Khao Thai

   April 2, 2013 12:11 pm

 

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Next door to Hook’s Catfish Kitchen at 36 North Park Row is Khao Thai. Owner Tat King serves up traditional Thai dishes that are healthy, low in fat, and MSG free. Fresh ingredients, tons of vegetables, and authentic spices are what make Thai food so delicious. Amanda and I were joined for dinner last night by our friends Lacey Johnson and Jen Wright. Almost every dish on the restaurant’s menu can be made vegetarian. First, choose what dish you want and then decide how you’d like it to be prepared; vegetarian (with or without tofu) or with chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or seafood. After a few minutes spent looking over the menu, we were all ready to order.

khao_thai-fresh_rollsLacey kept dinner light with an order of fresh rolls and a bowl of Tom Yum (or Tom Yam)soup. The fresh rolls start with rice paper wrapped around thinly sliced cucumber, carrot, green onion, lettuce, chopped cilantro, and tofu. They were served with a tamarind sauce topped with crushed peanuts. The raw vegetables had a delightful, fresh crispness. The sauce gave the rolls a wonderful sweet and sour flavor that added brightness to the dish. We asked for a container of extra pepper sauce so that we could adjust the spice level to our liking and Lacey used it to top each of her fresh rolls in addition to the tamarind sauce. khao_thai-tom_yumTom Yum soup is the Thai version of hot (tom) and sour (yum) soup. The broth was made from fresh and fragrant lemongrass, kafir lime leaves, ginger, lime juice, oil, and hot peppers. Fresh tofu, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, scallions, and cilantro were added to give the soup some substance. The broth had such a depth of flavor, it really elevated the whole dish to another level.

khao_thai-pad_thaiAmanda ordered vegetarian Pad Thai. This traditional Thai dish is made up of broccoli, scallions, carrots, onions, eggs, bean sprouts, fried tofu, and thin rice noodles in a sauce of tamarind, lime, ginger, chili, sugar, cilantro, and other seasonings and then it’s topped with crushed peanuts. The noodles were coated in the sticky sauce, binding everything together in a piping hot pile of tastiness. The sweetness of the sauce with the heat of the chili peppers rounded out all of the flavors in the dish. Everything we ordered was served (temperature) hot, but the noodle dishes in particular held their heat until the plates were empty.

khao_thai-massaman_curryJen decided to go with a new dish on the menu, the Massaman Curry. This yellow curry is typically made from coconut milk, curry paste, Thai spices like basil, cardamom, star anise, chili sauce, and tamarind, among others. The curry broth was full of fresh chunks of potato, tofu, cabbage, green beans, peppers, broccoli, and onions. It was served with a side of steamed white rice to absorb the broth. Overall, this curry was light but still packed a punch of flavor. I haven’t tried the Panang Curry, but out of the other three (green, red, massaman), this is easily my new favorite.

khao_thai-tom_karFinally, I ordered a cup of Tom Kar soup and vegetarian drunken noodles. The soup was a creamy coconut milk-based broth that had similar ingredients as what was in the Tom Yum. Lemongrass, kafir lime, galangal, cilantro, chili gave the broth a wonderful collective aroma. The soup had beans, broccoli, tofu, mushrooms, cilantro, and scallions in it. It had a tang to it that I haven’t found in any of the other dishes on the menu. The combination of the tart lemongrass and lime leaves with the coconut milk really make this dish shine. khao_thai-drunken_noodlesAlthough the drunken noodle dish was similar in appearance to Pad Thai, it had a completely different flavor profile. Instead of being sweet from tamarind and lime juice, the sauce was packed with Thai chilies and Thai basil, giving it a distinctive spice. Fried tofu, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, broccoli, snap peas, and baby corn were tossed with the sauce and broad rice noodles. Like the Pad Thai, drunken noodles are just about the definition of perfection in my book. The balance of flavors and textures made for a very filling and satisfying meal.

Every dish on the menu can be ordered as hot or as mild as you would like. The menu displays options from one pepper to three peppers hot, but you can ask for yours at any spice level up to ten. If you’re feeling particularly daring, you can ask for it to be prepared as hot as it can be. They will also provide additional dry pepper flakes and/or chili sauce for the table if you’d rather control the heat level yourself.

A big thanks to Tat and the rest of the staff at Khao Thai for making such an awesome dinner. The restaurant is child friendly and BYOB. The phone number is 814-454-4069 and they offer takeout. Their hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 9 p.m.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite vegetarian foods to akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Khao Thai on Urbanspoon

 

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