Anyone who knows me well understands that I gravitate towards Asian cuisine – Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Chinese – so when I saw a new Thai restaurant opening on Lima Road in the former O’Charley’s location, I was stoked. There is always room for more dining options. Having been a long time Baan Thai fan, I was skeptical that this new place could top it, but I knew I had to give it a try.Koze, which opened in late 2014, places its focus on ambiance which dances the line between casual and sophisticated. The newly renovated space has shed its chain-restaurant feel and is tastefully decorated with authentic Thai art. The spacious bar can comfortably seat up to 40 people, and there’s a private room that can accommodate up to 20 people for a private event. I sat at the bar when I visited and received prompt and courteous service, though I should mention I was the only one in the place at the time.
The cocktail menu is adequate and includes some signature drinks priced at $8. I tried the Farang Fizz made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, Cointreau, muddled orange slices, cherries and a dash of Angostura bitters, shaken and stirred and served on the rocks with a splash of soda. I enjoyed the taste of this cocktail, but I found the abundance of orange pieces a bit bothersome, especially as I tried to drink through a straw.
The restaurant boasts that the custom cocktail menu features only freshly prepared juices and mixers. If I make a return visit, I plan to try the Bangkok Stinger, made with Bombay Sapphire gin, blackberry brandy, grenadine and fresh lime juice with a splash of pineapple juice. Koze offers a few beers on tap and some bottled beer choices, as well.
The food menu is fairly simple and features a small selection of fried rice, curry, noodle and stir fry dishes. Whenever I try a new Thai Restaurant, I always order Pad Thai ($13). This is the quintessential Thai dish and, if done well, is a good indicator whether the rest of the menu is worth exploring. I ordered mine with tofu. I also tried the Spicy Basil and Peppers Stir Fry ($13).
Pad Thai is a straightforward dish made with stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and peanuts and seasoned with tamarind pulp and garlic. Though simple, Pad Thai typically packs a flavor punch, but I found Koze’s to be quite bland and Americanized. It is edible, but certainly nothing to write home about. On a positive note, the ingredients tasted fresh, and I have it on good authority that the owners plan to source as many ingredients locally as it can.
The Spicy Basil and Peppers Stir Fry was quite tasty – and spicy, as the name implies. It may be prepared with pork, chicken, beef or tofu. I chose beef and was pleasantly surprised with the result. The dish contained the perfect blend of spices, and I enjoyed the crunch of the red and green bell peppers. While basil is in the name of the dish, it was not overpowering— punctuating each bite with a fresh pop of flavor.
Overall, the food and drinks were fine. My biggest issue is the prices: $3 to $4 more than comparable dishes at other Thai restaurants in town. I’d be okay paying those prices if the food were outstanding, but as it stands, Baan Thai remains the king of Thai cuisine in my book.
Koze Thai Cuisine & Bar
6709 Lima Rd
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tues.-Sat
11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun