“Ma Kin Khow Kun” at Malagor Thai Restaurant – a taste of the Orient in Ossett

This article first appeared in the October 2014 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

Now, I have to start with an admission. Dining at a Thai restaurant is not something that usually comes very high on my list of things to do. However, as your regular restaurant reviewer, now back from my holidays, I was asked to try out Malagor Thai Restaurant in Ossett. A table was duly booked and three of us went along one recent Monday evening to sample the Malagor experience. I’m pleased to report that I really rather enjoyed it – and one of my companions (who has had far more experience of this sort of thing than I have) assured me that this was one of the best Thai meals she had eaten.

Some of you may remember the Two Brewers public house on the corner of Queen’s Drive and Towngate in Ossett. Well the pub has long gone (as has the Indian restaurant that followed it) but the building remains. Now under new management, the building has been delightfully, but simply refurbished, to create a light, bright and welcoming venue that offers the traditional taste of Thai cuisine.

Business owners, husband and wife team Benjamin and Benjawan Marshall (Ben and Benjie for short), have created something very special in their new enterprise, opened just three years ago. Ben, born in Leeds but who has lived in Ossett for 25 years now, has a marketing background and previously worked for a businessman who decided to set up a chain of Thai restaurants. Ben handled the marketing and suppliers for the chain and it was while doing this that he met Benjie, who hails from Thailand and was working in one of the restaurants. They got on well, married and cooked up a plan to branch out on their own. Thus was born Malagor Restaurant (as well as their daughter, now aged four).

At Malagor, Ben and Benjie have a simple philosophy – to provide the very best authentic Thai ingredients and herbs, freshly cooked and beautifully presented to create attractive dishes that are both healthy and appetising; they don’t use additives, such as MSG.

The menu is extensive, with a good range of starters and mains and a nice selection of vegetarian options. Dishes are marked for the potency of their spices, from ‘mild’, through ‘spicy’ to ‘very spicy’, but don’t be deterred if you don’t like the hot and spicy: there are many alternative dishes available. There are set menus (banquets, for a minimum of two people to share), early–bird menus and an à la carte menu; there’s even a take-away menu. Prices are reasonable with banquets starting at £17.95 per person. On the à la carte menu, starters begin at £4.50 and (vegetarian) mains at just under £8. Of course, with such a range of dishes and side dishes on offer, it is quite easy to mix and match, especially if dining in a group, so that you get to sample a wide range of flavours and textures – something that would be a normal part of any Thai family gathering, where starters, curries, stir fry dishes and steaks, would all be served together, along with a big bowl of soup to share and enjoy.

Having ordered our food and drinks, I took the opportunity to have a quick look around. As I said, the restaurant is light, bright and welcoming but with some interesting touches, including a fascinating mural, hand-drawn and painted by Benjie who has creativity running through her veins (amongst other things, she also makes clothes, for example). The restaurant was quite busy for what might be regarded as a quiet night, including a birthday party group, and is divided into a number of distinct areas, each with its own theme and ambience.

There’s the Bar Suchart area, named after a Thai legend renowned for his love for life and fun. Here you can enjoy a pre- or post-prandial cocktail. The Jantra Room, taking its name from the Thai word for moon, is a cosy, intimate section of the restaurant, perfect for couples perhaps wanting a bit more privacy. The Thong Na Room features the Thai mural, striking potted greenery and big, picture windows. Finally, the Lanna Room, named after the Lanna region of North Thailand, is an upper area at the far end of the restaurant and is advertised as being particularly suitable for business meetings, or very special family occasions.

Re-joining my companions as the food was delivered to the table, the first thing to strike me was how eye-catchingly presented it was – each dish a work of art to stimulate both the visual and culinary palettes. Between us (two vegetarians and an omnivore) we began with a selection of spring rolls, homemade sweetcorn cakes and pork on toast, served with either a fruity plum sauce or a sweet chilli sauce. For mains, we had dishes of stirred fried vegetables, fried rice and egg with vegetables and tomatoes, and stir-fried chicken and vegetables. Two of us managed puddings – a very nice lime panna cotta and a mango pudding, both accompanied by fruit salad. Coffees and after dinner mints completed the meal.

Afterwards, I spoke to Ben about the restaurant. His pride and enthusiasm showed through. Ben is the only non-Thai to work in the restaurant but told me that the restaurant takes its name from the Thai word for the papaya fruit, one of the most important ingredients in Thai cuisine. Ben explained that as well as running the restaurant, they also offer monthly cookery classes, run by his wife, for people who want to learn how to cook and prepare Thai dishes. These classes have proved very popular and gift vouchers can be purchased from the restaurant for those wanting to treat family and friends. Ben joked that a number of his male customers, having sampled the food in the restaurant, have bought the vouchers for their wives to learn how to cook their favourite Thai food at home!

Thais, whose culture is centred on family and food, have a phrase inviting you to stay and enjoy food with them: ‘Ma Kin Khow Kun’. They extend open invitations to friends and family to come round to their homes to enjoy time together. When someone visits a Thai home, they will be invited to stay longer and enjoy some food – ‘Ma Kin Khow Kun’. Having now sampled the food at Malagor Thai for myself, I can understand the attraction and I do urge you to give it a try – let Malagor extend its welcome to you.

http://www.malagor.co.uk/

Queen’s Drive, Ossett, WF5 0NH

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