Posts Tagged ‘Thai’

When I saw the LivingSocial offer for Manao Thai Restaurant, I was very excited (more Thai food!) so I checked the location, and immediately purchased it without checking the menu.  I figured, they probably have Pad Thai … most places do.  But then, when I checked the menu when we got ready to visit Manao, and noticed that they didn’t have Pad Thai on the menu, I was a little worried … uh oh!  I had won my husband over on Thai food based on the flavorful dish, but, what was he going to eat when there was no Pad Thai on the menu?

Haw Mok Kai

Location:  7202 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the Mii Krob Lad Na with Chicken ($8.50) while my husband ordered the Haw Mok Kai ($9.50).   We shared an order of Spring Rolls ($4.50) for an appetizer.

What I Think:

The atmosphere reminds me very much of a “ma & pa” type of place with it’s simple, home-y decor.  Nothing really overly stylish or glamorous, this place looked like a typical kitchen table at dinner time in the 60s, complete with retro-style vinyl tablecloths. The place was empty when we arrived, but as we waited for our lunch, more diners arrived.

I know that we should not judge a book by its cover, but based upon this setting, I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot from Manao.  The Spring Rolls seemed to further support my low expectations, because, while they were tasty, they were kind of boring.

Then I tasted my Thai Iced Tea!  YUM!  Easily the best Thai Iced tea I’ve had since we moved to the Pacific Northwest.  You might be thinking … how can one mess up iced tea?  But, trust me, I’ve tasted some not so great Thai Iced Tea, some average Thai Iced Tea, as well as some good Thai Iced Tea.  But this stuff – this is the way Thai Iced Tea should always be.

Mii Krob Lad Na with Chicken

The deliciousness of the iced tea raised my expectations, and I had high hopes again for what was to come with the entrees.

The Mii Krob Lad Na … amazing.  This is so good – good enough that if I find this on another Thai restaurant’s menu in the future I will order it.  I don’t know that I like it as well as I like Pad Thai, but, I certainly found it to be incredibly filling and very satisfying, definitely the kind of meal that you would want to sit down to if you were ravenous, because it is so good that you’ll want to finish it!  Sadly, I couldn’t finish it, but not because I didn’t want to.  I was just too full!

The gravy/sauce is rich and savory, and very flavorful.  The crunchy noodles soak up the sauce and become somewhat soft – and the softened/soaked crunchy noodle has such a delightful texture to it.  It’s one of those very satisfying kind of experiences with both taste and texture – like soaking up a delicious stew gravy with crusty bread.  This is Thai comfort food.  The broccoli and carrots add a nice flavor as does the chicken, but really, the real stars of this dish are the gravy and noodles.

My husband’s Haw Mok Kai seemed promising based on the menu description of the dish:  seared chicken thighs that had been marinated in herbs and served with a chili sauce.  Unfortunately, this dish was just alright.  The chicken was a little on the dry side and not really flavorful, and its real redemption came from the sweet chili sauce which I found very tasty, and seemed to add a much needed flavor boost to the chicken.  My husband found himself wishing he had ordered the Mii Krob Lad Na.

My Final Thoughts:

I don’t think there are enough fine words that I could come up with to describe the Mii Krob Lad Na.  I really, really loved this dish.  I am getting hungry now, just thinking about how good it was.  I had not expected to enjoy it as much as I did!  I do wish that my husband’s experience was as favorable as mine, his enjoyment of the meal would have made the experience even better.  I left very satisfied … him, not so much.  But I don’t think that will stop us from visiting again in the future, because he knows now to order the Mii Krob Lad Na!

Recently, we visited a few places that I had previously visited, enjoyed and reviewed, but, I think that most restaurants deserve a second visit, don’t you?  I like to see if my first impressions of places hold true to the second visit…

Kesone Thai Lao Bistro

Pad Thai with Chicken

Shortly after redeeming our first LivingSocial voucher for Kesone Thai Lao Bistro, I got an opportunity to purchase another one.  Since both my husband and I enjoyed the place, I jumped at this opportunity … I mean, hey, it’s Thai food!  This time around, I definitely wanted Pad Thai, mostly because I knew my husband had planned on amplifying the heat on his Pad Thai plate, and while I do enjoy the spicy, I wanted to enjoy it a little less spicy than he desired.

With this visit, I noticed that again, our appetizers were brought out at the same time as our entrees.  Again, this is not a complaint, because the food was brought out so quickly it wasn’t as if we were waiting very long at all for anything.

