Chef Ohm Suansilphong, the former chef of Thai seafood spot Fish Cheeks, will strike out on his own with Kru, a restaurant opening at 190 N. 14th Street, between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street, in Williamsburg, on Friday, September 16. While Suansilphong remains a partner in Fish Cheeks, this is his first endeavor with his wife, Kiki Supap who supports him in the kitchen, as well as on the culinary operations side (Fish Cheeks’ other partners are not a part of Kru).
The name Kru, means guru or mentor in Thai, and as such, looks to all the crews Suansilphong has worked with over the years: from cooking at his father’s restaurant in Thailand, to working in Australia at Southeast Asian restaurant Long Grain, as well as at the acclaimed Bangkok restaurant, Nahm, prior to his Fish Cheeks days.
Suansilphong, via a translator, says the cooking at his new restaurant is also influenced by Sukhothai, the Thai North Central province where he grew up, along with ancient recipes from Thailand’s royalty and aristocracy.
The menu is broken into sections of small plates, like crab meat salad tossed with Japanese fish sauce, and the family-style dipping platters (priced in the $30 range) — an almond nam prik to lon, typically made from fermented soybeans, but prepared with kalamata olives with coconut cream and Thai chiles. Other dishes made to share are the curries (also in the $30 range), which include a whole lobster with pineapple and salted egg yolk, beef tongue with hearts of palm, and pork belly with button mushroom, pickled garlic, and chile paste. For dessert, there’s a play on the sweet fermented rice dessert khao mak, presented as a rice-based peach melba ice cream. Supap comes from a long lineage of Thai dessert makers, and while she grew up assisting them in making sweets, the desserts are handled by the kitchen team.
When Fish Cheeks first opened in 2016, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells helped put the restaurant on the map with a one-star review; he wrote that the cooking by Suansilphong and his brother, Chat Suansilphong, a Tom Colicchio alum, was somewhat unadventurous but “vivid.” Crowds still came flooding in. Ohm Suansilphong has sustained his approach to packing in flavor without editing for western palates. In 2018, fast-casual Chicks Isan opened (though has since closed), and most recently, the Fish Cheeks team collaborated with the condiments brand Omsom. Diners may find that Kru is unlike other Thai restaurants in the city, with its global perspective on the cuisine.
The Kru dining room has 50 seats, eight at the bar, and six outdoor patio seats. The restaurant is open from 5 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, with service seven days a week to follow.