|1200 W. Howard Ln.
Austin, TX 78753
At first glance one would think that I-35 and Howard Lane is not exactly fertile ground for fine dining. But I think I’m setting a record here by doing two restaurants in the same strip mall. The first was Bella Luna and the second is Ka Prow, helmed by the inestimably talented Chef Opart. The cuisine is Pan Asian but I’m always drawn to the Thai section.
Aside from being talented, Opart is congenial and generous. He has on many occasions donated a percentage of his sales to those in need. And that speaks volumes. So does his collection of appetizers.
The Cheese Rolls are vintage and delicious. Made with low fat cream cheese, scallions and mushrooms, they dissolve on first bite into gooey bits of goodness. The Tod Mun are fried fish cakes made with green beans and a red curry paste. You want flavor? The dish is delicately balanced and not in the least bit “fishy.” The Lettuce Wrap is another favorite. You pile the lettuce leaves full of stir fried minced chicken with a hint of onions, red peppers, mushrooms and bell peppers. If I’m not in the mood for lettuce, sometimes I’ll just eat the ingredients: they’re that tasty! But it works either way. On the Japanese side, Opart’s Tempura Shrimp are a blast. The tempura batter is perfect and the result is shrimp that are not oily as can sometimes be the cases with tempuras. The veggies, particularly the sweet potatoes and broccoli work well here too.
Pad in Thai means to “stir fry.” And Opart is a master of the pad techniques. His Pad Prik King remains one of my go to dishes. You begin by stir frying green beans, red bell peppers and (I would choose tofu) in a red curry paste. The end result is riveting. Not too hot, but definitely ramped up a bit. And great taste! Another pad smash is the Pad Ka Prow. The stir fired combo of onions, red bell peppers, green beans, chili, garlic and Ka Prow leaves with some tasty pork is simply addictive. And on the noodle side, one must try the Pad Kee Mao. These flat rice noodles are a symphony of taste with the luscious blend of onions, tomatoes, red bell peppers and garlic in a compelling sauce. Opart also makes this lovely dish available in a gluten free presentation. Just ask!
You simply cannot leave Ka Prow without trying at least one curry dish. I recommend the Duck Curry which leaves you with a sense of contentment that borders on the mystical. Nor can you leave without one of O’s special dishes. One doesn’t normally envision Soft Shell Crab with a chili sauce but this one works beautifully with textures and tastes that redefine the genre. And the Macadamia Steak must be tasted to be believed. We are talking flavors here of humongous proportion. How? Because of an Angus Rib Eye with macadamias, shrimp sauce and red bell peppers.
Of course there is sushi and sashimi on a daily basis at Ka Prow, and best of all, there is always Chef O, standing watch over his delicious domain.