Mike Palmer on Lucky Khao

By Helen Salter

- Last updated on GMT

Mike Palmer on Brighton restaurant Lucky Khao

Related tags: Thai cuisine, Brighton and hove

The entrepreneur behind Kemptown Project has launched a Thai barbecue restaurant in the space that was once home to high end dining concept Pike & Pine.

What was the idea behind Lucky Khao?
About seven years ago I was working in Miami went to an Asian gastropub called Pubbelly. I thought it would be terrible but was, in fact, incredible. I decided I had to do something like this one day. I checked out a few other Asian concept in the US including. Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok. For Brighton, we have gone for a more northern/Isaan style which we think is particularly relevant to the UK. It goes really nicely with drinks, a lot of it is cooked on a grill and we can get a lot of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options in there.

How is it different to the likes of Kiln and Smoking Goat?
We’re going to serve more meat. The guys have been working at Andy Oliver’s Som Saa, in Spitalfields. We've worked especially hard on our BBQ chicken - we went to Thailand four times to research the dish. It cost us so much money but we are really happy with the chicken. 

What about sharing plates?
Principally, it's family style. Khao soi are the biggest dishes that we do designed for one person, but you can share it. It's a great Northern Thai dish involving crispy noodles,a  coconut-based sauce and 18-hour smoked local organic brisket. It’s beautiful.

Where do you get your produce from?
All the meat is local. There are a few things we have to import from Thailand, including Thai aubergine, sawtooth and Thai basil. But the majority of our fruit and veg is from here.

What about drinks?
We’ve got a small cocktail menu that includes nitro espresso martinis and boozy slushies. We use a lot of herbs in our drinks. We have a small wine list that's nearly all boxed to cut down on packaging. 

What changes have you made to the space?
We’ve made some alterations so we can increase the differences between day and night. We are using a lot of neon by local artists. It’s a great site right in the middle of town. We have 64 covers inside and we can get another 42 outside. Matt (Gillan) and I came to the decision a few months ago that Pike & Pine was just too complicated and chef intensive and because Matt was so busy, and not around as much, it was just really hard. We really needed him there all the time.

What next?
We formed Kemptown Project – a collection of places in Brighton and we’ve got a couple more coming. We want to become a well-known little company in Brighton so we can recruit better. It’s got a social focus – we support an area in Rwanda where we buy our coffee – and we’ve built two schools so far and a hospital later this year.

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