Thai Beef/Boat Noodle in East Bay
I have been on a bit of a jag with respect to Beef/Boat Noodle in the East Bay in the last couple of months. Boat Noodle I believe is flavored/thickened with blood, lending a distinct flavor and a characteristic cloudy look, while many places only serve a beef stew version. Current Favorites:
Ruen Pair, Albany: Appears to be Boat Style, ordered medium is quite spicy, good tanginess from lime juice or vinegar I am not sure. Meats include sliced beef, stewed beef, beef ball and sometimes tripe. Thin rice noodle or flat noodle. Some green vegetable.$7-$8.
Sa Wooei, El Cerrito: Beef Stew style, meat include beef ball, sliced beef, stewed beef including tendony bits. Noticeably sweet broth. Thin rice noodle. Chinese broccoli..$5.25 at lunch!!! Excellent value. Spice comes from condiments.
Thai Noodle, Berkeley- Near Triple Rock: Also Boat style, I think. Stewed beef in the form of largish pot roast like slices, beef ball, and sliced beef. Spinach. Thin noodles available. Spice comes from condimenets.
Zapp-Zapp, Albany: I think I read somewhere that this is affiliated with Sa Wooei and the recipe reflects that. Also I recognize one of the servers from both places. The meat is as above but there is a distinct inclusion of separate stewed tendon, and the beef ball includes both the smooth kind and the tendon inclusive lumpy kind. Also Chinese Broccoli. About $7.5
Tuk-Tuk Thai, Shattuck, Berkeley: A clearer broth version that may be Boat style. Odd sweetness that might be from heavy use of herbs like cilantro. Thin noodles, beef ball, sliced beef. ~$6. Fine.
@Siam Cuisine: lunch special version a beef stew, decent flavor but did not seem as Thai as others, i.e. less fish sauce/mild sweetness. Ok, ~$6.
King of Thai Noodle in Tuk Tuk market, Berkeley. Probably a decent Boat style, but can't clearly remember. Also not as pleasant to eat at.
Any other recommendations?
re: Melanie Wong
Thanks for that link. I don't have a clear idea of what Pandanus leaves taste like though I am sure I have eaten things flavored with them before. I have the impression, easy to believe, that the best examples will be found in the LA area, but nevertheless, I've had many satisfying examples. I haven't ordered it too much in SF proper, though.
re: Eugene Park
I used to like it at one of the Richmond district King of Thai Noodles. I don't recall which one. Had it at the Milano Hotel branch a few months back, was pretty good. I don't usually order it in the city since I tend only to go to places which I already have a good idea of what I want.
Current favorite is clearly Ruen Pair- be advised, though, that if you order mild, it is quite a different beast than medium or spicy. Medium is reasonably spicy, but for some reason makes me sweat like nobody's business, so I tried ordering mild, and got something sweeter, lighter, less tangy and less thickened with blood.
I'd probably eat a Thai Noodle more, but can't quite overcome my Berkeley-phobia; plus, being pretty far from the freeway it is significantly less convenient to me.
Had a version as a special at Champa Garden in Oakland a few months back; it was really richly thickened with blood and had a very nice flavor overall, but was rather salty (and I tend to be forgiving in that regard) and not spicy at all. Still, good enough that I went back again within a day or too.
re: Eugene Park
After many years, had the beef noodle at the Larkin Thai House Express (eat from there frequently but almost always take out, so avoid soup noodles).
This is definitely "boat style," a rich broth thickened with blood. Here it is not spicy; like the Champa garden version you season to taste with the condiments, of which I favor the chilis in vinegar and the chili garlic sauce. Beef consists of sliced steak, stewed tendony chunks, beef balls and tripe. Greens were chopped Chinese broccoli of the strongly mustard-tasting variety. It was garnished with diced fried pork skin.
I have not been to Thailand, but I imagine this version to be very "correct." I enjoyed it very much.