Atchana’s East West Kitchen

 

Thai classics delight at Atchana’s in the Grove

achtana's

Victoria Pesce Elliott

The ugly green building on U.S. 1 may be empty, but some of the Thai food that South Miamians so loved for three decades at the Siam Lotus Room can be found at the pleasant Atchana’s East West Grill in Coconut Grove’s Mutiny Hotel. Bangkok-born owner Atchana Capellini’s ambitions are limited by the tiny kitchen and the fact that she is turning out three meals a day plus room service, but it’s a start. (Actually, it is a super spot for breakfast, too. As the name suggests, she is also turning out American fare like New York strip steak, Caesar salad and cheeseburgers.)

For now, the sweet and surprising Atchana’s is taking it slow, but give it time and perhaps the whole cadre of Thai chefs will be back in the kitchen turning out more (and more authentic) dishes. (She promises mee grob, those irresistible sweet and sour Thai noodles that are rarely found around town.) Atchana is resisting the trend of pairing sushi with her brand of Thai food. “Maybe Indian with Thai I could see, but not Japanese,” says the practical and pleasant hospitality pro. “People always ask. But I am not doing it. At least not for now.”

Ambience: The tight quarters may have shrunk the menu and staff (our young waiter was so friendly we wanted to invite him home), but the lush poolside dining area with a dozen teak tables feels grand.

 

What Worked

  • Cool rice-paper spring rolls stuffed with fresh lettuce and carrots in a chili dipping sauce
  • Steaming edamame
  • Crunchy egg rolls
  • Moist and tender chicken satay skewers with a rich peanut dipping sauce
  • Complexly flavored chicken dumplings served with a sweet soy-based chili sauce
  • Stunning whole, crispy chili snapper, lacquered head to tailfin with a zippy sweet chili garlic sauce
  • Pad Thai with silky noodles and a fresh array of flavors including snappy bean sprouts and nicely roasted peanuts
  • Simple, rustic, home-style and hearty curries
  • A thick, pumpkin-yellow curry with coconut milk and tender strips of white chicken meat
  • A lively green curry with shrimp
  • Red, chili-flecked curry flecked with confetti of fresh vegetables
  • A crispy, hefty roast duck covered with slivered carrots, broccoli, rough-cut cabbage, celery, peas, cashews and pineapple
  • A tightly edited wine including an Alsatian gewürztraminer, a few generic Italian pinot grigios and mostly California reds
  • Heavenly Thai donuts - buttermilk biscuit batter gently fried into greaseless, plum-sized Os and served with a condensed milk and roasted peanut dipping sauce

 

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