This time, we selected the appetizer sampler plate ($9), which included three different appetizers – two summer rolls, six golden bags and two chicken sa-tay.  I found the chicken sa-tay to be somewhat dry, but the golden bags were crispy and delicious, and I loved the fresh crunch of the summer rolls.  I have been wanting a good summer roll for a while now – I mean, sure, I love the crispy, golden-fried deliciousness of a spring roll, but, there is something about that fresh, minty taste of a summer roll that really brightens the palate.

The Pad Thai was just as delicious as I remember.  The chicken was cooked nicely – a little dry, perhaps, but not to the point of being overly chewy.  And really, when it comes to Pad Thai, it really is less about the chicken for me and more about the noodles.  I love the delicious rice noodles that have been coated with the spicy sauce, the crunchy texture from the bean sprouts and the crushed peanuts… Pad Thai really is a culinary delight.

Will we be returning to Kesone Thai Lao Bistro – YOU BET!

GRILLED CHEESE GRILL

Photo from Grilled Cheese Grill website, click on the pic to go there.

We’ve actually been to Grilled Cheese Grill a couple of times since my last review.  What can I say, I love a good grilled cheese sandwich, and I really like how the folks at Grilled Cheese Grill take a good thing (the classic grilled cheese) and push the envelope with it!

Case and point would be my newest favorite sandwiches from GCG:  The Jalapeño Popper ($5.75)!  Oh. My. Goodness.  This sandwich is GOOD!  Spicy, yes.  Be ready with something refreshing to cool the palate.

The sandwich is made with freshly roasted jalapeños (not the jarred stuff), colby jack cheese, cream cheese and corn tortilla chips sandwiched between two pieces of sourdough bread and grilled to golden perfection.  I ordered mine with bacon (add $1.75), because, what doesn’t taste better with bacon, right?  This sandwich is absolutely incredible.

I think that the GCG prepares the jalapeños themselves, because I didn’t notice any of the seeds or membranes of the pepper in my sandwich.  This helped to reduce the heat a little in my sandwich, and thus allowed some of the fruit notes of the pepper to emerge.  It was still HOT, make no mistake, but it wasn’t too hot.

The colby jack is melted and gives a nice, chewy texture to the sandwich.  The cream cheese is a little on the light side, but, I don’t think more cream cheese would have made this a better sandwich.  As it was, the cream cheese added a little bit of sweetness and curbed the heat of the jalapeño just enough.  The tortilla chips did not add any real crunch to the sandwich (although the crispy, grilled outer crust of the sandwich certainly did!) but it did add a nice dimension of flavor, and really added to that “popper” kind of taste as promised with the name of the sandwich.  The bacon … well, let’s just say that without the bacon, this sandwich was delicious.  But WITH the bacon, this sandwich becomes insanely irresistible, absolutely memorable, and completely crave-able.  I really, really liked this sandwich, and I’ll definitely order it again sometime.

On another visit, I ordered the Southsider ($5.75), which is artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms with mozzarella on sourdough bread.  This sandwich is also really outstanding, tasting a bit like a gourmet pizza in sandwich form.

The artichoke hearts were pickled and added a tangy flavor to the sandwich from the pickling, while the sundried tomatoes gave this a delicious base flavor … although, if I had been putting the sandwich together myself, I think I would have added more tomatoes (but then, I love sundried tomatoes).  The mushrooms I think would have been a little better if they were thicker cut, but they still added a nice, earthy flavor and pleasing texture to the sandwich.  This sandwich was very filling and satisfying, and one I’d recommend if you’re really hungry.  This one filled me up.

Will we be visiting Grilled Cheese Grill again – ABSOLUTELY!  It’s become my favorite cart in Portland … although, I admit that I’ve not visited many carts YET!

I’ll be reviewing a couple of “revisits” again soon … specifically, the Burger Bungalow and Soi 9 Thai Eatery.

Since my husband has started eating (and enjoying!) Thai food, I jump on just about every Thai restaurant voucher that LivingSocial offers … That’s how I discovered Mee-Sen Thai Eatery. 

The Crying Tiger Salad

Location:  3924 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR

Order:  My husband ordered the chicken Pad Thai ($9), and I was feeling brave enough to try the Crying Tiger Salad ($14) from their specials menu.

