Fundraising Feast at Dok Bua (long.......)
Ok all....this is my first post ever to the board, so forgive me if I make any etiquette mistakes. I also apologize to the group at the dinner last night as I can't recall all the new names I had to learn -- hopefully the participants will chime in so that I have a reminder of who all was there. I have been lurking for some months now, but last night I joined the crowd at Dok Bua because I couldn't pass up a chance to have such a great Thai dinner. Being the first of the group to arrive, I quickly positioned myself at the center of the long table. This presumptuous move by an unknown hound (ok, I admit I crowned myself with the title) garnered me the job, er...honor, of describing the experience. So now I'm at work (pretending to work), peering at a food-stained paper bag that entered Dok Bua carrying a bottle of wine, and left with my frantically scribbled notes about the event all over it.
The Dinner was well paced, at least at first, starting with Miang-Kum, which at Dok Bua is kind of like the country cousin of the version I first encountered down the road at Khao Sarn. This one in big spinach leaves, a good heap of coconut and peanut, the dried shrimp and lime, and the sweet dipping sauce whose only ingredient I was sure of was ground dried shrimp. Then Moo-Yang, like a bit of tender barbecued pork in a sweet tangy sauce. Squid salad, all nice and limey with a good (mild) kick to it and fresh mint. This was excellent. Yum Nua (grilled beef salad), a good rendition of that classic, with lots of nice lemongrass and mint. Then the funky Sub-Noa-Mai (bamboo shoot salad), smelling nicely (?) of fish sauce and fermented bamboo I laughed to think how most of my non-chowish friends would react if this came their way! We had Larb in two versions the chicken, which was standard, and then one with roast duck, which was outstanding, with crispy bits of skin, chewy toasted rice, and a nice afterburn. The best Tod Mun Ive yet had, and I order this everywhere. I suspect its usually from some mass-producer, but these looked and tasted homemade. Great! And then another round of the bamboo shoots just to make sure we all got some! Phew, and this was only the appetizers.
I should note that the heat level was pretty tame throughout, and I kept eyeing the nice condiment tray which held, as I recall, chilis in fish sauce, chilis in vinegar, dried chilis, a sambal-like sauce, and two others I cant recall. I usually dive into these, but seemed to have no time or even idea of where to point them because of the vast quantity of food that came along.
After a short breather, the main courses. Grilled Fish (with a green sauce that looked and tasted a bit like a green tomatillo sauce any ideas? and I think it had been wrapped in a leaf of some kind, maybe banana), Steamed Egg custard with ground pork kind of a Thai version of Chawan Mushi which I thought was great and the kind of homey thing one doesnt usually get in restaurants. There were also steamed and fried fish, but I never got to those. Vegetable Red Curry, which was decent, and then a tasty Yellow Curry with chicken and mango. Fried Soft-shell Crab with another yummy dipping sauce; this was a favorite with everyone I think. Pad Kee Meow (was that what we had? Fried wide rice noddles with veggies and squid). Crispy Pork with Chinese Broccoli, which is one of those things that pork lovers drool over, the pork with three layers (skin, fat, and meat) and a bit of green to keep you healthy and offset the fattiness. I loved this too. Another crispy one Duck, was also outstanding, and the last, probably my favorite of the main courses, Fried Catfish with kaffir lime leaves, galangal, bamboo shoots. Did we really eat all that? Yep, sure did and then some. It wasn't over yet!
Dessert....sigh. Steamed Sticky Coconut Rice with Mango, which is also a standard, and one that I love though I rarely eat desserts. Better yet, Taro Custard. With that sweet-salty-nutty flavor of taro that I cant resist. That was great, though I admit I fairly ignored the condiment that came with it.
Ok, enough now. It seems we all had a great time I sure did and conversation and the beer and wine (Dok Bua is BYOB) flowed freely. I will definitely join in again, and look forward to whatever surprises come up next time. Thanks everyone, especially the organizers and the great staff at the restaurant.
Great report. It's impossible for me to pick a favorite dish because they were all so good.
I want to thank everyone who was able to attend and make a nice donation to the site from the Boston hounds..special recognition to GG for all her help in organizing.
to the few who RSVPed and never showed up, shame on you..there were a few on the waiting list that could have been accomodated.
Well done Zatan. So that's how you got to sit in the center and I had to be at one end. Well I got the crispy whole fish at my end and I think the steamed fish was at the other end. Dok Bua has been a favorite of mine since it was a Thai grocery store with a lunch counter and a couple of tables in the front. I've never been to Thailand but this is what I imagine Thai home cooking to be. Glad that you enjoyed it.
Super post! And a super meal. Watching pluziam light up when she tastes something new and admiring chowcat's happy food dance was just a small part of the fun.
My favorites last night were the egg with pork, the duck larb, the pork with greens, and the soft shell crab.
That place rocks. Thanks 9Lives and GG for the leg work.
Zatan, excellent recap of last nights feast.
I'm going to print it out and try to relive the experience. It truly was one of the best meals of my life. DB has been praised often by hounds whose opinions I value so I knew it was going to be pretty darn good, but my expectations were far surpassed.
