If you wander a few blocks down Silom’s Soi Convent, you’ll stumble across the cozy Kika Kitchen & Bar, a spot that’s been serving up tapas with Mediterranean tones for about eight months. They specialize in charcoal oven cookery and have recently refined their menu, adding new dishes and drinks.
The spot, done up in dark woods with pretty yellow and green tiles, offers a lively atmosphere downstairs and an intimate experience upstairs, while old black-and-white movies are silently projected onto a wall viewable from both floors.
They also host a well-loved Sunday gay tea dance, called La Vida Kika, with drinks, cold appetizers, DJs, and drag performers, which acts as an informal pregame to Maggie Choo’s on Sunday evening (commonly believed to be the best weekly gay event in the city).
We stopped by on a recent weeknight and — despite the pouring rain that had been haunting the city for hours — the place was busy.
However, very quickly the staff were bringing us our requested Parma Negroni (THB300), a lighter take on the classic cocktail with the addition on grapefruit and bitters, and Kika Mule (THB280), a drink often mentioned by customers leaving online reviews of their dining experiences here.
Featuring blackberry and Portuguese mint vodkas, it was finished with fresh lime and the traditional ginger beer. A bit boozier than most mules — we enjoyed the flavor, and loved the large frozen berries used as garnish.
Since the place does a fair trade in tapas (meaning people stopping in for small plates and drinks rather than full meals, not that the dishes are necessarily traditional tapas) we tried several recommended by Kika’s Argentinian chef Joel Bonino.
The Cauliflower Steak (THB180) is one of their most well-known dishes, and with good reason. The three distinct parts of the plate keep what could be a big, boring hunk of vegetable from being so.
The slab of veg has been lightly charred in the oven and is covered with unusual toasted couscous, adding an extra texture dimension.
It sits in a pool of tasty coconut curry that’s highly flavorful without any spice at all. The kicker of this Kika dish is the puree on the side, however. A rich cauliflower mash with the density of mashed potato, it had none of the blandness associated with that starchy side dish. It had pronounced garlic and onion flavors, plus a nice, subtle herbal backbone.
Beef Steak Tartare (THB410) also hit the spot. The soft bits of beef had a nice amount of fat and were served in a hollowed bone that had gone into the charcoal. It was delicate, sweet, sour, rich, and tangy.
Pro tip: start eating from the uncharred side of the bone, the flavor changes and deepens as you move toward the burned bone end and it’s more enjoyable to eat toward the most flavorsome part.
A pretty dish arrived next in the form of Tiger Prawns (THB340). The four large tasty prawns sat in a seafood sauce that references Thai nam jim but without any sweetness at all, which is welcome in an interpretation of a sauce that — while awesome — can sometimes be heavy handed with the sugar. In the center of the dish was half a charred avocado that provided a rich creamy element to the dish. We can’t say the slight char added much flavor but it looked great.
Despite being hearty starters, the dishes we tried weren’t heavy — making them perfect if you plan to go out partying in the nightlife district afterwards, but also meaning we still had lots of room for mains. This place attracts a pretty, well-kept crowd, so we imagine they like the imaginative tapas that still seem waistline-friendly.
We weren’t counting calories though, so we ordered up one of the richest mains — Chicken Liver Cannelloni (THB320), a large dish of three baked pasta rolls covered with smoky mole, fresh salsa, greens, and bits of whole grilled chicken heart. Inside was liver whipped with herbs and possibly sherry to create a rich, filling, well, filling.
We also tried the Tuna Steak (THB520), a very large, well prepared piece of tuna cooked medium-rare and topped with greens and asparagus.
On the side was another of those surprising purees the restaurant excels at. For the life of us, we could not figure out what was in this one. The chef revealed the secret: it’s made of tuna, oil and capers.
With little room left at that point, we decided to share a dessert, opting for the Dark Chocolate Passion Fruit Tart (THB220) with ultra-thick dollops of homemade whipped cream and dark bitter chocolate enhanced by the sourness of the passion fruit.
With a great atmosphere, easy location, and great talent for sauces and purees, Kika Kitchen & Bar would be great for dates or meetups with friends before venturing into Silom’s wilds. We also saw several people stop in alone for a beer and a quick dinner, so it seems to be a comfortable place for solo outings too.
Kika Kitchen & Bar
BTS Sala Daeng