What I Think:

The decor of the Mee-Sen Thai Eatery is very rustic … in fact, it what it reminds me of is what one might find as a seating area outside a food cart.  It almost seemed a little too rustic … like they were trying too hard to capture a certain atmosphere, but not quite getting there.

But really, the decor is the only thing about Mee-San that I found a little disappointing.  The food is AMAZING.  My husband enjoyed his Pad Thai, although it wasn’t his favorite Pad Thai that he’s had (he’s had it from three different establishments now), but he liked it.

But the Crying Tiger Salad!  OH MY!  This is a romaine salad, topped with red onion, scallions, cilantro, Kaffir leaves, roasted chili, and lime juice, and then smothered with a thinly sliced, marinated rib eye steak.

First of all, let me say that you should only attempt to eat this if you’ve the palate for spicy food.  If you wear make-up, you should wear waterproof make-up when you eat this stuff.  It makes not only the tiger cry but had me weeping as well.

It as an explosion of flavor … not just hot and spicy, but, after the hot and spicy notes began to subside, my palate was treated to sweet and sometimes sour notes.  The spicy often prevailed, of course.  This was easily the most flavorful, interesting, and exciting salad I’ve ever had.

It was not only an exploration of flavors but also of textures.  The steak was super tender, it seemed to melt in my mouth.  The vegetables were crisp, and a side of sticky jasmine rice came along with the salad.  I found this to be especially nice at cooling the palate a little so that I could enjoy the other flavors of the salad.

My Final Thoughts:

If you like Thai Food, you really MUST try Mee-Sen.  Just writing this post and reliving the memories of the food there makes me want to go back.  The food is absolutely delicious.

Mee-Sen Thai Eatery on Urbanspoon

As I’ve mentioned before, I love Thai food.  I don’t know that its my favorite ethnic cuisine, but, it certainly ranks within the top three.  And that love for Thai food revolves pretty much around one dish:  Pad Thai.  I’ve tried a few other Thai dishes that I really enjoyed, mostly noodle dishes with a gravy, but, it’s been years since that time and I really do not recall what they were called.  I’ve tried to find those on Thai restaurant menus to no avail, as nothing really seams familiar.  That being said, I still prefer Pad Thai to those other dishes.  However, I did want to expand my experience of Thai cuisine so with the gentle urging of my husband, I did just that with this visit to Kesone Thai Lao Bistro, another Living Social restaurant find . . .

Pad Thai with Chicken

Location:  2600 NE Sandy Boulevard in Portland, Oregon

Order:  for an appetizer, my husband and I shared an order of Crispy Spring Rolls.  My husband ordered the Pad Thai with Chicken ($7.50) while I tried the Pad King with Chicken ($7.50).  And of course, I had to have a Thai Iced Tea!

What I Think: 

This small restaurant was empty when we arrived (with the exception of one guest who was waiting for a to-go order), then again, we arrived just before they close for the afternoon (they close between the hours of 3 pm and 4 pm to prepare for their dinner service).  Had I read their website a bit more carefully I would have noticed this and been a bit more observant to their closing time.

The decor of the restaurant is nothing fancy but the tables were clean and I felt at ease with my surroundings.  The service was fast (which probably had something to do with the fact that we were the only guests to be served).  I was very pleased by the size of the Thai Iced Tea – it was quite large!  Unfortunately, the tea tasted slightly watered down.  The black tea had notes of bitterness to it, which suggested that perhaps the tea had been steeped too long.  It was still drinkable, but, not the most enjoyable Thai Iced Tea I’ve had.

Spring Rolls

Our Spring Rolls arrived at the same time our entrees arrived.  In most cases, I prefer my appetizer to arrive a little before the entrees, however, the food arrived so quickly that it wasn’t as though we were waiting for either dish.  The Spring Rolls were a little dark in color (looking as though they might have been cooked just a bit too long), but they didn’t taste burnt.  They were crispy and delicious.  I especially enjoyed the sauce which was pungent with garlic with a nice balance of sweet and sour.

My husband and I shared our entrees.  The Pad Thai was ordered with a heat level of 2 – 3 (the server asked on a scale of 1 – 5 how spicy he would like it to be), and in my opinion, it was a pleasant amount of heat, although my husband said he would have liked it a tad spicier, and next time he will probably order it at a level 3 – 4 instead.  The chicken was tender, and I enjoyed the ratio of noodle to sauce.  The sauce did not taste too fishy nor smell too fishy, which made me happy.  It was certainly a tasty Pad Thai, and while it isn’t my favorite Pad Thai of Portland, it was my husband’s favorite of the ones we have tried thus far.

