H2O is typically the sort of place we wouldn't go to while staying in Kamala. The whole road that runs along side the beach is full of restaurants and bars that mostly offer some atrocious dumbed down version of Thai food at exorbitant prices and hideous interpretations of Western food. This is why you'll usually find us at the night market, or eating grilled pork from some little street side stall back in the town, the food is 100 times better and it's so much cheaper! But on our first night in Kamala, doing a walk of the strip just checking things out, a very friendly lady just said hello and offered us some 2 for 1 drink vouchers for H2O Bar & Restaurant.
Again, not usually one to go to a place just because we have some sort of voucher or incentive, I'd still want to know the food was going to be okay, I kind of had an inkling about this one. A few days later I suggest we go and check it out, (funny enough, we didn't bring the vouchers anyway) just order a little something and see how it goes. We were greeted again by the same friendly face who directs us up the stairs. There's a young boy and a very young girl who follow up the stairs behind us.
There is no part of the restaurant actually on street level, just a little flashing H2O sign and the stairs, which is why Lek spends her time down here just talking to the customers, asking them about their day, how long they're here for, and then showing them the menu and eventually (hopefully) leading them up the stairs.
It has a very welcoming feel, there's big white tables a little bar over in the corner, plants growing everywhere and a nice view back down onto the street.
We're pleasantly surprised that the menu is mostly Thai, with just a few burgers / sandwiches at the back. We visited on 2 occasions and both times were rather impressed with the Thai food and the warm service. Lek and her family, including brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews run the show. There's a very family feel about the place, the kids just playing amongst the tables and occasionally helping clear tables and run drinks.
We start with a plate of E-abb! The menu description tells us it's crispy cracker wrapped minced chicken, prawn, ginger and corriander with home-made sweet chilli sauce. I remember these from Kim's Sailor's Thai days, occasionly bringing home the leftovers and us enjoying little Thai Pizza's, and hadn't seen them anywhere else on our travels. 4 little triangles of spring roll pastry that had the chicken, prawn, ginger and corriander mince sandwiched between two layers and fried to a golden crisp. The home-made sweet chilli sauce the perfect dip.
The next choice, falling under the category of 'Villagers Favorites' was a Gai Zabb - crispy fried chicken breast with mint, shallot and Thai herbs. Again, something we hadn't really seen around much. The chicken was coated in some coarse coating (maybe some roast rice?) and fried to a golden crisp. There was a slightly spicy limey dressing that was coating fresh mint leaves, sliced lemongrass, corriander and shallot. Very nice combination, the dressing soaking through into the chicken just nicely and the fresh herbs and lemongrass giving it a nice zing.
The larb nuer was another zingy salad. Chopped beef tossed with loads of fresh herbs and sliced shallot in a spicy dressing. There's fresh beans, a lime wedge and cucumber to the side, which offer a nice cooling spell after a mouthful of this delicious spicy salad.
Another of my favorites from the Sailor's day's, a rich red curry of duck with cherry tomatoes. This was a very fine example, the curry rich and decadent with a little kick of spice. The chunks of roast duck were present throughout, the plump little cherry tomatoes exploding in the mouth and the addition of sweet pineapple a nice texture and flavour burst.
From our first visit, we didn't hang around for dessert. We told Lek we would be back, which we were, and she wanted to shout us dessert. The banana fritters arrived, 2 whole banana's in a crisp coconut batter were sitting with 2 giant mounds of ice-cream, chocolate and cookies and cream and finished with a drizzle of honey. Not really Tai but delicious all the same.
We were just about through when the heaven's opened up, dropping an incredible amount of water from the sky. Everyone scrambled for the few little seats by the bar, which were mostly protected. It usually passes over pretty fast but this seemed to be hanging around. We perched up at the bar and just started talking with Lek.
She made us 2 iced coffee's, sure to keep us awake for at least one movie tonight, as we just hung out until the H2O subsided ........
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