eggplant at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Japanese eggplant at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

 Japanese eggplant at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Japanese eggplant at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

This was very good: the eggplant was well cooked and had an incredible smokiness that made it stand on its own, without any need for any sauce. 

The next dish was the crispy vegetable spring rolls, made with tofu, jicama, taro and mushroom. 

 Vegetable Spring Rolls at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Vegetable Spring Rolls at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

There were four of them that were delightfully greasy and crispy on the outside and very tasty on the inside. They also have a version with pork and shrimp that I am sure is worth trying. 

After that, we tried the spare ribs on sugar cane skewer. 

 Spare ribs on sugar cane skewer at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Spare ribs on sugar cane skewer at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

I admit that I was curious about that dish and I am still wondering how they make it. It is very creative and a nice take on Vietnamese BBQ. The meat was fatty and tender, with a nice sweetness that, not only came from the sugar cane, but also from the honey mustard glaze. Dipped in the hoisin sauce, it was divine. Far better than the crispy pork belly that is the kind of dish that shows how the name given to it makes people order. 

 Crispy pork belly at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Crispy pork belly at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Yes, I was disappointed because it was just pork belly, the crispness being limited to just one or two pieces of meat. They would have served it with buns and a killer sauce, it would have made it a nice dish. 

Our last dish was some noodles with vegetables that were good, but not at the level of the other dishes. 

 Noodles with vegetables at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Noodles with vegetables at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

To finish, we had dessert; we chose the Thai tea panna cotta. 

 Thai tea wanna cotta at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Thai tea wanna cotta at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

  Thai tea wanna cotta at   OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

Thai tea wanna cotta at OBAO, South East Asian cuisine in Hell's Kitchen

You can definitely see the touch of Chef Kittichai in that dessert: a creative twist on a classic dessert. 

It is not exactly a panna cotta, but more like a pudding, served with a fantastic flourless brownie and whipped cream. That was a delicious dessert, especially if you like Thai tea, that pairs perfectly with the chocolate from the brownie. 

In fact, I should mention that I also had a Thai iced tea with my meal. It was very good, although not the best I had and missing the gradation of color so common to it. 

I liked our dinner at Obao: the food and the small plate concept make this place perfect for a nice dinner out. I will surely go back, maybe to try their soup that time. 

Enjoy (I did)!

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