I loved everything, ok-not the bamboo shoot salad. My favorites were the fish cakes(Tod Mun)and the miang-kum, and the simple dessert of mango with coconut rice. How do they make something so basic taste so good. It was a great meal with great company.
Thanks to the organizers for a great meal! This was my first visit, and the event provided a great way to try lots of different things. (and thanks for the great write-up so that I can remember what they were).
My favorites were the squid salad (very fresh tasting and tender squid), crispy pork entree and the soft shelled crab. I'm usually a huge larb fan, but I found them to be a little on the bland side last night. the duck larb was definitely the better of the 2 though.
That hot sauce with Thai bird chilis, garlic, lime, and fish sauce would have been just the thing for you, Zatan. I found a few early items to be a bit warm, then it leveled out after that. But I'm not one who needs tears rolling down my face -- I thought the flavors were marvelous, the company superb. Thank you thank you thank you 9Lives and GG!
chowcat & catchow
Great write-up Zatan -- I'm glad you came out of Lurkdom, you're a natural! Everything at Dok Bua was excellent as usual, and I especially enjoyed meeting so many new Hounds. Thanks also to those sharing their beverages as once again I arrived wine-less (I promise to make it up in the future).
I have so many favorites, but I really enjoyed the dishes I hadn't had before - the spicy beef salad, egg with pork, and the duck larb. The soft-shell crabs were even better than last time, and I just love that sticky rice with mango. In fact, there was so much food that my brother's idea of a post-dinner night of birthday cocktails turned into one, and we were home by 11:00. Well, the food was worth it!
That Zatan, what a great report...let's make him do the write-up of every dinner from now on...;)
But seriously, now that you've drawn first bood, you see it's not that scary at all..
I was truly amazed at my fellow-hounds making such short work of the bamboo Shoot salad that we had to order another, which was also polished off with dispatch...This is one of those dishes, that, everytime I order it, the folks at Dok Bua say, "Not even all Thai people eat that!" On the other hand, I also had a guy come up to me, excitedly, saying, "That dish is from my village in Northern Thailand", before he segued into amazement that I was eating it...And here was a whole tableful, not just not wrinkling their noses, but clamoring for more....Be warned, it is intensely fishy smelling and tasting, but it's probably the most intensely flavored thing on the menu, close to the prahok taste from Cambodian cuisine..
And right up there with it is the stir-fried catfish in Chili-sauce, Chowcat's incendiary catfish...They did a great version of that at our dinner, heavier on the shreds of galangal and kaffir lime leaves than my dinner had been the previous evening (Monday night chefs?). The aromatics in this dish really create a taste that's hard to compare to anything else...
Our noodles were, indeed, pad ki mow. I just order them with squid instead of chicken or beef...The chili sauce and fresh basil, and lots of vegetables, combined with the chewiness of those big, wide, rice noodles makes it my hands-down favorite.
I happily gnawed on fish bones while everyone was waiting for dessert; but next dinner, I'll probably get two multiples of two whole fish, so they'll be easier to dissect, pass around, and share...But man, those crunchy litle bones on that fried fish...;) I think the sauce they serve with the grilled fish is a green pepper puree with a little fish-sauce, but i could be wrong...
As far as the condiments go, my numero uno is the fresh garlic ground with Thai bird chilis, in some kind of vinegar, and my new discovery, the sliced green chilis in heavy fish sauce...They are accompanied by pickled, sliced, jalapenoes, ground dried chilis, the coarse Sriricha, and clear,sweetish syrup, pointed up with mild heat, that is great with fish...If you need the sweetness of a Thai seafood dipping sauce, heat this one up with a little ground pepper...
Dok Bua purposefully kept the heat level down for us, by request. With a crowd this large, there would have been too many people unable to enjoy their dinners, otherwise. But I *have* been there when Rubee ate her larb with tears running down her cheeks from the spice, so if you ask, they will do it...Interestingly enough, tho I usually request nuclear-levels on my food, I didn't use any condiments at all, and was happily pleased with the results....It was the first hound-dinner where I threw socializing to the wind, and concentrated on filling my plate....sigh...
Okay, I did talk a little...It was a great time, and a great crowd, and we made over $300 for the site. Service was friendly and well-paced, and as usual, the DB people went out of their way to make us feel like honored guests. Thanks also to the hounds, and you know who you are, who couldn't make it to the dinner, but left checks at the restaurant for us, that was *so* nice..your tote-bag is on the way!
Ming-kum & pla & yards of larb
just hold the peanut: zero carbs!
No mee nor rad nar (a la Phuket)
still haven't gotten enough yet.
Fermentented shoots in a nam pla sauce?
should be enough to get you off.
Yellow curries ? crispy pork?
could even be eaten by a non-hound dork.
Crab & Cat & Bottom Fishes ?
most everything was quite delicious.
Mango fruit with sticky rice?
me thinks this Thai food's pretty nice.
An eggy porridge like haw mouk
Those folks at DocBua really rock!
Turning in now for an autumnal nap
Khap Kuhn Khrap!