A Thai restaurant in Watertown now has a counterpart in Downtown Boston. Manita Bunnagitkarn of the popular Cha Yen Thai Cookery just opened Kala Thai Cookery (151 Hanover St., Haymarket), taking over the former Casalinga space and filling it with Southeast Asian dishes.
Similar to Cha Yen, Kala Thai serves a mix of appetizers, soups, noodles, curry dishes, and rice dishes. Starters include pop piah (with cucumber, bean sprouts, spiced tofu, scallion, and egg in a rice flour wrapper), corn cakes, and chicken dumplings, plus a spicy green papaya salad and a galangal soup.
Noodle dishes fall in the $9 to $11 range and include a spicy sukothai with soft-boiled egg and fish cakes. There are three versions of fried rice, including a “double spicy” basil fried rice, plus assorted grilled meats and tofu that come with rice and seasonal vegetables. Bunnagitkarn has a lineup of chef’s specialties available as well, including a roasted duck breast and stir-fried ginger chicken, tofu, or vegetables. As at Cha Yen, this new restaurant serves house-made ice cream for dessert.
Kala opened earlier this month, about four years after the debut of Cha Yen, which has garnered acclaim from critics and local Thai food fans over the past several years. Bunnagitkarn, who previously worked for Todd English at the now-defunct Boston location of his Bonfire steakhouse, “is taking apart traditional Thai cuisine and putting it back together in gorgeous, delicious ways,” as The Improper Bostonian’s MC Slim JB wrote in a 2015 review of Cha Yen. The same year, Sheryl Julian praised Bunnagitkarn’s food as “a celebration of home cooking” in a “cheap eats” review in The Boston Globe.
Kala Thai Cookery operates Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday from 1 to 7:30 p.m.