The pla kra pow, or snapper basil, at Chai Yo Modern Thai tastes good and has a visual wow factor. 
Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

This Thai snapper dish in Buckhead is a showstopper

Dish of the Week: Pla kra pow at Chai Yo Modern Thai

Nestled in a Buckhead office building, Chai Yo Modern Thai manages to be warm and welcoming while still hitting the luxury notes necessary to succeed in the neighborhood. That same vibe extends to the food, which combines fine-dining flair with comforting flavors. One dish, introduced this fall, is an excellent example: the pla kra pow, or snapper in basil sauce.

When it arrives at your table, the dish is a showstopper. Chef Deedee Niyomkul fillets the red snapper and fries it with the tail and bones intact. The fillets are arranged on the plate in a pool of the complex basil sauce, with the skeletal tail arched overhead and tempura okra artfully laid to the side. It’s an impressive feat of plating.

But, dig into the dish, and you’ll find simple, undeniable pleasures. The lightly fried fish fillets are tender and moist, flaking easily under your fork. The sauce, on the other hand, is punchy and intense. Redolent of fish sauce, it hits every flavor like a crashing cymbal — savory, sweet, sour, umami. The side of jasmine rice helps turn down the volume while adding a bit of heft to the meal, ensuring that this isn’t a fancy fish dish that leaves you hungry. 

Order the pla kra pow, and you have the best-case scenario for a meal in a Buckhead power restaurant: It impresses, delights and leaves you satisfied. 

Chai Yo Modern Thai. 3050 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta. 404-464-7980, chaiyoatl.com.

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