Last week, when Phuket "Cake" Thongsodchaveondee closed his beloved restaurant, Miamians heaved a collective sigh of despair. Cake Thai Kitchen was one of those rare places where you could enjoy an authentic Thai experience at budget prices. The one-two punch of price and quality made the tiny restaurant popular with the city's culinary community.
Thongsodchaveondee said he planned to return to Thailand to further his knowledge of Thai cooking and to conduct demonstrations. Before he boards a plane, however, we'll have one more chance to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
On Thursday, September 3, La Mar by Gaston Acurio will host Thongsodchaveondee for a Cake Thai at La Mar Pop-Up.
La Mar executive chef Diego Oka tells New Times that Cake Thai's chef served as an innovator in Miami's culinary scene. "When Cake opened there weren't too many comfort Asian eateries, especially Thai food, in Miami. The whole experience for me was amazing — going to a small 'secret' space where the food was authentic and delicious."
The tiny space was perfect for low-key dinners with friends, Oka adds. "The atmosphere of a mom-and-pop place was perfect, especially on Sunday nights, when my chef friends are off. For a long time, that was our favorite place to go every week. We were addicted to Cake Thai."
The La Mar chef, whose restaurant inside the opulent Mandarin Oriental hotel on Brickell Key is the setting for many special occasions, says he would often visit Cake Thai for similar events. "I celebrated many things in Cake's restaurant — from birthdays, goodbye parties, and after-service La Mar late dinners to my wife’s pregnancy cravings — they all happened at Cake Thai Kitchen."
It was only natural, then, that Oka jumped on the opportunity to allow Thongsodchaveondee to take over La Mar's kitchen for one evening.
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The one-night-only event will offer a limited menu that includes pha rad prike (Florida grouper with a spicy blend of aji amarillo, chili paste, kaffir lime leaf, and coconut cream), num tok moo (marinated thin-sliced pork, char-grilled and served with a spicy sauce and toasted rice), and pha meng pad kai kem (butterfish and prawns, salted egg with Cake's house sweet chili paste, chives, and onions). Prices are not yet available.
Dishes will be available for dine-in service (both inside and on La Mar's waterfront patio), takeout, and delivery. Reservations can be made via sevenrooms.com. Delivery and takeout can be ordered through La Mar's ordering site.
Oka praises Thongsodchaveondee for introducing Miami to dishes he describes as "a flavor explosion in our mouth," but also for the way his fellow chef values the simple gifts of good food and good friendship. "Even the way he showed me to greet someone in Thai culture — to put your hands together and bow when we say hello or thank you — is special. Because of that and Cake's kind personality, Cake Thai Kitchen will always have a special place in my heart."
Cake Thai Pop-Up. 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, September 3, at La Mar by Gastón Acurio, 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami; 305-913-8358. Reservations available via sevenrooms.com.