Pad King with Chicken

The Pad King was a bit of an adventure for me, as I had not tried it before.  The onions were nicely caramelized and the rice was cooked perfectly.  The sauce of this dish was very flavorful; however, it had a flavor that I think would have been more complementary to beef rather than chicken, as it had a very substantial, almost beefy sort of flavor to it.  The sauce seemed to overwhelm the chicken, and if I were to order this dish sometime in the future I would definitely order it as a beef dish, and that is how I’d recommend ordering it.

My favorite part of this dish were the mushrooms, which lent a nice texture and delicious flavor to the dish and it is because of their somewhat woody flavor that I suspect beef would have been a better meat choice for this dish (tofu would also make a nice choice).  The green beans had a slightly rubbery texture, and I didn’t find this to be too appealing.  Overall, I found the dish to be agreeable, but I think I would have been happier if I had chosen the Pad Thai.

My Final Thoughts:

While I wasn’t totally pleased with my Pad King, I am happy that I was willing to step outside of my comfort zone and try something a little different.  The flavors were definitely there in each of these dishes, and overall, I enjoyed my visit to Kesone Thai Lao Bistro, and we will no doubt be returning at some point.  Mostly, I was just happy to be eating Thai food again!

Kesone Thai Lao Bistro on Urbanspoon

I love Thai food.  My husband, on the other hand, is a bit apprehensive, because unfortunately, until now, he had only been to one other Thai restaurant, and he didn’t really care for the dish that he ordered.  But, when I saw Soi 9 Thai Eatery featured on Living Social, I jumped at the chance to try another Thai Restaurant. 

Pad Thai Lunch Plate

Location:  1914 W. Burnside, Portland, OR

Order:  My husband and I both ordered the Pad Thai with Chicken ($7.50 per plate), and an order of Poh Peah Tod (Crispy Spring Rolls, $4.50/plate) for appetizer.

What I Think:

This has been my first Thai food in a long, long time.  Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes, but, it has been my experience that not all plates of Pad Thai are created equal.  I’ve had some really bad Pad Thai, in fact, it’s been many years now, but, once I had Pad Thai with bad shrimp.  As in rancid, spoiled, rotten … you know … bad.  Since that time, I request no shrimp on my Pad Thai.  The horror of that plate haunts me to this day.  I have been on a quest of sorts to find a good Thai food restaurant, one I can trust to deliver good Pad Thai.  And I think I have found it with Soi 9!

This place rocks.  I love the atmosphere:  a kind of modern-minimalist with touches of industrial kind of feel.  But, as much as I enjoyed the atmosphere, the best part of the place is the food, and that’s just the way it should be.

We started with our drinks, and I ordered Thai Iced tea … one of my favorite beverages.  When in a Thai restaurant, I order Thai Iced Tea!  It’s a MUST!  And this was prepared properly – the black tea base was good and strong without being bitter.  It was strong enough to withstand the sweetening it endures to become Thai Iced Tea – sometimes Thai Iced Tea can be too sweet and you don’t really taste the tea.  I’m glad that didn’t happen.  Somebody knows what they’re doing at Soi 9.

For appetizers, we ordered the crispy spring rolls, which I chose mostly because I knew that my husband would at least enjoy these.  And they were very tasty.  The wrapper was light and crisp and not greasy.  The shredded vegetables were still just a little crunchy.  I liked how fresh it tasted.

Our lunch plates included a generous portion of Pad Thai and a side of salad made of fresh spring greens and topped with a delicious curry dressing.  It was lightly sweet with a hint of curry spice.  My husband really enjoyed the dressing, which surprised me because he is usually a ranch dressing kind of guy.

The Pad Thai was amazing.  The sauce was perfect!  It was spicy … but not so spicy that I felt the need to grab the nearest glass of water to extinguish the heat.  The sauce didn’t taste overly fishy, it had a really nice balance of flavor, and I liked that the sauce didn’t goop up the whole plate. There was just enough sauce to coat each ingredient without making it a sticky mess.  I also liked that the noodles were cooked but not mushy.  They were separate, not stuck together.  The chicken was tender.  This is definitely the best Pad Thai I’ve had in a long time!

My Final Thoughts

If you love Thai food – you really should try Soi 9.  I was very impressed from start to finish.  Our server was very friendly and helpful, and the food was delicious.  A perfect lunch.

Soi 9 on Urbanspoon