When we stepped inside, the first thought that hit me was "Oh, it's
hot". There's no air-conditioning in the restaurant. There
are huge open windows that let in the same humid air from the outside
into the interior. There are numerous Thai artifacts and statues
inside the restaurant, some big enough to serve as a divider between
Since KL wasn't very hungry we only ordered a green papaya salad and
a soft shell crab dish to begin with in case we couldn't finish the
food. Service was a bit slack. We waited awhile before
anyone came to our table after we were seated. It was 9 pm when
we arrived and there were quite a few empty tables around, so it wasn't
like the staff was rushed off their feet. During the course of
the meal, the water glasses weren't refilled and I needed my
water! The crab dish was really spicy. There was a small
kerosene lamp on every table but ours was the only one that wasn't
lit. Normally KL wouldn't have said anything but since it was our
last meal in Honolulu, he wanted a "candle-lit" dinner. The staff
who took our order made no attempt to light it and left, so we had to
fetch someone else to get it going. It's all these little things
that define a restaurant with good or poor service.
Judging from the serving size and quality of the dishes we ordered,
I'd say Keo's is a pricey restaurant. The papaya salad had just
papaya and thin slivers of tomatoes in it, not like the ones I had
before which had a bunch of other vegetables and toasted chopped
in. Which is the authentic version? I don't know, but the
kind with a variety of ingredients seems to justify the price better.
The dressing in the salad was so tart that it's "cooking" the
papaya. I felt like I was eating pickled vegetables! Every
bite was followed by puckered lips smacked shut by the very sour
papaya. If you aren't hungry to begin with, this dish will clear
your palate and sinuses and restore your appetite.
The soft shell crab with basil, chili and bamboo shoots was the star
of the meal. The crab pieces were deep-fried and then stir-fried
with pungent basil and generous amount of hot chili (because we ordered
the spicy version). The crab was harder than the ones I had
before but still good. The whole dish was fragrant and spicy,
just like the way we like our Thai food.
Because of the small serving size, we thought we could cramp one
more item into our bellies. We got the fish patties served with a
sweet and sour cucumber sauce. The patties were freshly fried but
lacked the springiness found in good fish balls. Granted these
were fish patties, not fish balls, so they should be excused for not
being bouncy. The sweet and sour dipping liquid was perfect to
cut down the heaviness of the fried patties.
Overall the meal was not too bad especially when there was a
stand-out crab dish to highlight it. It was our farewell dinner
and I'm just glad it wasn't some horrible food we were served.
Keo's 2375 Kuhio Ave Honolulu
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